Oklahoma City now has the first of two planned professional soccer teams.
Tuesday afternoon, Prodigal LLC and United Soccer Leagues PRO officially announced the approval of a USL team for the city. The team will make its debut in April 2014.
Another professional team could be on the horizon, however.
Oklahoma City resident Tim McLaughlin has emerged as a leader of a group that wants to bring an NASL franchise to Oklahoma City by spring 2015
Bill Peterson, the NASL commissioner, invited McLaughlin to the league's board of governors meeting on July 25 in Dallas. McLaughlin could make a presentation about his vision for NASL soccer in Oklahoma City.
Both the NASL and USL are composed of professional players.
There is only one city — Tampa Bay — with both NASL (Tampa Bay Rowdies) and USL (VSI Tampa Bay) teams. The Rowdies crowds average 3,837 per game, while VSI brings in an average in the hundreds.
VSI became a part of USL PRO in 2013, while the Rowdies were an original NASL member in the 1970s and '80s. The new team was revived in 2008.
The Two Leagues in Short:
* The North American Soccer League (NASL) is a professional soccer league that was re-established in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico in 2011.
*Approximately 200 soccer players are currently on NASL team rosters. Players' experience varies widely, as some have played in Europe and Latin America's first divisions and at the national team level, while others are in the early stages of their professional careers.
*The NASL plays a Spring Season (April 6 to July 4), with the winner earning the right to host the Soccer Bowl championship in November. Then the Fall Season (Aug. 3 to Nov. 2) winner joins the Spring winner in the Soccer Bowl
*The NASL currently plays 98 games per season (42 in the spring and 56 in the fall with the addition of an eighth team, the New York Cosmos). This will increase as more teams are added
In 2014, three teams will commence play in the NASL: Indy Eleven, Ottawa Fury and Virginia Cavalry. The league has been linked with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Jacksonville and Oklahoma City as future places of expansion.
*The NASL is a separate entity from MLS
*The USL is in its third decade of operations
*In 2013, United Soccer Leagues PRO began a multiyear partnership with Major League Soccer to strengthen the competition in both leagues
*There are 13 teams in United Soccer Leagues PRO, including expansion teams in Phoenix and Tampa. Two more teams have been approved to join the league for 2014 in Sacramento and Oklahoma City
*League play runs from April through September, and it consists of 26 regular-season matches, including two MLS interleague games
*USL PRO teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions.
*Three teams have moved from ULS PRO to the MLS: the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps.