[W-LEAGUE]The partnerships are still modest in scope, but three U.S.-based W-League teams -- the Seattle Sounders, who have signed U.S stars Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux, D.C. United and Colorado Rapids -- will be carrying the names of MLS teams in 2012, reflecting support these MLS clubs is giving women's soccer. In addition, the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of the women's league's strongest teams, is owned by the second-year MLS club.
Colorado is the most recent women's team to add an MLS connection. The Fort Collins-based Colorado Force has changed its name to the Colorado Rapids Women, who will now train and play matches at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park -- home of the MLS Rapids. Ownership is unchanged, and the club will still have its offices in Fort Collins.
"I think this a great step in the right direction not only for the Force/Rapids merger but also for women’s soccer in Colorado and the USA," said Daniel Clitnovici, the head coach of the W-League team. "Being part of the Colorado Rapids gives these elite players an opportunity to experience the Professional life of soccer whilst still keeping their amateur status".
The Seattle Sounders Women, who made a splash with the signing of Solo, Morgan and Leroux, have been around since 2003. They play at Starfire Sports Complex Stadium, the second home of the Sounders men, and expect to sell out the 4,500-seat facility for games involving their three stars.
Following the demise of WPS's Washington Freedom, D.C. United Women moved into the D.C. market last season. They did well enough to win the W-League's 2011 Rookie Franchise of the Year award.
D.C. United Women play at the Maryland SoccerPlex, the Freedom's home field. They are owned by Washington Soccer Properties but share marketing and communication initiatives with the MLS club.
The 30-team W-League kicks off its 18th season on May 11.