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Mia Hamm: NWSL is a “top priority” for LAFC

More hints that NWSL expansion could be arriving before long.

MLS: Banc of California Stadium Ribbon Cutting Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been following the twists and turns regarding potential NWSL expansion to Southern California and how Los Angeles Football Club may play a role in that since LAFC was announced. The main reason? Indications from the club, both publicly and off the record, that it is indeed on the horizon.

On a public front, the person who stokes the hopes that LAFC will get involved in NWSL is club co-owner and legendary player Mia Hamm. She has spoken in the past about her interest in bringing women’s top-flight soccer back to the area, and with the 1999 World Cup-winning side in Los Angeles this weekend with the U.S. Women’s National Team gearing up to play Belgium at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium on Sunday in a friendly, she spoke once more about that interest.

Above quote: “Obviously, it’s a top priority of ours [LAFC ownership group], and of me personally. Last year we were talking about it and then I think we really kind of shifted focus back on getting through the first season, and trying to really see how we operate, what the expenses are. For me, it’s getting that information now that the second year has [gotten underway] and seeing.

“We had early discussions last year about maybe partnering with a group but that didn’t go in the direction that we thought because we’re building such a brand here, and that’s important for us to do. So when we make that commitment we want to make sure we can go all-in and do it right just like we’ve done with the men’s team.”

The takeaways from this?

  1. LAFC thought about launching an NWSL team, decided to wait, but Hamm indicates it may be approaching with a season of MLS under the club’s belt.
  2. They had discussions with a group — this presumably confirms the reports we’ve been hearing about LAFC and FC Barcelona having discussions about a joint venture, which have since been reported to be over, with LAFC going their own way. Hamm’s mention of LAFC’s brand seems to acknowledge that LAFC are confident they can launch a team successfully without having to use Barcelona’s cachet.

So on one hand, this mostly confirms what we’ve heard before. On the other hand, if LAFC had no plans to do NWSL, it’s unlikely Hamm would be saying this stuff publicly. She’s not someone known for speaking off the cuff — in fact, she’s someone known for being very considered in her public remarks.

The 2019 NWSL season kicks off on Friday. We’ll just have to wait and see if LAFC gets involved officially in the coming months.

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