The District will have a second pro soccer team when a new eight-team women’s soccer league kicks off in 2013.
“There’s a little bit of that ‘this might-be-too-good-to-be-true’ type of feeling,” says Chris Hummer, general manager for the new women’s team coming to D.C. For the past two seasons, Hummer served as the general manager of the D.C. United Women’s team, which played in the W-League.
D.C. will maintain a team of amateur reserves in the W-League, but it will no longer play under the D.C. United brand name.
The organization released a statement, which says, in part: “While we need to go in a different direction for brand reasons, we expect to maintain close ties in continuing to work together for the good of the game at all levels.”
On Wednesday, the new team name is expected to be revealed during an event at the AMC Tysons Theaters at the Tysons Corner Center in McLean, Va. The announcement is scheduled at 6:45 p.m.
That is, if the team is given clearance.
“We have a name that we want to use, but we’re still in the process of getting it cleared for use,” Hummer says.
Game tickets will also be on sale that evening, though there are no games scheduled yet.
The league itself also has yet to be named. Discussions about forming it began after this year’s Summer Olympic Games, according to league officials.
Along with D.C., Boston, New Jersey, Western New York, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, and Kansas City, Mo., will also have teams. The eight cities were chosen out of 11 that applied to join the league.
The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) will be the governing body. The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) and the Mexican Football Federation (MFF) will work as partners, supplying both financial and player support.
“U.S. Soccer will, essentially, run the front office of this league,” says Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer Federation president.
Each team is expected to have a roster of about 24 players, although officials acknowledge that could fluctuate if players take time to participate in other leagues.
The signing of high-profile players, such as the U.S.’s Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, will be negotiated between teams and players.
“We’re pretty confident that a lot of the top players are going to want to play here in Washington,” Hummer says. “There’s a rich history of soccer here.”
Each team will have players from the U.S., Canadian and Mexican national teams.
The USF will fund 24 American players in the league. The MFF will fund a minimum of 12 Mexican national players in the league.
“The Canadian Soccer Association will commit to fund 16 of our national team players,” says Victor Montagliani, president of the CSA.
Officials of this new U.S. pro league believe that spreading out the financial burden will give their league longevity.
“If one wants to view those three federations being the government, we’re subsidizing the private sector here to try to make this sustainable,” Gulati says.
Gulari has also suggested that player salaries will be reigned in. He hinted during the official conference call that some players won’t be able to rely solely on their in-season salaries to support themselves year-round and may need part-time jobs in the offseason to make ends meet.
Poor financial management has been cited as one reason two previous women’s leagues have failed. The Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) League folded earlier this year after its seven-team league debuted in 2009.
The first all-pro league, the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), lasted only from 2000-2003.
The season in the new league will consist of a 22-game schedule. It’s expected to start in either March or April and run through September or October.
D.C.’s team will play at the SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md.
Fans can expect a family friendly atmosphere, Hummer says.
“Our goal is to be profitable, and have a legacy for pro women’s soccer here,” he says.