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Official: Sacramento’s NWSL team moves to San Diego

Expected but still disappointing for Sactown.

Courtesy of San Diego NWSL

The news we expected at some point to hear about is now official, as NWSL announced on Tuesday that there will be an expansion team for 2022 in San Diego. That team was originally planned to be in Sacramento, but the owners of the NWSL team have decided to situate the expansion team in San Diego instead.

Sacramento had been rumored to be an NWSL expansion city dating back to 2019, and while the coronavirus pandemic pushed nearly every team’s plans back, the team was announced by NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird as coming to Sacramento in 2022 back in January. However, the lead investor — Ron Burkle — never publicly announced confirmation of NWSL in Sacramento, and behind the scenes he lobbied the league to move the club, presumably after he also pulled out of Sacramento’s MLS expansion bid and left those seemingly-secure plans in absolute limbo.

Burkle did confirm the San Diego expansion team this time, but instead of speaking publicly about the venture, he’s tapped two-time World Cup winning coach Jill Ellis to be the president of the new club and she spoke to reporters on Tuesday.

Ellis didn’t really talk about the shift to San Diego during her conference call, essentially saying that wasn’t her purview. So there was no big discussion on why not Sacramento, but given the context surrounding Burkle and Sacramento, that probably makes the situation pretty clear.

So unfortunately, NWSL in Sacramento is officially dead. Could it be revived? I suppose anything can happen, right? I think there’s a good chance we’ll see a NorCal NWSL team in the future, but Sacramento will likely have to compete with the Bay Area for that slot. Time will tell, however. San Diego is a great city, but this is obviously another gut punch for Sacramento, and that’s really a bummer.

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