The National Women’s Soccer League won’t expand in 2014, and that’s a good thing.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati confirmed to SoccerWire that there will only be eight teams in the NWSL, consistent with what some team owners had previously told The Equalizer.
“On expansion, I don’t say slow and steady – I think I’d probably say steady and slow,” Gulati said. “Let’s get this stabilized. Let’s get all the wrinkles out of this system and then we can talk about growth.”
In the end, this is a good call for a league still trying to figure itself out. The message from owners, coaches and players at the tail-end of this inaugural season has been that the current eight teams and the NWSL need to figure out a way to better the league with what they already have. Adding expansion teams to the already chaotic mix would bring unnecessary additional growing pains for the NWSL.
The season is already set for almost the exact timeframe — early April to the last weekend in August — which means the schedule is already tight. Exactly what will happen with allocated players, while there are ideas, still is not set. There are still plenty of business basics — livestreaming, for one, along with ticket sales and even venue choices for some teams — that need to be tightened up.
So by now, it’s of little surprise that the league doesn’t want to add more headaches to all this. They claim the interest is there. A few markets — Houston, Connecticut — have confirmed interest, while others — like Toronto and Vancouver — have denied interest in the NWSL at this time, although outside sources link both to potential future expansion teams.
But for the NWSL, there’s nothing wrong with waiting. Given Women’s Professional Soccer’s volatile history, just coming back next season with all eight teams more stable than Year 1 is a big step.
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