SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Michiana has been awarded an expansion franchise by the United Soccer League: the South Bend Lions.
On Tuesday, the South Bend Lions were officially introduced to the community at the Council City Building.
The Lions will compete in the Great Lakes Division of the USL League Two starting in May of 2020. The club will play in a ten game season over the span of three months.
The team will be composed of local soccer players and international players who are under the age of 23.
The Lions are owned by Ritchie Jeune who owns soccer teams in England and China, and will be coached by Thiago Pinto, who is the head soccer coach over at Bethel.
"I was ready," Pinto said. "I've been here for 17 years in South Bend and been involved in soccer and the community at various levels. I just felt like this was something our community needs. With the growth we are seeing in so many ways not allowing just our young players to grow and have a pathway to the professional level but also as a community as well. To bring people together for a greater purpose."
The club is super excited to call South Bend home and be a part of the Michiana community.
"The community can help the team by rallying around us and coming and supporting the team," Jeune said. "How we can help the community is we are providing that pathway. We are providing the opportunity for the youth of South Bend and get on the ladder of that pro soccer experience."
As for where the Lions will call home in 2020, they don't know yet.
The club says they've narrowed it down to three locations in Michiana, which they haven't revealed yet but they hope to announce their new home in three to four weeks.