Grand Rapids FC is a minor league soccer team that plays its home games at Houseman Field. Courtesy Thinkstock
A West Michigan soccer club is changing leagues.
Grand Rapids FC said last week that it has been accepted into the National Premier Soccer League — a fourth-tier league in the American soccer pyramid.
Last season – GRFC’s inaugural season – the amateur team played in the Great Lakes Premier League, which was created by GRFC and an Ann Arbor team.
Next year, GRFC will play in the Midwest Region of the NPSL, which includes other Michigan teams, such as Lansing United, Detroit City FC and Michigan Stars FC. The region also includes teams from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Indiana.
The leagues above the NPSL are fully professional: the United Soccer League, North American Soccer League and Major League Soccer.
“We chose to join the NPSL for a chance to win a national championship and create rivalries with other Michigan teams,” GRFC President Matt Roberts said. “We bring another competitive team to an already competitive region. We hope to compete for a playoff spot in our first season.”
GRFC saw an average of 4,500 fans at its home games at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids during the first season, which saw the team finish second in the Great Lakes Premier League.
Following the season, NPSL Chairman Joe Barone told the Business Journal the league was interested in a West Michigan team.
“We are thrilled to add yet another team in Michigan,” Barone said. “This move will help make the Midwest Region even more competitive. There is sure to be more rivalries, which is a major plus for our fans and supporters.”