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Philadelphia Fury officially announce NISA team, will play at Franklin Field

Fury to play home opener on September 7

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Track and Field: 125th Penn Relays Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Fury officially announced entry into new third division pro league National Independent Soccer Association on Thursday a month before their first home game scheduled for September 7 at Franklin Field.

NISA, a new provisionally-sanctioned Division III league by the United States Soccer Federation, previously announced Philadelphia as one of its markets and some information shared online had pointed to that team being the Fury but Thursday’s announcement, which included the launch of a website, made it official.

“The National Independent Soccer Association is excited that the Philadelphia Fury, a club with a tremendous heritage and playing in an historic venue, has decided to play professional soccer in NISA,” NISA Commissioner John Prutch said in a news release. “Led by Matt Driver, who is a long time fixture of the game and a passionate advocate of the open system, the Fury will leave its mark on the pitch and will make Philadelphia proud.”

Driver purchased the intellectual property rights to the Fury — originally a North American Soccer League team from 1978-1980 — in 2011 and has fielded teams in South Jersey using the name and original color scheme and logo since.

“It has been our vision to bring back the Philadelphia Fury as a professional soccer team playing in a United States Soccer Federation sanctioned league,” Driver said in a news release.

Driver, who is listed as the CEO and Sporting Director for the club, played in Europe and in the American Professional Soccer League before going into coaching. He served as an assistant for the New England Revolution from 2002-2004 and is the former owner and head coach of the South Jersey Barons. He also founded the AC Crusaders, which competed for two seasons in the National Premier Soccer League.

The front office staff also includes Chairman Martin E. Judge, Chief Revenue Officer Paul Insalaco, General Manager Robert Smith and Director of International Affairs Brian Melzack. Cris Vacarro is listed as the head coach and technical director.

The Fury will be the first pro soccer team to call Franklin Field home since the Philadelphia Atoms played the 1976 NASL season there. After hosting the 1978 College Cup, the venue has been used sparingly for soccer.

The size of the stadium — 52,000 capacity — and the narrow turf field with permanent gridiron lines (made even more narrow because of the stadium’s uniquely-sized track) seems less than ideal for pro soccer but the location is something both the league and the team have touted.

“Playing at Franklin Field also gives us a tremendous opportunity to allow fans to walk to the game in Center City, Philadelphia in a safe and welcoming environment,” Insalaco said in the news release. “Public transportation and parking are right there at the stadium and we have been setting up marches to the match on game days from local bars and restaurants.”

Tickets are currently on sale through the Penn Athletics website. The Fury have five home games scheduled for the fall season.

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