In 2002, months after winning the Major League Soccer Supporters’ Shield, the Miami Fusion was folded by the league due to investor Ken Horowitz deciding he was no longer going to finance the team.
Now 14 seasons since the franchise’s best and last season in MLS, the Fusion name has been resurrected. Intelisport Inc. is the muscle behind the new Fusion, which is connected with the original MLS team through name only.
The new club has ambitious plans as the team will begin life in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) on May 10th. The NPSL is the USA’s fourth-tier of professional soccer and is already home to six Florida-based clubs.
This would seem to be a disadvantage to many, but not to NPSL Chairman Joe Barone. The league’s chairman couldn’t be more proud to add the Fusion to the league.
“The addition of Miami Fusion FC brings a lot of excitement to South Florida, one of the most vibrant soccer markets in the country,” a statement read on the NPSL website.
Part of the Fusion’s broader hopes is to use the 2015 NPSL season as a springboard into the North American Soccer League for 2016 or 2017.
While MLS has flirted with putting a new team in Miami and David Beckham has joined in with the occasional wandering glance, the state of Florida has become a hot-bed for soccer.
The new Fusion hopes to turn many of those would-be MLS or Beckham franchise fans into its own supporters. As well as wake up those former Fusion fans that MLS turned its back on when the original club was folded.
Former New York Cosmos’ player and Miami United FC manager Ferdinando De Matthaeis will lead the club. De Matthaeis has been appointed as both head coach and technical director; and it didn’t take long for him to identify his first signing.
Former US Under-20 midfielder Vincenzo Bernardo was confirmed as Miami Fusion’s first player on Tuesday morning. The former New York Red Bulls and Napoli youth player has led quite a career away from the MLS-centric US soccer headlines. Carving out a storybook career many young American players should read.
“I am grateful for this opportunity that coach De Matthaeis and the owners have given me,” Bernardo stated in an exclusive interview with World Soccer Talk. “I am very excited to be a part of the team and a movement to bring soccer back to the level it deserves to be in Miami.”
When asked about the challenges of being Miami Fusion’s first signing, Bernardo is coolly taking it in his stride.
“I don’t think there are any extreme challenges that I’m faced with,” the New Jersey-native explained. “The club has an amazing ownership group and staff that has given me support since day one.
“I feel comfortable here with the Miami Fusion and I am very excited to get on the field and represent the club and the city of Miami the best way I can.”
Now three years in the making, Intelisport Inc.’s Miami Fusion dream is about to become reality. The club has ambitious goals outlined by its ownership group and coach.
“We will have strong support from European soccer experts and be composed of players and staff from the United States, Latin America and Europe,” De Matthaeis explained. “We hope to gain worldwide recognition by playing overseas and hosting international games.”
The club is currently looking for talent to fill out its roster ahead of the season with open tryouts at the end of April before kicking off the NPSL season in May.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @CalcioFarmer. A native of Southwest Missouri, Drew is a sports journalist and blogger currently residing in Manchester, England. Drew contributes to World Soccer Talk and is a featured writer and podcast host at Forza Italian Football.
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