NWSL 2024

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We’ve got a general women’s soccer thread and a USWNT thread but I thought I’d start one for this NWSL season, kicking off this weekend.

We’re very lucky to be returning Gotham season ticket holders and will be enjoying some reasonable weather at about 50 tonight for the challenge cup game with a championship trophy hoist for the bats. Was worried about the temp when it was announced as home for NJ but this will be pleasant enough.

Should be a fun match with the Wave despite the absence of Lynn and Rose. These are generally the #1 and #2 ranked teams for 2024.

Broadcasting is all over the map this year with tonight’s game on Prime and then various games this weekend on ESPN, ION, Prime, and the new free NWSL+ which you can download now on Apple TV and the Fire stick. But I guess it paid off for the league as discussed elsewhere with their massive broadcasting contract.

Anyone else watching, attending, or declaring team allegiance this year? I’m hopeful that NWSL SoSH grows a following even further beyond the fun conversations we’ve had here in previous years.
 

steeplechase3k

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Thorns fan here.

I got season tickets on day one, I originally had a pair on the sideline an a friend had some next to me, but he ended up not making it to many matches so he dropped his tickets after a few years, at that point I moved to the GA section. I dropped that in protest ticket after all the scandals broke. I still went to every match, but bought on the secondary market. After the sale I purchased a season ticket again this season.

I'm excited to watch Christine Sinclair for one more season. I first saw her play in 2002 at the University of Portland, so I've been watching her play for a LONG time.

I'm a little worried about how the defense will be for the Thorns this year, but I'm confident they will score a lot.
 

pedro1918

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Spirit season ticket holder. Looking forward to the year but kind of disappointed with who they let go. Staab and Sanchez especially, but I also really liked Marissa Sheva because she played for Ireland.

In Trinity I trust.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Spirit season ticket holder. Looking forward to the year but kind of disappointed with who they let go. Staab and Sanchez especially, but I also really liked Marissa Sheva because she played for Ireland.

In Trinity I trust.
Gonna be a fascinating season for you, with the midseason import of Barcelona's manager and presumably a drastic shift of play style from Mark Parsons' type of ball.
 

graffam198

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Dec 10, 2007
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Thorns fan here.

I got season tickets on day one, I originally had a pair on the sideline an a friend had some next to me, but he ended up not making it to many matches so he dropped his tickets after a few years, at that point I moved to the GA section. I dropped that in protest ticket after all the scandals broke. I still went to every match, but bought on the secondary market. After the sale I purchased a season ticket again this season.

I'm excited to watch Christine Sinclair for one more season. I first saw her play in 2002 at the University of Portland, so I've been watching her play for a LONG time.

I'm a little worried about how the defense will be for the Thorns this year, but I'm confident they will score a lot.
We took our girls to a Thorns game last fall, and it was a total blast. We got to see Morgan score and my youngest had done her hair like Bixby. (They got a stuffed pig and named it Pixby....)

I was totally floored that 1) they play on turf and 2) Portland gets more rain than London, hence the turf.

Now that the Bay Area has a team, I'm sure we will adopt them as our "franchise". Looking forward to it!
 

steeplechase3k

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The Turf/grass issue has been talked about since the Timbers joined MLS in 2011. Real grass COULD happen, but it would be expensive to maintain. The field sits so far below grade they'd have to have grow lights running all winter to keep it alive. That and the water table could be an issue. There is a 100+ year old brick culvert just below the field surface. See here for more info: https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/all-star-digging-truth-creek-under-portlands-providence-park

My little siter live in Mountain View CA and is going to be taking her kids to Bay FC games.
 

InstaFace

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I don't have a club, but I've become a follower of the USWNT players in general, and the league and women's game in general, due to researching those long-form articles that I posted in the other thread.

I think the Spirit and Michele Kang are angling to have Alexia Putellas come along with Giraldez when he arrives to take over coaching duties in June. Her contract expires 6/30 and she has very publicly rejected Barca's overtures on the terms of an extension. That could be real exciting.

One thing I haven't heard much about is that supposedly there was some sort of Leagues Cup-esque competition planned for this summer during the Olympics break. Which would be awesome, since Liga MX Femenil is the only comparable league to NWSL in the entire western hemisphere, and they have massive fan support - have really built things up admirably, despite a largely apathetic federation. But so far, all we've gotten is some basic details around a CONCACAF Club Championship, intended to serve as qualifiers for a Women's Club World Cup in 2026. I really hope we get some other inter-league matchup, one that involves more than just the (as-proposed) 3 NWSL teams + 3 LMXF teams + 4 random amateur teams from the rest of the continent.
 

graffam198

dog lover
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2007
1,896
Reno, NV
The Turf/grass issue has been talked about since the Timbers joined MLS in 2011. Real grass COULD happen, but it would be expensive to maintain. The field sits so far below grade they'd have to have grow lights running all winter to keep it alive. That and the water table could be an issue. There is a 100+ year old brick culvert just below the field surface. See here for more info: https://www.mlssoccer.com/news/all-star-digging-truth-creek-under-portlands-providence-park

My little siter live in Mountain View CA and is going to be taking her kids to Bay FC games.
What a great article! Thanks for sharing!
 

steeplechase3k

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You are welcome. I love the history of the stadium. The main seating bowl was opened in 1926 and the first recorded soccer match was played at the location in 1893.
 

67YAZ

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It's a transition season in Chicago - several veteran moved on, a new manager came in, and several draft picks are expected to join the rotation. But they resigned Mal, and as long as she's comes back healthy, the Red Stars will be entertaining and playoff bound.

I've got a few matches circled, but the trip down to Bridgeview sucks. Laura Ricketts is lobbying in the legislature for stadium money, arguing that if the Bears and White Sox get something so should the fast growing league. If this club can get a stadium located near public transportation, they could climb from one of the worst to one of the better attendance records.
 

Ale Xander

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NC Courage are inducting Sam Mewis tonight as the inaugural member to the team’s Ring of Honor.
 

Batman Likes The Sox

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NC Courage are inducting Sam Mewis tonight as the inaugural member to the team’s Ring of Honor.
That's cool, didn't catch that yet!

If there were one athlete's career I could wish to change in terms of injury over the last 20 years, it would probably be Sam. I think the USWNT was very affected by her loss and it would have been a lot of fun to see her play a full career.
 

67YAZ

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Utah had some bright moments tonight, but the Red Stars had enough savvy and cohesion to see them off. Will be interesting to watch the Royals and see if they can grow together over the season.

Mal played 70, looked a little rusty, but she let out a primal scream after Schlegel’s goal. Love her. The Red Stars are hers now.
 

Batman Likes The Sox

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I only got to catch some replays but Alyssa had a great game in goal.

Was glad to see the new stadium in KC kicked off with a win and a very entertaining 5-4 tally for the fans who were there for the sellout. I’m curious if the KC “we’re threatening to move the team if we don’t get public money for a stadium” chatter and the concept of the Mahomeses moving ever comes up this season, just to blend the two footballs together for a moment. Obviously moving is unlikely but of note given the ownership.

Speaking of ownership, the board power struggle for ACFC is interesting:
https://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/angel-city-fc/story/2024-03-16/angel-city-seeking-new-owner-for-controlling-stake-of-franchise

Basically:
-on the record, board members are saying they’re just seeking an additional major investor
-off the record, people are saying that the largest (but not majority) shareholder is unhappy about how much the NWSL’s most valuable franchise is spending
-he’s saying on the record that he has no plans to sell his shares
-meanwhile other owners have commented on the record that they want to see more spending, and get a new stadium and training facility like KC has

Will be fascinating to see how that all plays out especially in LA with many famous club owners.

Reign-Spirit at 6 ET today and then Bay-Angel City, both good matchups.
 

InstaFace

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Speaking of ownership, the board power struggle for ACFC is interesting:
https://www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/angel-city-fc/story/2024-03-16/angel-city-seeking-new-owner-for-controlling-stake-of-franchise

Basically:
-on the record, board members are saying they’re just seeking an additional major investor
-off the record, people are saying that the largest (but not majority) shareholder is unhappy about how much the NWSL’s most valuable franchise is spending
-he’s saying on the record that he has no plans to sell his shares
-meanwhile other owners have commented on the record that they want to see more spending, and get a new stadium and training facility like KC has

Will be fascinating to see how that all plays out especially in LA with many famous club owners.
I'm surprised to read that it's Ohanian who is upset about the spending, since that was not the gist of the Sportico article that started this. However, they're independently reporting that, not just quoting Sportico.

It's true that Angel City makes the most money of any women's team in the world, double the next biggest club (either Barca Femeni or San Diego Wave depending on when you measure from). They have money coming out of their eyeballs, and a fairly hard salary cap to constrain spending that might otherwise go to the squad. So you would think that a startup-oriented person like Ohanian would expect the execs (like Uhrman) to invest in growth (marketing, sponsor ops / activations, appearances, giveaways, building more infrastructure), and drive the staff pretty hard too. Maybe he just thinks they're spending on the wrong things.

Team President Julie Uhrman's previous ventures have not been hallmarks of efficient spending, so maybe Ohanian just wants someone else calling the shots and setting the budgets. Don't know if the optics of that would go over well with their other cofounders and their fans.

Their current stadium situation is pretty good, playing at BMO in downtown LA, which seats 22k. On the other hand, they're often selling that stadium out, and maybe want to build an even bigger place - i.e., upstage an MLS team (!). That would be pretty cool, but I'd expect them to start with getting their own training facility, while scouting locations for an eventual stadium and waiting for financing rates to come down.
 

InstaFace

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One thing I haven't heard much about is that supposedly there was some sort of Leagues Cup-esque competition planned for this summer during the Olympics break. Which would be awesome, since Liga MX Femenil is the only comparable league to NWSL in the entire western hemisphere, and they have massive fan support - have really built things up admirably, despite a largely apathetic federation. But so far, all we've gotten is some basic details around a CONCACAF Club Championship, intended to serve as qualifiers for a Women's Club World Cup in 2026. I really hope we get some other inter-league matchup, one that involves more than just the (as-proposed) 3 NWSL teams + 3 LMXF teams + 4 random amateur teams from the rest of the continent.
Well, looks like Jessica Berman lurks here! NWSL and Liga MX Femenil announce an annual "Summer Cup", to be played starting this July and August during the Olympic break, and involving the 14 NWSL teams + the top 6 LMXF teams, in what is clearly a trial-run format rather than fully serious.

View: https://twitter.com/equalizersoccer/status/1770499577021391273


The important thing is, (1) we're doing it at all, and it'll be fun and great to watch, (2) it's run by the leagues, so it can be designed and scheduled at the convenience of them and their fans and players, rather than run by the confederation and FIFA and designed for maximum profit, and (3) while this might be a trial run, there are some obvious ways to improve it for future editions that would make it truly rock (such as involving more of the LMXF teams and sharing the wealth a bit there, rather than just making the rich richer). And there may come a day where we invite Corinthians and Fluminense and Santos...
 

67YAZ

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really glad to see this happening rather than just an NWSL Cup.

Am eager for the broadcast details. Would be great to get some of these matches on to broadcast/basic cable channels for maximum exposure. But with most biggest stars at the Olympics, interest from the biggest platforms might be limited.
 

pedro1918

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Went to the Spirit home opener against Bay FC. It was cold! The game was great, with the Spirit pulling out the last minute victory on a great goal from rookie Croix Bethune, who was impressive all night.

Casey Krueger was very impressive pushing up from her left back position, until she had to leave after knocking heads with an opponent. Hopefully she’s alright.

Bay’s goal was scored by former Spirit player Dorian Bailey, so even that was not all bad!
 

Batman Likes The Sox

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That was a fun and tough Gotham - Thorns matchup. Two beautiful goals but unfortunately for Portland theirs got called back for offsides. The home crowd SLIGHTLY disliked the call, first time they have ever seen their team lose the home opener.

Hope President Margaret is okay. Gotham dealing with quite a few injuries to start the season though luckily with a deep bench.
 

Batman Likes The Sox

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Good and necessary move by Portland. And they need some good news now that they've started the season unexpectedly in the cellar with 0 points. It's fun to watch Sophia explode in that offense.

Totally brutal news about Margaret. Can't believe she's got another long injury recovery. I wonder whether last week was her final game with Gotham. Her contract has an option for 2025 but beyond the injury, and the sample size is not huge, but it never felt like she was a good fit on the field with Esther, and the offense is going to run through Esther at least for this year and next.

When you see them up close, and we get to sit just a few feet away from Gotham's offense for half of every home game, there's a surprising lack of communication between the two compared to other players, and when one calls for the ball, the other almost never sends it over. On top of that I don't know that their styles mesh all that well. Gotham's got a lot of work to do in that regard and the injuries / coming together as a superteam are their biggest obstacles to overcome in 2024.

Would have been nice to see them figure it out with President Purce on the field. Devastated for her and very sad as a fan.
 

InstaFace

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Soph's contract extension puts her at the highest annual salary in the NWSL, though with numbers not yet disclosed. Based on that meaning she at least clears Racheal Kundananji's contract with Bay (4-5 yrs x $500k valuation), this probably makes Smith either the #1 or #2 best paid woman footballer on earth, at least when it comes to club salaries (i.e., very much not counting endorsements). Probably behind Alexia Putellas's ~$650k / yr (€ 600k), and perhaps behind Thembi Kgatlana's salary with Tigres ($550k).
 
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67YAZ

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So Sanchez requested a trade already and the Dash sent her to the Wave for an undisclosed cash payment. So weird.

San Diego now has something of a surplus on attack, though Morgan just injured her ankle and is out for an indefinite length. But is a move with intent by the Waves.

The Red Stars have picked up 7pts through 4 matches with a highly structured approach. It’s not always exciting - 5 goals and 3 allowed - but the hope is that things get crackling once Mal rounds back into form.

Chicago also has a sold out match at Wrigley against Bay FC coming on June 7. Having a Ricketts owner is pretty nice. Should be a blast.