It’s about time.
smallworld is finally hitting the women’s side of things with lower-league expansion coverage!
After a couple of exciting introductions out of WPSL, namely Cape Coral Cyclones and Westchester United, the upcoming women’s expansion crop began to look very exciting. The slew of announcements that followed nailed that fact in the coffin, and it also calls for an expansion power rankings post.
The three leagues eligible for this ranking are UWS, UWS League Two, and WPSL. Many UWS2 expansion teams have been announced that are reserve teams below active UWS sides. Those clubs were not considered in the ranking.
There are quite a few to choose from in these leagues, so let’s see who makes smallworld’s top 10 most exciting expansion teams in lower-league women’s soccer.
10. VT Fusion, WPSL – cool to see a smaller state like Vermont getting some woso love via the Fusion! The club has a long if not storied history and Manchester, VT would be an awesome away day in WPSL. We’ll have to see if they can deliver a quality product on the field this summer!
9. Croatia Cleveland Juniors SC, WPSL – the ethnic background of Juniors is always cool to see, and it’s much less common with women’s clubs. They’re not very well-known but have a decent history in the NE Ohio region, so the ceiling is high for long-term success in the WPSL.
8. Side FC 92, UWS – one of the later announcements in the year, Side FC is filling an important geographical piece of the puzzle for UWS. It’s the first club in Oklahoma for the league and will add some meat on the Southwest Conference bone, giving the division a fourth competitor. West Side Alliance SC is the youth system that owns the club, and it’s been around since 1992 in the Tulsa area. There’s a lot of promise here for a successful club and an opportunity for some of Tulsa’s best talent to show itself.
7. Chicago Dutch Lions, WPSL – yet another Dutch Lions offshoot has sprouted, this time on the women’s side. They’ve touched many areas of lower-league soccer in the US, fielding a Miami franchise in NPSL and the veteran USL2 club Cincinnati Dutch Lions. It’s only right, then, that Chicago Dutch Lions is created to serve women’s soccer with the brand’s trademark European style of development. Not sure what to expect on the field yet, but there’s potential for something high quailty.
6. Grand Haven Admirals, UWS 2 – a cool men’s side that doesn’t get enough attention now gets involved in the women’s game. Serving the town of Grand Haven, MI, the Admirals will have a good home alongside some quality Great Lakes opponents, including Livonia City, Detroit City, and AFC Plymouth. Based on the quality of their UPSL squad, Grand Haven could have the talent to give those heavyweights a run for their money.
5. Westchester United, WPSL – see the link for a longer explanation of my thoughts on Westchester, but the big things that excite me are the location in New York state that’s not well-served by woso already and the quality shown by the already-established men’s side. intriguing potential for United to be sure.
4. Real Central New Jersey, WPSL – shortly after the announcement of their men’s team joining USL League Two, the women’s side follows suit with a WPSL expansion. There’s a lot to like about this club in terms of the possibility of a true club culture and a quality supporter base, given their location in a less-served area of the state and seeming intention of identity from the club’s ownership early on. That’s especially rare in the women’s scene, so I’m bullish on Real’s potential.
3. Cape Coral Cyclones, WPSL – just like Westchester, the link has our full take on the Cyclones and why we’re excited about them. TL;DR version is that there’s some great history, crazy stories, and a real truly individual identity on offer in the Sunshine State. Cape Coral could be a national threat sooner rather than later, and more importantly, they’ve got the ingredients for a fun team to follow off the field as well.
2. Detroit City FC, UWS 2 – okay, so we kinda cheated. I said we wouldn’t include second-division sides and *technically* DCFC’s first team was announced as a UWS side in 2020. Given that they didn’t officially have a season, though, it feels fair to include Le Rouge, especially given how exciting the second-team announcement is coming from them. According to the club website, the UWS team signed 36 players back when there was just one women’s side. Now, that depth of talent gets an outlet to show their skills in UWS2, where the Great Lakes region figures to have no lack of quality competition.
1. Atlanta Panthers, UWS – FINALLY! Atlanta was crying out for a UWS team, and according to the league, there’s an entire Southeast Region coming in 2021 to accompany Atlanta. There are some other women’s sides in the area, but they’re extensions of local youth clubs that aren’t doing much outside of offering their youth players a path to pro(ish). The Panthers promise to be a true club in the Atlanta area and don’t have a men’s side. All the focus in the organization is on this adult women’s side, and I’m thrilled that’s the case. Perhaps there’s some bias here, but the Peach State is getting what I believe the be the most exciting expansion team in women’s soccer this summer.
That’s all for now! The Panthers top the list, and I’m looking forward to supporting them from wherever smallworld’s home base is this summer. Lots of great new talent figures to be on the field in the near future in both UWS and WPSL, so it’s a good time to start getting excited about grassroots women’s soccer.
Stay weird and support local soccer!