Real Salt Lake are expanding their club with a big move into women's professional soccer.
The club and the National Women's Soccer League announced on Thursday that RSL will field a team beginning in the 2018 season, with the as-yet-unnamed team set to play at Rio Tinto Stadium. More details about the brand and roster will be released in the coming weeks.
"Our goal is build the very best women's sports organization in America," said RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen in a team statement. "Only 15 days ago was I asked to look into this opportunity, and as we learned about the NWSL vision from the league office and met with A&E executives as well as US Soccer about their aspirations on and off the field, we knew we not only wanted to join as quickly as possible and participate, but we believe that our current infrastructure as well as the development initiatives on the RSL horizon align perfectly. Our community is already passionate about women's sports, and we believe that empowering and advancing the women's game accelerates the change to build a better Utah."
In a press conference on Thursday, RSL general manager Craig Waibel confirmed he would serve as general manager for the NWSL team for the time being, and that the club is lining up interviews for head coaching candidates.
The NWSL will field 10 teams in 2018, which will be the league's sixth season. RSL is the fourth MLS team to also own an NWSL team, joining the Portland Timbers (Portland Thorns), Houston Dynamo (Houston Dash) and Orlando City (Orlando Pride). The Thorns won the league title this year, and the Lifetime network is the television partner for the league, after signing a multiyear partnership ahead of the 2017 season.