December 16, 2012
By Norb Ecksl
THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM?
Players, Sermanni hoping for the best from new pro league
Soccer News Net Contributor
BOCA RATON, Fla.--US Soccer’s Saturday night announcement of the name and logo for the nation’s third women’s professional league in 12 years drew cautiously optimistic reviews from both national team players and incoming coach Tom Sermanni.
|After stints in the WUSA and WPS, including the disastrous magicJack season in 2011, Abby Wambach is well aware of the frustrations of trying to establish pro soccer for women in the U.S.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“It’ll be a great opportunity for players in league play,” said Megan Rapinoe. “Good salaries and ease of training will contribute to the growth of the game of soccer professionally here in the US.”
And as far as the new women’s league is concerned, Abby Wambach has been there before. A teammate of Mia Hamm’s on the original Washington Freedom in the WUSA, she also was a member of the ill-fated magicJack team that played here in 2010. After the national team worked out last Friday in preparation for their match against China PR, she was upbeat. “We have committed to playing for the most part and will be participating in the growth once again. We know with US Soccer involved that there will be a stable league that will last for a full season. If the level of play is satisfactory…then we will make it go.”
After Saturday’s 4-1 win over China, Wambach added this caveat. “We need richer owners, period.”
The other half of the USA’s dynamic duo, Alex Morgan, also was positive after last Friday’s training. The 23-year-old forward is looking ahead to a new professional league. “I want to help grow the women’s game here in the US. And with a new league that means more teams are playing and the quality of play gets better,” Morgan explained. “And hopefully, that will help the women’s game financially.”
Postmatch on Saturday, Morgan added that “all of us have to have the opportunity to live off of playing professional soccer. If they let us do that, we’ll have a great year.”
WNT Coach Tom Sermanni was asked how a new professional league will affect his coaching and his players. “It will create some ups and downs,” he states. “Having players playing across the US creates some difficulty and it’s trickier to get access to them. Logistically, it would be easier to just play at a home base and work out. But,” he explained quickly, “it’s great that they’re playing…and that’s still most important.”
The new league will give Sermanni the ability to scout more players than usual. That means more players will get a chance to make his national team even better. “It gives everyone a chance to play against a good level of competition.” he explained. “It also will give me a chance to see how others play against them.”
Sermanni did mention there was a downside. “There was no league this year and the USWNT was able to be together a lot longer. Just like a club team. That led to good preparation and success in tournaments. With a league, a little time will be lost for the players to be playing together.”
Financial support from US Soccer and the Canadian and Mexican federations, as well as US Soccer’s administrative oversight, should be enough to ensure the NWSL’s stability through the coming Women’s World Cup. But sooner or later the circuit will have to stand on its own two feet, and neither players nor coaches seem to be taking a long view of things at this point.