California could be getting a National Women's Soccer League team sooner than expected through the ownership group of Sacramento Republic FC, according to a report from The Athletic. The report states the expansion Sacramento side could play in 2021, brining the number of teams in the league for next year up from nine to eleven. Racing Louisville FC is already set to join NWSL next year.
The news comes on the heels of a newly announced expansion for NWSL in Los Angeles. Backed by a Hollywood ownership group that includes Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, and Jennifer Garner -- the league recently revealed Los Angeles as the next city to be awarded expansion rights just last month. Angel City, as the group is currently going by, announced their plans to bring a team to L.A. that also included ownership partners in former players such as Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach.
Sacramento's men's USL side, Republic FC, is slated to begin play in MLS in 2023. The date was pushed back to the global pandemic surrounding COVID-19. The team currently playas Papa Murphy's Park, a stadium that holds 11,500 -- a capacity that would meet NWSL expansion guidelines, but also lacks proper locker room facilities.
There is a potential positive recruiting outlook for Sacramento through the California Storm, the local Women's Premier Soccer League side. The organization has been successful and involved in women's soccer locally, and could be a bit of scouting pool for a potential NWSL side with ties to former players like Brandi Chastain and Leslie Osborn.
An official announcement on the potential second California squad would bring the number of west coast teams to four, allowing room for the league to explore the possibility of establishing league conferences, and continue to explore local sponsorship rights. However, the expansion news is ongoing, and the potential to push back to 2022 is also in play considering the men's side has already made that decision in light of the global crisis.