|Confederation||CONCACAF (North America)|
|Number of teams||8|
|Level on pyramid||1 (USA)|
|Domestic cup(s)||Founders Cup|
|Most championships|| Bay Area CyberRays |
Washington Freedom (1 title each)
|TV partners||Turner Sports|
The Women's United Soccer Association, often abbreviated to the WUSA, was the world's first women's soccer league in which all the players were paid as professionals. Founded in February 2000, the league began its first season in April 2001 with eight teams in the United States. The league suspended operations on September 15, 2003, shortly after the end of its third season, after making cumulative losses of around US$100 million.
Women's association football, usually known as women's football or women's soccer, is the most prominent team sport played by women around the globe. It is played at the professional level in numerous countries throughout the world and 176 national teams participate internationally.
2000 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.
2001 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.
As a result of the US women's national team's (USWNT) first-place showing in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, a seemingly viable market for the sport germinated.
The United States women's national soccer team (USWNT) represents the United States in international women's soccer. The team is the most successful in international women's soccer, winning four Women's World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals, and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups. It medaled in every World Cup and Olympic tournament in women's soccer history from 1991 to 2015, before being knocked out in the quarterfinal of the 2016 Summer Olympics. The team is governed by United States Soccer Federation and competes in CONCACAF. The United States women's national soccer team recently just won the 2019 World Cup for the 4th time by defeating Netherlands 2-0.
The 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup was the third edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup, the world championship for women's national association football teams. It was hosted as well as won by the United States and took place from 19 June to 10 July 1999 at eight venues across the country. The tournament was the most successful FIFA Women's World Cup in terms of attendance, television ratings, and public interest.
Feeding on the momentum of their victory, the twenty USWNT players, in partnership with John Hendricks of the Discovery Channel, sought out the investors, markets, and players necessary to form the eight-team league. The twenty founding players were Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain, Tracy Ducar, Lorrie Fair, Joy Fawcett, Danielle Fotopoulos, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Shannon MacMillan, Tiffeny Milbrett, Carla Overbeck, Cindy Parlow, Christie Pearce, Tiffany Roberts, Briana Scurry, Kate (Markgraf) Sobrero, Tisha Venturini, Saskia Webber, and Sara Whalen.
John Samuel Hendricks is an American businessman and is the founder and former chairman of Discovery, Inc., a broadcasting and film production company which owns the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet networks, among other ventures. On March 20, 2014, after 32 years at the helm, he made public his decision to retire as chairman of Discovery Communications after the annual shareholders' meeting of May 16, 2014. He moved on to found CuriosityStream, an ad-free, on-demand nonfiction streaming service.
Discovery Channel is an American pay television network and flagship channel owned by Discovery, Inc., a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav. As of June 2012, Discovery Channel is the third most widely distributed subscription channel in the United States, behind TBS and The Weather Channel; it is available in 409 million households worldwide, through its U.S. flagship channel and its various owned or licensed television channels internationally.
Michelle Anne Akers is an American former soccer player who starred in the 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup and 1996 Olympics victories by the United States. At the 1991 World Cup, she won the Golden Shoe as the top scorer, with 10 goals.
Initial investment in the league was provided by the following:
Time Warner Cable (TWC) was an American cable television company. Before it was purchased by Charter Communications on May 18, 2016, it was ranked the second largest cable company in the United States by revenue behind only Comcast, operating in 29 states. Its corporate headquarters were located in the Time Warner Center in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, with other corporate offices in Stamford, Connecticut; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Herndon, Virginia. From 1971 to 1981, Time Warner Cable, as Warner Cable, owned Dimension Pictures.
Cox Enterprises, Inc. is a privately held global conglomerate headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia with approximately 55,000 employees and $21 billion in total revenue. Its major operating subsidiaries are Cox Communications, Cox Automotive and Cox Media Group. The company's major national brands include AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Book, Cox Homelife, Gamut and more. Through Cox Automotive, the company's international operations stretch across Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America. Cox Enterprises is currently led by Alexander C. Taylor, a fourth-generation Cox family member and great-grandson of founder James M. Cox. James M. Cox's grandson, James C. Kennedy and other members of the Cox family are on the company's board of directors.
Cox Communications is an American privately owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises providing digital cable television, telecommunications and Home Automation services in the United States. It is the third-largest cable television provider in the United States, serving more than 6.2 million customers, including 2.9 million digital cable subscribers, 3.5 million Internet subscribers, and almost 3.2 million digital telephone subscribers, making it the seventh-largest telephone carrier in the country. Cox is headquartered at 6205 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd in Sandy Springs, Georgia, U.S., in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
The US Soccer Federation approved membership of the league as a sanctioned Division 1 women's professional soccer league on August 18, 2000.
At various times, games were televised on TNT, CNNSI, ESPN2, PAX TV, and various local and regional sports channels.
The WUSA franchises were located in Philadelphia; Boston; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Cary, N.C.; Atlanta; San Jose, Ca.; and San Diego:
For the inaugural season, each roster primarily consisted of players from the United States, although up to four international players were allowed on each team's roster. Among the international players were China's Sun Wen, Pu Wei, Fan Yunjie, Zhang Ouying, Gao Hong, Zhao Lihong, and Bai Jie; Germany's Birgit Prinz, Conny Pohlers, Steffi Jones and Maren Meinert; Norway's Hege Riise, Unni Lehn, and Dagny Mellgren; Brazil's Sissi, Kátia and Pretinha; and Canada's Charmaine Hooper, Sharolta Nonen, and Christine Latham.
The league also hosted singular talents from nations which were not at the forefront of women's soccer, such as Maribel Dominguez of Mexico, Homare Sawa of Japan, Julie Fleeting of Scotland, Cheryl Salisbury of Australia, Marinette Pichon of France and Kelly Smith of England.
The Founders Cup (named in honor of the 20 founding players) was awarded to the winner of a four-team, single-elimination postseason playoff.
|2001||Bay Area CyberRays||3–3 asdet |
|Atlanta Beat||Foxboro, MA|
|2002||Carolina Courage||3–2||Washington Freedom||Atlanta, GA|
|2003||Washington Freedom||2–1 asdet||Atlanta Beat||San Diego, CA|
WUSA's sudden death overtime was 15 minutes long (2-seven and a half minute periods) and only used in the play-offs.
The WUSA played for three full seasons, suspending operations on September 15, 2003, shortly after the conclusion of the third season. Neither television ratings nor attendance met forecasts, while the league spent its initial $40 million budget, planned to last five years, by the end of the first season. Even though the players took salary cuts of up to 30% for the final season, with the founding players (who also held an equity stake in the league) taking the largest cuts, that was not enough to bring expenses under control. In the hopes of an eventual relaunch of the league, all rights to team names, logos, and similar properties were preserved. Efforts to line up new sources of capital and operating funds continued. In June 2004, the WUSA held two "WUSA Festivals" in Los Angeles and Blaine, Minnesota, featuring matches between reconstituted WUSA teams (often with marquee players borrowed from other teams), in order to maintain the league in the public eye and sustain interest in women's professional soccer.
With the WUSA on hiatus, the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) and the W-League regained their status as the premier women's soccer leagues in the United States, and many former WUSA players joined those teams.
A new women's professional soccer league in the United States called Women's Professional Soccer started in 2009. However, that league suspended operations in January 2012.
Brandi Denise Chastain is an American retired soccer player, two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold-medalist, coach, and sports broadcaster. She played for the United States national team from 1988–2004. In her 192 caps on the team, she scored 30 goals playing primarily in the defender and midfielder positions. She scored a World Cup-winning penalty shootout goal against China in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup final.
The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), commonly referred to as U.S. Soccer, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the official governing body of the sport of soccer in the United States. With headquarters in Chicago, the FIFA member governs U.S. amateur and professional soccer, including the men's, women's, youth, beach soccer, futsal, and Paralympic national teams. U.S. Soccer sanctions referees and soccer tournaments for most soccer leagues in the United States. The U.S. Soccer Federation also administers and operates the U.S. Open Cup, which was first held in 1914.
The Atlanta Beat was a professional soccer team that played in the Women's United Soccer Association. The team played at Bobby Dodd Stadium on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology in their first year of operation before moving to Herndon Stadium, on the campus of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia.
The New York Power was an American professional soccer team that played in the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), the first professional soccer league for women in the United States. The team played at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, New York. The team played from 2001 to 2003 when the league ceased operations.
The San Diego Spirit was a professional soccer team that played in the Women's United Soccer Association. The team played at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego in San Diego, California. The team began play in 2001. The league announced on September 15, 2003 it was suspending operations.
San Jose CyberRays was a professional soccer team that played in the Women's United Soccer Association. The team played at Spartan Stadium on the South Campus of San José State University in San Jose, California. Stars included U.S. National Team star Brandi Chastain, WUSA Goalkeeper of the Year LaKeysia Beene, and leading scorer Julie Murray. Other memorable CyberRays were Brazilians Sissi and Katia, Tisha Venturini, and "ironwoman" Thori Bryan, who played every minute of the first season. They were coached by Ian Sawyers, who received WUSA Coach of the Year honors in 2001.
Soccer in the United States is governed by different organizations. The United States Soccer Federation governs most levels of soccer in the country, including the national teams, professional leagues, and amateur leagues. The NCAA governs colleges and the National Federation of High Schools governs schools. The match regulations are generally the same between the three governing bodies although there are many subtle differences.
Heather Mitts Feeley, née Heather Blaine Mitts, is an American former professional soccer defender. Mitts played college soccer for the University of Florida, and thereafter, she played professionally in the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league; for the Philadelphia Charge, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and was a member of the U.S. women's national team. She played in four matches in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, where the U.S. national team finished second. Mitts announced her retirement from soccer via Twitter on March 13, 2013.
The United States soccer league system is a series of professional and amateur soccer leagues based, in whole or in part, in the United States. Sometimes called the American soccer pyramid, teams and leagues are not linked by the system of promotion and relegation typical in soccer elsewhere. Instead, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) defines professional leagues in three levels, called divisions, with all other leagues sanctioned by USSF not having an official designated level or division.
Briana Collette Scurry is an American retired soccer goalkeeper and current assistant coach of the Washington Spirit. Scurry was the starting goalkeeper for the United States women's national soccer team at the 1995 World Cup, 1996 Summer Olympics, 1999 World Cup (champions), 2003 World Cup, and the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. She played in the semi-final and playoff for third place in the 2007 Women's World Cup. She was a founding member of the WUSA, playing three seasons as starting goalkeeper for the Atlanta Beat (2001–2003).
Christie Patricia Pearce is an American professional soccer defender. She is the former captain of the United States women's national soccer team. Pearce is a 3-time Olympic gold medalist, and also a 2-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion.
Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) was the top level professional women's soccer league in the United States. It began play on March 29, 2009. The league was composed of seven teams for its first two seasons and fielded six teams for the 2011 season, with continued plans for future expansion. The WPS was the highest level in the United States soccer pyramid for the women's game.
The history of soccer in the United States has numerous different roots. Recent research has shown that the modern game entered America in the 1850s through New Orleans when Scottish, Irish, German and Italian immigrants brought the game with them. It was in New Orleans that some of the first organized games that used modern English rules were held.
Women's soccer in the United States has developed quite differently from men's soccer. Until the 1970s, organized women's soccer matches in the U.S. existed only on a limited basis. The U.S. is now regarded as one of the top countries in the world for women's soccer, and FIFA ranked its national team #1 in the world after its back-to-back Women's World Cup victory in 2015 and 2019.
The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Player Allocation distributed the national team players that would be paid for by the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) to the eight founding teams of the NWSL. The initial allocation list was announced on January 9, 2013, with the results for the 55 national team players announced two days later. From tweets concerning the first trade in the league between Seattle and Chicago, the allocations looked to be effective for at least the first two NWSL seasons, though this was later shown to be not true as Keelin Winters, who was involved in said trade, was signed as a free agent in the 2013-14 offseason. The 2014 Allocation was reduced to 50 players, Mexico dropping eight slots and the United States adding three. Since 2016, Mexico has not allocated players to the NWSL.
Rosemary Kathleen Lavelle is an American professional soccer player who is a midfielder for the Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League and the United States national team. She started six games for the United States in the 2019 France World Cup, scored three goals, and was awarded the Bronze Ball at the FIFA Women's World Cup awards as the third best player in the tournament. She was short listed as one world's twelve best players for the The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019, and was chosen as one of the world's top three midfielders by her professional peers in the 2019 FIFA FIFPro World XI.
Sherrill Kester Dempsey is an American former professional soccer player. A midfielder, she represented the San Diego Spirit of Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) and won three caps for the United States national team.