Brooklyn Football Club will bring top-flight professional women’s soccer to New York City this August, as the club is confirmed to be one of eight teams to play in the USL Super League’s inaugural 2024-2025 season.
The USLSL, clunky as acronyms go but we’re trying it, has also announced receipt of Division One sanctioning from the U.S. Soccer Federation, and has confirmed the initial eight clubs that will get the new women’s league off the ground later this summer.
That Division One sanctioning puts USL Super League on the same level of the women’s soccer pyramid as the NWSL, the more-established American women’s league that’s been around since 2012.
Brooklyn adding a women’s team in the USL Super League was first reported in my previous Hudson River Blue article on the club moving in to Maimonides Park in Coney Island, though the timeline is short for the Brooklyn women’s team to launch, given their now-confirmed arrival for USLSL’s inaugural 2024-2025 season.
The principal owner of Brooklyn Football Club, Matt Rizzetta, said of adding the women’s team, “The vision was always to create an all-in-one platform with men’s and women’s franchises and youth academies under the Brooklyn banner. When we originally bought the men’s franchise, we had optioned the women’s franchise, too—but at the time, the league was subject to sanctioning, so we ran a bunch of scenarios to make sure we were prepared for each one. There were a lot of moving parts and variables, but with the sanctioning in place, we can now roll out our plan.”
That plan will only have a few months to reveal itself, with the USLSL kicking off in August as it plans to adhere to a “fall-to-summer” calendar that closely mirrors the schedules teams play in Europe’s leagues. That is a departure from the competing NWSL, which kicks off in March and finishes its seasons in November, a similar timeline to what’s followed by the Division One men’s league, MLS.
Much has changed among the plans for the inaugural USL Super League season since it was first announced in May 2023. While the Division One sanctioning and fall-to-summer schedule are in place, the field of initial teams has shrunk from 10-12 down to just eight when the league begins play this August.
The list of USL Super League markets for both the inaugural season and for expansion in subsequent years has also changed since this announcement in May. Phoenix, Arizona and Tucson, Arizona were both listed as clubs coming to USLSL in its first season, but neither team will launch with the league this August.
Tucson isn’t even included on the USL Super League website as one of the markets for subsequent expansion in later seasons, though Phoenix does remain. Those future, planned USLSL expansion markets now include Chattanooga, Tenn., Indianapolis, Ind., Madison, Wis., Oakland, Calif., Palm Beach, Fla., and Jacksonville, Fla., so there’s potential for the league to grow from eight to over 14 teams relatively quickly.
How will it work for the United States to have two first-division women’s leagues competing for fans, attention, and talented players? The NWSL has a huge head start on USLSL, as it somewhat pettily pointed out in the league’s official statement on USLSL receiving its Division One sanctioning: NWSL has set recent new record highs for attendance, viewership, franchise expansion fees, among other things, firmly established as an ascendent professional women’s league.
USL Super League enters the fray as an untested start-up of a league that’s trying to fend off the rise of NWSL while competing with it for attention in different local markets sprinkled around the United States.
Here in the New York area, the NWSL-USLSL competition will be hyper-local, with NJ/NY Gotham FC the reigning NWSL Champions who just added four superstars of the United States women’s national team during NWSL free agency. Gotham has only been playing at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey for a few seasons, and their attendance struggled in 2023 despite the team’s success, averaging 6,293 fans over their 11 matches played in Harrison, up from 4,415 average attendance in 2022.
Maimonides Park is not on par with the soccer-specific stadium over in industrial Jersey, though the Coney Island baseball stadium’s Atlantic Ocean backdrop is nice, as is the stadium’s accessibility via multiple forms of New York City public transportation. Will New York City’s women’s soccer fans, who are numerous, be numerous enough to consistently support two professional women’s clubs separated by only a few miles?
Brooklyn Football Club has ambitious plans to build from the ground up on both the men’s and women’s side, embracing of the underdog and start-up mindset, as would be expected of a club that’s owned by an investment group that runs a multi-soccer-club organization dubbed “Club Underdog.”
Their plans center on Maimonides Park as a home venue, but they’ve yet to confirm details on the rest of their soccer infrastructure, like training facilities, or official club staff members on the women’s side.
We do know Brooklyn FC’s women’s team is confirmed to start playing in Coney Island later this summer, though much remains unknown about the new team and how it will compare to its new geographical NWSL rivals Gotham. While time will bring with it more information on Brooklyn’s women’s team, news of the USL Super League and Brooklyn’s involvement mean we’re approaching a potential peak for top-level women’s soccer in the Tri-State Area.