The MLS expansion could be one of the biggest things to happen in 2020, here’s how the NWSL could help
With the MLS getting more and more into creating a plan for an expansion, it has been brought up that MLS Commissioner Don Garber is anticipating a future for the league that includes partnering and owning NWSL clubs as well. This could be huge for not only the NWSL who are three games into their fourth season, but as well as the MLS as they strive to made strides in growing the beautiful game.
Why it could work:
The world of women’s soccer has been consistently growing over the past few years with the help of the United States Women’s National Team who have played a major part in the most recent soccer events like the Women’s World Cup, Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and the first annual She Believes Cup.
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With this growing popularity, the NWSL has seen positive growth in their fan base not only on social media, but also with in-stadium attendance and streaming viewership. Just last week, the newest club in the league, the Orlando Pride, had a record-breaking attendance of over 23,000 people who came to watch these women play soccer.
Currently only three MLS teams (Houston, Portland, and Orlando) own NWSL teams and those teams are the ones who are able to bring their fans together to collaborate on ideas, growth, attendance, and community outreach projects. With the NWSL expecting to expand more and quickly over the next few years it only makes sense that the MLS should take teams under their wings not only to push the popularity of the NWSL, but to push their own popularity as well.
As I mentioned before, the teams who already own NWSL clubs are already bringing in more money to their stadiums, more attention to their team through advertisement during women’s games, and taking steps in a positive direction when it comes to creating a more equal playing ground for everyone involved in the sport.
With the USWNT fighting the USSF for equal pay and qualifying for Olympic play we are going to see a lot more headlines about the women players. These women national team members each play for their own respective clubs when they are away from international duty and with the scheduling done just right, they won’t be missing but a handful of games while the NWSL takes a break for the Olympics.
These women are women who are playing for gold medals for their countries (it’s not just the United States who has national team members in the league) will make break records, take huge strides in the Summer Olympics, and make headlines bringing more attention to fans’ favorite players, those players’ club teams, and essentially the MLS teams that they are partnered with, but like I said only three MLS teams will get to see any form of attention from that this Olympic season since there are only three partnered with NWSL teams.
Why fans want to see this:
Why wouldn’t fans want to see this? Soccer is the best, largest sport in the world and that extends to the women as well. MLS fans could easily welcome this idea with open arms and the result would be positive for both leagues. The MLS could receive attention from soccer fans who pay attention to the NWSL because of names like Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, and Alex Morgan could turn their attention to the men’s teams and attend those games as well as the opposite for the MLS fans turning their attention to the women’s teams. Fans could see more games, more community involvement opportunities, and more events coming to their city supporting their favorite sport. Plus, who would even want to turn down more soccer? No one!
The MLS could play a major part in the NWSL expansion, but the NWSL can easily do the same for the MLS. There really isn’t a negative way to look at it and it could mean great things for both leagues’ futures. Only time will tell if these two come together more, but I think it’s more likely than not.