Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 26, 2018 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
Can-Am League: The Rockland Boulders (Ramapo, NY) of the independent Can-Am League are considering a move to the independent Atlantic League, possibly as soon as the 2019 or the 2020 season. The Atlantic League is considered to be a higher profile league and plays a 140-game season compared to the Can-Am League's 100-game season. The Boulders have considered the possibility of becoming a team affiliated with a Major League Baseball club, but its home is only about 35 miles from Manhattan (NY) and is in the territories of three current affiliated minor league teams in the short-season Class-A New York-Penn League, along with the territories of the New York Yankees and New York Mets. The Rockland Boulders started as a 2011 Can-Am league expansion team.
Southwest League of Professional Baseball: As part of a name-the-team contest, the Joplin (MO) team that is to become a member of the proposed new independent Southwest League in 2019 has announced six finalists for a team name. The six names include the Tornadoes, Twisters, Miners, 66'ers, Jacks and Phoenix. The city's last professional baseball team was the Joplin Blasters team that folded after the 2016 season in the independent American Association.
Minor League Baseball Copa de la Diversi?"n (Fun Cup): Minor League Baseball (MiLB) has announced plans for its Copa de la Diversi?"n, or Fun Cup, which will be a season-long event involving 33 MiLB teams paying tribute to the U.S. Hispanic/Latino culture in their markets. Over the 165-game event across various levels of MiLB, at least 30 of the teams will take on Hispanic/Latino nicknames. Just a few of the nicknames include the Toros de Durham (Durham Bulls), Abejas de Salt Lake (Salt Lake Bees), San Jose Gigantes (San Jose Giants), Memphis Musica (Memphis Redbirds), Brooklyn Jefes (Brooklyn Cyclones), Chivos de Hartford (Hartford Yard Goats). Sacramento Dorados (Sacramento River Cats), Stockton Caballos (Stockton Ports) and Rapidos de Kannapolis (Kannapolis Intimidators).
Central Basketball Association: The springtime CBA started its sixth season this weekend with eight teams that will each play an eight-game regular-season schedule through next month. All seven teams from last season have returned, although the Mississippi Eagles (Southhaven) moved to Tennessee to become the Jackson Eagles. The league's Memphis Rail Runners team that last played in the 2016 season has returned as the eighth team for the 2018 season.
American Basketball Association: The ABA announced two more new teams called the Dallas Dunk, based in Plano (TX), and the Contra Costa County (CA) Delta Stars have been added as 2018-19 expansion teams. The ABA has had several teams based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area over the past 15 years. The ABA announced a second team called the Sydney Venom for its proposed new ABA Australia league. Last month the Sydney Razorbacks were announced as the first team for the ABA Australia.
Alliance of American Football: A group of investors is organizing a new springtime professional football league called the Alliance of American Football (The Alliance), which plans to start play in February 2019 with eight league-operated teams aligned in four-team divisions. Team locations will be announced over the next 12 weeks. The Alliance plans to introduce some rule changes for player safety and to speed up the tempo of the game. The Alliance already has an agreement with CBS to air league games in 2019.
Elite Indoor Football: The EIF has started its 2018 season and currently lists 13 teams in its league standings. The 2018 season schedule features EIF teams playing various games against independent teams and against teams from the American Arena League and the semi-pro Mid-Atlantic Indoor Football League. The EIF played a loosely organized 2017 indoor football season that basically featured the Atlanta Furious and the Southern Steam (Statesboro, GA) as its main teams.
Rivals Professional Football League: The RPFL held its Southern Conference championship game this weekend. The RPFL is an adult professional developmental league that started play in 2014 and is a showcase for players looking for positions in the National Football League and Canadian Football League. The RPFL is operating under the same format and league alignment as it had for the 2017 season. The 2018 four-team Southern Conference included the Atlantic Sharks, Florida Red Wolves, Miami Blaze and South Beach Silverbacks each playing a four-game season in February and March with all games played at a stadium in Hialeah (FL). The four-team Northern Conference is scheduled to play its 2018 season at a stadium in Pontiac (MI) from May to June with teams called the Detroit Cougars, Michigan Bearcats, Oakland County Racers and Pontiac Generals. The top team from each conference will then meet in a league championship game. The RPFL plans to add a four-team conference of teams in Atlanta for 2019.
The Spring League: The Spring League, which is an instructional football league that serves as a developmental platform and showcase for professional football talent, has posted its 2018 schedule. Four teams called Spring League East, West, North and South will each play games on April 7 and April 12 in Austin (TX). The Spring League started last year in West Virginia with four teams and ended up playing only three of six scheduled games. A "Showcase Game" was also played in Napa (CA) in July 2017 and featured teams called Spring League California and Spring League East.
USA Central Hockey League: The proposed new Tier-I junior-level USACHL plans to start play in the 2018-19 season with six teams located mostly in Texas markets. The USACHL organizer was previously involved in the former minor professional Central Hockey League (CHL) and a recent attempt to organize the Central 1 Hockey League (C1HL), which was to be a Tier-I league under the Amateur Athletic Union's United Hockey Union. The new USACHL announced its first team will be the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees based in Hidalgo (TX). The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees was the name of a professional team for nine seasons (2003-12) in the former CHL and a junior team for two seasons (2013-15) in the Tier-II North American Hockey League. The USACHL's second team was announced for the city of Laredo, which was home for nine seasons (2002-11) to a professional CHL team. The new Laredo ownership is trying to acquire rights to the Bucks name. The USACHL will play a 60-game schedule from October to March.
United Soccer League: The USL's Rochester Rhinos team, which decided to sit out the 2018 season due to financial difficulties, has reached a temporary agreement with the city to continue to operate the Capelli Sports Stadium in 2018. The Rhinos are required to inform the city of a plan to field a 2019 team by September 1, 2018 or the team could be evicted at the end of the year. The stadium is expected to be used for various events this season and will host four USL matches, all featuring the Toronto FC II. Major League Soccer's Minnesota United Loons still do not have their own USL affiliate as most other MLS teams do, but the Loons are considering cities in the Upper Midwest and hope to have a USL team by the 2020 season.
American Soccer League: The lower-level professional ASL announced a team called Sure Sports FC, based in Elkridge (MD), has been holding tryouts and will be joining the league for the 2018 season.
National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL started its 2018 season this weekend with nine teams aligned in one table for the standings. The league had ten teams last season, but the FC Kansas City Blues and the Boston Breakers did not return. The NWSL added the new Utah Royals FC (Salt Lake City) as a 2018 expansion team. Kansas City and Boston had been members of the NWSL since the league's inaugural season in 2013. The league's Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Orlando Pride and Utah Royals FC are affiliated with the men's Major League Soccer teams in their markets. The NWSL's North Carolina Courage (Cary) is affiliated with the men's North Carolina FC of the United Soccer League. NWSL teams play a 24-game schedule through early September.
North American Soccer League: The NASL has added Major League Soccer as a defendant in its case against the United States Soccer Federation for revoking the NASL's Division-II status for the 2018 season. The loss of Division-II status caused some existing teams and two expansion teams to drop out of the league. One of the NASL's planned expansion teams was the California United FC (Fullerton), which will operate a reserve team called the California United FC II in the 2018 Pro Premier division of the United Premier Soccer League while the first team California United FC decides its future.
World TeamTennis: The professional WTT recently held a player draft for its upcoming 2018 season that will run from July 15 to August 5. The WTT will have the same six teams as last season to include the New York Empire, Orange County (CA) Breakers, Philadelphia Freedoms, San Diego Aviators, Springfield (MO) Lasers and Washington (DC) Kastles.
American Ultimate Disc League: The Raleigh Flyers of the men's professional AUDL have announced an affiliated women's team called the Raleigh Radiance will start play this season. The new Radiance team has already scheduled two games against another new 2018 AUDL women's team called the Nashville NightShade, which is affiliated with the men's Nashville NightWatch team.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames, which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.
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