National Women’s Soccer League adding team in Orlando
The National Women’s Soccer League on Tuesday announced its 10th team, the Orlando Pride.
The Pride, which will start playing next season, will be coached by former U.S. women’s national team coach Tom Sermanni. The team’s roster will be filled out in an expansion process in the coming weeks.
It is the NWSL’s second expansion team, following the addition of the Houston Dash in 2014. The Pride is owned by the same group that owns Major League Soccer’s Orlando City SC.
The Pride and Orlando City SC will play in the Citrus Bowl for the start of the 2016 season, moving to a new 25,000-seat stadium once it’s completed during the summer.
”This is another step in the evolution of our league,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
The NWSL, entering its fourth season, is the nation’s top women’s pro league, backed by the United States, Canadian and Mexican soccer federations.
The league was boosted by the U.S. victory in the Women’s World Cup this past summer. National team players are distributed throughout the league, with U.S. Soccer paying their salaries.
The NWSL also recently announced an extended sponsorship deal with Nike through 2019, lending credibility to the league. No other women’s professional soccer league in the United States has played into a fourth year.
The Orlando Pride joins two other NWSL teams that are run in conjunction with MLS teams: The Portland Thorns (Timbers) and the Houston Dash (Dynamo).
Orlando City Vice President Tim Holt said the club had been in discussions with the NWSL for the past year, part of an overall plan to add a women’s team.
”We want to win championships and build one of the best women’s teams in world soccer. We have taken a strong first step in this direction by naming Tom Sermanni as head coach of the Pride,” President Phil Rawlins said in a statement. ”Tom brings world class experience to our city, combined with the expertise to build a winning franchise.”
Sermanni, who coached the Australian women’s national team to the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup in 2007 and 2011, went 17-2-4 as the U.S. coach from 2012-14.