The National Women’s Soccer League has approved Houston as a 2014 expansion team, the Insider has learned. Owners discussed the issue on a conference call today and cleared the way for a ninth team in the year-old league. An announcement is expected as early as Thursday.
The Houston Dynamo joins the Portland Timbers as MLS organizations dipping into women’s pro soccer. The unnamed team will play at BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo’s home.
Team officials will have to move quickly to build a coaching staff and roster and begin marketing and branding. The draft is Jan. 17 in Philadelphia. The league will sort out new player allocations from the U.S., Canadian and Mexican national teams soon. The season is expected to begin in April.
With nine teams, at least one will have a bye each weekend.
According to one source, Houston will probably pick fifth in the draft behind the teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs this season: Washington, Seattle, Chicago and Boston. NWSL markets also include Portland, northern New Jersey, western New York and Kansas City.
The NWSL and U.S. Soccer Federation, which administers the league, were content with eight clubs again in 2014, but Houston officials this fall began to warm to the idea of running a franchise. The plan was well-received in the community and they began accepting season ticket deposits.
In the long term, the league is eyeing expansion to California.