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Will Birmingham get a minor league soccer team?


July 14, 2008
If Martin Sanchez has his way, Birmingham could have its first professional soccer team in 2009. Sanchez is the owner of the Alabama Spirit, a team mostly comprised of former area soccer players, who he hopes can move into an established soccer league next year.

Sanchez and organizers were carefully watching the fan turnout for an exhibition game against reserves from Mexico's CF Monterrey Rayados at UAB's West Campus Field. Monterrey won the contest 3-2. The most important numbers were the amount of people in the stands. "Being a Monday and having this many people coming out, that really gives me a good taste that the people love the sport. It looks like there's a need for (these) kind of matches in this city."

Organizer Scott Spencer said he has long wanted to develop a minor league soccer presence in Birmingham. He would like the Alabama Spirit to be a forerunner to a minor league team that will play here next summer, either in the Premier Developmental League or the National Premier Soccer League.

Sanchez, the owner and president of International Pallet Company, is more ambitious and hopes to have a team in the higher-caliber United Soccer League. Currently, he is a member of the investment group that owns the Nashville Metros, a USL team.

May 2009
 
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Epilogue
The hopes Sanchez had to field a professional soccer team in Birmingham never materialized.

However, in 2017 the United Soccer League announced that a team in Birmingham will begin play in 2019.

The Premier Development League was rebranded as United Soccer League Two in late 2018. As of 2019, USL2 has 72 teams in the United States and Canada.

The National Premier Soccer League has also carried on, and as of 2019 has 94 teams spread across the United States.
 
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Last update: July 20, 2019