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Denver group plans to throw hat in ring for NWSL expansion

Fans take in the view at a 2022 USWNT match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. (John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

A new possible city for NWSL expansion has just hit the market.

An investor group, which calls itself For Denver FC, announced Tuesday its intent to bring women’s professional soccer to the city. Denver is one of few major cities in America without a professional women’s sports franchise, yet the area is home to five major men’s sports teams — including an MLS club in the Colorado Rapids.

Jordan Angeli, a Colorado native and former NWSL player, is spearheading the effort alongside Ben Hubbard and Tom Dunmore.

“As a former professional player and Lakewood product, I grew up dreaming of one day playing professional soccer at home in Colorado,” Angeli said in a release. “Our state consistently produces some of the best women’s soccer talent in the world. We can create a club that thrives from this pipeline and offers some of the best players in the world the opportunity to play in their home state in front of a devoted fan base and passionate women’s soccer community.”

The name is a placeholder, with FC standing for “For Colorado.” And while the group hasn’t decided on a target league for the team – be it the NWSL or the USL – it did note in its release that the group will be submitting a bid to join a Division One professional league by the end of 2023.

The goal would be to begin play in 2026. For Denver FC is seeking additional investors and are looking at stadium and training facility sites.

“This is an idea whose time has come,” said Hubbard, who is the founder and CEO of a Denver-based insurance company and former Obama administration official. “This is about soccer, but so much more. We’re excited to engage fans, families, civic leaders and investors in laying the foundation for a community asset that will be a powerful force for good in Denver and beyond.”

The USL announced its intention to launch a Division One women’s league earlier this year to compete with the NWSL. Meanwhile, the NWSL announced in May that it expects to add two expansion teams in 2026. While Boston has emerged as a front-runner, so has Minnesota, which is home to Aurora FC – a USL W League club that already has vast fan support. Only a significant financial backer and a short timeline stood in the way of the team’s first NWSL push.

Other possible cities for NWSL expansion include Nashville and Austin, although if the pieces are put together quickly, Denver could become a front-runner itself. A number of USWNT stars are from the state, including Mallory Swanson, Lindsey Horan and Sophia Smith, and there could be an appetite for women’s professional soccer in the city.