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USL announces formation of Division II women’s professional soccer league

Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

The United Soccer League has announced the formation of the USL Super League, a new professional Division II women’s soccer league in the United States.

Set to apply for Division II sanctioning from U.S. Soccer, the league will present a pathway for players from the youth game to the professional ranks all within one ecosystem. It builds on the Girls Super Y League, the Girls USL Academy and the women’s pre-professional USL W League set to kick off next year.

The league expects to double the number of professional women’s soccer teams in the United States by the time its inaugural season begins in 2023.

“In our country there are seven times as many professional soccer teams for men than there are for women,” said Betsy Haugh, USL Director of Women’s Soccer Operations. “We are going to improve that ratio, and we invite players and fans to join us in building a new, outstanding level of women’s soccer.”

The NWSL, as the only Division I women’s soccer league in the U.S., has room for up to 28 players on each of its 10 teams (increasing to 12 with two expansion clubs in 2022). The USL Super League will give players who don’t make NWSL rosters an opportunity to compete professionally without going overseas.

The league will also focus on gender equity. The compensation structure and professional standards in the USL Super League will be consistent with the USL men’s professional leagues.

“Today, we are thrilled to unveil the USL Super League and begin an exciting new chapter in the growth of Women’s Soccer in the United States,” said CEO Alec Papadakis. “We aim to make the USL Super League globally recognized and admired for its community-building, operational excellence, financial sustainability, and high level of competition.

“With these objectives in mind, we deepen our commitment to equitable treatment of our men’s and women’s pathways, and to create career opportunities for women to play professional soccer, women coaches, women technical directors, and women soccer executives. We at the USL League Office are united in our passion and commitment to the pursuit of this vision.”

While the USL Super League has yet to announce its number of teams, the USL W League has signed 16 member clubs for its inaugural 2022 season, with the expectation that more than 30 teams will participate.