The National Women’s Soccer League will have a new destination when the season kicks off in mid-April.
The Houston Dash were announced today as the ninth franchise in the NWSL and the first expansion side. They will be owned and operated by the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, the second such partnership, joining the Portland Thorns.
“We’re proud and excited to welcome the Houston Dash to the NWSL as the first expansion team in league history,” NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said. “The creation of the Dash will mean enhanced opportunities for female soccer players at the professional level as well as the chance for fans from another part of the country to watch and interact with some of the world’s most talented players. We are thrilled at being able to add an organization as strong as the Houston Dynamo as we work towards continuing to build a sustainable league.”
With the addition of the Dash, the NWSL will expand their regular season to a 24 match regular season, with each squad playing each other 3 times in a balanced schedule. The Dash will play their home matches at BBVA Compass Stadium, with a reduced capacity of 7,000. The second season of the NWSL will kick off the second weekend in April and conclude with the championship match on August 30, 2014.
“We are thrilled to have our very own NWSL franchise here in Houston,” said Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti. “It is an important addition to our sports landscape and will bring added value to our community. We share the vision for this league and look forward to playing our part in making it a great success. Part of our responsibility is to grow the game of soccer, and this new team will play a significant role in that effort.”
The first order of business will be to hire a head coach, which Canetti reiteration hopes to happen before December 25, and the head coach would have full control in signing players. The NWSL is currently in a roster freeze, but the Dash are able to sign up to four Discovery Players, will have players allocated from the United States, Canada, and Mexico national teams, and an expansion draft. Additionally, players will be selected through the 2014 NWSL College Draft, which is set for January 17, 2014.
The second season of the NWSL will kick off the second weekend in April and conclude with the championship match on August 30, 2014.