Ottawa Fury FC bolt NASL for growing United Soccer League
Tampa Bay Rowdies also leaving NASL for United Soccer League
Ottawa Fury FC is jumping from one soccer league to another in 2017, joining a league that includes teams based in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
The United Soccer League announced the Fury would be joining the USL for the 2017 season and will be expected to play in the league's eastern conference, alongside Toronto FC II and FC Montreal, the reserve teams for Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact.
The reserve team for the Vancouver Whitecaps plays in the league's western conference.
With the move, the Fury will be joining a league that has doubled in size in the last two years and leaving another — the North American Soccer League — that has been struggling.
The NASL is also losing another team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, to the USL, and another team, Minnesota United, is moving up to Major League Soccer.
The USL's current division three status makes the Ottawa Fury move a step down, but the USL has applied to the US Soccer Federation to move up from division three status to division two status to reflect the increasing quality of play.
'A league that we believe in'
The team's head coach and general manager said Wednesday the move is about stability and forward-thinking.
"It's a really exciting league to be a part of. It's a league that we believe in. It's something we took a lot of thought and consideration [about]," Paul Dalglish told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
"And what we wanted to do was ... to put ourselves in a league which we thought could provide the best long-term future for professional soccer in Ottawa because the most important thing for us is to make sure that we've got a game every weekend for people in Ottawa that love soccer what want to come and watch a game."
He said the team's budget, ticket prices and travel costs are expected to be "pretty similar." There will also be a similar number of home games, but with more teams in the league, the Fury won't have to play the same teams as many times.
The team's players are also "excited," Dalglish said.
"They know how stable the USL is. We've already had players re-sign. They know how stable the league is, they've seen it grow up to ... north of 30 teams for next year. That's an exciting league to be part of. They know that they're much more visible in the USL in terms of getting MLS recognition, and they know that they can improve their futures by playing in the USL," he said.