We could see an Orlando City NWSL team in 2016, as officials of the women’s pro soccer circuit are expected to add a 10th team for the coming season.
The Guardian is reporting the National Women’s Soccer League is reviewing the request for an expansion team, with Orlando City SC has reportedly already begun the process of staffing up for the additional team. Next season will be a busy one for Orlando City SC: the team will be moving at some point of the season from the Citrus Bowl to a new downtown 25,000-capacity soccer-only venue. In addition, Orlando City SC is looking at adding a USL team to the mix as well: the USL team originally playing as Orlando City was sold and is playing this season in Louisville.
While it’s not likely that NWSL will add more than one team for 2016, we could see more teams in 2017 and 2018; at least one expansion MLS team is seriously looking at NWSL for 2018, and given the attractiveness of the business model, it would not be surprising to see another MLS/NWSL combo in 2017. NWSL has been a success with MLS ownership in Portland and Houston, and MLS owners think that success can be replicated in other markets. From The Guardian:
The NWSL commissioner, Jeff Plush, declined to confirm the expansion candidates remaining in the process for 2016, but he said club owners will discuss expansion at their next meeting at the league championship in Portland on 1 October.
“We don’t have anything to announce right now and we don’t have anything finalized,” Plush told the Guardian on Sunday. “Our next board meeting will be during the final and we’re working hard to put something in front of ownership for everyone to consider. But we’re not there yet.”
When reached for comment, an Orlando City club spokesman issued the following statement: “Considering the massive support for top-caliber soccer in Central Florida, we continue to evaluate all opportunities to bring the highest levels of the sport to the market in the future. We hope to have more information to share in the coming weeks.”
Of course, we could see more MLS teams jump in for 2016, but that seems unlikely at this late date: Oct. 1 is about as late as you can go to prep for the coming season.
Top image Orlando City SC playing at the Citrus Bowl; front-page photo courtesy Portland Thorns.