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 Major League Soccer

Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
November 8, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS)


BASEBALL

Pioneer League: The independent Pioneer League, which completed its inaugural season as an independent league and new partner league of Major League Baseball in 2021, announced its schedule for the 2022 season. The league will grow from 8 to 10 teams with the addition of a yet-to-be-named Flathead Valley (Kalispell, MT) team to the Northern Division and the Northern Colorado Owlz (Windsor), formerly the Orem (UT) Owlz from the previous affiliated version of the league, to the Southern Division.

Northwoods League: With the Green Bay Booyah of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League coming under new ownership earlier this year, the team will undergo a name change to the Green Bay Rockers starting with the 2022 season. The team joined the league in 2007 as the Green Bay Bullfrogs and changed to the Booyah for the 2019 season.

Liga Mexicana de Beisbol: Mexico's top professional baseball league known as the LMB, or Mexican Baseball League, announced its 18 teams will each play a 90-game schedule from late April to early August 2022. Teams played only a 66-game schedule in 2021 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Northern League: The summer-collegiate Midwest Collegiate League, which operated in 2021 with six teams in the Chicago and Northern Indiana area, has changed its name to the Northern League as the league switches from a summer-collegiate league to an unaffiliated pre-professional baseball league. The Northern League name was most recently used by an independent pro baseball league that folded in 2010.

Double-A Northeast League: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Double-A Northeast League plan to rename the team the Manchester Chicken Fingers for one game during the 2022 season as a tribute to the invention of the chicken tender at a local restaurant.

Pecos Spring League: The independent Pecos League announced its developmental and exposure Pecos Spring League will operate in March 2022 and will again be based at a complex in the Houston area.

BASKETBALL

National Basketball Association Gatorade League (G-League): The NBA's G-League started the first part of its two-part 2021-22 season with a Showcase Cup competition featuring 30 teams. All of the G-League's 28 teams that each have a single affiliation with an NBA team, along with the new unaffiliated Ciudad de Mexico Capitanes (Mexico City Capitanes) team and the developmental prospects travel team called the Ignite are aligned in a single table with the top eight teams advancing to a single-elimination tournament in mid-December. Starting in January, the 28 NBA affiliated G-League teams will each then play a 36-game regular season. The Ignite will continue to play games against select G-League teams including Mexico City in 2022, but those game will not count in the standings. Of the 30 NBA teams, only the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns do not own or have an affiliation with a G-League team. Along with Mexico City, the New Orleans Pelicans' new Birmingham (AL) Squadron affiliate, formerly the Erie (PA) BayHawks, and the Detroit Pistons' new Motor City Cruisers affiliate, formerly the Northern Arizona Suns, start play this season. The Pistons' former G-League affiliate called the Grand Rapids Drive is now the Grand Rapids Gold and a new hybrid affiliate of the Denver Nuggets. The Cleveland Cavaliers moved its Canton (OH) Charge G-League team to Cleveland as the Cleveland Charge, while the Boston Celtics' Maine Red Claws (Portland) G-League team was renamed the Maine Celtics.

National Basketball League of Canada: After cancelling the last third of its 2019-20 season and its entire 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the professional NBL-Canada announced plans to restart play in February 2022 with only its four Ontario-based Central Division teams called the London Lightning, Windsor Express, Sudbury Five and Kitchener-Waterloo Titans. Of the league's four Maritimes-based Atlantic Division teams, the Halifax Hurricanes (Nova Scotia) and Moncton Magic (New Brunswick) left the league earlier this year, while the St. John's Edge (Newfoundland) lost its arena lease and was without a home venue. This left only the Island Storm (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island) that hopes to return next season in a revamped Atlantic Division. The four remaining NBL-Canada teams will each play a 24-game schedule that will also include games against six teams from The Basketball League, whose organizer was at one time the commissioner of the NBL-Canada.

The Basketball League: The minor professional TBL lists the Flint United, Lansing Pharaohs, Jamestown (NY) Jackals, Syracuse Stallions, Albany (NY) Patroons and Kokomo (IN) Bobcats as the six TBL teams to participate in inter-league play with the National Basketball League of Canada in the 2022 season. The TBL's Boston-based South Shore Monarchs team has come under new control and has been renamed the Massachusetts Monarchs, or Mass Monarchs, for the 2022 season.

FOOTBALL

American West Football Conference: The indoor AWFC's 2022 expansion team called the San Diego Red Tails will be playing its inaugural season in the City of Industry (CA), just east of Los Angeles County, so the team has been renamed the SoCal Red Tails.

Major League Football: The long-proposed developmental springtime MLFB announced 11 potential cities for its 6 teams that will start play in 2022. All teams will have a training camp in Lakewood Ranch (FL) in mid-April 2022 before moving to their home cities. Cities under consideration include Mobile (AL), Montgomery (AL), Little Rock (AR), Norfork/Virginia Beach (VA), Canton/Massillon (OH), Orlando (FL), Daytona (FL), Austin (TX), Denton (TX), San Antonio (TX) and Oklahoma City.

Indoor Football League: With the IFL's announcement of its 2022 schedule last week, the league also plans to align the 15 participating teams into a seven-team Midwest Conference and an eight-team West Conference for the 2022 season.

HOCKEY

American Hockey League: The National Hockey League's Seattle Kraken announced its AHL affiliate to be based in the Palms Desert (CA) area will be called the Coachella Valley Firebirds when the team starts play at a new arena in the 2022-23 season. The Firebirds will become the AHL's 32nd team and give each of the 32 NHL teams its own AHL affiliate. The Seattle Kraken are sharing the AHL's Charlotte Checkers team with the NHL's Florida Panthers for this season.

Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey: After cancelling the entire 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the six-team Quebec-based minor professional LNAH, or North American Hockey League, started its 2021-22 season early last month with each team playing a 36-game schedule until early March 2022. Teams include the 3L Riviere-du-Loup, Assurancia de Thetford Mines, Petroliers du Nord (Laval), Cool FM Saint-Georges, Eperviers Sorel-Tracy and Marquis de Jonquiere.

Premier Hockey Federation: The women's PHF, which previously operated as the National Women's Hockey League, started its 2021-22 season this weekend with six teams each playing a 20-game schedule through mid-March 2022. All six teams that participated in a short season last year in Lake Placid (NY) have returned. Teams include the Boston Bride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale (Danbury), Metropolitan Riveters (Morris Township/Newark, NJ), Minnesota Whitecaps (St. Paul) and Toronto Six. The PHF plans to add a Montreal team for the 2022-23 season.

Western States Hockey League: The junior-level WSHL, which started its 2021-22 season last month with a five-team Northwest Division of teams in Utah, Oregon and Washington and a five-team Provincial Division of teams in Alberta (Canada), has placed the Northwest Division in dormancy. The Utah Altitude (Salt Lake City) played the Northwest Division's first game last weekend against the Vernal (UT) Oilers and then ceased operations this week due to a lack of players. The WSHL stated the dormancy of the Northwest Division will not affect the ongoing 2021-22 schedule of the Provincial Division.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer: MLS announced the schedule format and alignment for the 2022 season. With the addition of Charlotte FC as the league's 28th team, the MLS will have two 14-team conferences with Charlotte FC added to the Eastern Conference and Nashville SC moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Nashville SC had played its inaugural 2020 season as part of the Western Conference. Nashville SC could be moved back to the Eastern Conference in 2023 when the expansion St. Louis City SC starts play.

National Women's Soccer League: The professional NWSL announced the details for the expansion draft that will be held next month and stock the league's two 2022 expansion teams-the Los Angeles-based Angel City FC and a yet-to-be-named San Diego team. This grows the league from 10 to 12 teams.

USL W-League (United Soccer League): The Charlotte Independence, which has men's teams in the Division-II USL Championship and pre-professional USL League Two, will add a women's team in the inaugural 2022 season of the new pre-professional USL W-League.

United Women's Soccer: Although the owner of the Lansing United in the pro-am UWS announced the team was folding after the recent 2021 season, a new Lansing-based team called the Cap City Athletic 1847 will join the league for the 2022 season. The league's FC Buffalo will be adding a team to a new Lake Erie Conference in the lower-level UWS League Two for 2022. A new team called the Erie (PA) Commodores FC, which has had a men's National Premier Soccer League team since 2009, will also join the new conference for 2022.

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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