Yet Unnamed Team To Play In 2014
The first “heads up” that a Northern Virginia group was planning to buy a North American Soccer League franchise and put it in Loudoun County came from The Washington Posts’ Steven Goff last summer.
It is now official. Virginia Investment Partnership LLC will be owner/operator of the club, which will put a team on the field for the 2014 season.
Bob Farren is the chairman and founder of VIP Sports & Entertainment. The owners also have a minor league baseball team, the Loudoun Hounds. A new stadium has been planned for both teams in Ashburn.
The new stadium, which will be part of a development nine miles north of Dulles International Airport, will initially seat 5,500, but could be expanded to about 10,000 when additional seating is needed.
The NASL is a second tier league right below Major League Soccer. It is expected to be a nine-team league in 2013 with the addition of the New York Cosmos, which will be based on Long Island.
The yet unnamed Northern Virginia team would join the league in 2014, along with a Canadian team from Ottawa. It has been reported that a third team, based in Indianapolis, IN, will also join the NASL for the 2014 season.
The addition of this team, 30 miles outside of Washington, and the Cosmos gives the NASL a familiar look with ties to the original NASL that once had 24 clubs, but folded in 1985.
Five of the current NASL teams, Tampa Bay, Fort Lauderdale, Minnesota, Edmonton and Atlanta also were homes for original NASL teams.
The other current teams are in Puerto Rico, Raleigh and San Antonio, TX.
Northern Virginia is one of the fastest growing regions in the United States, particularly Loudoun County.
While Northern Virginia currently supplies a strong D.C. United fan base for Major League Soccer, there is a strong feeling that there is room for a minor league team there, and that their will be a strong level of support for the NASL without an erosion of D.C. United support.
“I feel there is enough meat on the bone for everybody to enjoy this,’ Farren told Goff, and said that Northern Virginia would now have something to offer as an alternative “within a few minutes of our houses.”
Mark Simpson, who was a goalkeeper for D.C. United and later an assistant coach, has been named the new clubs’ Director of Soccer Operations. Plans also include an academy system for youth players.
Goff also reported that Simpson has had some early conversations with several MLS clubs, including D.C. United, about establishing a working agreement to secure younger MLS players on loan.
“We realize who we are,” Simpson told Goff. “We’re not going to pretend to be anybody we are not. We hope to be a compliment to D.C. United and other MLS clubs.
“We want to be able to take their best deelopment players, keep developing them and play them in real games and in real atmospheres.”
The team has a website www.naslvirginia.com. Information about a name-the-team contest came be found there.