NWSL looks to expand

By Mackenzie Cutruzzula
Sports Editor

Every four years, the same question is asked in relation to the United States Women’s National Team after the World Cup — will the hype fizzle out around women’s soccer?

Morgan joins the Orlando Pride. (AP Photo)
Morgan joins the Orlando Pride. (AP Photo)

This year added extra volume to the question as the team is currently the world champion. As a national team, the women have no problem selling out a stadium or creating a media firestorm, but what happens to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) during the regular season?

There was very little coverage of Kansas City’s last- second NWSL championship win over Seattle Reign. However, when those same players were part of the announcement for the roster being released for the 2015 Victory Tour, the media was rearing to report.

After the team brought the cup home, the media was quick to put together montage videos with inspirational slogans about little girls having new strong heroines to aspire to. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan were slated to pick up where Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain lost momentum in the years since 1999.

However, it seemed that as soon as the team crossed the border back into the United States, the media was no longer concerned with their endeavors. The media is the key to the NWSL’s success and thus far they have failed. With the lack of coverage compared to men’s sports, the women are at a disadvantage for selling tickets and creating a stronger fanbase. The league has well-respected players, but the media doesn’t give them attention to hype them as much as they do for their male counterparts.

Enter the glimmer of hope — Orlando, Fla. On Tuesday, Oct. 20, NWSL announced that the Orlando Pride are set to become an official team. With Alex Morgan joining the new squad, the NWSL has an opportunity to expand into the southeast fan base and grow the league.

“Orlando is a remarkable organization with an authentic club culture and a community that will help us continue to grow the league and provide more opportunities for female soccer players at the highest level,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said in a press conference. “We have no doubt Orlando will be a tremendous addition to the NWSL.”

The expansion marks a changing tide in national sports — women can have successful leagues.

“We intend to provide the same type of electric event and game day atmosphere for the Pride at the Citrus Bowl — and ultimately at our new soccer stadium downtown— as we do for Orlando City,” Tim Holt, Orlando City Soccer Club vice president of Development said at the press conference.

That is not to say that it didn’t take a long time for men’s soccer to receive the attention it now garners in the U.S., but as the women are looking to capitalize on their 15 minutes in the spotlight, it is important that the media also takes advantage of this moment because it can lead to another affluent enterprise.

The NWSL has the chance to receive the attention it deserves and if the media gives it a chance, it can become a successful franchise.

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