National Women's Soccer League

NWSL Expansion Update: The door is still open for 2016

Before the 2015 season began, Commissioner Jeff Plush made the following remarks regarding expansion for the 2016 season:

We have our spring board meeting in Houston [on April 10] and I’ll certainly plan to have an update about expansion after that meeting. I’ll be candid that we wouldn’t be able to expand in 2016 in too much longer than a period of time. I wouldn’t want to go with less than a year, so we’re up against it for 2016.

The league declined to make a statement when asked again prior to the World Cup.

Earlier Monday, one report stated that Orlando City, now in its first year in Major League Soccer, was very interested in bringing in an NWSL franchise. It is not the first MLS franchise to express interest in a women’s side. Real Salt Lake and Atlanta (set to come into MLS in 2017) also have mentioned wanting to bring in a women’s team.

According to a league source, “[NWSL hopes] to have an update [on expansion] in about 30 days or so. 2016 has not been completely ruled out yet.”

The interest in expansion has grown following the U.S. women’s World Cup win, with increasing interest and  that the win is “accelerating some talks”. The number of groups interested in expansion is up to “about a dozen, with varying interest levels,” whereas the league was in discussion with ” no less than six different expansion opportunities” back in April.

The Houston Dash came into the league in December 2013, which is something that is unlikely to occur a second time. But mid-August into September could be prime time to add another club even with the Olympics around the corner. One expansion side would round out the league with an even number of teams and eliminate multiple bye weeks for clubs and open up additional roster slots.

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