By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly
While I watched the U.S. Women’s Soccer match against Ireland on Nov. 28 I found myself wondering — like so many fans — what it will take for the new professional women’s soccer league to succeed? The league is due to start this coming spring and will include eight teams: Boston, Chicago, Western New York, New Jersey, Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, and Washington D.C. There have been two attempts to start and maintain a professional woman’s soccer league. Both have failed. Is the third time a charm?
I pondered this question for a while, and then went back to gawking and drooling — I mean watching — the U.S. players as they dominated the field the entire night with a final score of 5-0 U.S.A. With soccer growing steadily over the last few years nationally, a foundation already in place with the successful Portland Timbers, and with more than 10,000 people who purchased tickets for the U.S. match against Ireland, it became clear to me that this just might be the time that a women’s franchise works. The combination of an enthusiastic fan base for individual soccer stars and a home team, plus perhaps using a smaller venue, seems like the perfect combination.
So, here we go again!
Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson — who will also be heading the Portland women’s team — seemed particularly confident about the prospect of a women’s league, especially with regard to financing.
“(The) cost structure is different,” Paulson says. “Frankly, U.S. Soccer and the various respective federations are floating the costs of the national team players, so it’s a much lower cost basis and I think, hopefully, people have learned from the first two efforts. In my mind the third time’s gotta work.”
When asked about the new league, it’s chances for success, and her possible role in it, U.S. Gold Medalist and University of Portland Alumna Megan Rapinoe says, “That’s the million dollar question. I’d love to end up in Portland. I have a place here now. I think playing some games at the University of Portland would be great. It’s the perfect venue. It’s a little bit smaller than JELD-WEN but a great pitch with a nice atmosphere.”
One thing is for sure – the fans couldn’t be happier about the prospect. For someone like Audrey Gould (aka “Squirrel”), a lifetime soccer player herself and huge fan of women’s soccer, the idea of having a stable and successful women’s soccer league is thrilling. Especially if it means having Rapinoe on the home team.
“She just plays with style on and off the field,” Gould says.
Shaley Howard is a sports writer for PQ Monthly as well as an athlete, sports enthusiast, and organizer of the annual HRC Women’s 3×3 Basketball Tournament. She is also is the owner and operator of Scratch N’ Sniff Pet Care, which she considers the best job in the world. Shaley can be reached at email@example.com.