A Syracuse group led by businessman Samir Belhseine proudly announces its application to the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) for a club in this market. AC Syracuse Athletic Club expects to begin play in 2022.

“I am very excited to bring a professional soccer team back to Central New York,” says Belhseine. “Syracuse hasn’t had an outdoor professional team since 2004. AC Syracuse believes this is the right time to establish something very special and give players the unique pathway to transcend from grassroots to the professional level.”

Belhseine spent 29 years as a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee with stores in East Orange, N.J., and Rochester, N.Y., along with Syracuse. In 2019, he sold his franchises and bought Ecars USA, an automotive sales and service company based in Rochester.

The club’s development pyramid includes a youth program that features an academy team, club and recreational teams, as well as a club in United Women’s Soccer. The effort will be to elevate and provide a clear path for players to develop and transcend through the pyramid and on to the professional team.

AC Syracuse is looking for community input, support and participation. The club launched a contest today, as well, inviting the entire Syracuse community to vote on its favorite club mascot. The top 32 names at the end of the voting submission window will be entered into a bracket where fans will vote bi-weekly between mascots until a winner is selected at the New York State Fair.

“We are really eager to see Sam’s club become reality and take to the pitch,” says NISA Executive Vice President Josh Prutch. “Clubs are creating more opportunities for rivalries, as well, and the state of New York will be loaded with them. Without market restrictions, the communal nature of the game comes forward.”

About AC Syracuse

AC Syracuse is a community based professional soccer club in Syracuse, N.Y. The club will lace up the boots in their inaugural season to compete in the National Independent Soccer Association in 2022. Our mission is to provide the ultimate fan experience at an affordable cost, promoting and enhancing the game of soccer for the fans. AC Syracuse will be the team that soccer fans look to for excitement, engagement and community—and the team that every player wants to play for. We will reflect diversity and inclusiveness and will strive to set the standard of excellence for professional soccer organizations. For more information please visit or contacts us at Join our social media communities @ACSyracuse on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

About NISA

The National Independent Soccer Association was founded in 2017 with a mission to bring professional soccer to every city in the United States. A pro league member of U.S. Soccer, NISA focuses on a model based on meritocracy, independent clubs controlling their own league, clubs owning their intellectual property, all without the barrier of territorial rights. A member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, NISA also runs the mid-summer Independent Cup, open to independent professional and amateur clubs alike. For more information about NISA visit or contact at Follow NISA on Twitter @NISALeague and on Instagram @nisasoccer.