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 National Women's Soccer League

San Diego to be Home to NWSL Expansion Team, Led by Jill Ellis as President

June 8, 2021 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) News Release


CHICAGO - The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) announced today that San Diego will be home to an NWSL expansion team, set to begin play in Spring 2022. 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 San Diego NWSL team, which is owned by investor Ron Burkle. Burkle has tapped longtime friend and business associate Matt Alvarez to lead the project on his behalf.

"This is a proud and historic moment for soccer in San Diego, Southern California and the United States," said NWSL San Diego President Jill Ellis. "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. I'm 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 team will begin play in NWSL beginning in the Spring of 2022. 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," said Ron Burkle. "We are thrilled to bring women's professional soccer to San Diego and believe this club will be deeply embedded in this community. We believe in Jill and will provide the necessary investment to build a club that all of San Diego will be proud to support. Jill's expertise and history within the sport is unrivalled and we are incredibly excited to continue to work with Commissioner Baird to bring a world-class team to San Diego as we continue to grow the sport and women's soccer."

Ellis will serve as President of the San Diego NWSL side after one of the most successful and decorated managerial careers of all-time. The former U.S. Women's National Team Manager (2014-2019) led the United States to eight tournament titles: the 2015 Algarve Cup, the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, the 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship, the 2016 SheBelieves Cup, the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, the 2018 Tournament of Nations, the 2018 Concacaf Women's Championship and the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. During that span, she earned honors as the FIFA World Women's Coach of the Year (2015, 2019) and the CONCACAF Women's Coach of the Year (2015).

"On behalf of the NWSL and our board of governors, I'm thrilled to welcome San Diego NWSL to our league," said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. "The NWSL's growth is obviously a priority for us, but we've always said that growth has to be done thoughtfully and deliberately. That's exactly what we've done here. San Diego NWSL 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."

Before taking over as manager with the USWNT, Ellis served as head coach for the U.S. Women's U-21 and U-20 sides and as an assistant and with the Senior USWNT, where she was on staff as they captured the Gold Medal during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Before her time with the U.S. Soccer, Ellis coached collegiately at Illinois and UCLA as one of the most successful coaches in Women's College Soccer history. A 2000 NSCAA National Coach of the Year winner, Ellis led UCLA to six-consecutive Pacific-10 Conference titles and eight NCAA Women's College Cups.

NWSL San Diego owner Ron Burkle has committed to funding a world-class women's team set to play in one of the most talent-rich and passionate soccer regions in the United States.

About Ron Burkle

Ron Burkle founded The Yucaipa Companies in 1986 and is widely recognized as one of the preeminent investors in the retail, distribution, technology, entertainment, sports and hospitality industries. He is also a three-time Stanley Cup Champion as co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ron has served as Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder of numerous companies including Americold (NYSE:COLD), Soho House, Golden State Foods, Dominick's, Fred Meyer, Ralphs and Food4Less.

Ron is Co-Chairman of the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA and is broadly involved in the community. He is a member of the Board of The Scripps Research Institute and is a trustee of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). Ron was the Founder and Chairman of the Ralphs/Food4Less Foundation and the Fred Meyer Inc. Foundation. He was a member of the board of Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: OXY), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Kaufman & Broad S.A. (Euronext: KOF), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), the J. Paul Getty Trust, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Carter Center, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the National Urban League.

Ron has received numerous honors and awards including the AFL-CIO's Murray Green Meany Kirkland Community Service Award, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Man of the Year, the Los Angeles County Boy Scouts Jimmy Stewart's Good Turn Award, the Los Angeles Urban League's Whitney M. Young Award, The Instituto De la Raza Laboral's La Raza Corporate Leadership Award and the APLA Commitment to Life Award. Ron was inducted into the Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC) hall of fame and is featured on the community Promenade of Prominence in Watts, California

ABOUT NWSL

The National Women's Soccer League is a 12-team Division-I women's professional soccer league featuring national team players from around the world. The clubs are the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, OL Reign, NY/NJ Gotham FC, Kansas City, Washington Spirit, and Racing Louisville FC. Based in Chicago, the NWSL is partners with the Canadian Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation.

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