Women's Major League Soccer to debut in 2011

Jeff Kassouf January 11, 2011 3

Women's Major League SoccerGiven WPS’ offseason struggles, many have wondered aloud what a women’s league run by Major League Soccer would look like. The idea, some say, could be one that brings stability to professional women’s soccer in the United States. Frankly, Major League Soccer getting heavily involved in WPS is a pipe dream, but there is a new league – Women’s Major League Soccer – that at least provides the namesake.

WMLS will kick off in 2011 as a regional women’s soccer league with a completely different approach to the league model. The USL W-League and Women’s Premier Soccer League are well established as second division leagues and WMLS does not aim to challenge that. Not yet, at least.

Unlike the W-League and WPSL, Women’s Major League Soccer teams will not pay franchise fees or make any payments to the league. Instead, they will be rewarded with sponsorship money based on their finish in the table. Thus far there is about $50,000 in sponsorship money (half of which will be shared among teams), according to Shek Borkowski, the man behind WMLS and the head coach of FC Indiana, a founding team. It’s a revolutionary concept for women’s teams used to paying league fees on top of operational losses, some of which did so in the aforementioned established leagues.

WMLS will be regionally based out of the Midwest, which suddenly has a void that needs to be filled. W-League division restructuring – which is rumored to include a heavily expanded Western Conference – resulted in the Midwest Division dissolving for 2011. So, teams like the Cleveland Internationals, who formerly were part of the W-League, will take part in the inaugural season of WMLS in 2011. As of now, eight teams will participate in the inaugural campaign: Chicago Breeze, Cleveland Internationals, FC Indiana, Fort Wayne SC, Alliance FC, Louisville, Springfield Demize and South Bend WFC. The league could feature up to 14 teams in 2012.

Many teams will focus on bringing in local talent, while FC Indiana in particular is looking to attract international players.

WMLS will also differ from other American leagues in that it will feature an international model of scheduling. Each team will play one game per week for a total of 10-12 games and there will not be any playoffs. The winner at the end of the regular season – expected to run May 15 through July 31 – will be declared league champion. FIFA substitution rules will also be followed, so unlike the W-League and WPSL, there will not be unlimited substitutions.

In 2011, WMLS will very much be a test-run strictly in the Midwest. But should the model prove successful, WMLS could expand to greater heights in the future.

Check out the league’s Web site here, although it should be noted that it is currently just Greeked and does not yet include working hyperlinks.

Check out the league’s Web site here, although it should be noted that it is currently just Greeked and does not yet include working hyperlinks.

Posted By Jeff At 1/11/2011 12:29:37 AM

Labels: WMLS

Comments… read them below or post one

Jane said…

Uh, Jeff. In case you haven’t noticed, WPS pretty much is a regional league as well at this point. Just sayin’


Jeff said…

This is just a regional league right now, so comparing the WPS would not be just. It really is not quite fair to compare to W-League or WPSL either, to be honest, since its ambitions right now are not national. The MLS name/copyright issue could become very interesting. We’ll see what happens there. Kevin – good point, thanks for the note. I’ll correct the wording. I should have known to double check that from my W-League days.

Ray Orr said…

So… the teams “will be rewarded with sponsorship money based on their finish in the table” – am I reading correctly that there will be prize money awarded? Won’t that affect whether or not college players can play in this league? Its also very, very curious that FC Indiana is not playing in either the WPSL or the W-League… also, have to agree the sentiments regarding MLS’ thoughts about this league’s name… while, the Chicago team that played in the WPSL – KUFC in 2010, if what the WMLS site says is true about who owns/coaches the team – was pitiful to say the least.

MLS said…

How long until MLS takes legal action to prevent this league from using Major League Soccer in its name? I can’t believe they won’t. Kind of a stupid name anyway calling yourself major league when your league is about as minor league as they come.

James Ferragamo said…

Why the comparisons with the WPSL and w-league? They are using “Major League” soccer. Shouldn’t this league be compared with WPS?

StarCityFan said…

Substitutions in the W-League are not unlimited, just less limited: six versus the standard FIFA three..

Jeff said…

Definitely not FSC and probably not anywhere, to be honest. I would be surprised if anyone got to watch these games in a any way other than watching live, but maybe something will progress.

Melissa Salva said…

Probably a silly question, but will any of these league games be broadcast on cable, perhaps on FSC?

  • leo

    Are you part of LTA now? Or are they just buying ad space here? My adblocker usually blocks most ads is the reason I ask.

    Any idea how MLS will respond to the trademark infringement by WMLS? There can’t be anyone who reads WMLS and doesn’t think that MLS is supporting or otherwise sponsoring it. Seems odd for those establishing the league to seek out trouble at the very start — why not use a different name just to protect themselves?

    Also, where does WMLS fall in the DII, DIII schema for USSF? USSF isn’t happy with multiple DII leagues for men but I’m guessing they aren’t that fussed about the multiple leagues for women.

    And you’re right. Their website launch is silly — far too many place holder pages w/ live links and supposed articles w/ dead links.

  • No, I’m not part of LTA at all. That is simply a regular advertisement for Shek Borkowski’s website. I know some readers resent ads a bit, but it really does help to progress the site and I expect that in the future there will be some more. If you noticed, we dropped Google Ads and the Amazon store, so that clutter is gone. Future advertisements will be targeted and useful to this readership audience.

    WMLS is certainly interesting. I actually have some material that was distributed to me that I will post later today on the very subject you are asking about. It seems you are right about everyone thinking WMLS is linked to MLS, which is being explored by the two parties. I guess if you look at W-League and WPSL as D2, this is D3 of sorts, but it doesn’t seem to be concerned with its place on the map – just providing opportunities.

  • Ray Orr

    Nice new website design! I like it… But what happened to the many scathing comments that were posted regarding this post from the other day? Maybe a glitch…

    Still concerned about the awarding of prize money and the ability of collegiate athletes to play in this league. I agree with the prior post about copyright infringement and the website… why would you promote this league with a dysfunctional website? The logo uses the same colors as the MLS logo as well. Unbelievable… of course, the casual bystander would assume its affiliated with MLS!

    There’s something that seems quite shady about this situation… I again bring up the fact that if Borkowski had the ability to get sponsorship money (does the other half not awarded to the teams go directly in his pocket?), why wouldn’t he have his team compete in the W-League or WPSL? To play against also-ran’s like the former WPSL Chicago team?

    This tactic would need a measurable facet of benevolence on the part of Borkowski, but from what I’ve heard about him and how he interacted with the other teams in both leagues, he’s a very, very deft egomaniac…

    In the end, the sport of women’s soccer in this country doesn’t need another league entity trying to force a niche in an already inundated market (1 pro league and two pro-am leagues). The sport as a whole needs to come together…