We’ll get to the action on the pitch, but the USL Super League stole the headlines in American club soccer this week. The USL’s professional women’s division announced eight founding clubs for a 2024 launch, plus five other committed markets. Still, the choice to apply for first-division designation in direct competition with the NWSL was the shocker.
For the Super League, the choice makes sense. Fairly or not, Americans turn their nose up at “lower leagues” regardless of their quality and independence. Salary costs and travel are unlikely to differ much regardless of divisional designation, so why not avoid the second-tier stigma and maximize sponsor revenue by shooting for the moon?
Even so, the lack of collaboration between the Super League, the NWSL, and the broader USL is disappointing. The Super League will put a club in Washington, D.C. to go head-to-head with the Washington Spirit. Rumors abound about the group behind the Tampa Bay Rowdies bidding for a NWSL spot. Louisville City shares ownership with Racing Louisville in the NWSL. Working together to forge a more logical pyramid when the roots of cooperation already exist should’ve been the priority.
Time will tell where this flashpoint in the women’s game leads, but let’s get down to the action on the men’s side of things.
1. Sacramento (No change)
Results: L 1-0 at Orange County, W 3-1 v. Oakland
It had to happen eventually: the Sacramento Republic lost their first game of the season on Wednesday in Orange County. Away on short rest, Sacramento used a fully rotated midfield starring Matt LaGrassa and Nick Ross, two heady but less athletic players. The pair’s slow recovery to a long ball saw the hosts cut back to the top of the box to open the scoring after five minutes, and their lack of offensive verve compared to, say, Luis Felipe, left Sacramento lacking a key cog in the final third.
Back at it against Oakland on Saturday, the offense was back and better than ever against a matching three-at-the-back foe. Keko and Russell Cicerone feasted in the forward line, constantly leveraging the Roots' high wingbacks to cause trouble. With Luis Felipe back in the team, that danger was bolstered by late-arriving midfield runs, and Sacramento coasted to return to the top of the West for yet another week.