Following the departure of Jeff Plush as commissioner in March 2017, Duffy was and remains
the league's high-ranked executive. The lack of a move by the league to name a new commissioner has hung over her and the league for some time.
Duffy, who came to the NWSL after working in the USL at the league office and for Louisville City, will continue to oversee all aspects of the league’s day-to-day operations and will work with owners on the strategic direction and objectives for NWSL.
“Amanda has been instrumental in operating the league as managing director,” said North Carolina Courage owner and executive committee chairman Steve Malik. “She’s an extremely talented professional and we feel that she will continue to foster the league’s growth as president. As we look to the future, her experience and talents are a great fit for taking the league to the next level.”
The growth of the NWSL has been a mixed bag in recent years.
On the positive side:
-- First and foremost, the NWSL, which is entering its seventh season, has been around longer than the two previous women's pro leagues, WUSA and WPS, combined. It averaged 6,024 fans in 2018, its highest average in its six seasons and a rebound after the first year-to-year drop in attendance in 2017. The increase was driven by the addition of the Utah Royals, who averaged 9,466 fans in their first season.
-- The Portland Thorns, who led the league with an average of 16,959 fans a game and drew a sell-out crowd of 21,144 fans for the 2018 final they hosted, are the best supported women's team in the world.
-- The North Carolina Courage, the runaway winner of the 2018 regular-season title and postseason champion, beat French clubs Paris St. Germain and Lyon to win the first Women's International Champions Cup title, making it the unofficial world club champion.
-- The NWSL continues to be a testing ground for up-and-coming U.S. national team players. All the players who moved or started their careers abroad have returned home, including 2018 MVP Lindsey Horan.
-- The league signed a national television deal with A+E in 2017 to air
games on Lifetime. A+E is an equity partner in the league with which it formed a joint venture, NWSL Media, that serves as the media and commercial arm of the league and oversees broadcast and
sponsorship rights. (Duffy is on the NWSL Media board.)
-- The NWSL lost the Boston Breakers, who folded, and FC Kansas City, which was replaced by Utah, in 2018 after the Western New York Flash, the 2016 champion, moved to North Carolina in 2017. The last-minute loss of the Breakers left the league with nine teams, creating scheduling issues. No expansion is planned for 2019.
-- Bad press about Sky Blue FC continues to haunt the New Jersey-based team. The No. 1 topic for Duffy and Sky Blue FC president and general manager Tony Novo after Thursday's NWSL College Draft in Chicago was what was being done to address issues related to the team's working and housing conditions for players. The Equalizer reported that U.S. international Hailie Mace, the No. 2 pick in the draft, did not plan on signing with Sky Blue.
-- Sky Blue FC (1-17-6) and Washington (2-17-5) were embarrassments on the playing field.
-- The only teams the league has added since its launch in 2013 are Houston in 2014 and Orlando in 2016. Despite the backing of MLS owners, interest in those markets has waned. Attendance was down 22 percent for both Houston and Orlando in 2018. That left Portland, Utah and champion North Carolina as the only teams that averaged more than 5,000 a game.
-- The streaming deal the NWSL had for games that did not air nationally on A+E and ESPN networks collapsed when Go90 was folded by Verizon late last season. Streaming will move to Yahoo, another Verizon property, in 2019. On the sponsorship side, the league struggles to close deals in proportion to the appeal of its many U.S. stars.
“The NWSL has made significant strides over the past six seasons thanks to the world-class talent of our players, the vision of our owners and the commitment by everyone associated with the league to make NWSL the global destination for the very best in women’s professional soccer," Duffy said in a statement. "Add to that the remarkable support from our fans, sponsors and media partners, and we’ve built an outstanding foundation that all of us can work from to realize the extraordinary promise of NWSL and each of our teams.