Top Stories

U.S. Soccer announces new eight-team women’s pro soccer league


U.S. Soccer, with additional funding from the Canadian Soccer Association and FMF, Mexico’s soccer federation, announced the formation of a new women’s professional soccer league Wednesday that will begin play in March of 2013.

The league will have franchises in eight American cities, with U.S. Soccer serving as the front office for the as-yet nameless league. Those franchises, some being reincarnates of the former WPS, will be housed in Seattle, Portland, Boston, Western New York, New Jersey, Kansas City, Chicago and Washington D.C.

U.S. Soccer will fund salaries/participation for 24 players, CSA up to 16 and FMF at least 12. The new league will be run on a smaller scale with the idea being sustainability.

It stands to reason that U.S. national team players will be part of the new league, as well as those from Canada and Mexico. This is the third major attempt at a pro soccer league for women in the U.S., after WPS folded earlier this year and WUSA folded after three years in 2003.

In Seattle, two women’s soccer teams are set to co-exist with the new league and the Sounders Women, which plays in the United Soccer Leagues W-League.

Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson issued a statement on the new pro league and team in his town.

“The Timbers are, and always will be, steadfastly committed to growing the sport of soccer in our region at all levels, and championing a new women’s league and operating a team here in Soccer City, USA, will be an important part of that growth.

Added Paulson:

“Building on today’s news, soccer fans can look forward to many exciting announcements in the coming weeks and months leading up to the club’s inaugural season, including team name, logo and uniforms; schedule and ticket information; and a host of prominent roster announcements.”

What are your thought on the new women’s league? Will it make it this time? Does running it with national federations make sense and allow for sustainability? Share your thoughts below.



  1. It hasn’t even started yet and people are already doubting! just give them a chance! I personally think this is AWESOME! This could be the start of something huge! and maybe by the time i’m old enough to play pro, women’s soccer will be popular! I’m hoping, and the least you could do is the same 🙂

  2. Here’s hoping that the women can make a go of a league. It is unfortunate that they couldn’t in the past as the national teams of the three countries have enjoyed more success than their male counterparts.

  3. The original WUSA actually drew pretty well. I remember that here in Atlanta the Beat were averaging more than 10k fans/game. Unfortunately, that league spent money like it would never run out.

    With a more realistic business model and a tight rein on expenses, I believe there is definitely a market for a woman’s league.

  4. Interesting, seeing all the comments from people, many who probably have trouble managing their own paltry bank accounts every month and are sure this league will fail. Certainly, history is not favorable. That said, there likely is a formula for success. Whether this new league has the formula, or, even if it does, if it can manage to implement and follow such a formula remains to be seen. There is so much more to it than just spectators in the seats. The politics of soccer often is it’s own worst enemy (which has an awful lot to do with how things get managed). I wish them well.

  5. The only league that will EVER work for women, is if FIFA starts a league for women that is based on National Teams. Club soccer for women wont work here.

  6. You know, I am a huge fan of football but the women’s league has not caught on in the U.S. and if it did not catch on in the U.S it will NOT sell. Basic principle of supply and demand (capitalism) if people do not want to buy the product it will not last. How is the WNBA doing? The only reason that it has lasted as long is because the NBA which is very rich has propped it up but it still does not resonate with the public. It has nothing to do with male and female but it is like throwing money at a problem that many know is a losing proposition.

  7. I think they finally have a workable business model.

    52+ of the highest paid of the ~160 players in the league will be paid by national federations. Combine that with a USSF run front office and smaller team admin staffs and you have a model which, at worst, will lose a small enough amount that the owners will be willing to eat it. I expect, however, most teams to be in the black.

    They should potentially talk with the South American federations – I think nations like Columbia, Argentina, and Brazil might be willing to fund some players in the league.

  8. If the organizations for soccer in US, Canada and Mexico want to permanently subsidize women to play professional club soccer, I guess that is fine. If they feel the reward they will get from giving women who play on their national teams will be worth the cost, it will have been a good initiative.

    I just hope that they aren’t deluded enough to expect Womens’ league teams to get any kind of fan support or generate any kind of revenue.

    It has been proven that people do not want to pay to watch womens’ team sports, or go out of their way to do so. This is not because people are sexist against women. This is because people want to watch higher standards of competition – the same reason why hundreds of millions of people watch English/Spanish football on TV, but not MLS. It just so happens that one sex is genetically “stronger” (athletics-wise), taller and faster than the other. If there was a sport which women were better at, I would imagine people would prefer watching women play then men. I certainly would not choose to watch men play a sport instead of watching women, if the women were better than the men.

    Before any accusation of sexism – no. The sexism starts in this issue with the decision to have separate leagues for men and women. Anyone who has played coed soccer will know that there are plenty of women who are totally able to play on the same team as men. Its ridiculous that top players like Marta and her US colleagues don’t get the chance to become millionaires playing for top teams, and are instead restricted to playing on womens’ teams. If I were them I would have already sued for discrimination.

    Anyway, back to the point: if US Soccer and FMF and Canada Soccer want to permanently fully sponsor these women so that they can play soccer professionally, great, it will be good for US/Canada/Mexico’s chances in upcoming competitions. But if any idea that this league will “kick off” and become popular with tens of thousands of fans attending each match, ala MLS, is a delusion.

    Personally, I don’t see why women can’t play amateur football here in the US, if the free market doesn’t support professional teams for women in the US. There is a professional league in the UK and in Sweden, I’m sure there are others elsewhere, etc.

  9. I think it is great. The US just don’t get soccer though women or men. I hope it makes it though womens sports are a lot more exciting. Wish Central Florida could have a team. Good Luck Ladies

  10. As noble as the idea sounds, there is just no market for a women’s soccer league. I’m suprised they keep trying. With that said, the best chance of survival is to partner with MLS clubs to leverage the existing fan base. With a low enough budget, the teams might write the expense off as a marketing expense for the overall club brand.

  11. I am surprised that San Diego didn’t get a team. I guess there were no local owners willing to step up. Too bad because the SD Spirit was one of the best teams in the WUSA in regards to support and plus they had a perfect stadium at USD.

    • My thoughts exactly — the San Diego Spirit was a team that actually didn’t loose money. My thoughts would have been that all the teams would probably be placed on the east coast to cut down on traveling expenses — but glad to see they didn’t leave the west coast out (just bummed it’s not San Diego!)

    • I agree, don’t think it’ll work in L.A. right now, but San Diego could make it work. Surprised that they went back to KC and Chicago as neither of those teams lasted long with the WPS. If they get a chance to expand they need to get a couple more west coast teams to balance things out and San Diego should be one.

      I enjoy watching the women’s game and wish this attempt the best, but they’re going to need to do a much better job of promotion to succeed.

      • The Chicago Red Stars had strong backing and were one of the more stable teams in WPS. The Red Stars have fielded a team every year even after WPS folded. It’s one of the few teams that managed to operate within a budget. The past 2 years the team has been a combination of former WPS players and top level college players from the area. I would have been surprised if Chicago did not have a team in the new league.

  12. If 12-year old girls were allowed to drive this might work. In the meantime the WNBA should be able to double its yearly revenue by selling the league its mailing list.

  13. It will be interesting to see the dynamics between some of the USWNT players and the Canadian National Team players. Is there bad blood after the Olympics semis? Some will be playing together and some will be on opposing teams. Lloyd versus Tancredi after the head stomp?

    It will also be interesting to see how the player allocation works…I don’t think you can throw the national team players from all 3 countries in one player pool and pick. May have to be done country-by-country.

    Gotta figure that the lucky team to pick first will grab Morgan.

  14. I’m no misogynist, but they need to face facts and realize that women’s sports doesn’t draw the interest to support the infrastructure of a professional league. It’s not about equality, it’s about what people want to watch, and I think the nation has spoken already on the subject of women’s soccer.

  15. First, it doesn’t matter much what day they announce it on…this is information that–at this point–will only connect with soccer fans in the US and Canada (probably not even Mexico at this point).

    Second, I don’t think they’ll necessarily fail. True–drawing fans is an issue. But the last version of women’s soccer was poorly run (MagicJack anyone?). USSF is taking the right approach so far…it’s about funding player slots and keeping people sharp or growing talent. Ditto with Canada and Mexico. I can see ways this may break down (your Mexican GK gets hurt, you need to therefore bring in another Mexican….or if all the Mexicans end up on the bench, the MFF may complain they’re not getting their money’s worth). But there’s no naive talk of just riding out the recession…or using a WC/Olympics to generate popularity…or getting young girls to become fans.

    Instead USSF (and the others) are viewing this as a way to invest in their WNT without having a fulltime residence camp and it’s probably a more effective way of staying competitively sharp. Plus, there will likely be ties to MLS teams in many cases. As long as this doesn’t bleed USSF, I think this is a clever approach to a long-term challenge.

  16. How many failures does it take till they realize that no one cares about womens club soccer?

    AT LEAST wait for MLS to become a powerhouse before you try a women’s league.

  17. What, not team in Boca Raton?

    Seriously, I wish them luck. I’m glad US Soccer continues to try and help make women’s soccer viable.

      • awweee. lemme guess, the martyr/holier than thou type? girls really like talking to you at bars then you think you got the deal done, and they go home with someone else… My opinion is based on cold hard truth… quit trying to belittle people because you want other people to think you are above it all.

      • Thanks, I appreciate the attempted shot at my masculinity. It hurts so much I’m going to go cry in a corner for a bit.

        Your opinion is not based on cold hard truth, hence why it’s your opinion. You’re entitled to it, but that doesn’t make it any less misogynistic. You think women’s soccer is pointless? Fine, but you don’t need to go out of your way and belittle the athletes.

      • Cold hard truth. Thats pretty silly man. I also think its silly that you claim to be more sexually potent than someone you dont know, just cause he called you out saying something sexist. “Cold hard truth” smells more like “old stale BS”.

  18. With the funding from the federations, this seems designed to be a sort of “academy” for the national teams. But sadly, without much, much more in the way of subsidies, it will lose money and fold within four or five years. There simply isn’t enough interest. Kudos for tweaking the business model, but I don’t see how this is different from the old definition of insanity — doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Ticket revenues from a game involving a Western team and an Eastern game won’t even be enough to cover the visiting team’s travel expenses, never mind player salaries, coach salaries, staff (including medical) salaries, stadium cost, etc. All that other stuff will have to be covered by subsidies and sponsorships, so yeah, destined for failure.

  19. I don’t know if women’s soccer can be successful in Mexico, but hopefully this can expand to Toronto and a Mexican city and give us a truly North American league, that would be pretty cool to see.

    • Have you been paying attention to the previous women’s leagues? Starting small is the only way to make this thing even a minor success.

    • You would have to find 600 women who have and can maintain the fitness, game intelligence, & skill needed to be worth paying to see play. Throw in a bunch of other social factors that would change for those 600 (finding 2nd jobs, relocating away from friends & family, maybe moving to different states accross the country) and that 600 number will prove extremely hard to reach.

      You can have a huge league, but that won’t make it a good league. And if you have a few teams of world class talented, olympic Gold medalist, playing against teams of just good amateurs, then the quality of the best players is going to drop over time.

  20. So there will be teams in usa, mexico and canda- interesting, usa keeps helping canada grow in soccer and then be better than us one day in mens and womens soccer and helps our nemesis mexico to keep us down even more. Usa is a sugar daddy in soccer, for mexico and canada since mexico is copying everything mls is doing and canada is learning from USA and MLS. Even now australia, asia leagues wanna be MLS, even the mexican league. Mls needs to raise the salary cap to kill the the mexican league and even the asian and australian.

  21. I think it will work for a few years but if they can build on it and have more teams and one in Arizona and California and other big soccer programs it would help

    • The current K.C. team plays in the WPSL which is not a professional league. Most of the players are amateurs. So no, it won’t have two professional teams.

  22. I hope I’m wrong, but I think it will fail. Portland will have good attendance because of the relationship with the Timbers, but in general, women’s professional soccer doesn’t attract enough fans to survive.

    The support from the federations may keep it alive for a few years. Also, professional is a bit of a misnomer because many of the players will need second jobs to survive and much of the front office staffing will be done by unpaid interns.

    WPS already cut costs way down and it failed. Not enough has changed in the market to convince me that this attempt will end any differently.

    Once again, I hope that I am wrong.

  23. Since the Mexican Federation and the Canadian Soccer federation helped announce this, does this mean that the league would consider placing teams in Mexico and Canada as well? If so that would make this a true North American soccer league.

      • That’s so nice of them. (note to league sponsors: I just bought my 6th pair of Pumas [Puma 1.12 SL]. I buy Puma because they are damn-good boots for one, and because I remember PUMA put up the money sponsoring WPS last time.

      • That’s awesome. I didn’t know and will now consider changing my allegiance from adidas.

        From a business point of view it really would make some kind of sense to get MLS involved. Like make the WPS follow-on teams affiliates with MLS teams, try to get some economies on travel, training sites, support staff, and venues.

        More than that, since a really significant portion of the US youth soccer players are girls, start following the Old World (and New World outside of the US–except in our past) tradition of having pro clubs actually more or less sponsor/participate their own local youth leagues to create a pipeline and audience.

      • More or less like the EPL model. The economies of being associated with a mens club team are significant as mentioned above, especially including a club’s fan base. There are negatives to be sure, but it may be the only way to initially have a sustainable business model with a chance of success. Regardless, I wish the new effort well and hope they can succeed on their own.

    • So…they must think their is a fan base for women’s soccer? The track record speaks for itself, it just doesn’t have the fan support it needs to survive. I wish them well, but I can’t forsee this working out.

      I agree that the women need a league to hone and refine their talent, but really don’t know how they keep getting opportunities like this one. I clearly understand the vested interest USSF has in promoting a league for women, but from a financial perspective I can’t see this ending up anywhere but in the red.

      • It has to start somewhere, and that is what it takes to finally turn things around, is the determination to find a way to make it happen. I am assuming (though possibly incorrectly) that you are male … your comment has such a ring of male supremacy. The US women’s National team, though having to build themselves from the ground up, with discarded men’s uniforms has proven themselves time and again. I believe the women will do it again. It is amazing that we think we are so “equal’ minded, but it doesn’t play out that way, sadly.

      • I would go to every game in a second. There are a lot of people who love women soccer. The USA womens team is so much better then the mens team. I know they will be separated and put on different teams. I agree it might not work again but this time they have a sponser who is paying for their salaries and I think that is one reason they think it might work. I have a problem for the venues. The closest one for me is chicago which is 8 hrs away. I think that is the problem and they have a ny and nj team, why? the states are right close together. I think a heck a lot of other people would go if they knew where the soccer fans were. some kind of poll because there was hardly anyone there when they played in those cities before. I am from Ohio, Dayton, I am wiling to travel to columbus which is about an hour and a half away or cincy which is 45 minutes away. major cities. KC and Chicago is too far for me to go to every game. so they will have to rely on the people of those cities. It is a pity since I think the womens soccer is more excited then the mens

    • PR 101:
      Good news = announce it middle of the week in the morning, gives journalists enough time to write up their story before their deadlines.
      Bad news = announce it Friday in the afternoon. Journalists don’t have a lot of time to write up their stories before their deadlines + story gets lost through the weekend.

      • Don, I can’t believe I know this (and totally blame my girlfriend) but I am fairly certain that is Christian Siriano, a designer who won Project Runway a few seasons ago.
        He did some promo thing with WPS and Puma a few years back…. I’m guessing that’s where this photo came from.

      • Thanks.

        Looks like he also designs service staff uniforms for Applebees.

        Nothing says “Take this new league seriously” than having him in the center of this photo.

      • Hey Don Dallas, it’s hard to tell at first but it’s Rafa Marquez. NY Redbulls loaned him out to the Women’s League since he acts like a beeeeoooootch on the field. LOL!

Leave a Comment