CHICAGO (FNN SPORTS) – Source: NWSL // The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced today that Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer (MLS) will own and operate a new NWSL team which will join the league starting in the 2018 season. The newly-launched club will play its home matches at Rio Tinto Stadium.
NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy will be joining Real Salt Lake Owner Dell Loy Hansen and Utah Governor Gary Herbert at an historic press conference in the Interform Club at Rio Tinto Stadium to formally introduce the deepening and broadening of the Claret-and-Cobalt pyramid in what Governor Herbert has long called “The State of Sport.”
“We are very excited to welcome Dell Loy Hansen and Real Salt Lake into the NWSL family as the newest member of our league,” said Duffy. “During our discussions in this process, Real Salt Lake has demonstrated their unquestionable desire and commitment to bring the highest level of professional women’s soccer to all fans of the game in Salt Lake City and Utah. Real Salt Lake will immediately be able to hit the ground running on the business side as well as provide the players with a top-notch training ground and one of the best game venues in the country.”
The new Salt Lake side’s official name, brand identity and ticket pricing, broadcast options and corporate opportunities, along with the coaching hires and formation of the NWSL club’s roster, will be announced in coming days and weeks.
“Our goal is build the very best women’s sports organization in America,” said Hansen, weeks before the club opens the $73 million Zions Bank Real Academy in Herriman, Utah, just 15 minutes southwest of Rio Tinto Stadium. “Only 15 days ago was I asked to look into this opportunity, and as we learned about the NWSL vision from the league office and met with A&E executives as well as U.S. Soccer about their aspirations on and off the field, we knew we not only wanted to join as quickly as possible and participate, but we believe that our current infrastructure as well as the development initiatives on the RSL horizon align perfectly. Our community is already passionate about women’s sports, and we believe that empowering and advancing the women’s game accelerates the change to build a better Utah.”
Fans will get to watch a league featuring the brightest stars in women’s soccer – such as Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe, all of whom helped lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to an unprecedented third World Cup title in 2015. In addition, the league also boasts Canada internationals – and reigning Olympic bronze medalists – Christine Sinclair, Allysha Chapman, Desiree Scott and Shelina Zadorsky as well as international stars such as Brazil legend Marta, Wales dynamo Jess Fishlock and Australia sharpshooter Samantha Kerr.
RSL will be part of the NWSL for what will be an historic sixth season. This past season, the NWSL celebrated the 500th game in league history – more than the combined total of the two previous women’s leagues – as it continued to push women’s professional soccer to new heights as the best league in the world.
Portland Thorns FC capped off the league’s successful fifth season with a 1-0 victory in October over the North Carolina Courage in the 2017 NWSL Championship Game as the Thorns joined FC Kansas City as the only two clubs to win the league title on two occasions. The Western New York Flash is the only other team to lift the NWSL Championship trophy when they claimed the league crown in 2016.
The 2018 season will once again feature the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime every Saturday during the regular season as well as livestreams of matches on the go90 app and website. International fans will also be able to continue to watch games on the new NWSL app and revamped NWSLsoccer.com – both of which will strengthened with additional features and improvements in 2018.
About Real Salt Lake / Real Monarchs:
Real Salt Lake recently concluded off its 13th Major League Soccer season in 2017. The club’s MLS Cup 2009 victory marked the state of Utah’s only major professional championship in nearly 40 years, the title preceding an historic run to the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League Final. Buoyed by a passionate base now approaching 14,000+ season ticket holders, RSL has enjoyed a prominent home-field advantage since building its permanent Rio Tinto Stadium home in Sandy.
In 2015, the club expanded its development pyramid with the addition of Real Monarchs, one of several MLS-operated clubs playing in the USL, the United States’ Division II setup. The RSL Foundation was established in 2016, created with the goals of being active in the community year-round, utilizing the popularity and reach of RSL and the Monarchs in promoting health and wellness in children throughout the region, engaging supporters of soccer to raise funds and volunteer time for various local initiatives. Lastly, in 2017, Owner Dell Loy Hansen opened the Zions Bank Real Academy – a world-class training facility that will host teams at all levels of the pyramid, along with the relocation of the renowned Real Salt Lake Academy in Herriman, Utah.