To write the history of women's sports in America is to write about leagues that have struggled to attract financial support. Now that the NWSL is beginning to attract well-off investors, though, perhaps the tide is turning for women's soccer in the United States.
Usually, the story goes only one direction: Owners cut their losses. Sponsors pass on getting involved. TV networks turn up their noses. In men's sports, they think of these things as investments; in women's sports, the discussions somehow always focus on today's bottom line. The same people who will put together hundreds of millions of dollars to get into MLS, a bet on the future popularity of a league that currently isn't making anyone rich, stay out of women's soccer because it doesn't make financial sense.
The NWSL, though, is starting to attract that investment. Angel City FC, which will begin play in Los Angeles in 2022, has an ownership group filled with big names. Angie and Chris Long, who just purchased the Utah Royals from disgraced owner Dell Loy Hansen and will move them back to Kansas City, run a multibillion dollar investment firm. These are people who are investing for the future, not for the short term. Moving away from the shoestring mentality is good news for the future of the NWSL.
• French soccer is in trouble. Mediapro, the league's main broadcaster, backed out of its billion-dollar TV rights deal due to the pandemic. Ligue 1 has taken out two loans to try to help its teams, but without more loans, clubs may start to go bankrupt early in 2021.
• Even though MLS and Liga MX will both crown champions this weekend, the North American soccer season isn't over. The quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League finally resume Tuesday, nine months after a pause for the pandemic. Montreal, NYCFC, LAFC and Atlanta United will all be in action. One of the Liga MX teams — America, Cruz Azul or Tigres — has to be considered the favorite.
Seattle at Columbus, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 9: Unless you happen to be a major Gyasi Zardes fan, it's hard to get too excited about the Columbus Crew. That said, it's easy to close your eyes and imagine last Monday's game between the Loons and Sounders, and then open them and want Columbus to win 17-0. So pick your side — the dynasty in Seattle, or the underdogs from Ohio?
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org