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Louisville is enjoying an unprecedented NWSL expansion perk: Ample time to plan

Brad Estes, far left (Photo by Toni Geiger)

When Louisville was announced as a National Women’s Soccer League expansion side in October 2019, it signaled a new era in the league’s growth plan. Instead of a shotgun start, the new team was handed an 18-month run-up to a spring 2021 debut.

After emerging from day-long league meetings during January’s United Soccer Coaches Convention in Baltimore, Louisville team president Brad Estes was left with one thought.

“Luckily we aren’t playing until 2021 so we haven’t had a mad run to the end,” he said. “We’re taking our time and hopefully doing things right.”

Not only did Louisville enter the NWSL with by far the longest lead time for any team — including the eight originals — they also jumped on the ship at a time when various levels of conversations with other markets have not led to new teams joining the league. For Louisville, whose USL men’s side launched five years ago, the chance to join the growing world of women’s soccer was too good to pass up.

“We’re just so excited about the trajectory of this sport,” Estes told The Equalizer. “We haven’t had an opportunity to play at the top tier. That was also very attractive for us.”

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