The one word that enters my brain is... HOW? How can a country that invests so much (effort, practice, AYSO, Club, College, Cash) into women's soccer not have a pro league? I'm going to be honest, I don't know the ins and outs of why the WPS seems to have faltered, but it seems that to own a team you have to have a huge amount of disposable cash, and in todays economic climate, that isn't realistic. What I cannot fathom is how WUSA failed, now WPS. I also want to avoid any mudslinging, the fact is, the WPS is no longer, and that is leaving a huge amount of AMAZING soccer players unemployed.
You wouldn't believe the amount of girls that were not even aware that the WPS existed! Why? Was it marketed correctly? How many girls know who Alex Morgan is... but how any could name what WPS team she played for last season? I think that US Soccer has to get involved in any women's pro league, and promote it as much as they can. Sports networks also have to take responsibility somewhat. Fox Soccer showed ONE game a week. They didn't even have a round up show weekly. How hard could it be to get footage together and stick Temryss Lane in front of a camera with a special guest each week? It's not like it would cost a lot! Now... onto my vision of a women's soccer league in the United States. My vision would be this:
- 4 regional leagues, North East, North West, South East and South West.
- 8 teams in each league (Play each other 4 times, 28 games in the regular season)
- The top 2 teams from each league go through to knockout cup competition.
- 4 games over one weekend (QF),
- 2 games the following weekend (SF) and the
- The final the following week.
When it comes to front office etc... keep it small! You only need a few people to organize it all, the more people that get involved, the more complicated it gets. I would actually get the players involved with running the marketing etc. A lot of the players are highly intelligent people, with college degrees.... I can guarantee you that at least 5 have amazing marketing/social media-networking talents! Each region would have to get games televised... this is so important! Get millions of little girls watching their heroes on the tv, online, on their mobile devices etc etc. Whether it be on Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN, ESPNw, as long as people have the choice to watch! These days you can make a league look AMAZINGLY professional without spending millions of dollars on it... don't come out acting like the NBA, know what you are.... a fledgling league. Give the owners more leeway to do what they want with teams sponsorship-wise. Have league wide sponsors where the money is divided, but have the team go out and get their own deals as well- this is good for local economy!
Now comes the kicker... and also the one that I expect to get ridiculed for! Most people that I have spoken to who have a beef with women's soccer is that it is 'too slow', 'nothing happens'. Well... Why not make the field a little bit smaller? Nothing drastic, but enough so that there is more action, and good technical players would shine! Don't get me wrong, I appreciate all kinds of soccer, even long ball... but short, quick passing soccer with a burst of dribbling is exciting to watch- fact. I know first hand from the players that I have trained that this is the preferred method. Technical soccer players are breaking through the ranks, let them breathe and shine... a small field would mean that players have to have a great touch and play quicker... which is great to watch.
I don't have all the answers, this is just my view, some people will agree with it, some will mock me for it. I ask you to remember that I do know what I'm talking about, and I care as much as anyone, if not more than the next person... there HAS to be a professional soccer league in the United States!
- David Copeland-Smith