Federation Support Gives It A Good Chance
Ready or not, the National Women’s Soccer League is quickly approaching a spring launch. The opening dates and venues have yet to be announced as 2012 flips over to a New Year.
By now, it had been reported, an announcement would be made regarding allocation of current U.S. WNT players to the eight league teams.
Actually, the PR aspect of announcing the new league has been a bit of a mystery. The league was first announced without a name or logo. Some teams were also unnamed. The second announcement of league name and logo was made at halftime of a U.S. WNT friendly against Scotland.
A lot of details have yet to be shared, and while that has put the effort to market the new league on hold, this league actually has a chance of succeeding, where two previously ones failed to last more than three years.
This time the league is organized and provided significant funding by US Soccer. Federation support includes running the league office and paying the salaries of 24 U.S. national team players. That will dramatically lessen the financial burden on each of the eight teams.
Support from the federation level is also coming from Canada and Mexico, which will pick up the salaries of 16 of their national players, who will be spread across the eight rosters. Mexico had initially promised to pick up salaries for eight players, but now it appears they will do that for 16.
“That’s the model that works in Germany, in France and in Sweden,” said former U.S. WNT defender Kate Markgraf, now a soccer broadcast analyst for NBC, speaking of the Federation structure being proposed.
In a New York Times article, Markgraf continued saying those leagues were successful, “where it’s supported by the federation, anchored by the federation. That’s just right now how the sporting landscape is for women and women in soccer. This might be the way to go.”
When asked what needed to happen to make the league work this time, U.S. forward Abby Wambach was a bit guarded as she commented for the Times article, “I don’t have that answer. I guess we’ll have to wait and find out. I have no idea.”
Later when asked what the biggest need was for the players, Wambach replied, “we need richer owners. Period.”
Wamach has played in both previous women’s professional leagues, the Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer, both folding after three seasons.
With a more positive perspective, Alex Morgan, who played her first professional season with the Western New York Flash which won a WPS title, said she was looking forward to a new situation where the training was good and where she could get better as a player.
Things are changing for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Tom Sermanni takes over as national team coach during a January training camp, and will be on the sidelines for the first time in a pair of upcoming February games against his native Scotland.
While the U.S. team continues to be ranked #1 in the world, it is likely that there will be some change in the player pool over the next three years leading up to the 2016 FIFA World Cup in Canada.
New and younger players will be introduced into the mix. They will be given opportunities to prove themselves, and the veterans who want to continue to play will have to produce.
Indications are that there won’t be a lot of money for those who fill out the rosters below the national team players. There is talk of a $200,000 salary cap for those players. That’s total per team.
The first player draft for the NWSL will be held in Indianapolis, Jan 18, during the NSCAA convention. Each of the eight teams will have a chance to draft four players.
With allocation of U.S., Mexico and Canada players, and the college draft, rosters will start to take shape.
Can a schedule and further details about the league and about the eight teams be far behind? So little is known and so little time left before a season begins.
Nevertheless, let the games begin. This time this league might just work.