NWSL Kicks First

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    • NWSL Commissioner talked Orlando, Challenge Cup, fan engagement, sponsorship, expansion and more.

Today's Action

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The NWSL will be the first U.S. team-based league to return to play on Saturday with its Challenge Cup. Commissioner Lisa Baird joined Fundamentals yesterday to chat about the league’s approach and growth.

On the Orlando Pride pulling out of the tournament after several players tested positive for COVID-19: “My first reaction, of course, is empathy … We did have a plan in place.

If we were not fully prepared to handle this, who knows what had happened, we were fully prepared. We enacted the protocols, we did the absolute right thing. And so within, a few hours, we not only had reached an incredibly mutual decision with Orlando that they would withdraw … but we were able within a 24 hour period to change the schedule.”

On Fan Engagement: “This virtual cheering section that we’ve kicked off and the invitations have gone to the local fans, that’s going to be a really cool thing … we just need to hear their voices and you can be sure that we’ll be on them on all the social media channels. We’ll be able to see them in the stadium during the games.”

On Expansion Potential: “We need to have expansion; thoughtful, prudent expansion, and that comes with making sure that the player pool from our draft and just also from internationally continues to remain at the top. We’re not going to compromise on that. Number two is ownership … with the right investment mentality is really critical. …  and then the third thing is where is U.S. soccer going to go from a fan standpoint? And I don’t think it’s all just the large markets.”

Watch the full interview here.