February 12 – The NWSL, the US’s top tier women’s professional league has a new rival with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s sanctioning of the start up USL Super League as a Division One League.
The USL Super League’s 2024/25 inaugural season will kick off in August with clubs in eight markets across the United States, including a newly announced team in Brooklyn, New York.
The decision to license a second top tier women’s league will expand the women’s professional league system in the US to different markets than the US. Widening the professional game’s footprint and increasing player opportunities.
“This is a tremendous moment for the USL Super League and for women’s sports,” said USL Super League president Amanda Vandervort.
“Receiving Division One sanctioning further showcases the work that our ownership groups, our clubs, and the league are doing to create a professional environment for top-level talent to compete. This is a crucial step toward realizing our vision to be a global leader in women’s soccer on and off the field. We cannot wait to see our clubs take the field when we kick off in August 2024.”
The USL Super League will follow the August to May international calendar. The USL said “the youth-to-pro pathway creates development and advancement opportunities for players, coaches, referees, and front office employees while uniting communities and growing the sport at all levels across the United States.”
The USL, which operates second and third tier US men’s leagues, emphasised the strength of its current ownership groups and their expansion into the women’s profession game saying there were “at least eight additional markets excited to join the league in future seasons: Chattanooga, Tenn.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Madison, Wisc.; Oakland, Calif.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz., and Tucson, Ariz.
“These teams will take the field upon completion of stadium projects and other important club development initiatives.”
U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone, said: “The USL Super League is looking to grow the women’s game and to expand the opportunities for women to compete at the highest professional level. As with all our professional leagues, we look forward to collaborating with the USL Super League and extend our best wishes to the clubs as they gear up for the upcoming season this August.”
The league said that national partnerships, competition format and more information about the inaugural season will be announced in the coming weeks.
Starting league line-up:
Brooklyn, N.Y. –Super League Brooklyn is affiliated with Brooklyn Football Club, led by local businessman Matt Rizzetta and North Sixth Group, which has interests in professional soccer clubs in Europe and the United States; and will play its home matches at Maimonides Park in iconic Coney Island.
Carolina – Based in Charlotte, N.C., Super League Carolina will play its home matches in American Legion Memorial Stadium. The club has named Philip Poole, former goalkeeper coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team, as head coach.
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas – Super League Dallas/Fort Worth is led by the Neil family, representing more than 40 years of real estate investment banking, current and former athletes, sports tech entrepreneurship, advertising, and decades spent in support of sports in North Texas.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – Super League Fort Lauderdale is developing a stadium and on-site training facilities on the campus of Nova Southeastern University. The club has named former professional soccer player Tyrone Mears as head coach.
Lexington, Ky. – Super League Lexington has named former New Zealand national team player Michelle Rayner as women’s sporting director and Mike Dickey, who previously led the Jordanian Women’s National Team, as head coach. The club is building a new soccer-specific stadium and state-of-the-art training facilities for its youth and professional teams.
Spokane, Wash.: Spokane Zephyr FC – Spokane Zephyr FC is owned by Aequus Sports LLC, led by Ryan and Katie Harnetiaux. Katie Harnetiaux, former Amazon executive, also serves as Club President. The team will play at ONE Spokane Stadium, a new 5,500-capacity stadium located in the North Bank Arts and Entertainment District.
Tampa Bay, Fla.: Tampa Bay Sun FC – Tampa Bay Sun FC has named former FIFA referee and TV broadcast analyst Christina Unkel as Club President, and long-time collegiate coach Denise Schilte-Brown as Head Coach. The club will play its inaugural season at Blake Stadium, a waterfront venue near Tampa’s historic downtown district.
Washington, D.C. – Led by an ownership group inclusive of prominent community and business leaders from the DMV area in partnership with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, the USL Super League club will add another exciting chapter to the region.
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