North Carolina FC Acquire WNY Flash
The WNY Flash team will be relocating to North Carolina for the 2017 NWSL season set to kick off in the coming months. North Carolina Football Club has reached an agreement to acquire the rights of the championship club — taking over the leadership the Sahlen family which started in 2008.
NWSL Soccer News: North Carolina Football Club announced it has entered an agreement to acquire the rights to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) 2016 Champion Western New York Flash. The club will be renamed North Carolina Courage and will play at WakeMed Soccer Park during the 2017 NWSL season.
As part of the deal, the players under contract will remain on the 2017 NC Courage roster.
“We are excited to be able to bring the highest level of professional women’s soccer back to the Triangle,” said North Carolina Football Club Owner, Steve Malik. “This is an important step in the plan we set forth last month, and as we continue to develop, we look forward to the continued support of our community. I would like to thank the Sahlen family for giving us the opportunity to enter into this agreement to acquire the Western New York Flash and look forward to a long and rewarding partnership as we continue to grow the women’s game in North Carolina and the nation.”
The North Carolina Courage crest is a nod to the history of women’s professional soccer in North Carolina, incorporating a stylized lion, a major component of the old Carolina Courage logo, while retaining the brand identity of the club’s parent organization with the signature North Carolina Football Club star and the separated triangle. Additionally, the colors mirror those of the men’s side, uniting the two teams under the North Carolina Football Club umbrella, while maintaining their individual identity.
Malik announced his intent to secure the awarding of an NWSL team to the Triangle within three to six months, on December 6, 2016, and this acquisition has achieved that objective in only one month’s time. As part of the deal, the players under contract will remain on the 2017 NC Courage roster. Click here for the full roster.
Founded by the Sahlen family in 2008 as the Buffalo Flash in the USL W-League, the North Carolina Courage (former WNY Flash) is one of the most decorated women’s professional soccer clubs, winning four championships in three different leagues. Most recently, the club hoisted the 2016 NWSL Championship on October 9th by defeating the Washington Spirit in penalty kicks.
Led by team captain and New Zealand international Abby Erceg, the club’s roster includes U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Sam Mewis, Canadian goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo and 2016 NWSL Golden Boot Winner and MVP Lynn Williams.
Mewis, Williams and fellow teammate Jessica McDonald each earned caps with the USWNT in 2016. The three players listed, along with Taylor Smith and Jaelene Hinkle, have been recently called into the upcoming USWNT training camp set to begin on January 13, 2017.
“Welcoming Steve Malik and the entire North Carolina Football Club organization represents a significant milestone in the history of our league,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said. “There is no question that Steve and his leadership team are well-positioned to manage the opportunities ahead of them by acquiring the WNY Flash and relaunching the club in North Carolina.”
The State of North Carolina has always been a leader in women’s soccer. It has produced several legends including Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Heather O’Reilly, Charmaine Hooper and Carla Overbeck, and UNC women’s coaching legend Anson Dorrance. The Triangle was the home of WUSA’s 2002 Founders Cup Champion Carolina Courage for three seasons before the league folded the following year.
North Carolina is also home to the most dominant college soccer program in history, the 22-time NCAA National Champion UNC Tar Heels. Four teams from the state participated in the 2016 Women’s College Cup including UNC-Charlotte, NC State (Third Round), Duke (Quarterfinals), and UNC-Chapel Hill (Semifinals).
The North Carolina Courage will be participating in the upcoming 2017 NWSL Draft on January 12 in Los Angeles, California.
Below is a statement from the Sahlen Family
Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the Western New York market is not the right fit for the NWSL and the future direction of the league. We know that the North Carolina market will provide what the players deserve and we are excited to see the team continue to compete at the highest level. The NWSL has been an incredible platform for the top women’s soccer players to perform in and we are proud to have been a founding member. We wish the NWSL and our other fellow ownership groups – as well as US Soccer – the best of luck and would like to thank them for the past four years.
Our dedication and support of the game will remain strong at the grass roots level through the WNY Flash Academy and Sahlen’s Sports Park. We are wholly committed to our Academy and we look forward to developing future collegiate and NWSL-caliber players.
Thank you to all of our former and current players for their efforts on and off the field and who always wore the Flash brand with pride.
We are eternally grateful for all of our front office staff over the past seven years who worked to make this vision into a reality. All current employees have been offered opportunities within our entities and we hope they continue to work with us for many years to come.
Lastly, we want to thank the Western New York area for welcoming us into their community for the past seven years and helping us celebrate five trophies throughout four different leagues in Professional Women’s Soccer. It has been an incredible journey and we will cherish these memories for a lifetime.
Photo Credit: National Women’s Soccer League