How Many NWSL Teams Are There?
One of the most common questions that people ask (and I was curious too) about the NWSL is how many teams are in the league.
As of the 2023 season, there are 12 teams in the NWSL. These teams are spread out across the United States, with each team representing a different city or region.
In this article, we’ll list all the NWSL teams and which regions they play under.
Current NWSL Teams
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) teams are divided into three geographical regions: East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest.
East Coast Teams
The East Coast region of the NWSL is home to five teams:
- North Carolina Courage – Cary, North Carolina
- Orlando Pride – Orlando, Florida
- Racing Louisville FC – Louisville, Kentucky
- Washington Spirit – Leesburg, Virginia
- New York City FC – New York City, New York
West Coast Teams
The West Coast region of the NWSL is home to four teams:
- OL Reign – Tacoma, Washington
- Portland Thorns FC – Portland, Oregon
- San Diego Wave FC – San Diego, California
- Angel City FC – Los Angeles, California
The Midwest region of the NWSL is home to three teams:
- Chicago Red Stars – Bridgeview, Illinois
- Kansas City Current – Kansas City, Missouri
- Houston Dash – Houston, Texas
History of Team Additions and Removals
The National Women’s Soccer League was established in 2012 with eight teams. The league has since expanded with the addition of several teams and the contraction of one team.
The first expansion occurred in 2014, when the Houston Dash joined the league as the ninth team. The following year, the league added two more teams: the Orlando Pride and the Boston Breakers (who later folded in 2018 but are making another comeback).
In 2016, the league saw another expansion with the addition of the Western New York Flash (now known as the North Carolina Courage) and the relocation of the former Kansas City FC to Salt Lake City as the Utah Royals FC.
In 2018, the league contracted with the folding of the Boston Breakers. However, the league added a new team in 2020 with the addition of Racing Louisville FC.
In 2021, the league added two more teams: Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC. The league has announced plans to expand to 16 teams by 2026.
As you can tell, there’s been a good amount of movement within the league. We are seeing more teams being added than subtracted which is good math for the league.
Plans to Expand Teams
The NWSL has been growing rapidly in recent years, and there are plans to expand the league to 16 teams by 2026. This expansion will allow more players to compete at the highest level and will increase the league’s reach across the country.
According to Sports Business Journal, the NWSL has already started the expansion process for the 16th team that will join alongside Boston in 2026. The league is looking for potential markets that have a strong soccer culture, a supportive fan base, and a commitment to the growth of women’s soccer.
NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman has stated that the league is committed to expanding in a responsible and sustainable way. This means that the league is looking for ownership groups that are financially stable and have a long-term vision for the success of their team.
One of the benefits of expanding the league is that it will increase the level of competition. With more teams, there will be more opportunities for players to showcase their skills and compete for a spot on the national team. Additionally, expanding the league will create more jobs for players, coaches, and support staff.
What also helps is the current culture of women’s soccer. Many young talented girls are coming out of Girls Academy, ECNL, and other youth leagues. The pool of players has expanded from an early age so I think we’ll see stronger draft classes as the years go by.