How NISA Soccer Tryouts Work

If you’re looking to play for an NISA team, here’s what you need to know.

What is the National Independent Soccer Association?

The National Independent Soccer Association or NISA is a USSF accredited third division men’s professional soccer league. It’s on the same level as USL League One, and teams are eligible to play in the U.S. Open Cup.

The league played its inaugural season in 2019. It currently has 9 clubs spread across the United States including Flower City Union, Los Angeles Force, and Michigan Stars FC.

The season lasts from spring to fall similar to MLS. Because it has significant overlap with college semesters, it isn’t suitable for college players like USL League Two.

Unlike the MLS single-entity system, NISA teams operate as independent clubs.

NISA also operates NISA Nation which is a fourth-division league made up of amateur and semi-professional soccer players similar to the UPSL.

How do you try out for NISA?

Each NISA club operates its own tryouts. Tryouts are usually held in late winter or early spring prior to the start of the season.

Some clubs have completely open public tryouts. Other clubs have you contact the coaches to request an invitation. They may ask about your playing background or request a video of you playing.

Once you actually get there, pro soccer tryouts operate very similarly to club soccer or high school tryouts. Coaches will run players through small-sided and full-field games and various drills.

Most tryouts have multiple rounds with only the best players invited back to the later rounds.

Many NISA clubs have a tryout fee especially for open tryouts. This is for a variety of reasons including making sure players are serious, offsetting expenses, and even fundraising for the club.

Contact your local NISA club for tryout schedules, requirements, and what you need to bring.

How else can you start playing professional soccer?

The closest alternative to the NISA is USL League One. Many teams offer tryouts similarly to the NISA.

USL Championship teams also frequently hold open tryouts, but those teams play at a much higher level and will be much more selective. MLS teams currently recruit almost exclusively through their academy system and scouting of college and lower league games.

USL League Two may also be an option depending on your age. Teams can only have a few players over 23 years old and usually focus on current college players.

UPSL is also an option to continue playing at a high level although it is at a lower tier. Most teams are always looking for top players and may add to their roster even during the season.

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