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NWSL Commissioner hints expansion coming to California

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Some indication the pro women’s league will finally come to the golden state.

MLS Portraits
NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The United States Women’s National Team may not have medaled in the Rio Olympics, but a handful of NWSL players did medal in the recent tournament via Canada’s bronze, their second in four years.

With the tentpole tournament over, attention in women’s soccer turns back to club matters, and with that, a new interview from NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush with FOX Soccer on Wednesday.

Of local note in that interview, Plush discussed expansion for the league, which is currently at 10 teams, and made special note to shout out to the state of California, which does not have an NWSL team.

"We’ve got to get into California at some point," Plush said in the interview. "We’d like to for lots of reasons -- two of the top media markets are out there, but there are also so many young women and girls playing the game that I think that clubs there would have an opportunity for success right away."

There have been murmurings that a Los Angeles team could be backed by MLS expansion side Los Angeles Football Club, with LAFC co-owner Mia Hamm repeatedly expressing an interest in eventually launching an NWSL when the time is right for club and league alike. And the rumors have been stoked, perhaps, by LAFC partnering with local girls academy Slammers FC to establish a girls development academy program.

There was also a report back in February, of a tentative plan to establish an NWSL team in Orange County, but nothing has been heard publicly since the initial report.

Plush, who also mentioned possible expansion for the NWSL to the American Southeast, did note expansion for 2017 was still feasible, but "the window is shrinking."

If LAFC was in prime position to snag an NWSL expansion slot, it seems very unlikely to happen in 2017, especially considering the MLS team won’t hit the field until 2018 and the club has plenty on its plate in launching one professional team and building a stadium, among other matters.

But considering the oddity of the NWSL, in its fourth season, having no presence in the state of California, long a source of professional and USWNT players, it’s nice to hear that the league is looking to break into the state, finally. Of course, the important thing is not just plunking down a team that won’t last, but finding the right owners and situation to make the team both sustainable and hopefully successful, too. Time will tell.

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