A NWSL team in Vancouver? Canada WNT are all for it

Harjeet Johal February 8, 2017 24
Christine Sinclair is one of several Canada WNT players who'd like to see an NWSL expansion team in Vancouver. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Christine Sinclair is one of several Canada WNT players who’d like to see an NWSL expansion team in Vancouver. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

VANCOUVER, B.C – An NWSL franchise in Canada is something that is long overdue. If Canada is going to continue to produce and develop top talent, players need an opportunity to stay in Canada and play professionally. The NWSL has done wonders for the women’s game, and it’s time Vancouver and Canada Soccer bring a team to compete in the NWSL.

When a team does potentially arrive, will Canadian internationals want to play for a team in Canada? Surely you have to weigh the pros and cons. There would be a bigger spotlight and perhaps added pressure to perform. On the flip side, friends and family would be able to come and watch without having to cross into the U.S. It would help grow the sport in Canada and show the next generation that playing professionally at home in Canada is possible.

The Equalizer recently caught up with MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Canada Soccer Coach John Herdman and several prominent Canadian internationals to gauge interest in a Vancouver NWSL team one day taking the pitch.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber

How much would you like to see your MLS teams investing in the NWSL, women’s soccer programs and other infinitives? 

“I’d love to see it more and more. I know that there’s been a lot of energy in supporting women’s soccer here in Vancouver, even before MLS came on the scene. A number of our owners, as you know, are owning NWSL teams. They had a really exciting announcement with A+E this past week that I think will give them a great partner, a good broadcast platform, great marketing, support. I think you’ll see more and more MLS teams getting involved with the [NWSL], but I don’t think that’s the only way or even the best way. I think having independent owners that can sit down and decide that this is their purpose in getting the energy behind their team, as opposed to being a secondary investment, it would be a good mix. We made the decision a long time ago that we have a big task ahead of us to grow the men’s game in North America, and I thought if the league got involved in the women’s game, it would be a disservice to them. I think it would take us away from our task at hand. That’s why we pushed that energy down to our individual clubs. It’s good to see the growth of the NWSL. It’s exciting.” 

Canada WNT Head Coach John Herdman

Do you think Vancouver should get an NWSL team going forward?

“I’d love to see that. I’d love to see any of the pro teams, the MLS teams, step up and recognize what’s really here in this country. There is a market for women’s football, and I’m sure someone’s going to step into that arena and unleash it.”

Christine Sinclair – Portland Thorns FC – Burnaby, B.C.

What do you think about some of the pro teams in Canada stepping up and bringing in a women’s team to Canada?

“I think it’s something that needs to happen, I’m not going to lie. We’re a top four team in the world now. We’re the only one without a professional league or professional team. It’s something that needs to happen. Obviously being from Vancouver, I’d love to see one here. I think it could really work. It seems like the next logical step to continue to advance soccer in Canada.”

You mentioned Vancouver, when they get an NWSL team, will you come back home and play for that team?

“No comment. (Laughs) Yeah, no comment on that one.”

Does there need to be someone like you on that team for it to succeed, like a big star player?

“This entire national team are stars, are draws. This city (Vancouver) has fallen in love with our national team. They love the sport, so I’m sure they’d come out and support it.”

Sophie Schmidt – FFC Frankfurt – Abbotsford, B.C.

What would it mean to you if Vancouver one day got an NWSL team?

“It would be unbelievable. As a Vancouver’ish native, I’d love to see women’s soccer come back to B.C. and to Canada. That’d be huge for the women’s game, but also just for the fans here locally. I think we are a true soccer fans and we love the game. I think it would be so exciting. I would love to be a part of that, if that were to happen.”

Would it entice you to come back to maybe play in your hometown?

“Yeah, I’m getting on in my years, getting towards the end of my career and I would love to end it here, if that were to present itself.”

Steph Labbe – Washington Spirit – Stony Plain, Alberta

How much would it mean to have a Vancouver NWSL team one day?

“Oh, that would be incredible. Vancouver or anywhere else in Canada, but definitely here. Every time we play at B.C. Place the fans here are incredible. We really are starting to feel like this is a home base for us. Just the energy, passion we get here, I know a women’s team would be successful. For me it would be a dream come true to be able to play professional soccer in my home country. Of course we’d love for that to happen in the near future.”

Would you like to play for a Vancouver team?

“I would absolutely love to. It would be a hop, skip, and a jump for my parents to get over here. It would be nice and easy. Just playing in front of a home Canadian crowd for the majority of the season would be pretty incredible.”

Allysha Chapman – Boston Breakers – Oshawa, Ontario

How much would it mean to have a Vancouver NWSL team one day?

“Oh, it would be sweet. It would also be amazing if Vancouver gets in and they just scrap the whole Canadians being internationals rule so we can get more Canadians in the league. That would be ideal for sure.”

Jessie Fleming – UCLA Bruins – London, Ontario

A few years down the line and when your done with college, let’s say Vancouver gets an NWSL team. Would you be interested in playing for that team?

“I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I love the city and it would be nice to be at home in Canada, but I think I’d also like to explore opportunities in Europe. Again, I haven’t thought that far ahead. Keish (Kadeisha Buchanan) and Ash (Ashley Lawrence) are kind of living the dream right now, so a bit jealous of them, but no that would be cool.”

  • Som Termanni

    You can practically hear the desperation in Labbé’s voice.

  • Timber Dave

    Will they have to rename the league the IWSL?
    Or the NANMWSL (North America North of Mexico Women’s Soccer League)?

    More seriously, this would be great for Canadian WoSo. Put a team in Toronto too!

    • Som Termanni

      Just like the NBA became the NABA once Vancouver and Toronto got teams, right?

    • Dumfries

      I guess you’ve never heard of Canada’s favorite sport? It’s called “hockey.” There’s this small unheard of league with about 30 teams called the National Hockey League that has the best men’s hockey teams in the United States and Canada. The league was actually started in Canada… Imagine that!

      Funnily enough, the women’s hockey league started in Canada is called the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, even though they have a team in Boston (the Boston in the United States).

      (I do think the NANMWSL is a very funny joke, though)

      • Steglitz49

        Today less than 50% of the players in the NHL are Canadian. The majority are split fairly evenly between the US and Europe. The US has about 25%, and most of the rest are Swedes, Finns and Czechs.

    • Steglitz49

      Toronto disdained the 2015 ladies World Cup. They do not deserve a team.

      • frosty

        They hosted the Pan-Am games that year

        • Steglitz49

          They would never have turned down the men’s WC, the one the CSA calls the “Big” WC.

          Toronto could not be bothered.

          • frosty

            The MWC was not in Canada, much less Toronto. Moot point.

  • Rdalford

    Jessie Fleming ” … but I think I’d also like to explore opportunities in Europe.”
    Another hint that Fleming will likely head to Europe whenever she leaves UCLA.
    Combined with prior comments from Canada WNT coach Herdman (re Fleming needing more challenges than NCAA soccer provides) and Buchanan and Lawrence examples, Fleming might well choose to leave UCLA before her 4 years are up.

    Fleming (and her parents) choice to make – wish her well with whatever soccer and career choices she makes. As a fan hope she stays for at least a couple more UCLA woso seasons (and also hope she stays/completes her degree).

    • Forgedias

      She probably has recruiters offering her club options before she started at UCLA and she had to choose. Her father in an interview stated that she has her pick to where she wants to play. So I am assuming she had offers from Colleges or overseas but education seems to be important for Fleming which is always a good idea when your career is done.

  • Constant Weeder

    Certainly doesn’t sound like you could count on Sinclair headlining a Vancouver team, as many here have speculated.

    • Timber Dave

      I would expect Sinclair to want to play on a Canadian NWSL team. She has worked tirelessly for years to boost Canadian WoSo, and this would be another way to do just that.

      But I would also expect her not to say that now, since any Canadian team is still pretty speculative and her current employment and fan base is with another team. That would be really poor form!

      • frosty

        Sinc seems to feel a hometown affiliation with Portland since that’s where she went to college

  • Lorehead

    One very interesting point is the MLS commissioner saying that he doesn’t think more MLS sister teams is the right way forward for the NWSL. That sounds like a polite way of saying he doesn’t think it’s a winning proposition for MLS. He was very willing to force all his teams to have reserve teams in the men’s third division.

    • Steglitz49

      WoSo is a drain on MLS resources.

      • frosty

        WoSo is a use of MLS resources

        • Steglitz49

          They would use MLS resources, wearand tare them, but not afford to defray the bills.

          • frosty

            So they “would be” a drain on MLS resources?

      • USMNTfan4life

        I have always said that. The Houston Dynamo for some weird reason rushed a NWSL team into the fold. That team barely draws people for its home games, and it has Carli Lloyd. MLS teams are not going to be in the business of supporting another league unless they bring in EPL money, so they can focus on their own goals.

    • Dumfries

      I don’t think he’s saying that. I think he’s saying it’s a case by case basis and teams need to do what works best for them. In addition he views the independent owners as valuable as they come to the table with a different point of view. I think he looks at how the WNBA has evolved to include both NBA backed and independent teams and thinks that’s a good model.

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    • Guest

      That seems rather backwards. Are the costs for a third divison reserve team so much cheaper than a women’s team? I was under the impression that costs were pretty low for women’s teams who share resources with their men’s team.

    • USMNTfan4life

      Its not a winning proprosition for MLS. The mens league is not a profit-generating business model right now. The main reason certain teams wanted a women’s NWSL team was for PR purposes. I have always thought it a dumb idea for a men’s league that doesn’t have the money to attract elite mens players (Neymar, Messi, etc) wants to support a women’s pro league. Such a dumb idea, until MLS makes the kind of money European teams do.