Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
The Houston Dynamo are making a strong and very public push to acquire a franchise in the year-old National Women’s Soccer League.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Major League Soccer club wants an NWSL team and is in talks to gauge the feasibility of joining the new eight-team league.
The team sent out a survey Tuesday to its supporters’ group members to gauge interest, indicating season tickets would average $178 per seat. Under the proposal, a women’s iteration of the franchise would play their games at BBVA Compass Stadium and train at Houston Amateur Sports Park, just as the men do.
The NWSL has one other club operated by an MLS franchise. The Portland Thorns are part of the Timbers organization, and coincidence or not, the Thorns’ attendance led the league in its inaugural season by miles.
Dynamo President Chris Canetti took to Twitter Thursday, asking whether Houston fans would buy season tickets. Timbers and Thorns owner Merritt Paulson replied offering “a strong vote of support” for a Dynamo entry into NWSL.
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in August the NWSL would not expand for 2014 and focus instead on stabilizing what exists. But the Dynamo seem to think they can push things along and Gulati has said he wants more MLS clubs involved in the new women’s league, which U.S. Soccer owns and operates.
Thorns forward Alex Morgan, perhaps the biggest star and most sought-after player participating in the league, has openly tweeted about apartment-shopping in Houston, where her boyfriend Servando Carrasco plays for the Dynamo. It seems unlikely Portland would let her go, but there should be other U.S. National Team stars available next year.
The Houston market has interest from another club – the Houston Aces, a semi-pro women’s club – who took to their Facebook page Wednesday in response to the Dynamo’s NWSL push. The Aces indicated the NWSL had told them there would be no expansion next year, writing “We will continue to plan for the upcoming season per instruction for our entry in 2015” for NWSL.
Here are more notes from around NWSL:
REIGN SIGN LITTLE, SEND NAIRN TO SPIRIT
Seattle Reign FC acquired the rights to Scottish midfielder Kim Little and sent Christine Nairn to the Washington Spirit on Wednesday.
Reign signed Little to a one-year agreement for the 2014 NWSL season with a club option for the 2015 season. Spirit had claimed Little as a discovery player during the offseason.
Little brings some familiarity to Laura Harvey, general manager and coach for Reign. Little played for Arsenal Ladies since 2008, scoring 58 goals in 52 caps for the club, which is where Harvey was before joining Seattle Reign this year. Harvey coached Arsenal Ladies since 2008 and became the club’s general manager in 2010.
“I’m very excited to join Reign FC and play for Laura again,” Little said in a statement. “We were very successful at Arsenal and hopefully we can be just as successful in Seattle.”
Little added: “The NWSL is the best league in the world with the best players. I’m looking forward to training with the team every day and experiencing a much quicker speed of play.”
Little has 86 caps and 30 goals for the Scottish national team.
For the Spirit, Nairn brings local ties to a club that seemed to place emphasis on homegrown talent in the 2013 season. Nairn, 23, is from Annapolis, Md.
Nairn played all 22 games for Reign last season, tallying three goals and five assists. She has two caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Nairn had been selected by the Reign as the 7th overall pick in the 2013 NWSL college draft.
“Christine is a very important addition to the team that we are building for the 2014 season,” Spirit coach and GM Mark Parsons said. “Christine brings great technical quality and creativity with tremendous amounts of fight and desire. She was one of the best young players in the league last season and it’s very exciting knowing she will be in a Spirit jersey next year.”
Wednesday’s trade follows up a blockbuster move by Reign earlier in the week – acquiring superstar national team goal-scorer Sydney Leroux from the Boston Breakers in exchange for Kristie Mewis and two 2015 draft picks.
SKY BLUE FC BRINGS IN NEW GM
Sky Blue FC’s front office has expanded, with the team announcing Thursday Tony Novo is the team’s president and general manager, effective immediately.
Novo had previously served as general manager and vice president of business operations for the New Jersey Ironmen professional indoor soccer team for three years starting in 2007.
New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC struggled during the NWSL’s inaugural 2013 season, earning the distinction of having the lowest average attendance in the league. MLS’ New York Red Bulls had been in negotiations to partner with or buy the Sky Blue, but talks have failed to produce a deal after months.
“After a good 2013 season, we wanted to strengthen our organization by bringing on a professional like Tony that has extensive experience in successfully managing and building a soccer organization,” said team CEO Thomas Hofstetter in a statement.
It’s unclear how the addition of Novo will change Hofstetter’s role in the club – Hofstetter owns the club and had been president this past season. The team apparently didn’t have a dedicated general manager during the 2013 season.
Think it’s a good idea for the Dynamo to try and run an NWSL team? Happy with Little’s addition in Seattle? How do you see Novo doing at Sky Blue?
Share your thoughts below.