January 16, 2013
A THUMB'S UP
North Carolina coach Dorrance thinks U.S. Soccer, new NWSL is doing it the correct way
By Michael Lewis
Even before the National Women's Soccer League has kicked a ball, Anson Dorrance has given the fledgling league a big thumb's up.
The University of North Carolina women's soccer coach wasn't talking about the quality of the league, but the way the NWSL has been put together.
The NWSL is the third incarnation of women's professional soccer in the United States, hoping to survive the tenures of its two predecessors. The Women's United Soccer Association (2001-2003) and Women's Professional Soccer (2009-2011) last three years before the high costs of running a league caught up with both entities.
The new league is operated by U.S. Soccer.
"I think they designed it well," Dorrance said in a recent phone interview. "I like what U.S. Soccer has designed by paying their 24 players, what the Mexican Federation is going to do by paying their 16 players, what the Canadian federation is going to do. But also the salary cap. the remaining 11 players, they're going to divide up $200,000, so all the owners know what their burden is going to be financially. I think that's going to protect them a bit."
Dorrance felt there were plenty of lessons learned from the failures of the two previous leagues.
"They learned that they can't have an arbitrary spending policy with the hopes that the fans will show up to cover the cost," he said. "They have stripped the fundamental expense down to the lowest possible level. I think that's smart.
"Now we have to survive. With U.S. Soccer stepping in, The Mexican federation stepping in, the Canadian federation stepping in, we have recruited all of the critical elements of success. I'm actually convinced that [president] Sunil Gulati and U.S. Soccer has figured this out the best possible way."
Dorrance said he "loved the fact" an Major League Soccer team, the Portland Timbers, was involved with the Portland Thorns FC.
"I'm hoping eventually we're going to recruit more of the MLS teams into the women's league," he said. . I'm very excited on what's been designed. I'm absolutely convinced this league will survive."
And before you wonder if Dorrance has any aspirations of coaching in the league in the future, no he doesn't. He is quite happy, thank you, directing the fortunes of the Tar Heels, who earned their 21st NCAA Division I crown last month.
"I was recruited by MLS to coach on the men's side professionally when the league was starting and I wasn't interested then," Dorrance said.
MLS kicked off in 1996.
"Even though I was part of raising money for the first women's pro league and I was their lead color commentator, I was never interested in coaching in the league," he said. "I absolutely love it here at the University of North Carolina. I've had opportunities to leave, actually to become the full-time women's coach, to coach in the men's pro league, the women's pro league. I've never been interested. Coaching here for me is my dream. And this is where I'm going to stay."