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U.S. Soccer to announce new women’s professional league today [UPDATED]

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati is holding a press media call today to announce details surrounding the launch of a new women’s professional league.

As reported by SoccerWire.com last week, the announcement is expected to confirm that there will be eight cities in the new league: Seattle, Portland, Ore., Chicago, Kansas City, Rochester, N.Y, Boston, North Jersey and Washington, D.C.

The Kansas City Star has confirmed this week that its home region will be host to a club, to be operated by the owners of the local MISL indoor team.

“The Missouri Comets ownership group (Greg Likens, Brad Likens and Brian Budzinksi) will be the owner of the new Kansas City team, the Comets confirmed on Tuesday,” reported Pete Grathoff.

The decision to move forward without a club in California — at least for the time being — has ruffled feathers in the Golden State, with veteran women’s soccer figures Charlie Naimo (coach of the USL W-League’s successful Pali Blues) and former OC Sol (WPSL) executive Terry Foley both expressing their frustrations on Twitter. The apparent reasoning is that teams in the new league must be grouped together in regional “pods” in order to reduce travel expenses, which stand out as one of the most expensive aspects of a nationwide league.

“For the record. The reason why LA was not selected in to the “new league” had NOTHING to do with money or set up. So many know so little. BS,” tweeted Naimo on Monday.

That call will also include team owners and, interestingly, representatives from both the Canadian and Mexican federations. This would seem to  confirm rumors that the league will involve federations subsidizing the cost of national team players to play in a fully professional league, as a better option than having their players in camps for large parts of the year.

Though much remains to be learned about this new endeavor, the fact that Gulati and the federation have reached this point and will apparently continue to take such an active role in this league stands out as a groundbreaking development in and of itself. There are few historical precedents for a national federation organizing, launching and operating a top-tier professional league, to say nothing of one as fraught with risk and uncertainty as this women’s enterprise, which follows a sad trail of failed predecessors.

Soccerwire.com will have more as the story develops, and will report on the details of the call as soon as possible this afternoon. Watch our Twitter feed (@thesoccerwire) as well.