Hoping to ride the popularity of a national women's team that won a gold medal this summer in London, the U.S. Soccer announced that it would begin a new domestic women's league next spring.
The league will include teams in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, New Jersey, Portland (Ore.), Seattle, Washington and Western New York.
U.S. Soccer plans to run the league, and it will pay the club salaries of up to 24 members of the women's national team. The Canadian Soccer Association will supply up to 16 of its players, and the Federation of Mexican Football will pay for up to 12 of its players.
The Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer will partner with U.S. Soccer to run the local women's club.
The last top-level U.S. women's league, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), folded in 2012 after playing three seasons. The previous effort, Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), lasted three full seasons, 2001-03.
"The model is quite different, both in terms of the sorts of players you might go out and get internationally, in terms of marketing and promotional efforts and maybe in terms of some of the stadiums," U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on a conference call. "What we need is a sustainable model: less hype, better performance. The hype will come if we have the performance."
The performance of the U.S. women's national team remains top-notch. The 2012 Olympic gold medal was the third in a row for the Americans, and the U.S. team reached the 2011 Women's World Cup final before falling to Japan.
The national team features crossover stars in goalkeeper Hope Solo and forward Alex Morgan, plus veteran goal-scorer Abby Wambach.
However, the presence of well-known players from previous U.S. national teams never created much buzz around WUSA and WPS. It remains to be seen whether the new venture will turn fans who watch the women's national side on television into fans who will show up at stadiums to watch club teams compete.
- Sports & Recreation
- Canadian Soccer Association