Major League Soccer is coming to Miami in 2020, and so is the USL Championship.
Miami FC announced Wednesday that it had acquired the franchise rights of Ottawa Fury FC and will begin play in the USL Championship next season.
Founded in 2015, Miami FC has played in three different leagues since its inception, featuring in NASL, NPSL and, most recently, NISA. In 2017, the club reached the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.
“We could not be more excited to bring Miami FC to the USL Championship in 2020,” Miami FC General Manager Paul Dalglish said in a statement. “We will build on the Fury’s success and honor their history, while also elevating our club and our community as part of the fastest growing professional soccer league in the United States. I want to thank Ottawa Sports Entertainment Group for putting this deal together, and to USL CEO Alec Papadakis for welcoming us to the league.”
In addition to announcing it was moving up to the USL Championship, Miami FC also said it would be playing all of its 2020 home games at Riccardo Silva Stadium, the 20,000-seat venue that is also the home of the FIU Panthers football team. Miami FC previously played there in 2016 and 2017.
In November, the Fury announced that it would cease operations for the 2020 season after it was unable to obtain sanctioning from Canada Soccer, the U.S. Soccer Federation and Concacaf.
“We are extremely grateful to USL CEO Alec Papadakis and President Jake Edwards for their leadership and whole-hearted support during this difficult process,” Ottawa Fury FC President John Pugh said in a statement. “We’re also thankful to Paul Dalglish and his team for helping to facilitate this transaction and wish The Miami FC well.”
For Miami FC, this move is a return to the second division of men’s professional soccer in North America. When it played its first season in NASL in 2016, that league was then sanctioned as the second division. As of 2018, the USL Championship is the only sanctioned men’s outdoor league in the second division.
“The decision to join USL … gives us a stable platform to further expand our academy program and community work, meaning accessible, inclusive and fun family events that bring all of Miami’s soccer community together,” Dalglish said.
According to the Athletic, Miami FC will not field a NISA or NPSL team moving forward, but it will retain the same technical staff in its transition to the USL Championship. The head coach of the club is Nelson Vargas, a former U.S. national team player who featured in the 1996 Olympics.