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  • Writer's pictureMichaela Alfano

Boston Is Back: New Team Set to Join NWSL in 2026

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

The National Women's Soccer League announced on September 19 that Boston is officially back. Boston will join in 2026 as the 15th team in what is now the fastest-growing league, with Bay FC and the Utah Royal to join in 2024.

The expansion franchise was awarded to Boston Unity Soccer Partners (BUSC), an all-female core ownership group led by a diverse and dynamic leadership team.

Boston Unity Soccer Partners consists of a diverse and dynamic all-female core ownership group with a wide array of experience across the real estate, marketing, hospitality, and philanthropy sectors, led by Juno Equity Founder/Boston Celtics Minority Owner Jennifer Epstein, strategic marketer and brand builder Stephanie Connaughton, Women’s Foundation of Boston Co-Founder/CFO Ami Danoff and Flybridge Capital General Partner Anna Palmer. The managing board will include Epstein, who will serve as the controlling partner, and Connaughton, Danoff, and Palmer, who will all serve as managing partners.

NWSL Boston Partners; From Left to Right: Stephanie Connaughton, Jennifer Epstein, Ami Kuan Danoff, and Anna Palmer | Photo from NWSL Boston Website

“I’m excited to expand the NWSL’s footprint and continue its transformative growth in our return to Boston, one of the world’s most iconic sports cities,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “We are very proud to welcome Boston Unity Soccer Partners to our ownership group. They bring an impressive roster of business leaders committed to continuing Boston’s legacy of sports excellence and delivering a successful team to a very passionate fanbase. We are thrilled for their entry to the league in the 2026 season and add a new chapter to the storied history of Boston sports.”

Women's Soccer In Boston

Boston soccer history runs deep and it's been a long time coming for its return. The Boston Breakers were one of the founding members of the Women's United Soccer Association which ran from 2000 to 2003 before dissolving. In the final season of the WUSA, the Breakers came close to winning it all but lost to the Washington Freedom.

Luckily for the fans of women's soccer in Boston, a new league emerged in 2007 with the Women's Professional Soccer League, also known as the WPS. The Breakers, who were officially announced in 2008, were the only professional women's sports team in Boston at the time.

The first Breakers team was stacked with Tony DiCicco as head coach and a roster full of talent. During the WPS national team player allocation on September 16, 2008, the Breakers acquired Heather Mitts and former Breakers players, Kristine Lilly and Angela Hucles. The club acquired Amy Rodriguez as the first overall pick in the 2009 WPS Soccer Draft in St. Louis on January 30, 2009.

After a rocky time in the WPS, the league eventually became what is now the NWSL. When Boston joined the NWSL for the first time they were one of the founding members yet again and in their eighth season of play. Sydney Leroux, Kyah Simon, Adriana Leon, and Rhian Wilkinson were just a few names on the roster.

Throughout the five seasons in the NWSL, the Breakers never managed to make a post-season playoff run. Although they had the talents of Kristie Mewis, Alyssa Naeher, Heather O'Reilly, and later on Rose Lavelle, Midge Purce, Ifeoma Onumonu, and Angela Salem, it was not enough to keep the team afloat.

Boston Breakers during 2017 season | Photo Credit to Mike Gridley/ISI Images

The Boston Breakers officially folded on January 25, 2018, and did not participate in the NWSL in 2018. A failed effort to market the team, constant changes in stadiums, and investors who were not serious about building women's sports in Boston were unfortunate causes of the fold.

But now, six years later, Boston Is Back.

A New Era For Boston

For women's sports, the time is now. It is here and people want to invest and see the growth. Especially in a sports city like Boston.

The ownership group has deep local ties to the region and shares a passion for soccer, generating opportunities for women, and enhancing the community through the power of sport. The club is backed by an investor group that comes from all sectors of the Boston economy, with 95% of the invested capital invested by women and 40% invested by investors of color.

The expansion fees from three years ago to now have drastically changed. When San Diego, Los Angeles, and Kansas City joined the league, the fees were valued at $5 million. Now Angel City has a star-studded ownership group and has grown the value to $100 million. Kansas City is investing by building an entirely new stadium and grounds to have the first-ever soccer-specific stadium for a women's team. San Diego is investing in the community. Bay FC and Utah are putting up big numbers.

The team intends to host its home matches in a professionalized and modernized George R. White Stadium in historic Franklin Park in the heart of Boston. There are plans to continue investing in the stadium to make it world-class caliber for the players they hope to bring in. They hope to make it accessible and work with Mayor Wu to make Boston the best it can be for the NWSL team. However, while there are plans to invest $30 million into the stadium, it only seats 11k at total capacity, making it the third smallest NWSL stadium.

White Stadium which will be home to NWSL Boston

“Boston is the greatest sports city in the world, and we are thrilled to bring the NWSL back to this passionate fan base,” said Epstein. “Our goal is to build a championship-caliber franchise that the city can be proud of, both on the pitch and in the community. We will be relentless and daring in our quest to add another chapter to the city’s unrivaled sports legacy. We thank Commissioner Berman and the NWSL board for believing in us and in Boston and are grateful for the unwavering support of Mayor Michelle Wu and her team, who have been instrumental in bringing professional women’s soccer back to Boston.”

With quite a few current NWSL players from the Boston team, it'll be exciting to watch this team grow and who will sign. Sam Mewis and Kristie Mewis are the notable names, but there is potential for some other New Englanders like Shelby Hogan and Olivia Wingate, both Massachusetts natives, and even Anna Heilferity who went to Boston University, to want to make the move back to the city.

With a new professional women's hockey team, a championship women's football team, and now the NWSL set to return, all eyes are on Boston. The investment across the league with new teams, but also preexisting teams, shows that now, more than ever, women's sports should be on top.


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