National Women’s Soccer League to start Spring 2013
The Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003) and Women’s Professional Soccer (2009-2012) are a thing of the past as their is a new league in the tenure of women’s professional soccer in the U.S.: the National Women’s Soccer League. Announced during halftime of the U.S. Women’s soccer friendly against China, the new women’s soccer league’s name and logo was announced.
“This is a league we have to build from the bottom up and we have a group of dedicated owners and talented support staff at U.S. Soccer to keep this process moving in a positive direction while slowly growing the brand.” stated Cheryl Bailey, executive director of the newly minted NWSL.
Already, the new league has eight teams: Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit, Western New York Flash and Seattle (no name as of yet). Looking at these teams, I think it’s great that the NWSL has a strong foothold in the soccer-crazy Pacific-Northwest having clubs in Portland and Seattle, along with strong markets on the East coast. Despite U.S. Soccer, Canadian Soccer Association and the Federation of Mexican Football subsidizing the salaries of team members to play in the league (U.S. 24, Canada and Mexico 16), I think the NWSL needs a more solid partnership with the MLS. By having a relationship with the MLS, the NWSL can leverage their resources and expertise in helping them be a viable league that will last for more than 3 years like in years past.
I look at the NBA/WNBA model as something that the NWSL should emulate as NBA teams have a “sister” team and their front offices spill over into WNBA duties as well. The NBA and WNBA partnership is unique however since NBA owners invest sizable amounts of money into these WNBA teams – something that women’s soccer in the U.S. has yet to experience. The difference in season also helps the WNBA’s cause as it’s not in competition with the NBA. But such partnerships gain clout within the community, something that is necessary in growing a following for the league.
Time will tell if women’s soccer has a future in the U.S., especially when the NSWL has not established how their business model will be different than the failed leagues fo the past.