Well, well, well, and another well for good measure.
We have ourselves a juicy new expansion addition for UWS!
In a stacked lineup of UWS clubs joining the league for the first time this year, the two teams that are being announced today are perhaps the most crucial of all of them.
Last year’s undefeated WPSL national champions Pensacola FC are taking their talents to United Women’s Soccer.
To put their dominance into context, consider their +49 goal differential from the 2019 regular season in the Gulf Division of the South Conference in the last WPSL season that took place. That was accrued in only eight matches, meaning they beat teams by an average of more than six goals per match. Sweet glory.
Their second team played in the same division and were just three points from finishing second, so that ought to tell you something as well.
PFC would go on to score 14 goals in four games during the playoffs to win the WPSL crown. But to get back on topic, the queens of lower-league soccer aren’t defending their title in the WPSL anymore–UWS is now the home of the best non-pro soccer team in women’s soccer until proven otherwise.
What strikes my interest and excitement most about this announcement is that Pensacola are the type of club that should have professional ambitions. They have the talent and the local support to dream bigger than amateur soccer, and their move to UWS could signal such an intent.
In the wake of a dissolved partnership between UWS and NISA to jointly develop a professional women’s soccer league, it’s very encouraging to see that clubs don’t just want to join the league, they want to choose the league over others, even the most high-quality of clubs.
Pensacola certainly counts in that camp. And according to seasoned technical director David Kemp via the league’s press release, they simply “felt like it was time for a change.”
It’s not clear if that’s code for a potential problem that happened with WPSL, but one plausible sticking point that could have led to the change was WPSL’s decision to keep the majority of the league fees from clubs after the season was canceled, while UWS chose to refund 100% of their league dues.
Alternately, it could simply be a chance for Pensacola to face different, and ideally, more competitive, opponents in its league play. The playoffs provided some tougher tests for the gulf coast giants, but with Atlanta Panthers already announced and a Louisiana club coming soon, it could be that Pensacola simply see UWS as a more competitive atmosphere in the Southeast this year.
Whatever the reasoning, it’s a great grab for the league. Pensacola will be welcomed with open arms by UWS and all its supporters, and as a neutral party supporting the women’s game, smallworld is highly intrigued to see what this high-profile announcement does for the on-field product in the Southeast and on a national scale.
Keep in mind that while the WPSL will not have a national championship this season for financial and pandemic concerns, Pensacola will have a chance to challenge for a second consecutive national title in their first UWS season.
Folks, this is a major move. Let us know how you feel about it and whether or not Pensacola can win UWS this year!
As always, stay weird and support women’s soccer!