In case you missed it, there was big news in NWSL on Thursday. No, there still isn’t a team in California, but Real Salt Lake will get a team to play in Utah starting next year, while FC Kansas City are a thing, maybe, but at the very least will be put on ice for the time being.
Amidst that news came something else concerning a story we’ve been tracking, Spanish giant FC Barcelona’s stated interest in starting an NWSL team, possibly in California. A new report from Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo on Thursday had a whole slew of supposed updates.
While Barcelona had previously been reported as having made an agreement to field an NWSL team in the Bay Area, this new report claims the team is now going to be in Santa Monica. Anything can happen, I suppose, but this is the first red flag of the story — Santa Monica doesn’t appear to have any facilities that would be optimal for women’s professional soccer, with the “best” of the lot being Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field, a turf football and track facility with no amenities that was built in 1952. One of the greatest concerns in NWSL right now is that Memorial Stadium in Seattle, where the Seattle Reign play, is a rough equivalent of Corsair Field and everyone wants to get out of that place ASAP.
Another red flag comes in the Mundo Deportivo story with the mooted candidate cities for a Barça NWSL team beyond Santa Monica, said to include “Dallas, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City.” That makes little sense, really, because the only thing those cities have in common with Santa Monica is that they’re in the United States. Nobody would say, “I want the glitz, glamour and relaxed beach living of Santa Monica, but if that doesn’t work out, Pittsburgh should be fine.” Also, Salt Lake City is already out since RSL now has a team there.
Finally, the report claims that Barcelona want to use the NWSL team to keep their La Liga players sharp year-round, by effectively importing them over to the states in the Spanish league offseason. In the main, this makes no sense, both because there is overlap between the seasons and because NWSL roster rules have a cap of how many international players each team can have.
So to recap, this report doesn’t pass the smell test. Whether it’s because Barcelona don’t understand the conditions on the ground in the United States, or the author got creative with details, is unclear. But while there may be a grain of truth sprinkled in somewhere, this is an update that you would be wise to be very skeptical of for the time being.
Now, for something more concrete, Los Angeles Football Club co-owner Mia Hamm was asked specifically about a NWSL venture at a “Ladies Night” event on Thursday. Here’s what she said:
The club is working on it... they’re working very hard on it. Hamm is hopeful for the org to give some update on it.— JustKhoai (@justkhoai) November 17, 2017
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