Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report
by Dan Krieger
March 29, 2021 - United Soccer League One (USL1)
Appalachian League: The Princeton (WV) team in the new summer-collegiate Appalachian League will be called the Princeton Whistlepigs, which is another name for a groundhog or woodchuck, when it starts play in the 2021 season. The city most recently had the Princeton Rays in the former advanced Rookie-level Appalachian League where teams were owned by MLB clubs. As part of MLB's restructuring of Minor League Baseball, the Appalachian League was converted to a summer-collegiate league under the MLB Prospect Development Pipeline and all ten of the markets in the former league moved to the new league with each team taking a new nickname.
Pacific Association: The Vallejo Admirals of the independent California-based Pacific Association have decided to sit out the 2021 season due to issues related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), but plan to return in 2022. The league did not play last season and is said to be restructuring in 2021. It is uncertain what the league's remaining two teamsâthe Napa Silverados and Sonoma Stompersâplan to do this season
West Coast League: The 15-team summer-collegiate WCL announced its 2021 season schedule will have no international travel. The league's Kelowna Falcons (British Columbia) will sit out the 2021 season, while the four other Canadian teams will play each other and the ten remaining teams in the United States will play each other during the regular-season.
Northwoods League: Since the Thunder Bay Border Cats (Ontario, Canada) of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League will be sitting out the 2021 season due to travel restrictions, the league has formed a new team called the Minnesota Mud Puppies, which will be based in the Twin Cities and play the 36-game road schedule that was assigned to the Border Cats. The Northwoods League had a former team called the Dubuque Mud Puppies that played in the league's first three seasons (1994-96) before relocating.
Texas Collegiate League: The Amarillo Sod Poodles and San Antonio Missions of the affiliated Double-A Central will operate teams called the Amarillo Sod Squad and San Antonio Flying Chanclas in the 2021 six-team summer-collegiate TCL. Since the Double-A Sod Poodles and Missions did not play last season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Amarillo sponsored the Sod Squad and Sod Dogs in the 2020 TCL and San Antonio operated the Flying Chanclas in the 2020 TCL. The Amarillo and San Antonio TCL teams will each play their 22 home games while the Double-A teams are on the road.
Midwest Professional Basketball Association: After playing two winter-spring seasons (2015-16) before moving to a 2017 summertime season that never happened, the semi-pro MPBA is trying to make a comeback as a Midwest associate of the proposed new Unified Basketball Alliance (UBA). This past January, two MPBA teams called the St. Louis RiverSharks and Indiana Swarm (Angola) played two UBA teams called the Harlem Black Rattlers and New York Strong at an event in Valparaiso (IN). The UBA wants to start with teams in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and expand with divisions in the Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest. The MPBA currently lists other teams called the Memphis Blues, Missouri Steam (formerly the St. Louis or Gateway Steam), Illinois 66ers (formerly the Pontiac 66ers) and Fort Wayne Express (formerly the Lima Express).
Women's American Basketball Association: The WABA recently added new teams called the Georgia Soul (Augusta), Topeka Shock and Carolina Upstate Thunder (Simpsonville, SC) for its 2021 season. Liga Basquetbol Estatal de Chihuahua: Mexico's minor men's basketball league known as the LBE, or State Basketball League of Chihuahua, recently started its 2021 season with six teams. All games are being played at one "bubble" locationâManuel Bernardo Aguirre University in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua.
Champions Indoor Football: The CIF started the first week of its 2021 season schedule with three of the six teams playing non-league teams. The Sioux City (IA) Bandits played the Sioux Empire Crusaders, the 2021 expansion team called the Wyoming Mustangs (Gillette) played the Dallas Prime and the Salina (KS) Bandits played the Arlington (TX) Bulldogs. The CIF has eight teams but the West Texas Warbirds (Odessa), which was added as a seventh team for a cancelled 2020 season, and the Amarillo Venom are voluntarily sitting out this season. The other 2021 CIF teams included the Omaha Beef, Wichita Force and Oklahoma Flying Aces (Enid).
National Football League: The NFL's Washington Football Team, which operated as the Washington Redskins until that name was dropped in July 2020, stated there is no frontrunner as a new team name. The team will continue to be called the Washington Football Team in 2021 with a permanent name to be in effect in 2022. The team has received over 15,000 submissions on the new team name and logo.
National Women's Hockey League: The NWHL held the playoff games this weekend to close out its short two-week 2020-21 season. The season was played in late January and early February, but the playoffs had to be delayed due to an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. The six-team NWHL is also reported to be adding a seventh team in Montreal for the 2021-22 season.
North American Hockey League: The Tier-II junior-level NAHL announced the addition of the new Anchorage Wolverines team for the 2021-22 season. The NAHL has two other Alaska-based teams called the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Kenai River Brown Bears. Both of these teams have been playing home games this season in Minnesota (Fairbanks in Marshall and Kenai River in Breezy Point) due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Both teams recently announced they will return to their homes in Alaska next month for the remainder of their 2020-21 home games.
3ICE League: The new 3ICE independent three-on-three professional ice hockey league announced it is delaying the start of its inaugural season until the summer of 2022 because fans might not be able to attend games due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This past fall the league announced a schedule for 2021 that would feature eight teams playing weekend tour events in nine cities in the United States and Canada from June 20 to August 7, 2021 followed by a ninth week of playoffs on August 21.
United Women's Soccer: The pro-am UWS announced the addition of the Dallas-based Lone Star Republic to the Southwest Conference and the Pensacola FC and Louisiana FC (Baton Rouge) to the Southeast Conference for the 2021 season. The lower-level UWS League Two announced the Bayside FC (E. Providence, RI) has been added to the New England Conference for 2021. The UWS also announced its arrangement with the men's National Independent Soccer Association to create a new women's professional league has ended. The UWS will now work toward creating its own pyramid with the UWS League Two, the UWS pro-am and a Professional Division.
National Indoor Soccer League: The new professional NISL plans to start its inaugural 2021-22 season on December 25, 2021. Each member team will have a team in a Men's and Women's division and each NISL game night will feature a doubleheader with a men's game and a women's game.
USL League One (United Soccer League): The professional Division-III USL League One has entered into an expansion agreement with a group working on a development in the Eugene/Springfield (OR) market that would include a new soccer stadium. If plans are approved, the market's current pre-professional USL League Two team called the Lane United FC would move up to the USL League One. The 12-team USL League One announced its 2021 season will feature each team playing a 28-game schedule from April 10 to October 30, 2021.
Major League Soccer: The MLS announced its 2021 season schedule will feature 27 teams each playing a 34-game schedule from April 16 to November 7, 2021. The MLS and Mexico's top soccer league called LIGA MX will join in the Leagues Cup single-elimination tournament starting in August 2021. This will feature four MLS teams and four LIGA MX teams. In September, the two leagues will also participate in the Campeones Cup (Champions Cup) featuring last season's champion the Columbus Crew against the winner of the Liga MX's current season.
Major League Quidditch: After cancelling its 2020 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the 15-team MLQ announced plans last month to play a 2021 season starting in June. The league has three different scenarios of play depending on the status of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. Phase One would have all teams participating with cross-border travel. Phase 2 would have the two Canadian teams playing each other and all U.S. teams playing each other. A Phase 3 would be a shortened schedule of three divisional Super Series events (East, North & South) with all games held in one location (Boston, Cleveland and Austin) for each division.
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.
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