Why Are American Players Leaving The NWSL, At Least Temporarily, For Europe?

NWSL players are leaving their teams to play for European clubs. Although many are returning after, others have decided to stay for good.

Carli Lloyd just signed for a short-term stint with Manchester City. Rising star Crystal Dunn is leaving for Chelsea. And soccer rock star Alex Morgan is (temporarily) at French Club Lyon. While these might seem like isolated incidents, it's actually a pattern. More and more U.S. women's soccer stars are leaving the states, at least in the short term for Europe.

A recent Washington Post article laid out the potential reasons for so many stars taking their talents elsewhere. For one, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) doesn't do a lot of marketing. This means that games are mainly attended only to watch the big name players. 

Another assumption is that the league simply isn't doing enough to retain its top-players. But probably the main reason is that Europe is investing in women's soccer clubs. American players will be able to take advantage of advanced training and be surrounded by avid fans.  

“It’s a unique opportunity for me to go abroad, play over here and be faced with a new and different challenge,” Lloyd said. “The facilities are fascinating, and it’s an unbelievable football club to be a part of.” 

While Lloyd and Morgan are returning to their American clubs for the summer, others are not. The lesson here is that America needs to start investing in women's soccer or risk losing our best players. 

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