The North American Soccer League, which serves as the second division in the U.S. pro system, is close to awarding a franchise to Northern Virginia, with 2014 as the targeted launch.

Sources told the Insider that NASL Commissioner David Downs met Tuesday in the D.C. area with representatives for Virginia Investment Partnership, which has proposed basing a second-division team in Loudoun County near Washington Dulles International Airport, about 30 miles west of the nation’s capital.

The team would share a stadium with a minor league baseball team that has yet to begin playing, the Loudoun Hounds. Investors hope to have a stadium plan in place within 30 days.

The local group and league officials said they didn’t want to comment. When the story broke last month, Downs said the sides were “well along in the process.”

The NASL — which is one level below MLS and took its name from the famed U.S.-Canadian league that disbanded in 1984 -- has eight teams this season: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, San Antonio Scorpions, Minnesota Stars, FC Edmonton and Puerto Rico Islanders.

The New York Cosmos will begin play in 2013. A franchise in Ottawa is scheduled to start the following year.

Several groups have expressed interest in a second expansion team for 2014, but Northern Virginia is well ahead of the other contenders, a league source said.

“It’s getting closer each day,” one source said.