Ottawa, Tampa Bay confirm moves to USL from NASL

Two teams will begin United Soccer League play in 2017.

The Ottawa Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies will compete in the United Soccer League in 2017.

Both teams, the USL, as well as the North American Soccer League confirmed the moves on Tuesday. The Fury and Rowdies are competing in the NASL this season.

“This allows us to expand our footprint into the Southeast with a storied soccer brand ...” USL Chief Executive Offer Alec Papadakis said about Tampa Bay, in a statement distributed by the league.

The Rowdies, who competed under the same name in the original NASL, have been members of the second-division league since it returned to the field in 2010. Ottawa’s first year in the NASL was 2014.

“In Ottawa we have a world-class ownership group with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which has transformed a section of Canada’s capital city into a sports, entertainment and residential destination that is second-to-none,” Papadakis said.

In its own statement, the NASL acknowledged the league “operates in an environment where owners are free to take their clubs wherever they choose,” and all it “can do is acknowledge that reality and move forward.”

“We have never had a stronger and more unified group of owners who are committed to the league's model, its structure, and its long-term vision,” league commissioner Bill Peterson said. “With a half-dozen serious expansion discussions in progress, the league looks forward to adding new owners who share in the Board's vision."