Huntsville enters the USL in a major fashion
A potential local rival
This morning the USL teased Birmingham soccer fans with two tweets hinting at the announcement of a League 2 team and a W-League team in Alabama, the official announcement to be made at noon Central time.
There has been much speculation and rumor going around lately about a possible W-League team here in Birmingham, so this caused a degree of excitement in the Legion Twitterverse, but in the end it was not to be. The inclusion of a League 2 team was probably a good hint that this was not going to be it. What ended up being announced though was that both teams would be established up in Huntsville by North Alabama Soccer Coalition, with plans for both to play in 2023.
NASC has been around for quite a while, and was previously known as Huntsville FC, but serves the entire Huntsville-Madison metro area with 850 kids in the club. The club is probably the strongest in Alabama outside the Birmingham area.
The announcement provided no further details, but it seems likely the teams will play in the respective South Central Divisions, which currently have teams in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina (6 in the W-League and 10 in League 2).
This of course does not mean that a Birmingham W-League team will not happen; it just didn’t happen today. If it does, then it automatically has a rivalry from day one. There is also a slim chance that the Legion will have an in-state rival, at least as far as the US Open Cup is concerned. That probably won’t happen until at least 2024, though, as League 2 teams enter the USOC this March.
In any event, this is good news for all Alabama soccer fans, as the local development path for both men and women has just received a big boost. It’s also a slight thumb in the nose of MLS Next Pro, which is setting up Nashville SC’s team in the Rocket City, edging out the USL for a 3rd-tier team in the area.