New professional women’s soccer league commits to U.S. Soccer’s Division One standards
The USL Super League is thrilled to announce the inclusion of the City of Phoenix in the initial group of markets that will make world-class professional women’s soccer accessible for more players, more fans, and more communities across the United States.
Led by the Phoenix Rising FC ownership group, and prominent local businesswomen and community leaders, USL Super League Phoenix will bring the highest level of professional women’s soccer to Arizona. The team will play at Phoenix Rising’s new, centrally located and easily accessible stadium, just north of Sky Harbor International Airport.
“We are thrilled to announce Super League Phoenix as one of our initial markets,” said Amanda Vandervort, USL Super League President and Arizona native. “With a world-class ownership group; a new centrally located stadium on the light rail; a wealth of talented players past, present and future; and a city bursting with soccer passion and pride, Super League Phoenix is poised for immediate success.”
Set to kick off in August 2024, the USL Super League intends to launch as a Division One sanctioned league under U.S. Soccer, reflecting its commitment to the highest standards in American soccer and a collective vision to be a global leader in women’s soccer on and off the field. The USL Super League will have 10-12 teams competing in its inaugural 2024 season.
“We’re more than thrilled to help usher in a top-level professional women’s soccer team in the state of Arizona,” said Phoenix Rising President Bobby Dulle. “It’s exciting for us to be a part of the USL Super League, as the league will create a path to professional soccer for the thousands of girls and young women who play in our youth club and Arizona’s universities, and also generate more job opportunities for women in the sport of soccer, both on and off the field.”
Addressing the gender gap for women in soccer is especially important, considering nearly 40,000 women are playing collegiate soccer in the United States, and there are currently only 300 professional soccer jobs available for them in the United States following graduation.
The USL Super League will provide a differentiated experience that includes playing on the international calendar. This “fall-to-summer” calendar – unique in American soccer – aligns the USL Super League with the global game and prioritizes player welfare and performance. Aligning Phoenix Rising’s youth-to-pro pathway with the international soccer calendar offers a more efficient way to identify and develop elite talent and help them transfer within the international market.
Arizona is already an incubator for many national and international professional female soccer players who have benefited from youth clubs across the state as a means of elevating to a professional level along with tenure on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, including Jessica MacDonald, a forward with Racing Louisville FC; Julie Ertz a midfielder for Angel City FC; and Ashley Hatch a forward for Washington Spirit.
“The Phoenix Rising FC Youth Soccer Club is proud to have trained thousands of girls since 2017. Many of whom have continued to play collegiate soccer,” said Dulle. “We currently have 4,000 girls enrolled in our youth program. Thanks to this announcement, those girls will now have world-class role models close to home, and far more job opportunities, should they choose to pursue a career in soccer.”
Arizona is home to four universities with Division One women’s soccer teams: Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Arizona. USL Super League Phoenix will give female athletes playing Division One soccer at Arizona’s major universities the option and opportunity to keep their talents in-state.
Phoenix Rising plans to engage soccer fans across the state to help name the new women’s USL Super League Phoenix soccer team and create its own brand identity that will be unique from its men’s team.
Following the inaugural season, the USL Super League will strategically expand its national footprint. Multiple expansion teams are confirmed to join the league upon completion of their stadium and infrastructure projects, further solidifying the USL’s vision of a long-term sustainable model that delivers the best environments for players, coaches, and fans. In the coming months, the Super League will announce additional markets whose clubs will play in both the inaugural season, as well as future expansion markets.