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US Soccer announces new women's professional league

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Eight teams, USSF control of the front office and limited budgets headline the announcement of the latest professional women's soccer league to be launched here in the US

Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE

The USSF and Sunil Gulati today announced the formation of a new women's professional leagure here in the United States.

The cities/regions that will be a part of the league's initial season are Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Kansas City, Rochester, Boston, New Jersey and Washington D.C. Geography, importance of markets, vetting owners and attendance (USWNT, MLS, US youth soccer) were all involved in decision-making process to determine cities along with financial considerations.

The team in Seattle will not be the Sounders Women's team who announced they will be returning to the USL's W-League. There are two other MLS ownership groups apparently involved with Merritt Paulson and the Timbers being the only one named. No doubt, more information on the other group will come out in the coming days.

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said during the call that "It may well be some players on these rosters aren't [playing] on a full time basis." and that "the most important thing is to have a sustainable model."

Gulati was asked about sponsorship and TV deals for the new league and said there's a handshake agreement with one national sponsor and preliminary discussions with a TV partner.

This is the third time a professional women's league has been formed in the US, following in the footsteps of the Women's Professional Soccer League (2009-2012) and the Women's United Soccer Associated (2000-03). The increased involvement of US Soccer in this third league is lending hope to it being able to survive long term and avoid many of the pitfalls that its predecessors ran in to.

There are still lots of details to be worked out and questions to be answered, but at least we now know that a professional women's soccer league is coming and that's a good thing.

Here are some more details fron the conference call:

  • League will begin play in March or April of 2013 with teams playing a 22 regular-season games that will consist of three games apiece against the seven other teams and one extra game against Portland. Play will conclude in September or October.
  • 11 teams applied, eight were selected.
  • US Soccer will essentially run the front office of this league [and] fund the participation of approximately 24 players in the league. USSF running front office means "no capital contribution" to front office costs from teams
  • Mexican federation will fund a minimum of 12 players.
  • Commitment to league is "long term" but commitment is "personal" and not fixed length/dollar value
  • Possible Canadian markets "not quite ready" for a team.