Five Potential NWSL Expansion Sites

Five Potential NWSL Expansion Sites

In 2024, the NWSL will expand to fourteen teams with teams from San Fransisco and Salt Lake City set to join North Americas premier Woman’s soccer league. Woman’s soccer has been rising and rising for years now, and there is no reason why the current rate of expansion can’t keep going. The league is young and still relatively small, there are many possibilities in where to expand the NWSL, and here just five of the many locations the league could go to!


Toronto – Ontario

As is tradition in American leagues, a team from Toronto is included. And with good reason! Toronto is the third largest city (by population) in the US and Canada, and fifth overall largest by metro area. It’s also a hotbed for soccer on the continent; Toronto FC boast consistently high attendances (despite poor on-field showings), will be a host venue for 2026 and is a common host city for Canadian Woman’s National Team games.

Women’s International Friendly. Toronto, ON, CAN (Canada Soccer)

The biggest obstacles are that BMO Field is already heavily booked with TFC and the Toronto Argonauts plying games there, so another stadium would probably have to be used. There’s also the emergence of a professional woman’s league in Canada, and it’s possible that FIFA/CONCACAF would veto a Toronto team playing in an American league rather than a Canadian one. But should those issues be workable, then surly Toronto is a no brainer.


Boston – Massachusetts

Probably the most obvious and inevitable choice on this list, Boston is one of the most iconic sports cities in North America with a track record of huge passionate support in all sports. Boston has of course had an NWSL team before, with the Boston Breakers playing the NWSL from its founding in 2013 to 2018.

Boston Breakers Morgan Marlborough controls the ball in front of FC Kansas City Becca Moros (Matthew J. Lee / The Boston Globe)

Naturally this brings up concerns about sustainability of a Boston team, but the NWSL is a much stronger league now five years on. The salary cap is over a million dollars higher than it was in 2018, the 2022 average attendance was nearly 2,000 higher and the total 2022 attendance was 400,000 higher than it was in 2018. Kansas City also lost a NWSL team, but the league successfully returned to that city in 2021, so there is precedent. The NWSL is in a much stronger position, a new Boston team would have to pay an expansion fee of at least $50M, so new team would (should) immediately be a in a stronger position than the Breakers. The Breakers used Jordan Field during their existence, a venue that a new Boston team could very feasibly use should the league return to Beantown.


Minneapolis/Saint Paul – Minnesota

One of the biggest success stories in MLS as of late has been the success of Minnesota United. The Loons have an outstanding new stadium, and a passionate fanbase that packs Allianz Field and is known for a loud atmosphere, soccer is a big success in Minneapolis/Saint Paul!

A sold out crowd watched the USWNT demolish South Korea 6-0 in 2021 (Lily Denehy/The Mac Weekley)

So it seems only natural to build on that success with an NWSL team. Allianz Field has hosted two USWNT team games and the crowd was big both times. The local WNBA team consistently has above average league attendances and the local USL W team, Minnesota Aurora do have ambition to become an NWSL team in the future. Minnesotan’s have a track record of supporting Woman’s sports, it would be a great edition to the NWSL.

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Detroit – Michigan

Dispite not having an MLS team, Detroit has a reputation of being one of the most passionate soccer cities in the United States! Their supporters are amongst the liveliest and most active in all of North America and despite being in the USL, commonly have attendances over 7,000. Detroit City even have a woman’s team, who play in the USL W. The USWNT last played in Detroit in 2015, in front of a bumper crowd of 34,538 at Ford Field.

Detroit City recently established a Woman’s team (Detroit Free Press)

We’ve seen the NWSL expand into markets that don’t have a pre existing MLS team such as Louisville and San Diego, so the lack of a Detroit MLS team to be used as a gauge for the sport in the city won’t deter the league. Detroit is a city rising, a far cry from the city that went bankrupt ten years ago and with a growing passion for soccer, it’s a solid choice for the league to expand into.


Philadelphia – Pennsylvania

Another seemingly obvious choice, Philadelphia is another city that is utterly synonymous with sport, and has a reputation for having incredibly passionate and partisan fans. Whilst they don’t have a team, Philadelphia is very familiar with the NWSL. The city hosted the 2023 NWSL draft back in January, and NJ/NY Gotham FC have home played games in Philadelphia’s Subaru Park, with the most recent game in 2022 drawing 4,100 fans – a figure in line with the Gothams average attendance.

A crowd of over 9,500 attended a NWSL game between NJ/NY and Washington at Philadelphias Subaru Park in October 2021 (Devon John Cafaro)

The metro population of Philadelphia is over six million people, and the love of sport is like almost nowhere else in the country! USWNT legend Carli Loyd, is from the Philadelphia metro area, and if a potential bid was to involve her it could go some way it to making a Philly team more of a possibility.

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