May the best Division 1 league prevail – Equalizer Soccer

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Graphic created by Rachael Kriger, The Equalizer

Four years after the United Soccer League began seriously exploring its own top-flight women’s league came Tuesday’s news: the USL Super League will launch in 2024 not as a second-tier league as initially announced, but as a first-division league in direct competition with the National Women’s Soccer League.

Both the NWSL and USL are framing the landscape as a friendly one with room for everyone, but the consequences could be far-reaching and existential for each league in the long-term. There is precedent for why such a statement is not hyperbole: the USL and NASL fought a similar battle at the men’s second-division level in the previous decade. It was an ugly mess that included the NASL filing an antitrust lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation.

That was colloquially referred to as Soccer Warz, and it looks like the women’s edition of the bout finally upon us.

On paper, the NWSL and USL Super League fill different voids. The NWSL is established and features teams in many of the United States’ largest metro markets. Almost all the top United States internationals play in the NWSL.

The USL Super League will launch in some clearly smaller media markets but will still meet the population requirements to launch as a first division. Budgets will be significant but still smaller than the NWSL, or so the conventional wisdom goes.

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