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A New Era In Women's Soccer: Breaking Down The NWSL

Updated on March 28, 2013

A year after the WPS folded, Women's soccer in the USA is back with the new NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) which is set to kick-off in April 2013. Unlike the WPS, the NWSL has a strong structure, with the full backing of the Canadian, Mexican and American Soccer Federations and tight financial restrictions. This season could be the turning point for Women's Soccer in North America, so here you'll be filled in on all of the details of the new NWSL, along with team previews. The other major women's soccer leagues in North America are the WPSL and the W-League

The Difference Between The WPSL and The NWSL


The Structure Of The National Women's Soccer League

The NWSL for the most part is controlled by the USSF (US Soccer Federation), CSA (Canadian Soccer Association) and FMF (Mexican Football Federation). The league will feature 24 US National Team players, 16 Canadian National Team players and 16 Mexican National Team players. The salary of these national team players will be paid by their respective federation. The players have been evenly spread among the team, while the USSF created the schedule and runs the league offices. The rest of the players would came from a draft and free agency. The NWSL has a salary cap at 500K. There are 8 teams in the inaugural season, located in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon and Washington. Each team will play 22 games, and the top four teams make the playoffs.


Portland Thorns


Stadium: Jeld-Wen Field, Portland, Oregon

Notable Players: Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair

Preview: Portland was the big winner after the allocation draft, nabbing Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair, along with Rachel Buehler. Cindy Parlow will lead the Thorns, in her first managerial position. Parlow won two golds and a silver at the Olympics with the US National Team during her playing time. The Thorns, who are owned by the MLS team, the Portland Timbers, have with out a doubt the best stadium and fan support in the league, having already sold over 5,000 season tickets. Women's soccer season is high in the Rose City, and the Thorns look to be one of the strongest teams in the league.


Western New York Flash


Stadium: Sahlen's Stadium, Rochester, New York (13,768)

Notable Players: Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Pamela Tajonar

Preview: The Flash come into this season again, as one of the best teams in Women's soccer. While they no longer have Marta and Alex Morgan, they do have a plethora of national team players. Forwards Samantha Kerr and Adriana Martín are largely underrated, and along with Wambach the Flash have a strong attacking force. The defense is the weak link, and it could be what makes or breaks the Flash's season.


Washington Spirit


Stadium: Maryland SoccerPlex (5,126)

Notable Players: Ashlyn Harris, Lori Lindsey, Alina Garciamendez and Ali Krieger

Preview: The Spirit look to be the weakest team in the league coming into this season. Ashlyn Harris, Lori Lindsey and Ali Krieger are the only big names, and only Krieger makes the US team on a regular basis. Other notable players are Guadalupe Worbis and Alina Garciamendez. Garciamendez has the potential to become a star, but it's not enough to make the Spirit a threat.


Boston Breakers


Stadium: Dilboy Stadium (3,500)

Notable Players: Cecilia Santiago, Lianne Sanderson and Sydney Leroux

Preview: The Breakers are a solid team, with tons of National Team players and players with European experience. Goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago is just 18, and has loads of potential, and Kyah Simon is a quality striker. Coach Lisa Cole has loads of experience, and Heather O'Reilly and Heather Mitts are have played for the Breakers in the past. The Breakers are one of the most stable clubs in women's soccer, both financially and support wise, and will compete for a play-off spot.


Chicago Red Stars


Stadium: Benedictine University Sports Complex Stadium (3,000)

Notable Players: Shannon Boxx, Erin McLeod and Maribel Domínguez

Preview: Shannon Boxx, Erin McLeod and Maribel Domínguez aren't only the top names for the Red Stars, but they're about the only names. Amy LePeilbet is in the roster, but the rest is fairly unknown, with no big names on the back line. Chicago never was a soccer city, as the Chicago Fire's attendance and atmosphere will prove, and the Red Stars will most likely find themselves fighting to stay out of last rather than compete for the a top four finish.


FC Kansas City


Stadium: Shawnee Mission District Stadium (6,150)

Notable Players: Lauren Cheney, Laura Sesselmann, Becky Sauerbrunn and Renae Cuéllar

Preview: Overall, FC Kansas City looks like a solid team, but nothing special. Kristen Mewis, Erika Tymrak and Renae Cuéllar are notable youth, while Desiree Scott, Lauren Cheney, Becky Sauerbrunn and Laura Sesselmann will be the game-changers. Coaching is the only real concern, with Vlatko Andonovski at the reigns. Andonovski was the assistant coach for the Missouri Comets an indoor-soccer team in the Major Indoor Soccer League. A few more additions before the season starts will be good for the Blues.


Seattle Reign


Stadium: Starfire Sports Stadium (4,500)

Notable Players: Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Teresa Noyola

Preview: The Reign's biggest foe won't be the Flash or the Thorns, but the Seattle Sounders Women, who play in the same stadium as the Reign, and have the backing of the MLS side the Seattle Sounders and the Reign actually poached Hope Solo from the Sounders Women. Megan Rapinoe will miss the beginning of the season as she is currently under a short-term contract with French side Lyon. Jessica Fishlock is extremely underrated, and maybe prove to be a bigger threat than Rapinoe. The Reign will be a top side, if they can draw the fans away from the Sounders.


FC Sky Blue


Stadium: Yurcak Field (5000+)

Notable Players: Christie Rampone, Kelley O’Hara, Monica Ocampo

Preview: The Sky Blue have an interesting mix of players, going into this season. Kelley O'Hara can play left-back or striker at an international level, and will be a big boost in case of injuries in either position. Monica Ocampo is one of the premier Mexican strikers and if she creates chemistry with Australian forward Lisa De Vanna the Sky Blue could have one of the most experienced and deadly striking forces in the league. Coach Jim Gabarra is experienced and should lead this team to a playoff position.

Who do you think will win the NWSL?

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    • nlazar profile image

      N. Lazar 4 years ago from USA

      If the flash were to have their old roster, they would romp this league, perhaps going undefeated. Never doubt the Boston Breakers, who have a strong fan base and usually go on long winning streaks towards the end of the season.

    • profile image

      Richard-Murray 4 years ago

      the winner will be oddswise northwestern but the Western NY Flash may win it and that would be a great achievement considering their dynasty was derailed with the death of the prior league