The next incarnation of a professional women’s soccer league in the U.S. continues to move forward for 2013, with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati confirming on Friday that 10 markets are in conversations to acquire franchises for the new league.
The U.S. Soccer Federation, according to Gulati, could play a significant role in the proposed league, both operationally and financially.
Gulati twice repeated that there 11 potential ownership groups interested in 10 different markets across the country. Some of these markets – like Chicago, New Jersey and Boston – already publicly declared their desire to come back. Others still remain below the radar. There are at least two teams in each part of the country (East Coast, West Coast and Midwest).
“Where we are right now is talking with them as well as starting a process of vetting those potential investors on financial and other financial, operational, organizational management guidelines,” Gulati said.
Gulati added that there are select MLS team investors interested in the league – those are actual MLS ownership groups, separate from the likes of pre-established women’s teams sporting MLS brands, such as the Seattle Sounders Women, Vancouver Whitecaps Women and D.C. United Women. The interest is not league-wide, but the fact that even one additional, independent MLS owner could be interested in the league is encouraging.
Meanwhile, Gulati said the U.S. women will continue to be looped into the conversation during their next stint together for games against Germany on Oct. 20 and Oct. 23 (when they’ll be coached by interim coach Jill Ellis). Gulati said there is a possibility of U.S. women’s national team salaries being paid for by the Federation. Of course, that requires those players to buy into what the league puts forth and play domestically, rather than go abroad.
It also looks as if the United Soccer Leagues will be involved, which opens the door for top W-League teams to join the venture. That would be progress which should not be overlooked.