With her transcendent performance in the World Cup title game rout of Japan, Carli Lloyd established herself as one of the faces of the USWNT. Lloyd won the tournament’s Golden Ball Award (which goes to the most outstanding player), and in doing so placed herself squarely within the national consciousness.
Next year is season number four for the National Women’s Soccer League and no professional American women’s soccer league has ever survived beyond three seasons. So the NWSL has already achieved more than any of their predecessors, but 2016 is a critical crossroads year.
As we’ve chronicled in detail before, the league has a special unique opportunity to capitalize on growing interest in the game and maybe take it to new levels. That is, if they can market themselves correctly. For the NWSL has a lot going for it right now, but also has a ton of ground to make up in the sports landscape.
Nike is doing their part. The Pacific Northwest based athletic apparel maker just announced that they will extend their current partnership with the NWSL till 2019. This news was released on the same exact day as the NWSL Title game.
“This deal is really about the future of the league,” said a statement attributed to Carli Lloyd, Houston Dash and USWNT forward.
“For women’s soccer to continue to flourish, we need partners like Nike who are committed. In past, there’s always been a huge question mark around the future. Now, the stage is set for continued success at the national level, as well as the club level.”
Along with the nine NWSL franchises, Nike has sponsorship deals with a many current NWSL players on the U.S. Women’s National Team, including
- Boston Breakers (Alyssa Naeher)
- Chicago Red Stars (Christen Press, Julie Johnston)
- Houston Dash (Carli Lloyd, Meghan Klingenberg)
- FC Kansas City (Amy Rodriguez)
- Portland Thorns FC (Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath)
- Seattle Reign FC (Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe)
- Washington Spirit (Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Crystal Dunn)
- Western New York Flash (Sydney Leroux, Whitney Engen)
Nike has solidified their role as the NWSL’s official club kit, apparel and equipment, supplier of the league ball, and provider for all nine NWSL teams, as well as any future teams.
Riding the wave of World Cup fever, the league had their most successful summer ever in 2015- 18 of 44 matches sold out and average attendance increased by 29% since the end of the World Cup. The League set a new single-season attendance record with an average of 5,046 fans per game and 454,100 fans in total attendance in 2015.
“This partnership with the NWSL demonstrates Nike’s commitment to the women’s game,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “As the league grows, Nike’s continuing support will be instrumental in growing the women’s game domestically and also globally.”
Things are looking up for Carli Lloyd and company.
Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes to the Chicago Tribune RedEye. He also appears regularly on numerous talk shows all across the country. Catch him Tuesdays on KOZN 1620 The Zone.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks