Freelancing: The immediate future of women’s soccer?

Jeff Kassouf February 14, 2012 5
LA Vikings Soccer Club

The LA Vikings, along with Paul Riley's "Women's Professional SUPERGROUP" plans, could lead to women's soccer players living the freelance lifestyle for the immediate future.

Some women’s soccer players may soon follow the path of journalists: Freelancing. The suspension of Women’s Professional Soccer for 2012 has left many players without teams at a time when rosters abroad are already well filled-out.

The only remaining domestic options are the amateur W-League or WPSL, as well as the newly formed pro-am WPSL Elite League. Details of that league are still to be worked out, leaving further uncertainty for players who have for the past three years lived on a day-to-day, ‘will I have a job tomorrow?’ basis.

Thus, some see other options. As Michael Lewis wrote this morning, Paul Riley has some ideas about how to help displaced WPS players train. He calls it the “Women’s Professional SUPERGROUP training program,” and he explained things to me on Monday night.

Top players with WPS experience have been informed of the group and the first 28 to accept the invite will be taken into this elite group of players for seven or eight days of training per month. Each will feature two-a-days and Riley said there will be games mixed in throughout the training weeks.

Housing is fully funded, as is training gear, and the only player expenses are transportation and food. The initial training group is in Downington, Penn., home of the Philadelphia Independence, with plans to rotate training centers around the country to accommodate player needs.

Riley added that he has thought about making adding a Saturday night event to the training weeks, pitting two teams against each other for match play.

So why do this?

Riley said he is not convinced about how beneficial the WPSL Elite League will be, at least not with this little information and this quick of a turnaround. He doesn’t expect much parity in the league and he said top players need more than three-times per week nighttime training sessions, as some WPSL Elite League teams might offer.

I also spoke with Los Angeles Vikings President Robert P. Kleinberger last night, who further explained some of the plans the Vikings have for the next year. The biggest plan is putting together the LA Viking Cup in October, which would see a Vikings professional team (players TBD) take on top national teams. Canada is already committed, Kleinberger said, and invites have been sent to top teams including Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Mexico and Denmark, to name a few. Kleinberger said getting between four and eight teams would be ideal. And yes, Pia Sundhage and the USSF did receive a formal invite to the competition.

The Vikings will need to bring in top players to match that international quality and they proved capable of doing that this winter with the likes of Ali Riley, Christen Press and Britney Bock on their all-star squad. Kleinberger said if things work out, they could turn the Vikings into a tournament team with top players who play exhibitions both domestically and abroad. Plans for 2013 are still very much up in the air, he said. A lot will depend on the future of WPS and how the WPSL Elite League works out.

If there is one key connection between these two plans, it is that players could be looking at the life of freelancing for the immediate future. And as journalists know, it may be an ideal lifestyle with certain freedoms, but it certainly won’t pay the bills for most.

Here are details of Riley’s plans, as per the email sent to WPS players:

1. 7/8 Days of training at a top facility EVERY month: April thru December

2. 28 professional players: first come first serve basis

3. Free hotel accommodation

4. Philadelphia Independence training staff:

Head Coach Paul Riley

Assistant Coach Skip Thorpe

Strength/Conditioning Coach Mike Demakis

GK Coach Paul Royal

5. Two high level sessions per day PLUS games

6. Complete training program for rest of month once you leave the facility

7. Only cost to players is getting to the facility and food when at training camp

8. Three shirts, three shorts, three socks, training top supplied

9.  Full time athletic trainer on-site

10. Several social/fan fest events during the seven/eight days

My goal eventually is to get enough sponsors that we can help players with travel and food costs.

Right now everything is complimentary but travel and food.

Event Dates:

April 16th-22nd

May 14th-20th

June 11th-17th

July 9th-15th

Aug. 26th-Sept 2nd

Sept 24th-30th

Oct. 15th-21st

Nov. 12th-18th

Dec. TBA

Location will be USTC in Downingtown, Penn., hopefully shifting locations once things get going.

  • Bill

    The Vikings plan sounds awfully Borislow-ian.

    • Jeff Kassouf

      I hear you, and I thought the same thing. But I asked Kleinberger and Vikings players (and the team) are registered through WPSL, so it’s a non-issue. I guess, essentially, it’s a similar concept, but it’s actually sanctioned by way of the Vikings being a WPSL team.

  • mike

    Professional tennis started with a few top players barnstorming around the country and eventually the sport exploded around the world. I’d rather see a couple teams of top players tour cities where a truly professional soccer match is a special event than have a league made up of a few teams of mostly amateur players with a few pros thrown in to make it look respectable.

  • E

    My opinion of Paul Riley rises every time I see his name in print. I don’t always agree with everything he says, but I certainly have to give him credit for making plans and trying to make the best of a bad situation.

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