As women’s soccer continues to gain traction in the United States, expansion of the National Women’s Soccer League appears inevitable. Within the last six years, the NWSL has welcomed three new teams — the Houston Dash in 2014, Orlando Pride in 2016 and Utah Royals FC in 2018 — affiliated with their city’s respective MLS team. It’s time for Los Angeles to finally have an NWSL team of its own.
Ever since the ownership group of the Los Angeles Football Club was announced, there have been whispers about expanding to the NWSL. Especially with the inclusion of ex-USWNT star Mia Hamm in the star-studded ownership team, many expected the discussion of investing in a women’s team to arise early.
While some criticized Hamm for investing in a men’s team before a women’s team, her leadership and passion for the women’s game will position her at the forefront of such a decision.
Hamm is the only woman on the ownership team and understands both the experiences female athletes face and the necessity for women’s soccer to grow. If LAFC pursues this opportunity, I’m confident that she will lead the charge in creating a world-class environment for women’s soccer.
Just as LAFC received early support before the team was even formed, many soccer fans have shown their enthusiasm about bringing the NWSL to L.A. NWSL’s social media accounts are constantly bombarded with questions and petitions for LAFC to invest in a women’s team.
Excitement about bringing the NWSL to L.A. has spread to Banc of California Stadium. At the last few LAFC home games, LAFC’s loyal supporter union, the 3252, flew banners and flags with the NWSL logo saying “Bring NWSL to LA.”
LAFC’s success has garnered the brand much excitement in a short amount of time. In just two years, the club has already become a heavy favorite to win the MLS cup. Given LAFC’s early success, it’s not unreasonable to imagine the same results for a new NWSL team in LA.
The other most populous cities in the United States — New York, Houston and Chicago — all have NWSL teams. Given such widespread representation, it is baffling that Los Angeles is still without a team in the league. By not investing in an L.A. team, the NWSL is missing out on a large market.
Southern California is a soccer hotbed. Los Angeles has two MLS teams because the soccer market in L.A. has the capacity to provide both with many fans. The area’s role in women’s soccer specifically is also evident. Southern California has produced many talented female soccer players who went on to play for different national and professional teams. Two stars from the USWNT’s World Cup-winning roster this summer, Alex Morgan and Christen Press, hailed from SoCal. Many players have also benefited from the dominant youth clubs and successful college programs right here at USC and across town at UCLA.
Bringing the NWSL to L.A. would give women’s soccer the representation it deserves in an area that needs it. Seeing strong, athletic women pursue their passions despite countless obstacles empowers everyone, from young girls who just picked up their first sport to high school and college players who are discouraged by the inequality they’ve seen in women’s sports.
So many groups of people are impacted by or connected to this sport in some way or simply drawn in by the confidence and resilience of the athletes. Bringing women’s soccer to L.A. will challenge our community to break gender stereotypes and uplift women everywhere.
There is no NWSL team in Los Angeles just yet, but that does not mean we should just sit, tweet “#BringNWSLtoLA” and wait. Follow the league, watch the games and help women’s soccer grow.
Johannah Suegay is a sophomore writing about LAFC. Her column, “Black & Gold,” runs every other Thursday.