The United Soccer League (USL) will create a professional Division II women's league, the USL Super League, starting in 2023, it was announced Tuesday.
The new professional league will sit under the National Women's Soccer League, which remains the sole women's league in the U.S. with the Division I designation from the U.S. Soccer Federation.
At present, there is also no system of promotion/relegation either with the NWSL or within the USL's women's soccer structure. Another women's league not affiliated with the USL, the Women's Premier Soccer League, remains a competition for amateur players.
"Today, we are thrilled to unveil the USL Super League and begin an exciting new chapter in the growth of Women's Soccer in the United States," CEO Alec Papadakis said.
"We aim to make the USL Super League globally recognized and admired for its community-building, operational excellence, financial sustainability, and high level of competition. With these objectives in mind, we deepen our commitment to equitable treatment of our men's and women's pathways, and to create career opportunities for women to play professional soccer, women coaches, women technical directors, and women soccer executives. We at the USL League Office are united in our passion and commitment to the pursuit of this vision."
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The USL said in a statement that the league's compensation structure and professional standards will be consistent with the USL men's professional leagues, and that it expected double the number of professional women's soccer teams in the United States when the inaugural season begins.
The USL women's pathway includes the Girls Super Y League, the Girls USL Academy, the women's preprofessional USL W League which kicks off next year, and the women's professional USL Super League. The USL Super League will apply for Division II sanctioning from U.S. Soccer in the coming months.
"In our country there are seven times as many professional soccer teams for men than there are for women," Betsy Haugh, the USL's director of women's soccer operations, said. "We are going to improve that ratio, and we invite players and fans to join us in building a new, outstanding level of women's soccer."
The USL W League, starting in 2022, has announced its first 16 member clubs. It says it expects more than 30 teams to take the field next year.