MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis could be the next home to a professional soccer team.
SocTakes, a popular soccer blog, reports a deal to put a professional team in AutoZone Park is almost complete. The team would be part of the United Soccer League (USL), a division two league under Major League Soccer.
Richard Mulrooney is the head coach of the Memphis Tigers men's soccer team. He spent 12 years in Major League Soccer and three with the U.S. National Team.
Mulrooney said having a professional team in Memphis would be special.
"I think it would give things to do in the summer for soccer. I believe it just sets a level for kids to know that. You know what, there's levels after college.' It gives them something to shoot for," Mulrooney said.
Memphis currently has a soccer team, Memphis City FC, but it's a semi-pro team.
The city once had a major professional team. The Memphis Rogues, a part of the North American Soccer League, which used to be the equivalent of the MLS.
Mulrooney said he remembers going to Rogues games as a kid and believes the city is ready for the return of professional soccer.
"If it's run properly, I think if it's marketed well--obviously I read the venue may be AutoZone [Park], that's a good location downtown. It's just got to be run properly and you'll get the fans. One team needs to stay here for a while, and I think Memphis will reap the benefits of that," Mulrooney said.
Nashville is getting a USL team in 2018, and Birmingham has long been rumored to get a team in 2019.
Memphis Redbirds president Craig Unger has not made a comment about the rumors.