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Darren Eales: NWSL to Atlanta coming “sooner rather than later”

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“It clearly is going to be on our radar.”

Soccerex Global Convention - Day 1 Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images for Soccerex

Women’s soccer has arguably never had a higher profile than it does right now. That’s been driven by increased investment worldwide (especially in Europe) and the USWNT winning its second straight World Cup and fourth overall.

Naturally, that will mean an NWSL team in Atlanta, right?

According to an interview by the Atlanta Business Chronicle with club president Darren Eales, an Arthur Blank-owned NWSL franchise may not be imminent, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not out of the question by any stretch.

From our perspective, we haven’t considered a women’s team – yet...As we look to the future, given the continued growth of the women’s game and women’s soccer, it clearly is going to be on our radar. It probably will be sooner rather than later.

While many fans (including me) would welcome an NWSL team in Atlanta, a “wait and see” approach by Arthur Blank - or any prospective ownership group, for that matter - could be a wise approach. SI’s Grant Wahl has expressed a little skepticism about the league’s short- and long-term viability, which, admittedly, could count as a hot take, but there’s some credence to it as far as how the league is marketing itself and ensuring that all of its players (not some) are being taken care of. Atlanta Beat fans know the failure of WPS and the WUSA all too well.

But it also makes sense to strike while the iron is hot. Atlanta has proven to be a strong soccer market, and it seems that the fans’ desire to support an NWSL team will be not just talk, but action.

We should get a better feel of where things are headed in a few months after the NWSL season ends. While the league appears to be learning the lesson of the two failed leagues that have gone before it, it still has a long way to go.