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Dec. 21, 2016 — A change the NWSL didn’t need

The National Women’s Soccer League is headed into its milestone fifth season with a reasonably stable franchise model,  one in which no team has yet folded.

But the league is heading into that fifth season without its most charismatic player.

Today, it was announced that superstar U.S. women’s soccer forward was going to forego part of her 2017 season with the National Women’s Soccer League’s Orlando Pride and instead embark on a half-season deal with Olympique Lyon in France.

Lyon is one of a number high-profile men’s soccer clubs to start women’s teams in the last few years. Barcelona has a women’s side. So do Manchester City and Arsenal. And, of course, so does Lyon’s main French rival. Paris-Saint Germain.

PSG, you might remember, is a team that signed Lindsey Horan away from the University of North Carolina. Last year, Horan came back to the U.S., playing with distinction for the Portland Thorns.

Morgan’s defection to France is a bit of a puzzle. She said in a statement that she was looking for a different challenge, but most of the best players in the world are in the American domestic league.

But in a first-person article published in The Players Tribune, she hit upon the one thing that Europe has that the United States does not have: an in-season cup competition.

Since the WUSA began play in 2001, the only competition that women’s teams in any USSF Division I league got to play in was their respective league schedule and the postseason. U.S. Soccer has not scheduled an Open Cup for its women’s professional sides, nor has it worked with other federations in CONCACAF for a regional club competition.

That’s what Morgan is aiming at with her move to France. It’s not necessarily going to mean more money in salary, but it’s a different level of pressure and competition.

And maybe, it’s a shot over the U.S. Soccer Federation’s bow.



1 Comment»

[…] follows on the announcement that Alex Morgan would be joining the French side Olympique Lyonnaise. Unlike Morgan, whose deal is for half a season, Dunn is committing herself to Chelsea for the […]

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