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NWSL chief: Los Angeles is “market of interest” for future expansion

No timetable, but league’s expansion freeze may not last forever.

Lifetime National Women's Soccer League Press Conference Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Lifetime

The 2018 NWSL College Draft was held on Thursday in Philadelphia, and with that came the annual media scrum with the leader of the league, managing director Amanda Duffy, where she discussed a variety of topics.

Of note to this website, Duffy was asked and discussed the prospects of future expansion in the league. While Los Angeles has been rumored to be a future expansion city for the league for a couple years, those rumors cooled considerably late last year as Duffy explicitly said the league was slowing down as far as expansion was concerned for the time being, in order to strengthen some of the current teams that were in major need of it.

Since then, FC Kansas City has been moved this offseason to Utah and is now owned by Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen, and the Boston Breakers are currently on the market and Duffy said the league is still trying to find the best solution for that team’s future.

But for those looking for signs of life of a California expansion team, Duffy did indicate the league may be looking to add teams in the future and the current freeze is likely not permanent.

We look at expansion through a couple of aspects. We want to make sure we do it at the right pace and with the right groups that are going to position that team and the league to be successful, and for long-term growth and stability. So when we evaluate all those aspects, we’re excited about the markets and the groups we have been in conversations with. We do think it’s an important piece. We don’t want to do it too quickly (and) dilute the talent that truly is the most competitive league in the world. But we are continuing to have really positive conversations with several prospects.

While Duffy did not speak specifically about Los Angeles in that initial response to potential expansion in the NWSL’s future, she was explicitly asked about it later by a reporter and answered it head-on:

Right now, LA is a market of several that we’ve expressed and talked about interest in the past and it continues to be a market. It’s a major market in the United States that we’ve seen success there with a previous team. [We] have it as a market of interest that we will explore conversations with.

So this isn’t as bullish a statement as those looking for a team would have hoped for, that an announcement is forthcoming or that LA will definitely have a future in the league. However, Duffy’s answer does seem to indicate that Los Angeles is still on the radar and being a “market of interest” hopefully indicates that a team will land in California, someday.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

Thanks to Caitlin Buckley and Jonathan Tannenwald for providing audio from the draft.