Soccer has seen a significant rise in popularity in the United States in recent years. Major League Soccer has long been the country's top tier for men's soccer. There were other leagues in days past that had held that distinction.

Women's professional soccer has probably had a more rough go of it in America. But it seems to have perhaps finally found some stability in the National Women's Soccer League. The NWSL will not be alone for long at the top of the U.S. women's soccer pyramid.

The new league has intentions to go for Division I status

The Athletic and ESPN report that the USL Super League is aiming for Division I recognition.

That the league would exist is not news; that has been known since 2021. But the initial plan was for it to be a Division II league. On May 16, 2023, the Super League revealed a change of plans. It will instead be applying to be a top dog in the women's game.

Different countries worldwide have their own criteria for ranking soccer (or football) leagues. The United States is an outlier in that it does not practice thet promotion and relegation system that is otherwise common. In theory, teams are permanently fixed in their respective leagues. Although it should be noted that several current MLS teams began at lower levels and were eventually promoted.

There are several standards that must be met to be eligible for Division I classification.

These standards include necessities about various subjects. They have but are not limited to the number of teams, market size, venue capacity, and ownership net worth.

Specifically, on the women's side, eight teams are required when the league launches play. By year four, it must have ten or lose its status.

At least 13 teams are expected to participate in the USL Super League

Along with the change of plans from Division II to Division I, there will be a delay in the league starting play. It had been expected to begin later this year. Instead, it's now going for a 2024 start date. It was not made clear if the delay was directly connected to the divisional alteration.

But regardless, it would, in theory, allow for more teams to get set to compete.

The Super League has announced its first eight teams. With at least one, possibly more, that should be ready to go in short order. Official team names are, as of yet, unknown to the public. But the markets, and in some cases venues, have been selected. The eight markets are as follows, listed in alphabetic order. Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Lexington, Kentucky; Phoenix, Arizona; Spokane, Washington; Tampa, Florida; Tucson, Arizona; Washington, D.C. Stadiums have already been selected for the Charlotte, Lexington, and Phoenix teams.

A ninth team in Madison, Wisconsin, is expected to become official in short order.

The Madison franchise also has a stadium in place. Chattanooga, Tennessee; Indianapolis, Indiana; Jacksonville, Florida and Oakland, California, are also expected to host competing teams. The Jacksonville ownership has drawn attention for including Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL player Tim Tebow.

Any or all of these teams could be ready for the inaugural season of the USL Super League. The initial number of eight is only a minimum number. League president Amanda Vandervort said she was "[a]bsolutely" confident that 10 to 12 playing in its first season.