Last night, the National Women’s Soccer League crowned its fourth champion as the Western New York Flash defeated the Washington Spirit on penalties at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. By getting to a fourth champion, the NWSL has bested its predecessors WUSA and WPS which is something to celebrate. Now that survival can be checked off the punch list, what are the next steps the league needs to take for growth?
One is a move MLS took after seeing some disappointing crowds in neutral venues for their championship. The NWSL Final needs to be played at the highest remaining seed’s home venue. I know the league wants a showcase game, but last night’s crowd and atmosphere was not what the teams deserved.
The NWSL needs to keep developing new stars. The USWNT is in a state of transition at the moment between major competitions and the league can benefit by developing the next generation of talent. While it’s easy to promote Alex Morgan, I’d love to see the league tell us the stories of Lynn Williams and Abby Dahlkemper. The league is also not just about American players, it should be about the best players in the world. Tell us about the up-and-coming international players as well.
TV needs to continue to be a focus to make it easier for fans to watch games. Getting games online is a huge step for the hardcore fan base who will work to find it, but make games more accessible for the potential new fans that could become part of that hardcore base in the future.
The league needs to continue developing its professional image. Stunts like the game at Frontier Field this summer have to stop, the league needs to project professionalism at all times moving forward. The WNBA has never looked second rate or cheap. They have larger budgets, I know, but that perception is very important.
This leads into possibly the biggest thing the NWSL needs to do as it continues to grow. Be strategic in growth and work to bring in the right type of clubs who can take this to another level. You’re starting to see a division in the league philosophically between the smaller teams and the better resourced teams. To continue growing, teams are going to have to increase their level of investment and owners who can commit to that are very important. Existing owners are also going to have to commit to that because the league is truly only as strong as its weakest club.
I’m glad to see professional women’s soccer is turning the corner from survival. Just like we saw in MLS as it did the same, the next steps are very important for the continued growth for the NWSL.
Western New York Flash win the NWSL title in penalties after a 124th minute equalizer (SB Nation)
Georgia’s Nick Uranga was an assistant referee on the NWSL Final:
Atlanta and Orlando are on top of the East Region in Generation adidas Cup qualifying. United plays New York Red Bulls this afternoon (MLS)
What does the future hold for Michael Bradley? (Waking the Red)
An interview with highly touted MLS SuperDraft prospect Jeremy Ebobisse (American Soccer Now)
Are the Usos using a Portland Timbers hat to try to get over as bad guys?
CONCACAF exploring changes to World Cup qualifying format (Stars and Stripes FC)
Did Ryan Giggs turn down the Swansea job? (The Busby Babe)
Georgia defeats LSU for its first SEC win of the year (Red & Black)
Kennesaw State falls to Stetson 1-0 (GoHatters)
Clayton State’s men hosting Wingate in their toughest match of the season tonight (Clayton State Sports)