Zeta FC which based in Irvine have summited to the National Independent Soccer Association(NISA) an application for membership in the professional league on March 16 to join the league in the 2024 season. If approved, IZFC will be the first Chinese-founded professional soccer club in the United States.
The National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) was founded in 2017 and is one of the three major professional leagues of the United States Soccer Federation. It is the third tier league in the U.S., like the EFL League One in England. NISA started its first season in 2019 and is currently in its fifth year. It is expected to have more than 10 teams to play, including Zeta FC.
Zeta FC was established in September 2022 in Irvine, California, by Cary Lyu, founder and president of the Zeta Sports Group. Since its inception, Zeta FC has been operating according to professional standards.
Throughout North American professional soccer history, there has never been a professional soccer club established by a Chinese investor. Zeta FC has created a series of milestones, becoming the first professional soccer club named the City of Irvine, the second professional soccer club in Orange County, and the fifth professional soccer club in the Great Los Angeles area (with LA Galaxy, LAFC, Orange County SC, and Los Angeles Force). Zeta FC is also among over 70 professional clubs in the United States.
Zeta FC is based in Irvine, a preferred city for many Chinese immigrants due to its excellent geographical location, proper urban planning, and perennial ranking as the safest city in the United States. It currently has a population of about 310,000, with approximately 60,000 Chinese residents. The club plans to be based in Irvine for the long term and will play home games at the Championship Soccer Stadium, which can accommodate 5,000 fans. Moreover, the club's official name will change to Irvine Zeta FC to bring different ethnic and community groups together in Irvine, with "The Real Irviners" as the club's slogan. Zeta FC plans to spend a year honing its skills in the lower-level UPSL before joining NISA in 2024 to build its team and adapt to the professional league. The team has already had many high-level players, including players who played in the Premier League, the Bundesliga, the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, and Zhao Mingxuan, who was selected for China's youth national team. The team has shown impressive dominance in the preseason game before the 2023 season, often winning by double-digit scores. The club's goal is clear: to win the UPSL championship in the 2023 season.
Zeta FC also emphasizes youth training and has been operating the Zeta Academy for a year before the club's founding. The academy currently has over 100 registered members and is expected to have 300 by the end of 2023. In addition, Zeta FC will strengthen and improve its Club Teams by developing U6-U19 boys' and girls' teams to be the only professional club in Orange County that can provide a complete pathway for players from recreational program to club and professional teams.