Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
December 21, 2020 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL)
BASEBALL Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (Mexican Baseball League): Mexico's highest-level of baseball, the 16-team Triple-A LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, announced the addition of two expansion teams called the Aguila de Veracruz and Mariachis de Guadalajara for the 2021 season. The league will grow to 18 teams and two nine-team divisions with Veracruz added to the South and Guadalajara to the North. Veracruz last had an LMB team called the Rojos del Aguila (Red Eagle) that moved to Nuevo Laredo after the 2017 season. Guadalajara last had an LMB team called the Charros de Jalisco that moved to Oaxaca after the 1995 season. A current team called the Charros de Jalisco plays in the fall-winter Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (Mexican-Pacific League).
Major League Baseball: Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians announced the team will be changing its nickname and a new name will not have a Native American theme. The team has been called the Cleveland Indians since the 1915 season.
Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacifico (CIBACOPA): Officials with Mexico's nine-team semi-pro CIBACOPA, or Pacific Coast Basketball League, which played about one week of its 2020 season before suspending play on March 18 and eventually cancelling the season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, recently met with team owners to discuss plans for the 2021 season. The CIBACOPA season usually runs from March through May, but it is considering a 2021 season operating from May through September.
American Basketball Association: The semi-pro ABA announced plans to create the ABA Caribbean that will have teams based in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and other countries. The ABA Caribbean plans to start as a 16-team tournament based in Kissimmee (FL) in August 2021 with annual tournaments to follow in 2022 and 2023. The ABA has been trying to get other international leagues off the ground in Mexico and Australia.
The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL announced its 32nd team and 20th expansion team since the end of a shortened 2020 season will be called the Vegas Ballers, based in Las Vegas. The league is planning to add a 33rd team in Texas with an announcement of the location expected next week.
National Arena League: The NAL announced its 2021 season schedule that will feature seven teams each playing 14 games from early April through July. The league cancelled its 2020 season due to the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Of the seven teams planned for the 2020 season, the Jersey Flight (Trenton) and West Virginia Roughriders (Wheeling) had joined from the American Arena League. Since then, the West Virginia Roughriders decided to sit out the 2021 season, while the Massachusetts Pirates (Worcester) left for the Indoor Football League. After failed attempts to add new teams called the Baltimore Lightning, Tampa Bay Tornadoes and Louisville Xtreme, the NAL added two expansion teams called the Albany (NY) Empire and the Ontario (CA) Bandits for 2021 to remain at seven teams. Along with the expansion teams and the Jersey Flight, the other NAL teams include the Carolina Cobras (Greensboro, NC), Columbus (GA) Lions, Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators. American West Football Conference: The lower-level professional AWFC has added a fifth team called the Tri-City Rush (Kennewick, WA) for a planned 2021 season. When the league's Kennewick-based Tri-Cities Fire folded just prior to the 2020 season, an ownership group called Rage Sports LLC planned to have its semi-pro Kennewick-based Tri-City Rage team act as a fill-in for the Fire's 2020 road schedule but the 2020 season was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The owner of Rage Sports LLC then organized the new Tri-City Rush pro team for 2021.
Ligue Nord Americaine de Hockey: The six-team Quebec-based minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, recently announced it will not move forward with its 25th season in 2020-21 due to restrictions in place from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The league has not ruled out a possible round-robin tournament in March, April or May, if the situation improves.
Western Hockey League: The 22-team major-junior WHL, which has 17 teams in Canada and 5 teams in the United States, announced it will have to further delay the start of the 2020-21 season from its proposed January 8, 2021 date due to restrictions from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Québec: Canada's LHJQ (Quebec Junior Hockey League), which is one of ten leagues in the Junior-A Canadian Junior Hockey League organization, has delayed the start of its 2020-21 regular season due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. The 13-team league played some pre-season games but was unable to begin a delayed start to its season earlier this month. The LHJQ added a 13th team called the Condors de Cegep Beauce-Appalaches this season, while the Predateurs de St-Gabriel-de-Brandon relocated to become the Predateurs de Joliette.
Major League Soccer: The new MLS expansion team called the Austin FC held an expansion draft this week to select players for its start as the league's 27th team in 2021. The team's operator originally had purchased the league's Columbus Crew FC with plans to relocate that team to Austin. After backlash and a threatened lawsuit, a new operator was able to take over the Crew and a new stadium is to be built in Columbus, while the former operator of the Crew was granted an expansion team in Austin.
Liga del Balompié Mexicano: Mexico's new men's professional LBM (Mexican Football League), which started its inaugural season with 17 teams in October and lost 3 struggling teams last month, has lost an additional 4 teams and is down to 10 teams to finish the inaugural season. Teams called the Verucruzano de Futbol Tiburon, Acaxees de Durango, Los Cabos FC and San José have recently withdrawn from the league but some of the teams could try to return for the 2021-22 season.
National Independent Soccer Association: The Division-III professional NISA has accepted an application from a new soccer club in Rochester (NY) that will be called the Flower City Union when it starts play in the 2021 season. The city's most recent professional team was the Rochester Rhinos, which last played in the Division-II United Soccer League's 2017 season, but never returned after announcing plans to move to the Division-III professional USL League One. An amateur men's team called the Rochester Lancers has been part of the National Premier Soccer League for the past several seasons.
USL League Two (United Soccer League): The pre-professional USL League Two announced two former National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) teams called the Kalamazoo FC (Michigan) and the New Jersey Copa FC (Holmdel) have joined the league for the 2021 season. Both teams had been part of the NPSL since the 2016 season, but the NPSL did not play a 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
United Women's Soccer: The elite-level pro-am UWS announced a team called the Atlanta Panthers is the first team that will be part of a new Southeast Conference in the 2021 season. Additional Southeast Conference teams will be announced over the next several weeks.
National Women's Soccer League: The NWSL's OL Reign, which is based in Tacoma and operated by the French club Olympique Lyonnaise, has denied reports the club is looking to relocate the team from the Seattle/Tacoma market after a minority owner of the OL Reign expressed interest in moving the team to Miami. The club shares the local baseball stadium (Cheney Stadium) with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers and apparently considered the Miami market prior to selecting Tacoma in 2019. The club acknowledged it has received relocation offers from markets with a soccer-specific stadium and has emphasized the need for such a stadium, but is committed to developing a training facility and extending its current lease in Tacoma.
Premier Lacrosse League: The PLL and the other outdoor field lacrosse league known as Major League Lacrosse have entered into a merger and will operate under the Premier Lacrosse League format starting with the 2021 season. The PLL is a touring league that started play in 2019 and has a television contract with NBC Sports. The PLL had six league-operated teams in 2019 and grew to seven teams in 2020, but had to play all games at one location due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). The MLL started play in 2001 with teams based in six different cities and all owned by the league for the first several seasons. The MLL expanded and contracted over the years with individual franchise ownership, but returned to the single-entity ownership model with six teams in 2019. The six-team MLL played a short one-week tournament at one location in 2020. As part of the merger, the PLL will take the nickname from the MLL's Boston Cannons team and create an eighth team for 2021 simply called the Cannons to go with its other PLL teams called the Archers, Atlas, Chaos, Chrome, Redwoods, Whipsnakes and Waterdogs. The PLL will retain the rights to use the names of the remaining MLL teams that included the Connecticut Hammerheads, Denver Outlaws, Chesapeake Bayhawks, Philadelphia Barrage and New York Lizards. The PLL plans to include the former MLL markets in its 2021 schedule.
Dan Krieger is the creator of the Weekly Sports League & Franchise Report, which has been tracking changes in the sports world's leagues, teams and nicknames since April 2007.
• Discuss this story on the National Women's Soccer League message board...
National Women's Soccer League Stories from December 21, 2020
- Three Houston Dash Players Make Top 100 Women Footballers List - Houston Dash
- OL Reign Re-Signs Midfielder Rosie White for 2021 Season - OL Reign
- Nicole Momiki Signs Contract Extension with OL Reign - OL Reign
- Sky Blue FC Re-Signs Forward Ifeoma Onumonu for 2021 - Sky Blue FC
- Stephanie Labbe Signs with Swedish Side FC Rosengard - North Carolina Courage
- Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report - OSC Original by Dan Krieger
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.