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Eight teams set for new women’s pro league?

Kelley O'Hara

News has been lacking on a new women’s professional soccer league, but that should change soon.

Charles Boehm at Soccer Wire reports that we should have an announcement on or before Dec. 1, when U.S. Soccer plans to meet at MLS Cup for its Annual General Meeting.

Boehm also cites sources in the article that the eight teams of the league have been set, with four ex-WPS teams joining four new teams: Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, NY/NJ Sky Blue FC and Western New York Flash as ex-WPS teams and Seattle, D.C., Portland and Kansas City joining the fray.

All of the aforementioned cities have been players in the equation since U.S. Soccer really revved up the process of organizing this league in early September.

The glaring omission on that list — if it is the final list — is no Southern California representation. It’s a soccer hot bed and has proven success in the USL W-League and in WPS, until some things fell through on the ownership side. That WPS situation should stand independent from and bid due to how unique it was (AEG was out and a deal for a new owner fell through — read more in the archives).

Anyway, Kansas City and Portland may come as a surprise, but they have been talked about behind the scenes.

Kansas City was a place of interest to me from the start given USSF president Sunil Gulati’s comments that each geographic region would have at least two teams. Chicago was always a given and Sporting Kansas City, upon rebranding and moving into Livestrong Park in late 2010, expressed its interest in being more than just an MLS club.

From this Nov. 17 press release:

The use of the name “Sporting,” as opposed to soccer, “represents the vision of Sporting Club to integrate additional sports and entertainment properties into the organization,” according to the statement.

“Our goal is to revolutionize the way a professional sports team connects with fans through premier experiences and spaces,” Sporting Kansas City president Robb Heineman said. “We believe a change in identify for the club was necessary to effectively live and breathe this vision. The name ‘Sporting’ represents our desire to become a dynamic organization focused on creating opportunities for social, cultural and athletic connections.”

I remember that quote well, and always thought it implied that a women’s team could be somewhere in the pipeline.

Portland is interesting. The Timbers saved WPSL side Portland Rain from extinction only six months ago. How much do the Timbers want to be involved in a further financial commitment this quickly? The answer was always murky, but word is that Gulati and U.S. Soccer pushed the issue. Per Soccer Wire, the issue may been pushed right through to fruition.

What’s good about both places is they are MLS markets where soccer seems to now really be part of the culture. Drawing even a percentage of that success could be huge for women’s soccer.

We’ll see what the final list and team names look like soon enough…we hope.

Check out some more details over at Fun While it Lasted, run by ex-Breakers GM Andy Crossley.

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