New pro league, next USWNT coach still works in progress

Jeff Kassouf September 17, 2012 4

A new women’s professional soccer league and the next U.S. women’s national team head coach are still works in progress. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati took the time on Monday to breakdown the state of affairs in women’s soccer, which faces those two huge question marks.

Next In Line For USWNT

Pia Sundhage’s replacement as U.S. head coach will hopefully be determined in the next 30-45 days, Gulati said on Monday. A search committee consisting of Gulati, U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, U.S. Soccer managing director of administration Tom King, as well as former national team players Mia Hamm and Danielle Slaton has been formed to determine the next U.S. coach.

A short list of coaches has not yet been determined, but Gulati said a “double digit number” of coaches have made serious inquiries. Surely plenty of those candidates currently come from within U.S. borders, but Gulati added that there have been some “interesting inquiries internationally.”

Following Wednesday’s match against Australia — Pia Sundhage’s final match in charge before taking over as coach of Sweden — the U.S. women do not play again until a big Oct. 20 meeting with Germany. If no coach is in place by then, one of the current assistant coaches would serve as interim coach.

Still At The Meeting Table On New League

News about the proposed next women’s professional league has been noticeably lacking of late, but Gulati said he was on his way back from a meeting on Monday which took place at Major League Soccer headquarters in New York between representatives from U.S. Soccer, the Canadian Soccer Association, the United Soccer Leagues, select former Women’s Professional Soccer team owners and potential new owners to join the new league. Representatives from the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) were not in attendance.

The proposed league would include 8-10 teams, according to Gulati (previously Boston Breakers managing partner Michael Stoller spoke of up to 12) and at least one of those could be in Canada.

Some MLS teams are involved in these talks, although which teams and how involved they are remains to be seen. D.C. United, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders are the more high profile squads to create synergy between an MLS outfit and a USL W-League team.

It is now Sept. 17. The new league is still aiming to begin in spring 2013. Doesn’t this all feel a bit rushed?

Well, perhaps, but Gulati noted that discussions have been ongoing for several months (an initial meeting in Chicago took place in June and the semi-formal announcement of a league infamously came on the eve of the Olympic gold medal match). Gulati said there is no drop-dead date set for having things in place for 2013. He also said that USSF involvement in the proposed league would be more prevalent than in any other previous venture.

And there has been plenty skepticism surrounding whether or not this will actually be a fully professional league. The definition of that is still a bit gray, but it sounds like college player participation can be ruled out.

“I don’t imagine a situation where the players aren’t paid, it’s just whether it’s sufficient to make a living,” Gulati said.

That is, give or take, the stage at which WPS ended its tumultuous three years as a league — some players had regular pay checks, while others had to earn their way onto the field to earn a few dollars.

It is that sort of low-paying economic model which magicJack team owner Dan Borislow vehemently opposed, stating repeatedly that players need to be paid respectable wages. And, no, Borislow was not in attendance on Monday.

Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) lasted three seasons, beginning in 2009 and folding up earlier this year, prior to the start of a fourth season. The Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) also played three seasons from 2001-2003.

  • http://twitter.com/abasabe15 Amanda Basabe

    I’m so excited to see Danielle Slaton and Mia Hamm on the panel to choose the next coach. They were brilliant players and I know that they will definitely choose someone that will help take the USWNT to the next level.

    As happy as I am to see a third attempt at a professional league, I’m a little skeptical. 8-10 teams? If back in 2009 we didn’t have that many, what makes anything different now? Hopefully the edition of Canada will help the campaign. I just hope that for everyone’s sake this league lasts longer than 3 seasons. These women have proven time and time again they deserve a domestic professional league comparable to the MLS. If not, we will begin to lose these talented women to international leagues. The girl that skipped playing at UNC and signed a 6-figure contract should be a big wake up call to the US Soccer Federation.

    • Terry Lash

      I would really like to see a new professional league, but unfortunately I have heard nothing that convinces me that this new league will be financially viable. Where will the revenue come from that will make the new, national league successful?

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