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W League versus WPSL...and the new elite Division and ??WPS

Pt Beez

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Perhaps the CDN market has gone the wrong way in respect to the womans game.

Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Announces Addition of Elite Soccer League

Sacramento, CA (February 9, 2012) – In a move to support women's soccer in America, and as a prelude to planned growth of a professional league in 2013, the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) has announced the creation of a special WPSL Elite League for the 2012 season. The league will be based in the East Coast and Midwest and will include squads from Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) teams The Boston Breakers and The Western New York Flash. The move will allow professional female soccer players from the WPS teams to remain in top form as the WPS moves toward resuming play in 2013. Current WPSL teams, The Chicago Red Stars of the Midwest-North Division and FC Indiana of the Midwest-South Division, will participate in the WPSL Elite League. More WPSL teams from the East will be added over the next few days.

Jerry Zanelli, WPSL Commissioner, said "The WPSL recognizes the importance of a professional women's soccer league in America and that it is critical to provide a showcase for these top women players, and to inspire young athletes."

The West Coast has commitments from San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Bay Area, and Seattle for 2013.

"We have put together a plan that will allow WPS teams individually to join the WPSL in the Elite League," said Zanelli. "Officially, they will not be professional teams, but would allow our top professional players to play in a highly competitive league. The WPSL has many pro-level players and we have been exploring the idea of offering a pro-am division. The timing is right for us to step in and help women's soccer in the USA."

"No matter what eventually happens with the WPS, forcing these players to sit out a year would be a mistake," Zanelli said. "When the WPS suspended the 2012 season, it left them without a way to stay competitive. Everyone wants to help these players. We all recognize this and are willing to work together to solve this immediate problem."

"Our main purpose was to find ways to continue to have the highest possible level of soccer for women in the United States," Zanelli continued, "and to help prepare for the return of professional women's soccer in 2013. We also wanted to make it financially viable for present WPSL teams to join the Elite League and raise their level of play."

Zanelli clarified that this was not a case of the WPS joining the WPSL; rather it will be these individual teams joining with WPSL teams to form a competitive league for 2012.

The new Elite League would have no restrictions on the types of players each team could roster; a team could be all professional players or could have a mix of professional and amateur players.

Currently two WPSL teams, the Orange County Waves and Bay Area Breeze, include both professional and amateur players.

Steady growth has been the motto of the WPSL. From its origin fifteen years ago, WPSL has grown from a handful of West Coast teams to the world's largest premier women's soccer league, with over 70 teams across the United States. On January 28, at the 2012 WPSL Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nev., the league planned the formation of a pro-am league for the 2013 season.

With the withdrawal of the WPS 2012 season, the WPSL decided to fast-track the development of the Elite League in the East and Mid-West. "This move is a way of continuing the growth of the WPSL pyramid that we have been working on for years," said Zanelli. "This year the WPSL formed a separate under 20 nation-wide league. We already had plans for the semi-pro league in 2013 when this opportunity presented itself. We certainly feel it is a good idea. It fits into our plans and we feel it fits into the WPS's plans as well by allowing their players to stay sharp."

This will be the first venture of the WPSL to establish its highest level league in the United States. "We are trying to learn from how the previous professional leagues were set up," said Zanelli. "We want to build this from the ground up. With these high-powered teams coming in to the Elite League, it will force the rest of our teams to improve their level of play. This will be the model for the West Coast."

The WPSL is organized with regional divisions, with regional championships leading to a final four playoff for the league championships. In 2011 Orange County Waves and Chicago Red Stars competed in the WPSL Championship, with Waves winning 2-1. The new Elite League will determine its champion and the championship weekend at a later date.

"We have said all along that we will do anything to help improve women's soccer in U.S." said Zanelli. "This is a step in keeping that process going."

About the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL): The WPSL is a 70-plus team national semi-pro league competing in five conferences and is the largest women's soccer league in the world. The league is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). The WPSL's mission is to provide the highest level of soccer in our effort to: bring affordable & quality family entertainment to the community; display positive role models for our youth; while, being a stepping stone for aspiring professional & international-level players.

Does the new WPSL league see the emergence of a better based womans pro league supported and augmented by the WPSL feeder system...leaving the W-league teams and investment blowing in the wind?

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Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux signing for Seattle Sounders Women will have a huge impact on the W-League. I can see a lot of other top women players going that route.

Re WPSL Elite League: Let's call a spade a spade. All that is happening is that the two WPS teams are joining WPSL

I don't see the two WPS teams able to pay their players their original salaries playing in a 6 team league that includes 4 semi-pro teams. The attendances for the other 4 teams will never match what they got in WPS and consequently, the owners will not get the revenue needed to pay the big salaries.

I predict players like Christine Sinclair and Karina Leblanc will sign for W-League teams close to home. End of story.

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I don't see the two WPS teams able to pay their players their original salaries playing in a 6 team league that includes 4 semi-pro teams. The attendances for the other 4 teams will never match what they got in WPS and consequently, the owners will not get the revenue needed to pay the big salaries.

I predict players like Christine Sinclair and Karina Leblanc will sign for W-League teams close to home. End of story.

As Paul Harvey was well known for saying.....You know what the news is, in a minute, you're going to hear ... the rest of the story."


WPSL Elite League's Boston Breakers Sign Three Hot Soccer Players

Mar 02, 2012 -

NORWOOD, MA (March 2 2012) – The Boston Breakers continue to build their 2012 WPSL Elite League roster, adding Australian internationals Kyah Simon and Tameka Butt and U.S. U-23 defender Bianca D'Agostino.

Simon, a striker, and midfielder Butt will soon be heading to Boston to prepare for the 2012 WPSL Elite League season. The two 20-year-old Australian internationals play alongside each other on the Westfield Matildas, Australia’s Women’s National Team. This past season in the Westfield W-League, Butt helped lead the Brisbane Roar to the Grand Final. Simon and Sydney FC reached the semifinals.

Simon has 29 caps with Australia, including an impressive performance at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She scored both of Australia’s goals in a 2-1 win over Norway, a victory that sent Australia to the

Re WPSL Elite League: Let's call a spade a spade. All that is happening is that the two WPS teams are joining WPSL

I have no problem calling a spade a spade....or calling a direction the right one and calling another the wrong one misguided...or will it be just further dissolving of the woman’s game?

Breakers Laying Groundwork for WPSL Elite Season

February 29, 2012

Last month, Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) launched WPSL Elite, a division in which the Breakers and seven other teams will compete in this spring and summer. The league features the Boston Breakers, Western New York Flash, Aztec MA, New England Mutiny, ASA Chesapeake Charge, Chicago Red Stars, FC Indiana, and Philadelphia Fever.

The Breakers roster for the 2012 WPSL Elite season is taking shape. Currently it features midfielder Leslie Osborne, last year's captain, Olympic gold medalist defender Cat Whitehill, forward Katie Schoepfer, who scored two goals in her debut season in Boston in 2011, University of North Carolina forward Courtney Jones, and a pair of international stars who played in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. That duo will be announced via our Twitter and Facebook pages and on our website later this week.

Again the question is....for development purposes where is the better direction for players to look towards....and if the WPSL does in fact move forward as the better choice...what or where does it leave the CDN players playing on the 8 CDN W-League teams....when we may have some of the elite players signing for the 8 elite WPSL teams and more to follow in 2013?

End of story

You could be right...but then equally when one backs the wrong horse.....???

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I found the following article about the growing relationship between the W-league and Major League Soccer. I can only see it increasing, giving the W-league a much stronger foundation.


MLS Partnerships Reshape W-League

Affiliations add strength, stability to women's soccer landscape

USL Feature

Thursday, March 8, 2012


When it comes to the evolution of women’s soccer in North America, Seattle Sounders Women General Manager Amy Carnell has seen a lot.

A player for the Seattle Sounders Women in the W-League in 2002, Carnell has seen the club’s commitment to the women’s game increase through the years. While the Sounders Women are now owned by an outside group, the overall growth of the sport in the Pacific Northwest - and in Seattle in particular - has seen the W-League team attract greater attention than when Carnell was playing.

“Back then [the Sounders Women] were happy to piggyback off the USL Sounders during double headers,” she said recently via email. “We were happy if 500-1,000 caught the second half of our game. The success of Sounders FC over the past three years proves that Seattle fans have a true love for the game.

“We know there is a market for soccer in Seattle and it’s time to prove that women’s soccer can find its niche within the community. I think we are in a great position.”

This week saw another step in the growth of women’s soccer in North America with the announcement of a partnership between the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Force that will mark the launch of the Colorado Rapids Women. There’s much to be said about the importance of this partnership in particular, but even more about the state of Major League Soccer and the W-League, and how the growth of these two leagues together will impact the future of women’s soccer.

“We now have four officially recognized W-League teams that are either owned by or partnered with MLS clubs through agreements that have been approved and executed by MLS, USL, SUM and both team organizations” said W-League Senior Director Amanda Duffy. “These four W-League teams represent the club by approved use of name, marks, uniforms, access to media, sponsors and other critical elements that represent the MLS club on the women’s behalf.

“In addition we have fifth W-League team, the LA Strikers, who have a relationship with CD Chivas USA where an important collaboration is in place to expose the Strikers to Chivas fans with a booth in ChivaTown alongside presenting sponsors of the MLS team and league, use of Chivas players in marketing campaigns and access to Chivas season ticket holders. We’ll continue to see this partnership develop as both organizations grow.”

Finding a niche in the community has always been a key in the success of a soccer club, whether in men’s or women’s soccer. With MLS now having an outstanding level of stability within its clubs, some of its members are looking to the W-League as another avenue for growing its brand and extending its player development.

The most recent announcement in Colorado comes as a result of years of relationship building between the two organizations, years of the W-League’s Force operating with the highest standards, and successful existing partnerships that the Rapids could rely on, raising confidence in knowing the mutually positive results of joining the W-League. Brian Crookham, the Director of Operations for the Rapids Academy, was full of praise for the Force’s co-founder, Amy Snider.

“This partnership has been a long time coming,” Crookham said. “Amy Snider has done a great job promoting the women’s game in our area and our annual Women’s Soccer Celebration was certainly a catalyst. We have discussed the possibility for a long time but I think we really got motivated a little over a year ago. Our former Managing Director Jeff Plush was a big advocate and it just took off from there.”

In previous years, the Rapids had teamed with the Force to host an annual game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, with last year’s event seeing the Force face their in-state rival the Colorado Rush. Now DSG Park will be the permanent home for the Rapids Women, offering the club a chance to build its fan base and provide long-term stability.

Crookham cited the success D.C. United had in its partnership last year, which resulted in the formation of D.C. United Women, as one of the motivating factors in the club’s partnership with the Force. In addition, the opportunity to play in the W-League, currently the highest level of women’s soccer in North America, offers greater opportunity for young players in Colorado.

“We are quite serious about exposing the local girls and women to what is currently the top level of women’s soccer in the best women’s soccer nation in the world,” Crookham said. “I think the women will connect well with our fan base, but most importantly they will fill a much needed role for aspiring women’s soccer players.”

While the Rapids and Force are helping elevate the women’s game in Colorado, D.C. United helped keep it alive in the capital after the departure of the Washington Freedom to South Florida. D.C. United had worked with women’s soccer teams in the past, most notably hosting doubleheaders with the WPS’ Washington Freedom before their move, but entering a partnership similar to the one employed by the Sounders allowed the club to boost its standing in the local soccer community. While having no financial stake in the team, D.C. United Executive Vice President Stephen Zack believes partnering with the W-League team, which enables them to use the D.C. United name, provided benefits to both the W-League and MLS clubs.

“We saw it as a way to both support the women’s game and also to extend our brand by allowing them to use the name and the logo,” Zack said. “Obviously they get the uniforms through adidas, so it also gave some added exposure to our jersey sponsor, Volkswagen.”

In addition to being able to use the MLS club’s name, D.C United Women also have a location on the MLS club’s website and access to their communications staff, a major benefit in terms of helping publicize the team within local media and among the club’s supporters.

Carnell believes it is important for MLS and W-League clubs to try and grow the game at all levels. One of the clubs where that sentiment is shared is the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have had a long-standing, and successful, W-League team that counts among its alumni numerous Canadian Women’s National Team members. Having been the home of recent USL Hall of Fame inductee Christine Sinclair, and others such as Sophie Schmidt, Melissa Tancredi and Melanie Booth, the Whitecaps Women have been a mainstay in the W-League while supporting the efforts of the Canadian Women’s National Team, and its youth programs, to achieve international success.

“We want to try and help our national team achieve the most success possible on the international stage, because ultimately that will reflect back on club soccer throughout the country and ideally our club,” Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi said. “We’ve always tried to apply that principle whenever we’ve had to, our country commitments are paramount and I think we’ve demonstrated in the past that has been the case, and we’d certainly do that moving forward.”

Lenarduzzi said the Whitecaps have spoken to Canadian Soccer Association officials about how the club can help as the Canadian Women’s National Team prepares for the Olympics in London this summer. With current Canadian internationals such as Booth, Kaylyn Kyle and Robyn Gayle having played for the side in the W-League as recently as 2010 and 2011, the Whitecaps could see a number of internationals taking to the field for them this summer against their Western Conference opponents.

The ability of the W-League and its Canadian clubs to give a strong platform to grow north of the border is something that obviously gives Lenarduzzi and the Whitecaps organization great pride. With the history of the Whitecaps name, the club has been able to build a strong level of support in MLS and the W-League, which has allowed the franchise to flourish.

“The Whitecaps brand is a significant one, and we have a history,” Lenarduzzi said. “Fortunately, I’ve been with the Whitecaps throughout all of the 37 years as a player, coach and administrator, and what we weren’t doing was we weren’t capitalizing on that brand, and I think that now we are doing more of that and that has helped the women’s side of our club, because people are familiar with the Whitecaps from way back, and so it provided an instant recognition.

“It’s been beneficial, and what we’ll look to do is continue to try to grow our club, and we see our club as professional men and women, boys and girls.”

The benefits of having an MLS affiliation have already been seen by the Sounders and Whitecaps, with D.C. United and the Colorado Rapids set to be the next club’s to harness the power of an MLS brand. Carnell believes the reach those clubs are capable of is a key benefit for W-League teams as they aim for a strong and stable future.

Add in the W-League’s sustainable business model, which sees all 27 of the league’s teams returning in 2012 with three new additions for its 18th season, and you have a recipe for a league that is able to continue to build the game, and provide a destination for young women’s players around the country.

“I think there has always been a market for women’s soccer in this country but the financial and logistical model has never been sustainable,” Carnell said. “Partnering with MLS clubs strengthens the brand and gives a greater bandwidth to W-League teams who operate on limited budgets. It shows that the W-League is growing and moving toward that sustainable model.”

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