USWNT stars undecided about joining new women’s league

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A new women’s professional soccer league in the United States is set to begin in 2013, and it might wind up launching without some of the more recognizable stars of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the final game of their Fan Tribute Tour, several American players touched on how exciting it was to hear that a new league was set to start after seeing the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league fold this past May. What was also heard was skepticism about whether many of the U.S. team’s star players would actually play in the new league, with several key players expressing concerns about the sustainability of a new league after several failed attempts to run a professional women’s soccer league in the United States.

“It’s always exciting, the potential to build the game here in America, but we’ll have to see what happens,” said goalkeeper Hope Solo. “I personally haven’t made up my mind if I’m going to play in the league or not. It’s to be determined to see how professional the league really is. I hope it stays because the next time we come with a league it better not collapse again. It better be here to stay.”

Another star player on the team who shared that sentiment was forward Alex Morgan. The 23-year-old Olympic star wants to back the new league, but she is also undecided about whether she would play in it because of how many questions remain unanswered about it.

“I’m really excited that U.S. Soccer has stepped up and that there’s eight owners, at least, that have invested in this women’s league but obviously for me I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do,” said Morgan. “I obviously want to support this league but I want to make sure that the right steps are taken to make this league the best league in the world and sustainable as well.”

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced in late November that a new eight-team league would begin play in spring 2013 and it would play a major part in organizing and running the league so as to ensure a business model with a focus on sustainability. As part of the approach for the new league, USSF would pay the salaries of up to 24 U.S. Women’s National Team players (while Mexico and Canada’s federations would do the same for some of their respective players).

USSF will also fund the league office and there are already plans to expand the league to 10 teams by 2014. The teams currently slated to start play in 2013 will be based in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Western New York, New Jersey, Portland, Seattle and Washington, D.C. The league will play a 22-game schedule from March through August.

Though not all of the U.S. Women’s team’s top stars have committed to the new league, there is still considerable support within the U.S. team for it. Star striker Abby Wambach admitted that while some players may opt to pursue opportunities overseas or elsewhere, most of the U.S. team has committed to trying to help the new league start on a strong foot and flourish.

“For the most part, the majority of the team will be participating,” said Wambach. “To have a new league, it’s really exciting. We’re, as a national team, really excited that U.S. Soccer is backing it because we know that there will be funds and that’s been the biggest issue. There needs to be funds from the owner as well, but at the end of the day if U.S. Soccer is running it, we know that it’s not going to just fold. We know it will last at least through the season, and if the level of play is good enough for us, we’re going to continue to support it.

“That’s really the most I can say about it. So many things are still left undecided, the team names, what the league is going to be called, but those are the kind of things that we think will work themselves out and I’m excited about the opportunity of possibly starting and keeping a professional league sustainable.”

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33 Responses to USWNT stars undecided about joining new women’s league

  1. Servando Carrasco says:

    Well, makes sense. The USWNT plays soo many friendly games to beef up their stat-happy goals (really…. 250+ appearances????) on months where they play a really bad women national teams 2 or 3 times…. THATS THE LIFE!

    The USWNT is pretty much a professional soccer team already in that they play realllllly frequently and almost always have the same set of players suiting up.

    And, more than 500 fans would actually pay to come to those games!

    I dont blame them.

    • Beto says:

      Agreed they should just continue to play 1-3 USWNT games per month. Womens club system wont be profitable, stick with what works no need to replicate the mens system

  2. SAEFubby says:

    Doubt this league will turn out any differently than the last

  3. Rob Spalding says:

    The Portland Thorns won’t have any problem turning out 10k. We pull in those kind of numbers for the 2nd team timbers

  4. Mike in Missouri says:

    Think 2013 is too soon. They should put it off a year to 2014 to make sure they have all the ducks in a row, can start selling tickets, etc. It took MLS 2 or 3 years to be launched from the day it was announced. I see no benefit to rushing it, except for they’re trying to capitalize on the gold medal, which is not a lasting impact on the league anyway.

    • jones says:

      Definitely agree with you. I mean, the old league just died (a rather unnecessarily slow death…) – no wonder the players aren’t jumping up and down after they put so much into it. I’d like to see some serious planning before this thing starts up.

  5. NaranjaFanatic says:

    It’s womens soccer. Am I in the minority when I say I could care less? Having the womens game on tv can only be a detriment to the growth in popularity of the sport in this country. Not to mention the more exposure this sport gets the more we have to be exposed to Julie Foudy’s horrible announcing. Let them have their day in the sun every four years but stop this nonsense.

    • jones says:

      “Am I in the minority when I say I could care less?”

      Really? Then why bother clicking on this article, reading it, and then commenting on it? Oh right, just to be a d*ck.

    • Brad says:

      Yes, you are in the minority.

    • Kejsare says:

      Yes, it is possible to say it is feasible to care less. The inverse is that you do care a little. [Fix your statement]

    • AMPhibian says:

      regardless of if i generally agree or disagree with your statement, it is clear you are not in the minority, or the women’s league would have succeeded previously.

    • Don B says:

      There are probably 500 channels to choose from if you don’t want to watch women play soccer. Pick one.

    • Bobb says:

      “Having the womens game on tv can only be a detriment to the growth in popularity of the sport in this country.”

      Given that we have the best women soccer players in the world, would you care to explain your reasoning behind this statement, if it’s something other than moronic misogyny?

  6. Weston John says:

    I think for the big stars like Solo and Morgan, they probably know they can make serious cash playing in a league in Europe and this may be a major factor. If Lindsey Horan can get a $100k/year contract with PSG in France, what salary would Alex Morgan command? I doubt US Soccer is going to pay the stars much more than $80-100k, so cashing in while their stock is hot may be the driving force to not committing to the new league.

  7. xano says:

    and how did she get that kinda dough? how much could Alex get?

  8. we are says:

    We have the best womens NT in the world. So in theory we should have the best league. The best leagur is Germany and then France, Sweden, England, Japan. We could have ours be the 2nd or 3rd vest league in less than ae5years. we

  9. Anton says:

    Morgan and Solo make enough money from endorsements and such, they probably want to keep playing for the Sounders.

    • we says:

      really? how much? and what endorsements?

      • Anton says:

        I’m sure Nike ain’t paying them chump change. Hope just wrote a book that she laughed all the way to the bank with and Alex is everywhere, I think she just signed a book deal recently as well.

        The two of them (Abby too) don’t really have to worry about money, you don’t see Amy LePeilbet or Amy Rodriguez questioning if they are going to play in the league do you?

      • Don B says:

        Don’t know how much, but Alex Morgan has endorsement deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Panasonic, GNC, AT&T, Mueller, DePuy and Ubisoft.

  10. solles says:

    so some of the women think they’re too good for the new league, which annoys me though it’s basically exactly where the men were when MLS started.

    • ... says:

      I’m not sure it’s so much they think they’re too good for it, but that they’re not sure that this time the league is actually going to last. There are stable leagues in Europe, where they would be guaranteed a steady paycheck, regular playing time, etc. Why give that up for a league that may fold in the next year or two, like all the previous incarnations have? I think if the US had a stable league, a lot of the USWNT players would be falling over themselves to play in it.

    • Don B says:

      So if you had a choice between two jobs, you would turn down the better paying job with more security just so someone wouldn’t think you were ‘too good’? Right.

  11. james says:

    OHH not again this crap dont work STOP

  12. L says:

    Women sports get good support at college level, less at pro level. If a women’s soccer league can work in other parts of the world surely they could organize something here, if they care enough to try hard.

  13. nato says:

    why dont women support this league? 160million in this country. If only 1% of them were insane women soccer fans, this league could survive. I want to support the ladies and am dreaming of a day 15years from now where my 5 year old niece could be a pro in a profitable and high quality league. Women need to get behind this league. Not just men. Same with the WNBA. For those leagues to survive, women must chip in

  14. Dudester says:

    Should of had a nephew or teach her golf and tennis

  15. Bastian says:

    God can you hear me? all i want is Tobin, Kelley and Alex playing on the same team!

  16. commonSenseDude says:

    From the start, I sensed that the us women stars did not believe a new women’s soccer league is viable. However, political correctness forced them to support it. Finally the truth comes out. I believe most of the stars of the USWNT were excited about the idea of playing in Europe. Not so much for the money, just for the experience. I also believe they are all exhausted from constantly having to be the spokesman for Women’s soccer. Having to constantly promote the sport must be exhausting after a while. I believe most just want to play. They know if they were to join the new league, they would have to constantly do interviews, speak at local soccer clubs, etc, etc. This has to get old after a while, especially after the last league failed.

    The truth is that a professional women’s soccer league is not viable at this time. People say, but what about women’s tennis, golf, etc. I say, they have too different financial structures. In tennis and gold, the athletes pay for their equipment, insurance, travel expenses, coaches. The league simply rents out a facility and gets corporate sponsorship to pay prize money. In soccer, you have to pay the salary of 20 plus players, their insurance, travel expenses (air fair, hotels, meals), coaching staff, equipment, The list goes on and on. There is simply not enough interest to support these cost.
    You say, have the MLS support a women’s league. Share costs, play double headers Well the MLS did offer just that in 2001 and Julie Foudy and the 1999′ers gave them the middle finger. They didn’t just decline in a professional manner. Even if the MLS executives forget that slight, they know that women’s soccer is a losing venture. In order to pay for the cost of a WMLS (salaries, coaches, travel expenses), the teams would have to sell 8000 more tickets a game on a CONSISTENT basis to cover the cost. The evidence shows that this is no feasable. The biggest expense for a team is salaries and travel costs, not sharing office and practice facilites.

    Even already, deal with the fact that women’s soccer can only survive on a semi-professional or amateur basis. The teams can only afford to play games in areas where they can drive there and back in the same night. They were dealing with this reality and building a viable semi-pro/amateur league until Sunil Gullati and the USSF stepped in again.