SmallWorld is returning to the women’s side of lower-league soccer! Today, we’re delving into one of the more overlooked leagues in the game, United Women’s Soccer.
Despite being under-appreciated, the league has some great things going on and quite a few quality clubs.
We’ll take a look at the three expansion clubs that will kick off UWS play in 2020 as well as preview the season for all 22 clubs in the league.
First, we’ll check out the newbies. There aren’t enough for a real ranking, but SmallWorld still did a little research on the three new clubs, and each one has some exciting elements to its expansion this summer.
Brooklyn City FC (Brooklyn, NY) – There’s a pretty cool enrivonment at Brooklyn City from what I can tell. They have fun and unique branding, an equality and diversity focus, and a really great location for quality women’s soccer. Should be a great addition to UWS.
Detroit City FC (Detroit, MI) – The new women’s squad at the recently-named #1 expansion team in all of lower-league soccer was announced over four months ago to much fan excitement, and for good reason. It’s an exciting step for the club as it continues to strive for a full community impact, and it’s just as exciting for the women’s game and the UWS, as the Rouge always bring fantastic support and passion to every match. Very excited to watch how the women do in their opening season!
Muskegon Risers SC – (Muskegon, MI) – The addition of the Risers to the UWS came at the end of last year after the women’s side was founded earlier in 2019 as an independent. This will be an excellent move for both parties, as the Risers have a strong reputation in grassroots men’s soccer as a quality club and the UWS will bring a lot more excitement to the Risers faithful. I’m especially excited to see their conference crossover matchup against Detroit City during the regular season. That match will pit two great clubs against each other and provide a good test of each team’s on-field quality.
That covers the teams expanding into UWS this summer. But what about the rest of the league? Let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing facts around the UWS:
- Queen City United SC has only been in UWS since 2019, but per Wikipedia, they’ve been around as a club since 1987, which makes them the oldest current club in the league by 12 years. Wish there was more info on the club that I could bring to you, but I’m pretty much in the dark after some research on Queen City. Really exciting to see a club with that much continuity, though.
- FC Austin Elite and San Antonio Athenians will get to know each other pretty well considering they’re the only two clubs that make up the barren Southwest Conference. I’m intrigued to see who prevails, though, as both are pretty strong sides in UWS play.
- The geography of the league is pretty lopsided, partly because the WPSL has claimed a lot of the women’s sides in many regions of the US and Canada. But to give an idea of exactly how lopsided things are, Michigan (7) and New York (4) hold half the league’s participants just themselves. The rest hail from seven other states and two Canadian provinces.
- Last year’s champion, LA Galaxy Orange County, has now left the league, so the championship fight should be wide open for all comers.
- Kate Howarth hammered defenses to the tune of 18 goals last season, and she returns to the New England Mutiny for this coming summer as well. She’s certainly one to watch this summer as a goal-scoring threat.
- The Worcester Smiles take the cake for most intriguing/unique club name, but hopefully their play proves more worthy of smiling than it did in 2019. They finished with only two goals in 10 matches and conceded a harrowing 46 over that same period.
And now, I must put myself out on a limb and predict the outcome of the season as a whole. I’ll predict the winner of each conference in the regular season, the two finalists, and the National Champion. First, for the regular season conference champions.
- Midwest Conference – Indiana Union (West) over Detroit City FC (East)
- East Conference – New England Mutiny over Rochester Lady Lancers
- Southwest Conference – San Antonio Athenians
- West Conference – Calgary Foothills WFC
Here’s the matchup I predict for the finals of the National Playoffs:
- New England Mutiny (East) v Indiana Union (Midwest)
And the champion? A toss-up, but I think Indiana are the only side that will get the best of Kate Howarth, even though she repeats as the leading scorer in the league.
Thus, I’ve chosen Indiana Union as my preseason favorite to win the league! Don’t let me down, ladies, my precious bragging rights are your responsibility now.
Let me know how you feel about my predictions, and make sure you show the UWS and all its member clubs the love they deserve!
Also, a shoutout to Protagonist Soccer and its UWS/WPSL article is in order; it got me started on my research of what the UWS is and why it matters.
I wish there were UWS clubs closer to me, but if you live near a UWS club, you know what to do!
Support local soccer, unify those around you, and seek out diversity!