National Women’s Soccer League: Is third time a charm?

As we have all heard by now (well, most of us), Women’s Professional Soccer will be making a comeback in America for a 2013 season. Chicago, Boston, Kansas, Portland, Seattle, Washington, New Jersey and New York will host the 8 teams which will compete and battle to obtain the first ever NWSL title.

Not only will the League contain the stars of the US, but also the big named national leaders from both Canada and Mexico. The Canadian Soccer Association and the FMF, along with the United States Soccer Federation, have come together to sponsor and promote their national team squads in a rejuvenated competitive league of their own.

Many eyes would have rolled once they heard that there would be yet another stint at a Professional Women’s Soccer League in the USA. The US may have the number one women’s national team in the world, but their records with success at maintaining their own Women’s League has been somewhat woeful.

After the suspensions of both WUSA (Women’s United Soccer Association) and the WPS (Women’s Professional League), people are left feeling a little bit anxious about how well the NWSL can hold up. Mutually, WUSA and WPS had some of the best female soccer athletes playing from all over the globe in the league, mixed in with some of America’s finest and upcoming soccer players – and yet they both still crashed due to crowd numbers, financial struggles, geographical limitations and people like Dan Borislow.

So what makes the NWSL any different? And how can Americans new league keep its head above water?

Unlike its male counterparts in the MLS, the Women’s League has always struggled with financial issues. Sunil Gulati, president of US Soccer, has announced that all 8 teams will move into the league with smaller budgets and smaller venues. So unlike the WUSA and WPS, the NWSL will enter 2013 with stability as operating expenses will not be as high.

Also, as there will be up to 24 US national teamers, 16 Canadian regulars and a minimum of 12 Mexican players eligible to kick start the league. This will minimise the signings of marquee players from overseas, hopefully keeping most clubs within budget. To make things easier for the team’s budget, players’ individual federations and associations will have a part in paying their players’ salaries. This ensures they are in the best environment to grow and prepare for the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Gulati is expecting some players to join semi-pro while they either attend grad school or work part time, saving even more money on salaries.

Michael Stoller, managing director for Boston Breakers, has confessed that these small tugs will not affect the quality of football which will make this league one of the top competitions in the world.

“The one thing that has absolutely not changed is the teams’ commitment to professional training and a professional environment for the players,” Stoller said.

“This is a true professional league and standard of play.”

Similarly, due to these national team players such as Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Christine Sinclair and Veronica Perez being superstars on their own, it creates the perfect marketing tool for the league and their respective teams and countries heading into preparations for the 2015 tournament.

“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,” US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said on a conference call to announce the new league.

“What we need is a sustainable model: less hype, better performance. The hype will come if we have the performance.”

Morgan and Wambach.... superstars at their own right.

Morgan and Wambach…. superstars at their own right.

“The better performance” is guaranteed to be produced by the quality of players being presented and allocated in the league. Players from the USA, Canada and Mexico have already been assigned into the 8 teams available and below you will find where these 52 exceptionally talented players have been placed.


Team Allocations


Boston Breakers:

· Sydney Leroux (USA)
· Heather Mitts (USA)
· Heather O’Reilly (USA)
· Adriana Leon (CAN)
· Rhian Wilkinson (CAN)
· Anisa Guajardo (MEX)
· Cecilia Santiago (MEX)


Chicago Red Stars:

· Shannon Box (USA)
· Amy LePeilbet (USA)
· Keelin Winters (USA)
· Erin McLeod (CAN)
· Carmelina Moscato (CAN)
· Maribel Dominguez (MEX)
· Dinor Garza (MEX)


FC Kansas City:

· Nicole Barnhart (USA)
· Lauren Cheney (USA)
· Becky Sauberbrunn (USA)
· Desiree Scott (CAN)
· Lauren Sesselmann (CAN)
· Renae Cuellar (MEX)
· Marylin Diaz (MEX)


Portland Thorns FC:

· Tobin Heath (USA)
· Alex Morgan (USA)
· Rachel Buehler (USA)
· Christine Sinclair (CAN)
· Karina LeBlanc (CAN)
· Luz Saucedo (MEX)
· Marlene Sandoval (MEX


Seattle Reign FC:

· Megan Rapinoe (USA)
· Amy Rodriguez (USA)
· Hope Solo (USA)
· Kaylyn Kyle (CAN)
· Emily Zurrer (CAN)
· Jenny Ruiz (MEX)
· Teresa Noyola (MEX)


Sky Blue FC:

· Jill Loyden (USA)
· Kelley O’Hara (USA)
· Christie Rampone (USA)
· Sophie Schmidt (CAN)
· Melanie Booth (CAN)
· Monica Ocampo (MEX)
· Lydia Rangel (MEX)


Washington Spirit:

· Ashlyn Harris (USA)
· Ali Krieger (USA)
· Lori Lindsey (USA)
· Robin Gayle (CAN)
· Diana Matheson (CAN)
· Alina Garciamendez (MEX)
· Teresa Worbis (MEX)


Western New York Flash:

· Carli Lloyd (USA)
· Abby Wambach (USA)
· Bryanna McCarthy (CAN)
· Jodi – Ann Robinson (CAN)
· Veronica Perez (MEX)
· Pamela Taionar (MEX)

The NWSL face a number of challenges up ahead e.g building a new league and a new reputation in a matter of months; and none of these obstacles are new either to the numerous board members, sponsors, players and audience but they are all eager and prepared to make what could be the third and final attempt of a Professional Women’s League work.


Written by Siobhan Pedroza

Follow her on Twitter @briefcase_wanka

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