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Soccer: U.S. women's league increases roster size, player pay

(Reuters) - The top U.S. women’s professional soccer league will let teams add more players to their rosters and raise their minimum and maximum pay for the 2019 season as part of rule changes it announced on Thursday.

Senior rosters in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) will expand to 20-22 players, from 18-20 players in 2018. The NWSL is also adding four supplemental roster spots that teams can use to sign additional players at the league minimum who will not count against the salary cap.

Each of the nine clubs will be permitted to pay a total of $421,500 to the players on its roster for the upcoming season, which begins in mid-April, up 20.4 percent from last year.

The minimum player salary will rise 5 percent to $16,538 while the maximum player salary will rise 5 percent to $46,200.

The league also said its Permitted Team Assistance Cap, which lets teams help players with housing and car costs, has nearly doubled from the previous season. It did not provide figures.

“This is an important step in the growth of the league,” NWSL Managing Director Amanda Duffy said in a statement.

“In addition to these roster changes allowing the league and its teams to provide additional employment opportunities for more players plus additional benefits in connection with housing and auto, this marks the sixth consecutive season the Board of Directors has supported increased compensation.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Graff