Fresh off the 2019 World Cup win for the U.S. Women’s National Team on Sunday, you may have seen exhortations to support the women’s pro league in the United States, the National Women’s Soccer League.
It makes sense — if you really want to support women’s soccer, the best place to start is to follow these players (and many more besides) as they play for their club teams.
But while the NWSL is both the most stable women’s pro soccer league in American history and also a league that is climbing to reach true stability, an unmistakable blank persists on the league map: There is not, nor has there ever been, a team in California.
If you follow soccer in general and women’s soccer in particular, California is a total hotbed. Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Christen Press grew up in the state, definitely the state that produced the most players on the 2019 World Cup roster. UCLA, USC, Stanford and Cal are all major programs that produce pros regularly, to say nothing of other colleges in the state.
But even though NWSL is in its seventh season, still no team in California. A ton of rumors (we’ve been on that beat), a lot of whispers it’s coming, but nothing yet.
It’s important to note that like any pro team, an NWSL team in California, like anywhere, would need a stable and committed owner, and the specter of the Los Angeles Sol and Gold Pride FC, both California pro teams in the NWSL’s predecessor, WPS, folding almost as quickly as they were formed likely contributes to the caution in bringing NWSL to California.
Even so, it can be hard to support a league without a local team, or a team any closer than Portland or Utah. NWSL talks about the importance of California and Los Angeles as the second-biggest media market, but they are essentially wasting that with no presence here. That’s a huge oversight.
On top of that, a robust and sustainable pro league is essential if we want to see the USWNT succeed in the future. Finally, European clubs are really getting into the game in earnest, Liga MX Feminil is off to a strong start and needs nurturing for the women’s game in Mexico, and South America is making speculative dips into the pond (to be determined if any support is in it for the long haul). It’s not a given that the U.S. will dominate into the future. If you want to nurture future pros, first as fans and later as possible players, you need to have a team that is stationed in California.
The persistent rumors have been that Los Angeles Football Club will launch an NWSL at some point, and murmurs have been made that the LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes are interested, too. FC Barcelona has been bizarrely fascinated with launching an NWSL satellite club in California, too. For real, what are you waiting for?!
We all want it done the right way. But don’t allow California to sit on the sideline while the areas with NWSL teams surpass our local soccer cultures because everyone was too deliberate. It’s not good enough to produce players for the national team, or have powerhouse youth clubs or college programs. We need NWSL in California, for California’s sake and the sake of the sport.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!