Breaking News: Memphis Americans to go on hiatus
The National Indoor Soccer League released their schedule for the upcoming 2024 season and the Memphis Americans are not on it. Despite both the men’s team and the women’s team being title contenders each and every year, the team does not appear to be part of the NISL’s plans for this season. When reached for comment by Bluff City Media, the league simply replied with, “Per the release, ‘the Memphis Americans will be taking a hiatus for the 2024 season.'”
The NISL was launched in 2021 with four teams, of which the Memphis Americans were one (the others being the Columbus Rapids, Rome Gladiators, and Fayetteville Fury). What made the NISL different from other indoor leagues was that each organization would have both a men’s team and a women’s team. This meant that each game day was a doubleheader, giving fans two games for the price of one. The Americans were the only organization that saw both teams consistently achieve a high level of success. Under the guidance of Corey Adamson (who coached the women’s team as well as both played for and coached the men’s team) the American’s women’s team won the NISL Championship and the men’s team lost in the championship game.
The 2022 season saw the addition of two new teams to the league. Both were located in Florida: the Central Florida Crusaders and the Tampa Bay Strikers (coached by former Super Bowl winning kicker Martin Gramatica). The Americans continued to assert themselves as the best-performing organization in the league. The women’s team was the best in the regular season while the men’s team finished in second place during the regular season.
Even in terms of the broadcast of games, the Memphis Americans were head and shoulders above the rest of the league. All games were aired on the NISL YouTube channel and the home games played at the Landers Center were called by Jeff Brightwell and Tim Van Horn. The duo won Broadcasters of the Year in both 2022 and 2023.
The league, however, was not without a litany of issues. Payments to referees were often late as were payments to players. One game between the Americans and the Tampa Bay Strikers saw Martin Gramatica dismissed from the game for verbally abusing the referee only for him to come back onto the field at halftime and berate the referee some more. Players tend to follow the lead of their coach and the second half of the game was quite chippy between the Tampa players and Corey Adamson. Things eventually boiled all the way over and led to a brawl outside the locker room after the game was over.
Player and coach discipline aside, the NISL had other issues too. The league has lost almost as many teams as they’ve added. 2022 may have seen the addition of two Florida teams but it also saw the subtraction of the Rome Gladiators, who folded after just one season. The Columbus Rapids no longer appear to be in the league as they too have been omitted from the 2024 NISL schedule. And of course, sadly, the Americans are gone now as well. Perhaps the proverbial writing was on the wall a few weeks ago when Adamson left the Americans and signed with the St. Louis Ambush in the MASL.
But without a doubt, the lowest point for the league was a story that was broken by Bluff City Media in May when the NISL decided to cancel the playoffs a week after the playoff format and schedule was announced. This meant that the women’s team did not get the opportunity to defend their title and the men’s team did not get a chance to avenge their championship game defeat. Instead the NISL simply decided that the regular season standings would decide who the champions were, a deeply unsatisfying conclusion for all involved.
It’s a sad day for soccer fans in Memphis. Americans games were a ton of fun to attend, as there was plenty of action and bunches of goals. It also gave Memphis soccer fans a way to bridge the off-season for Memphis 901 FC as the bulk of Americans games were played in January and February. The schedule release from the NISL did make mention that the Americans are hopeful of a return in 2025. The soccer fans in Memphis are definitely hopeful too.
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