The USL W-League is no more, but the Women’s Premier Soccer League won’t be without some competition in 2016.
United Women’s Soccer (UWS) recently unveiled itself as a second-division women’s league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer through the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). It is said to be kicking off in May with at least eight teams, some of which will be former WPSL teams. UWS will be a pro-am league, according to its members.
Some longtime W-League teams — like the New York Magic and the Long Island Rough Riders — will play in the new UWS, which for now looks like it is concentrated in the northeast corridor of the United States. The New England Mutiny, located in Western Massachusetts, will join UWS after 12 years in the WPSL.
Also said to be joining UWS, per a press release, are the North Jersey Valkyries (formerly of the W-league) and the Lancaster (Pa.) Inferno, previously of the WPSL, plus New Jersey-based clubs TSF Academy and New Jersey Copa FC. Subject to approval by the Canadian Soccer Association, the Laval Comets and Quebec Dynamo will also join the league. The league will also begin an open application process for prospective members, according to a release.
“We’re extremely excited to be playing a part in the formation of UWS,” said Steve Shilling, the president of EDP, a company which will serve as administrators of UWS. “This is an important component of the soccer model in America, and in particular for advancing the women’s game. UWS is the perfect complement as it completes our progression from pre-teens through to college and beyond. With the founding members as a solid base, we look forward to working with other adult women’s clubs around the nation.”
According to a UWS — which is following in WPS’ footsteps with an awkward naming structure — press release, the league “aspires to be a national second division league under US Soccer divided into regional conferences. The playing pool consists of both collegiate and aspiring professional players providing a platform for the nation’s most talented female soccer players to perform.”
That appears to be a direct challenge to the WPSL, which has swelled to approximately 100 members and has a wide variety of organizations within it, from National Women’s Soccer League reserve teams to more humble clubs. Second-division sanctioning by U.S. Soccer for UWS will give the league some immediate legitimacy.
UWS, at least in its infancy, will hardly fill the void of the W-League, which was once a booming home for future U.S. national team stars and in previous decades acted as a pseudo first division which house international stars on the rise, such as England’s Kelly Smith.
The W-League slowly lost clubs over the past few years as the NWSL began to take off, and it quietly announced in a few short paragraphs on a Friday night in November that it would not be returning for a 22nd season. The USL has since declined to comment further on the W-League’s demise.
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