In what might be one of the biggest steps of progress in NWSL’s history, the top American women’s soccer league has awarded an NWSL expansion team to Los Angeles. Tentatively titled “Angel City FC,” the team is set to be the 11th NWSL team when they start play in 2022.
The time has come to reshape expectations on & off the soccer field.
— We Are Angel City (@weareangelcity) July 21, 2020
In LA fashion, the ownership group is star studded. Taking a page out of LAFC’s book, a mix of famous people, entrepreneurs, and retired soccer players make up the over 30 person Angel City FC ownership group. The ownership group is led by Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman, tech venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman (who will be CEO), and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. Celebrities and non-soccer athletes who invested in Angel City FC include Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, Lilly Singh, and Serena Williams.
A total of 14 soccer players round out the group including ’99ers Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Lorrie Fair Allen, Joy Fawcett, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch, and Saskia Webber. Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, UCLA women’s soccer head coach Amanda Cromwell, Lauren Cheney Holiday, Angela Hucles, Ronnie Fair Sullins, and Abby Wambach are also on board.
Even though Mia Hamm is a partial owner of LAFC in MLS, there is no indication that the two teams have any sort of partnership. It remains to be seen if Hamm can be a part of both. While they won’t play against each other, there are still business considerations owning two teams in the same city that might be a conflict of interest but it doesn’t seem like that’s an issue at the moment.
As of now, Angel City FC is a placeholder and the team is expected to reveal their actual name and stadium location by the end of the year. There’s a good chance that if Angel City FC catches on and people like the name, they’ll just keep it as is. It’s like a live focus group and if they like what they see, no use fixing what isn’t broken.
This is NWSL’s first foray into Los Angeles but the impact of entering one of the biggest markets shouldn’t go unnoticed for a league looking to grow. If NWSL is to be a league that reaches the heights they want the league to be, having a team in big cities like Los Angeles is a start. There’s no doubt this is the biggest initial investment into an NWSL team and the bar has been raised for future expansion teams.