The National Women's Soccer League is currently in its 11th year and has its sights on more teams in the near future. Earlier this spring, the league announced two additional teams for the upcoming 2024 season, and now NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman set a deadline on the 15th and 16th clubs during an interview with The Washington Post.
"We are a 12-team league for this season, the 2023 season, and for 2024, we'll be a 14-team league," Berman said during the interview. "We are inviting the Utah Royals back into the league, and our team [No.] 14 is going to be in the Bay Area."
Utah Royals FC will return to the Salt Lake City area for a much lower fee of "roughly $2 million" that was set in place during 2020. A roster relocation process to Kansas City for their expansion bid in 2021, branding retention and a set market bid valuation of $2-$5 million dollars was in place while MLS side Real Salt Lake and other Utah Soccer Holdings were sold to new ownership.
The Bay Area and Utah Royals were each awarded expansion as the 2023 NWSL regular season kicked off. The Bay Area paid a record-breaking $53 million dollar expansion fee that is part of an overall $125 million investment to bring a club to Northern California. Expansion bids have ballooned since 2020 and the league has its eyes on more teams in the future, but the commissioner's recent comments place expectations on future league expansion.
"We do expect for the 2026 season to add two more teams," she explained. "That process will begin later this calendar year. Through the process we ran in 2022 for this round of expansion, we have an incredible amount of interest from qualified investors who want to get in early."
The Wall Street Journal reported in January that the league has targeted Boston as the next market for an NWSL team. The east coast market could be one of the two teams in play for 2026.