Early this afternoon the United Soccer Leagues announced the reboot and return of the USL W League to begin in the spring of 2022. The league will restart nearly seven years after the original one folded.
“Our goal for the W League is to use women’s soccer as a force for societal good by creating a national platform to increase opportunity, gender equity and career development,” said USL Director of Women’s Soccer Betsy Haugh. “We’re expecting to have at least 30 clubs for our inaugural season, which would provide upwards of 750 new opportunities to play, work and coach in the women’s game. We’re very excited about what the future holds.”
Minnesota was chosen as one of the eight inaugural teams for the new league. The other seven clubs are women's sides from Queensboro FC (USLC), South Georgia Tormenta (USL1), Greenville Triumph (USL1), Kaw Valley FC (USL2). Chattanooga Red Wolves (USL1), Hartford Athletic (USLC), and DC United (MLS).
The new Minnesota side is the only independent entry to the new W League at this time, “it will include a community ownership option so fans and supporters can have a say in major club decisions.” The new club will hold a launch party at the University of Minnesota’s Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Soccer Stadium in Falcon Heights at 3 PM on Sunday afternoon.
The original league was founded in 1995 as the United States Interregional Women’s League before later changing it’s name to the USL W-League. Over the 21 season the league played it had as many 41 teams and for four seasons was split into the W1 and W2 divisions.
In 2006 the Minnesota Thunder founded a women’s side, the Minnesota Lightning, to enter into the W-League. The Lightning existed from 2006-2009 sharing the NSC Stadium in Blaine with the Thunder. The Lightning would fold when the Thunder did following the 2009 season as they we’re owned by the same group. During their four seasons the Lightning won the Midwest Conference once (2007) and made the playoffs their first two seasons in the league. The Minnesota Thunder Academy brought back a senior level women’s side this season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
The new club will become the eighth high level women’s side playing in Minnesota as the entire WPSL Northern Conference plays in Minnesota, including the Fargo representing Dakota Fusion.