Minnesota will have a franchise in startup women’s soccer league for high-level amateurs

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A second-division women’s soccer league will kick off in 2022, and Minnesota will be home to one of the eight original franchises.

The W-League is being touted as a pre-professional league that will emphasize player and coach development. Pre-professional means amateur, so the league will provide opportunities for college players to develop during the spring and summer and potentially become a pipeline to the National Women’s Soccer League, the top professional league in the country. Elite youth players, aspiring professional players and former professional players will also be eligible to play.

Minnesota, for now, is the only expansion franchise among the eight teams. Six are coming from USL Championship League One and League Two. They include clubs located in Chattanooga, Tenn., Greenville, S.C.; Hartford, Conn.; Kansas City, Kan.; Queens, N.Y., and south Georgia. DC United of Major League Soccer will also operate a team. The W-League hopes to have 30 clubs on board by May 2022. The league estimates there will be around 750 positions for women to play, coach or help with soccer operations.

Women have prominent roles in the operation of the Minnesota franchise, potentially making it a viable point of entry for aspiring coaches and front-office staffers. And the franchise will be the only one to offer community ownership, so local supporters can have a stake in the team. An ownership drive is expected to take place in the fall.

The franchise currently is referred to as “Minnesota Women’s Soccer.” But supporters who buy a stake in the franchise will be allowed to help select a team name and colors as well as help with other decisions.

There is no indication where games will be played. According to USSF Professional League standards, the stadium has to hold at least 2,000 spectators.

The group that is bringing the team to Minnesota will be introduced at 3 p.m. Sunday during a public launch event at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

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