Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Good Seats Still Available

Jul 27, 2020

As the National Women's Soccer League concludes its deftly assembled 2020 Challenge Cup tournament (with congrats to the Houston Dash on their first-ever major trophy), we enlist sportswriter/soccer insider Beau Dure ("2012: The Year That Saved Women's Soccer") to help us make sense of the confoundingly discontinuous history of the women's pro game in the US over the last 20 years - and the unwitting origin story of the NWSL.

Against the backdrop of an undeniably prolific US Women's National Team - a program that has produced four FIFA Women's World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals and currently (and regularly) sits atop the FIFA Women's World Rankings - the path to building and sustaining a viable top-tier women's domestic pro league over that time has proven surprisingly quixotic.

While the reasons are myriad, Dure navigates us through:

  • The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA): the big-money, TV-backed, John Hendricks-boostered attempt to create a first-ever pro league in the wake of 1999's breakthrough USWNT's World Cup title - but quickly burned through over $100MM and flamed out after just three seasons;

  • Women's Professional Soccer (WPS): the pragmatic but woefully under-funded attempt to resurrect a circuit - this time with momentum from a 2008 Olympic Gold Medal - but done in by a wobbly investor base, none more dubious than "magicJack" owner-operator Dan Borislow; AND

  • Today's NWSL: which, through the backstopping efforts of the US Soccer Federation, kept the burning embers of the WPS alive to help reconstruct what is now a seemingly thriving seven-year-old loop that will add its 10th (Louisville) and 11th (LA) franchises in the next two seasons.