In its 10th year, the NWSL is going to look a whole lot different.
After a season of reckoning in 2021, five head coaches were fired or resigned (with a sixth suspended earlier this week) due to allegations of discrimination, harassment, abuse and bullying. Teams stopped play for a weekend, and, shortly after, the commissioner resigned as well.
Along with the fleet of new leadership for this upcoming season, we’ll see two new franchises and all of the effects from an expansion draft that encouraged a shifting of the landscape of the league. There’s a lot to catch up on.
Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC are ready to join the party. The former, whose investors include Natalie Portman, Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, and Candace Parker, has already sold 15,000 season tickets before its first regular-season game. The latter is building its team around one of the league’s most recognizable figures in Alex Morgan.
Will either be competitive in Year 1? With an injury to star defender Sarah Gorden and the likelihood that Julie Ertz will sit out the season, maybe not for ACFC unless Christen Press can will them. The Wave, behind a balanced roster including No. 1 pick Naomi Girma, have a better shot.
Ali Kriger and Ashlyn Harris were traded to Gotham FC from the Orlando Pride
Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden were traded from the Chicago Red Stars to Angel City FC
Alex Morgan was traded to San Diego Wave FC from the Orlando Pride
Christen Press signed with Angel City FC from Racing Louisville
Sam Mewis was traded to the Kansas City Current in a trade with the North Carolina Courage
Trinity Rodman, the first teenager to be drafted into the NWSL, exceeded even the highest of expectations by leading the Washington Spirit to a title last year, scoring seven goals with seven assists on the season. They’re the team to beat.
Last year’s second-best regular season team OL Reign, led by Jessica Fishlock, Bethan Balcer, Rose Lavella and Megan Rapinoe, are an obvious challenger. The North Carolina Courage, starring Brazilian International Kerolin Nicoli is off to a hot start in the Challenge Cup as well.