It’s Monday, July 20th and soccer fans in the United States are enjoying both the NWSL Challenge Cup and MLS is Back Tournament. Charlotte MLS is dropping teasers ahead of their branding announcement on Wednesday the 22nd. Then Mia Hamm tweets a teaser image with the date 7.21. Something is happening.
Reports immediately start about an NWSL team coming to Los Angeles. Journalists are sharing the prominent names involved. Other USWNT legends. Celebrities including Natalie Portman and Serena Williams. You can sense a major announcement was imminent.
The next morning, “We Are Angel City” became official. They will begin play in the 2022 NWSL Season.
The time has come to reshape expectations on & off the soccer field.
— We Are Angel City (@weareangelcity) July 21, 2020
Star Power in the City of Angels
The sheer number of people investing in the team became quickly apparent. Julie Uhrman, the president and founder of the team, appeared on Grant Wahl’s podcast to discuss how the investor group came together and the future.
Fourteen former USWNT legends and players, including Abby Wambach, Julie Foudy, and Lauren Cheney Holiday. Notable actresses in Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Chastain, Uzo Abuda, and America Ferrera. You may recognize the last set of names who famously made an appearance at a USWNT game at LAFC’s stadium in April ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
It goes beyond former players and actors getting involved, too. Serena Williams and her husband/co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, play a major role. Other venture capitalists and tech members who make up the membership group include Netflix VP of Original Content Cindy Holland and filmmaker / YouTube sensation Casey Neistat. The full list of names is really impressive.
Over the coming months, we’re looking forward to seeing the official name and branding unveiled, along with where they’ll play. Major sponsorship and marketing news is sure to follow as well.
NWSL laying the groundwork for a strong future
This expansion announcement is the latest in success for the NWSL. Within the last year, the league has secured a number of major corporate sponsors and multiple broadcast partners. The league previously announced an expansion franchise for Louisville that will start play in 2021. Olympique Lyon, the most successful women’s soccer team in the world, invested in and rebranded the Seattle franchise in January. NBA superstar James Harden invested in the Houston Dash (along with the Dynamo of MLS) following the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
On the broadcast front, the league secured deals with both CBS and Twitch to show matches across the United States and internationally. The Challenge Cup Final is the most-watched match in league history with 653,000 viewer, while the average total viewers per match on Twitch were north of 200,000.
— CBS Sports PR (@CBSSportsGang) July 28, 2020
The league has announced major corporate partner deals with Budweiser, Nike, Verizon, Google, and Secret deodorant over the last year. Major corporations investing in women’s sports is good for the present and future of the sport.
Louisville was awarded an expansion franchise back in October and starts play in the 2021 season. A couple of weeks before the Angel City announcement, the NWSL Louisville team officially became “Racing Louisville FC,” as they unveiled the brand and colors. They’ll share a home with USL Championship team Louisville City FC, who opened their brand new stadium earlier this month.
The We Are Angel City announcement and its star-studded lineup of investors feels like a groundswell moment for women’s soccer and the NWSL. The NWSL Challenge Cup was a major success both on and off the field. Partners and momentum are in place to make strides within the US sports landscape and inspire the next generation of female soccer players and fans alike.