Los Angeles will be joining the ever-growing NWSL after being awarded the rights to an expansion franchise on Tuesday.
The NWSL announced the news today, which sees a woman-founded group running the show. Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman headlines the lengthy list of investors, which also features former U.S. Women’s National Team players Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm, and current tennis star Serena Williams.
Los Angeles is aiming to begin play in Spring 2022. The team’s official name and venue partner will be announced before the end of 2020, but the group has coined itself “Angel City” in honor of its future home.
“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,” Portman said. “I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base.”
“We also hope to make a substantive impact on our community, committing to extending access to sports for young people in Los Angeles through our relationship with the LA84 Foundation. Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”
The founders were energized by the opportunity to work with the NWSL to build a club from scratch, to do things differently and to drive further dialogue about the issues impacting the Los Angeles community. An NWSL franchise will join the ever-growing soccer community, led by MLS sides LAFC and the L.A. Galaxy.
“The growth trajectory of the NWSL is incredibly exciting, but we also need to be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner with,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said. “We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general. Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”
The current NWSL season had also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside many professional men’s leagues in the United States. Currently the NWSL Challenge Cup is in its semifinal stage in Utah after constructing the tournament with no fans in attendance.