Sadly, the 2015 NWSL season has come to an end after FC Kansas City defeated Seattle Reign FC 1-0 Thursday night. It was the second straight season that the two played for the championship and for the second straight season, Kansas City walked away the victor. It’s hard to believe that the third season just finished. It seems just like yesterday that the league was announced.
This writer has always felt that if the NWSL can get past the third year, it has a great chance at surviving. The previous two incarnations of women’s professional soccer in America all folded after three years.
The first real attempt at a professional soccer league for women in America was the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA). The league was founded after the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup in which the United States women’s national team won. There was a ton of excitement for women’s soccer in America. It had players such as Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and German international Birgit Prinz. Sadly, it folded in September of 2003 after sustaining losses of around $100 million.
Six years later, they gave women’s professional soccer another try with the creation of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). The first two seasons the league was comprised of seven teams and had six teams in its final year in 2011. In the early part of January 2012, the league announced it was suspending the 2012 season and eventually ceased operations in May of 2012.
Just 11 months later, professional soccer for women in America was back with the creation of the NWSL. There are currently two teams that are backed by MLS teams, the Houston Dash and Portland Thorns. They are looking to expand, but hopefully not too quickly. There is ton of demand for women’s soccer like never before.
There are rumors that MLS based Orlando City SC wants to field a women’s team. It would be great for the league to create more teams, but please take your time and maybe add some teams West of Texas. Currently there are only two, the Reign and Thorns. NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush even recently mentioned that over a dozen interested groups that contacted the league office after the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
The league recently saw their first ever repeat champion in Kansas City. Saw a repeat NWSL Shield winner in the Reign. They also saw a huge push in attendance after the World Cup. In 2013, 375,824 people attended 88 NWSL matches. In 2014, that number rose to 447,013 in 108 matches. The 2015 season saw a bit of a drop, but finished strong. In 90 matches played, 454,100 people came out. This was also the first year that every team in the league averaged over 2,000 in attendance. The average attendance the last three years has gone from 4,271 in 2013 to 5,046 in 2013.
These aren’t huge numbers, but they are trending in the right direction. For those of you out there that have been supporting the league, keep doing what you are doing. Invite your friends that don’t follow the NWSL and show them what they are missing.
This writer can tell you that he is ashamed it took him so long to get on board. Going to an NWSL game was one of the best decisions that he has ever made, outside of getting married and having children.