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Women's Professional Soccer
WPS logo.png
Countries United States
Confederation CONCACAF
Founded 2007
Number of teams 9
Levels on pyramid 1
Current champions Sky Blue FC
TV partners Fox Soccer Channel,
Fox Sports en Español, local coverage
Website WomensProSoccer.com
Soccerball current event.svg 2009 season

Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) is the top level professional women's soccer league in the United States that began play on March 29, 2009. The league replaced the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), which folded after the 2003 season. The league is composed of 7 teams, with plans to add two teams for the 2010 season. The WPS will be the highest level in the United States soccer pyramid.

The inaugural season runs from late March to early August, with teams playing 20 regular season games each. Four teams from the league will compete in the post-season playoffs.

Contents

History

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Planning

After the folding of Women's United Soccer Association, which played its third and final full season in 2003, WUSA Reorganization Committee was formed in September of that year. The committee led to the founding in November 2004 of the non-profit organization, Women's Soccer Initiative, Inc. (WSII), whose stated goal was "promoting and supporting all aspects of women's soccer in the United States", including the founding of a new professional league.[1] Attempts to relaunch WUSA in full fell through in 2004 (when the league's member teams played the WUSA Festival instead) and 2005.[2] In June 2006, WSII announced the relaunch of the league for the 2008 season.[3]

In December 2006, the organization announced that it reached an agreement with six owner-operators for teams based in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Washington, DC, and a then-unnamed city.[4] Later, Boston and New York/New Jersey were announced as other markets to have teams. In September 2007, the launch was pushed back from Spring of 2008 to 2009 to avoid clashing with 2007 Women's World Cup and the 2008 Olympic Games and to ensure that all of the teams were fully prepared for long-term operations.[5]

On May 27, 2008, the league announced that it would expand to Philadelphia for the 2010 season, with the franchise likely sharing facilities with MLS's Philadelphia Union. Despite being the eighth named team, the league still consideried adding an eighth team to play in the league's inaugural season.[6] An eighth team for the inaugural season was tentatively announced as being located in San Diego,[7] and was finalized later. Still, despite the extra time given to the original five cities for preparations, the Dallas franchise did not materialize, citing stadium issues. Thus the league began with seven teams.

WPS Major Trophy Winners
Season Playoff and League
Champions
Regular Season
Champions
2009 Sky Blue FC Los Angeles Sol

The new name of the league, Women's Professional Soccer, was announced on January 17, 2008, along with the logo, which featured the silhouette of retired player Mia Hamm.[8]

Building the league

Player allocation

Player allocation began on September 16, 2008, after the Beijing Olympics in August, when WPS announced the allocation of 21 US national team players, three players to each of the seven teams that began play in the 2009 season.[9] Most players were matched with teams they had some previous connection to, such as hometown, college, WUSA, or W-League affiliation.[10] All of the allocated Americans played in the 2009 season except for Kate Markgraf, who was pregnant at the start of the season, and Krieger, who was still under contract with her German team. A week later, the league held the 2008 WPS International Draft, in which the seven teams selected four international players each.[11] Four of the first five selections, first pick Formiga (Bay Area), Marta (#3, Los Angeles), Daniela (#4, St. Louis), and Cristiane (#5, Chicago) were Brazilian,[12] and a total of 10 Brazilian players were selected. England's Kelly Smith (#2, Boston) and Japan's Homare Sawa (#6, Washington), and Australia's Sarah Walsh rounded out the first round.[13] The draft order was based on a weighted ranking determined by a vote of league coaches following the U.S. women's national team allocation. A general draft was held in October, followed by a combine for college seniors and undrafted players in December, a post-combine draft in January, and local tryouts by individual teams in February.[14]

First season

Before the season began, WPS was only able to secure two sponsors, and most teams did not advertise much or get their rosters finalized until late in the preseason. During the season, though, WPS secured several more sponsors, and WPS announced the expansion to Atlanta as the ninth team for next season.

WPS's inaugural game was played to a crowd of over 14,000 fans at the Home Depot Center as the hosts Los Angeles Sol beat the Washington Freedom 2-0. The first season saw several issues occur, including an uneven schedule due to the odd number of team (that the Sol took advantage of as they won the inaugural season), several season-ending injuries, two major trades, decisions from the WPS disciplinary committee and commissioner, and a Cinderella-run to the championship title (won by Sky Blue FC). Most teams considered the first season a moderate success, despite many losing more money than planned. Many are optimistic, thanks to more sponsorship deals made during the year, to now having established fanbases, and two new teams joining next season.

Organization

Business model

WPS CEO Tonya Antonucci said that unlike WUSA, which had higher expectations and employed a top-down model, WPS would take "a local, grass roots approach", and "a slow and steady growth type of approach", citing WUSA's losses of close to $100 million.[2] She said the new league would have a closer relationship with Major League Soccer, the top men's professional league in the United States, to cut costs on staff and facilities, and for marketing.

The team budgets for the inaugural season was $2.5 million.[15]

Media coverage

Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español with Samuel Jacobo and Jorge Caamaño will air weekly Sunday night matches & the WPS All-Star Game with Fox Sports Net to air the semifinal and league championship contests. The national television contract will be in effect through the 2011 season with an option for 2012.[16] Some local networks will air games.

Teams

For the 2010 season the league's nine teams are aligned as follows:

Women's Professional Soccer
Team Stadium City Founded Joined WPS
Atlanta Beat New KSU Stadium Kennesaw, Georgia 2009 2010
Boston Breakers Harvard Stadium Boston, Massachusetts 2001 2009
Chicago Red Stars Toyota Park Bridgeview, Illinois 2008 2009
FC Gold Pride Pioneer Stadium Hayward, California 2008 2009
Los Angeles Sol The Home Depot Center Carson, California 2008 2009
Philadelphia Independence John A. Farrell Stadium West Chester, Pennsylvania 2009 2010
Saint Louis Athletica Anheuser-Busch Soccer Park Fenton, Missouri 2008 2009
Sky Blue FC Yurcak Field Piscataway, New Jersey 2008 2009
Washington Freedom Maryland SoccerPlex Germantown, Maryland 2001 2009

Attendance

Year Season Playoffs
Games Total Average Games Total Average
2009 70 327,878 4,684 3 16,499 5,500

WPS commissioners

Name Years
Tonya Antonucci 2007-present

WPS awards

There are 6 awards given out by the Women's Professional Soccer each year.

  1. Michelle Akers Player of the Year Award
  2. WPS Coach of the Year Award
  3. WPS Defender of the Year Award
  4. WPS Goalkeeper of the Year Award
  5. WPS Golden Boot
  6. WPS Sportswoman of the Year

See also

other women's top pro-level North American sports leagues

References

  1. ^ "An Introduction to Women's Soccer Initiative, Inc.". Women's Soccer Initiative, Inc.. http://www.wsii.org/wsii/about.html. Retrieved 2008-01-20.  
  2. ^ a b Ziegler, Mark (2007-01-10). "Will WUSA live again?"". San Diego Union-Tribune. http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/soccer/20070110-9999-lz1s10wusa.html.  
  3. ^ Porteus, Liza (June 28, 2006). "U.S. Women's Pro League Prepares to Blast Back Onto Soccer Scene". Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,201438,00.html.  
  4. ^ Carlisle, Jeff (June 28, 2006). "Relaunch of WUSA set for spring 2008". Soccernet. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=411235.  
  5. ^ "Women's pro soccer team put on hold". St. Louis Business Journal. 2007-09-23. http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2007/09/03/daily13.html.  
  6. ^ "Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) plans to expand to Philadelphia in 2010, bringing league to eight teams". Women's Professional Soccer. 2008-05-28. http://www.womensprosoccer.com/newsitem_ektid2884.aspx.  
  7. ^ "San Diego Finalizing WPS Ownership Group". Women's Professional Soccer. 2008-08-09. http://www.womensprosoccer.com/soccer_ektid3606.aspx.  
  8. ^ "Hamm's imprint made on new women's soccer league". USA Today. 2008-01-18. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/2008-01-18-hamm-silhouette-logo_N.htm.  
  9. ^ Dure, Beau (September 16, 2008). "Wambach goes full circle as women's league stocks rosters". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/2008-09-16-wps-players_N.htm.  
  10. ^ Green, Zalika (September 16, 2008). "Women's Professional Soccer U.S. national team allocation results". The Washington Examiner. http://www.examiner.com/x-653-Womens-Sports-Examiner~y2008m9d16-Womens-Professional-Soccer-domestic-allocation-results.  
  11. ^ Boston Breakers (September 25, 2008). "Coach DiCicco Targets Attacking Flair in WPS International Draft". Press release. http://www.oursportscentral.com/services/releases/?id=3721348.  
  12. ^ "Brazilians dominate women's international draft". Soccer America. September 25, 2008. http://www.socceramerica.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=28601.  
  13. ^ "Brazilian stars selected in women's draft". Associated Press. September 24, 2008. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/2008-09-24-3478925374_x.htm.  
  14. ^ Women's Professional Soccer (2008-07-08). "Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) Announces Post-Olympics Timeline for National Player Allocation, Team Tryouts". Press release. http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS128534+08-Jul-2008+PRN20080708.  
  15. ^ Zeigler, Mark (June 18, 2008). "http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/soccer/20080618-9999-1s18soccer.html". San Diego Uninon-Tribune. http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/soccer/20080618-9999-1s18soccer.html.  
  16. ^ "Fox Soccer Channel Nets WPS Pact: Multiyear Partnership Provides For Live Women's Game Of Week; Comcast Could Provide Regional Carriage". Multichannel News. 2008-08-06. http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6602345.html?desc=topstory.  

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