Las Vegas Legends achieve a US first with NISA invite based on performance, not money

January 15 – Las Vegas is expected to be announced as one of the next MLS franchise cities once a big money ownership group is structured, but the MLS won’t have the only professional football (soccer) team in town.

Las Vegas – which is rapidly evolving from ‘Sin City’ to ‘Sports City’ – has been the home of USL Championship side Las Vegas Lights since 2018, and in 2025 will see the launch of local club side Las Vegas Legends in the US third tier National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) league.

Las Vegas Legends will be a first for professional soccer in the US as they have earned their place in the league (NISA are calling it a franchise) via a merit-based promotion system. They could be joined by Northern Virginia FC who have similarly earned a performance-achieved invitation to the pro league, though have not indicated whether they will take it up yet.

Las Vegas Legends (LVL) and Northern Virginia FC were the finalists in the inaugural NISA Nation National Championship last month (Northern Virginia FC won on penalties).

LVL started in 2012 in front of a thousand fans at Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena and have progressed through playing in the National Premier Soccer League’s West Region, Southwest Conference. For the past three years, they have played in NISA Nation, the incubator league that now provides a promotional pathway to the pro league.

“This is likely a first in U.S. soccer,” said NISA Executive Vice President Josh Prutch.

“Earning promotion on the pitch and taking the time to develop a strong front office is critical for any club making the jump to pro. We’ve been able to see that growth alongside Meir (LVL founder and owner Meir Cohen) over the last few seasons, and will work with them in this year of transition.”

“The Legends were well before their time – one of the first pro sports teams in Las Vegas,” says Cohen.

“But now, Las Vegas Legends FC will be a part of the booming sports culture in our city joining the Raiders, Golden Knights, and Aces. We are confident that we will build a successful team that our community will be proud to watch and support.”

“With youth soccer continuing to grow across Las Vegas’ communities, the players and their families now will have a professional club acting as role models,” Cohen says. “LVL seeks to continue to be a catalyst for the pride and support of a community a club can ignite.”

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1709258038labto1709258038ofdlr1709258038owedi1709258038sni@n1709258038osloh1709258038cin.l1709258038uap1709258038