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Sacramento NWSL team officially moves to San Diego

KXTV-TV Sacramento logo KXTV-TV Sacramento 6/8/2021 Izzy Greenblatt, City News Service

San Diego will be home to the National Women's Soccer League's newest expansion team, set to begin play in spring 2022, the league announced Tuesday.

Jill Ellis, the only two-time FIFA Women's World Cup-winning manager and a former FIFA World Women's Coach of the Year recipient, will serve as president of the as-of-yet unnamed San Diego NWSL team -- which is owned by investor Ron Burkle.

Burkle previously was the lead investor of Sacramento's MLS and NWSL expansion teams until he pulled out back in February. Sacramento would have been the league's 10th expansion team until Burkle moved the team to San Diego.

Kevin Nagle, who owns the Sacramento Republic FC of the United Soccer League and is helping to secure a new MLS and NWSL investor, told ABC10 that there should be news soon.

"While we wish (San Diego) all the best, we have and continue to be locked down securing an MLS team for Sacramento," Nagle said via text message. "We look forward to sharing news of our progress in the very near future."

"This is a proud and historic moment for soccer in San Diego, Southern California and the United States," Ellis said. "The NWSL continues to grow immensely and bringing women's professional soccer back to San Diego, an area with a rich soccer history and passionate fanbase, will have a deep and positive impact on this community."

Ellis said she is "incredibly honored to lead this club forward as we prepare for play in this league next year. We aim to become a significant team globally, led by influential women, with the ability to attract the best talent throughout the world. I am eager to begin this project and look forward to leading this club as we build towards the future."

The club's name, crest, head coach and venue partner will be announced at a later date.

"San Diego is filled with an unwavering and fervent fanbase with a wide interest in soccer," Burkle said. "We are thrilled to bring women's professional soccer to San Diego and believe this club will be deeply embedded in this community."

Burkle has tapped business associate Matt Alvarez to lead the project on his behalf.

"We believe in Jill and will provide the necessary investment to build a club that all of San Diego will be proud to support," Burkle said.

Ellis, the former U.S. Women's National Team Manager from 2014-2019, led the United States to eight tournament titles -- including the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird, who leads the 10-team women's professional soccer league, said San Diego "has all the hallmarks of a successful expansion club: a committed ownership group with the resources required to invest in the success of our league and our players, in a community full of soccer players and fans, in a region that has been underrepresented in our league. I can't wait to watch it all come together."

The NWSL currently has eight teams in Houston, Washington D.C., Tacoma, New Jersey, Portland, Chicago, Kansas City, Louisville and Orlando. The San Diego team and Angel City FC, based in Los Angeles, are both making their debuts in the 2022 season.

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