U.S. Soccer Announces New Women's Pro-League

posted by Sarah Hallett, a Women Talk Sports blogger
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 2:31pm EST

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Chicago (November 21, 2012) U.S. Soccer gave soccer enthusiasts much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving by providing some of the details of the new women's professional soccer league that will be launched in the spring of 2013. 

Rumors about the eight cities that would be involved had been leaked out earlier this morning by soccerwire.com and were confirmed in a conference call today by the president of U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati. The eight cities (or areas) that will take part in the new league are Seattle, Portland OR, Chicago, Kansas City, Rochester, Boston, Northern NJ and Washington D.C. 

The start date for the new league has yet to be established but 22 games will be on the schedule with hopes to start in either March or April with the season running through either September or October. Per Gulati U.S. Soccer is still trying to iron out a national sponsor as well as a TV deal to cover the new league. 

This will be the third attempt for a professional league after both the WUSA and WPS failed due to financial instability. The WUSA also started with eight teams in 2001 and folded only three seasons later after posting losses of $100 million dollars collectively. The WPS also lasted only three seasons from 2009-2012 and failed due to not only financial struggles but also in part to issues related to management of the league and ownership. 

U.S. Soccer is looking to ease some of the financial burden of the new league by subsidizing the salaries of the members of the U.S. Women's national team. They have committed to paying for the salaries of 24 players. This is a move by U.S. Soccer that not only will help with the financial burden of the new teams but will also encourage the members of the U.S. WNT to remain stateside rather than pursuing contracts overseas. It is also an effort on behalf of U.S. Soccer to increase the development of American players with the 2015 World Cup looming only a few years away. 

The Canadian Soccer Association and the Federation of Mexican Football are also joining forces with this effort to subsidize the top players from their teams. Canada has committed to covering the salaries of 16 players and Mexico will support at least 12 players in the new league. 

"We are trying to find an economical model that is sustainable," Gulati said during the announcement today.

One city that was omitted from the new league is Los Angles and it was not taken well by Charlie Naimo, ex-Los Angles Sol general manager and the man who has directed the efforts behind the highly successful Pali Blues from the W-league. He spoke out earlier this week about L.A. not being a part of the new league.

"Without question we are frustrated and disappointed with US Soccer’s decision to leave us out. It makes no sense in the long run. When have we ever been able to field three West Coast teams in a professional women’s league in its inaugural season? Never… expansion would have been much easier in the future giving us our own conference. Coming from USL Pro and knowing the costs of an extra trip to CA in a season is not a make or break cost to a “professional” team. The group we represented had a turnkey operation, great stadium, rich history of on field success and would have been in the top half of the league financially. That said, it is over and that is all we will say. I want to wish all the great owners the best of luck and success with their new venture. There are some great people/ friends running these teams and all the focus should be on them right now.

“Regarding expansion, who knows… but I can tell you the lead investor in this venture most likely will not be interested again. On a personal level, I think I have put enough time in trying to make these things work.”

Southern California has become a hotbed for soccer the past few years and if any city would thrive as the host of one of the new teams it would be an easy bet to put your money on L.A. While they may be a part of an expansion in the future for now it appears that they have been left on the sidelines. 

Further details about the ownership of each of these teams as well as the name of the league are promised in the near future. For now it does appear that the league is now not only a lock to begin in just a few months but also with the full support of the U.S. Soccer Federation. Only time will tell if that support is enough for this new league to thrive and be successful. 

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