This is never news that you want to hear. According to Scratching the Pitch’s Chad Hollingsworth, New York City’s USL affiliate the Wilmington Hammerheads are going to go on hiatus next season:
...a somewhat unexpected bit of news to come out of the USL midseason meetings is that Wilmington does not plan to compete in 2017. This report comes from independent sources within the league.
Jason Arnold, Wilmington Hammerheads FC General Manager, was contacted but could not comment on the 2017 season.
If you weren’t aware, lower-division soccer in the United States is in flux, and always has been. Generally speaking, the NASL is considered the second division league, and the USL is considered the third division, but since there’s no promotion & relegation, these distinctions are arbitrary, and more economic than anything else.
However, with the ever-increasing linkages between MLS and USL on one hand, and the burgeoning triangle of challenges between MLS and the NASL and the USL and the NASL, the USL decided last season to make the move up to the second division. That would make things difficult for some USL teams, like the Hammerheads, who play in small towns like Wilmington, NC.
The Hammerheads and New York City have been affiliated for two seasons, but truthfully, there hasn’t been a lot of interplay between the two teams — at least, not at the surface level. We haven’t seen Hammerheads players come up to MLS, or more importantly, have we seen bench players go down to USL to get playing time.
It would be a shame for Wilmington to lose their team, but as Hollingsworth points out, this wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened. The Hammerheads took a break six years ago, then came back with a much stronger financial base. Let’s hope they can do that again -- possibly with the assistance of CFG, if not someone else.