Lisa Cole discusses return to Breakers, new league

Meg Linehan December 9, 2012 22
Lisa Cole

Lisa Cole (right) returns as Breakers head coach in 2012. (Photo Copyright: Meg Linehan)

The Boston Breakers announced on Friday that Lisa Cole would be returning as head coach in 2013 for the inaugural season of the new women’s professional league.  After leading the team to their best regular season record in franchise history (11-3) in the WPSL Elite, Cole will oversee the Breakers in her first season as head coach in a truly pro league.

Earlier this summer, she expressed her thoughts on the need for a league in the States to continue the development of players on an international quality level of play.  Player development is still a top priority for Cole, and her efforts may pay off for the US in 2015.

Meg Linehan: Congrats on the news. The reaction has been very positive, although I think everyone had always assumed it was a bit of a foregone conclusion.

Lisa Cole: I know!  I was hoping that.  It was funny because people were asking, and I was like – yeah, of course I’m going to be back!  Isn’t that the perception?  I’ve been working here this whole time.  So it was funny.

ML: Things on the league itself are obviously still pretty tight-lipped, but with the next two U.S. women’s national team games being aired, will we see more come to light?

LC: There’s a meeting this week, so I think we’ll see a lot more information after that.

ML: In talking to Leslie Osborne the night of the conference call where we finally got all of these details, she said that she thought the Breakers and the Red Stars and the other existing teams have a slight advantage, just because they’re all coming off of a season already.  You’ve been playing, you already have a bit of a core team.  Do you think that’s still the case, considering all the attention that Portland and Seattle have been getting from the U.S. national team players?

LC: I think there’s some things that will give us an edge.  Familiarity with some of the players, the organization, myself.  At the end of the day, we don’t know who the players on our team will be.  That’s still to be determined.  Obviously, there’s a lot of great players that I want to have back, but we don’t know what’s happening with the national team yet.  We can’t do the whole “who do you build your team around” thing yet.  We do already have some pieces in place, while other teams are probably looking.  But until the national team players get allocated, it’s hard to say whether we’ll be ahead.

ML: Additionally, there’s still Canada and Mexico to figure out as well.  Wherever a player like Christine Sinclair ends up (if she plays in the league) will have a great advantage.

LC: And I think a lot of national team players want to be on the West Coast, unfortunately.  So I think of the teams on the East Coast, I think we’re definitely attractive.  But Seattle and Portland will have a little bit of an edge, just because that’s where people want to live their lives.

ML: Leslie also said that coaches are going to play a big role in attracting players, and I definitely agree with her.  A player knowing they’re going to a city with a high-caliber coach in place, like you or Aaran Lines.  That’s going to be a pretty big sell, knowing the system that gets run in Boston.

LC: [Laughs.]  I hope that that’s the case.  I think that players have had good and bad experiences in the WPS with the quality of the coaches that were at different organizations for sure.  I hope we’re able to attract good players because they know that the environment’s going to be professional, they know they’re going to get good coaching, they know they’re going to have access to good treatment, and all the things that they need to gain another level.  This is an interesting time for players.  These two years will play an important role in what happens with the World Cup squad, what happens with the Olympic squad.  I know for sure when I’m talking to players that I say we’re going to be committed to developing players so that they get to that next level.

ML: That was the unstated thread for that announcement conference call, that this new league is really the stepping stone to the next Women’s World Cup in Canada, and that North America can really dominate there.  Not just the U.S., but Canada and Mexico as well.  Is that in the back of your mind as you’re putting the pieces of the team together in the offseason?  Not just a successful season in Boston, but the successful development of players for the future of national teams?

LC: Yes, obviously I want to put together the best squad for Boston, but I’m also looking at players.  And a lot of these players you know, or Tony [diCicco] had them in the Under 20s, like the [Meghan] Klingenbergs and the [Keelin] Winters and [Christen] Press, that level of player who hasn’t quite gotten the opportunities that Alex Morgan got.  And Morgan’s taken hold of that, and is now a superstar.  There’s other players that are waiting for their turn.  Those are the players I’d like to be involved with.  It always helps to have the veterans.  We hope that maybe Heather [O’Reilly] will be coming back to our team, but we won’t know that until player allocation.  But we could get a couple good young players with their future still ahead of them, with their best soccer still to be played.  I would be proud to be involved with that, for sure.

ML: For the team itself, are there any needs that you’re hoping to address through a draft or player allocation?  Not to say that the level of play in the WPSL Elite was lacking, but this new league is going to have Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, that level of player floating around out there.  Where do you need to step it up to compete with that?

LC: Based on the players that I’ve talked to, and the players that want to come back to Boston, the place that we still need to solve is keeper.  That was something we thought we had; three different goalkeeping high-quality players coming in last year, for whatever reason they ended up in other places.  [Alice] Binns did a great job for us in the interim.  But an international level goalkeeper.  We need to add some more players in the attacking mid position.  I think we have some talented young players there, but it would be nice to get some veteran leadership in that position.  And then, as always, you’re looking for a goal-scorer.  And then the pieces will start to fall into place.  Again, it’s hard to plan not knowing where the national team players are going.

ML: There are a lot of players out there floating around, players who have gone to Europe, players who have stayed in the U.S. in addition to the national team pool.  I think starting with eight teams, there will be a lot of depth to pick from, not to mention all the kids that are graduating from college this year.

LC: I agree, I think there are players that are going to be left out, to be honest.  With Canada and Mexico, and then trying to keep costs down, there might be some good players here that get left out.  That’s why we’re hoping to have a good reserve team, so that some players will have a chance to keep developing their game in the WPSL Elite.  They might not be ready for the next jump right away, but this way they’ll keep playing.

ML: Are there any other staffing changes in the coaching at the Breakers?  I don’t know what Kristine Lilly has planned for 2013 at this point.

LC: Lil and I are going to talk in the next month to get an idea of what her schedule looks like to see if we can get her back in some role or some capacity.  Andrew Quinn, our goalkeeping coach from last year, is willing to come back.  We just have to work out his time with Harvard and whether or not that makes the most sense.  I’ll be hiring somebody full time, because both Lil and Andrew will have their other stuff going on.  I’ll need somebody to be here day in and day out.  I have a couple of good people that I’m talking to, so that should get worked out in the next month.

ML: There’s been a lot of talk lately about what the league needs to do in terms of its audience.  The Breakers have been successful in building an engaged fan base.  The Breakers had the Riptide back in the WPS days.  Would you like to see something like that come back?

LC: It’s always great to have a supporters club.  And people who are passionate about the game and knowledgeable about the players, and who give me a hard time and keep me on my toes.  It would be great to have a more soccer educated fan.  We’ll always attract the kids, and they’ve got to be a part of it because we’re hopefully being good role models.  The players that are out there for the young people.  It would be nice to have fans that are going to travel.  We showed up in Western New York and there’s a group of Breakers fans there; we’ve had great fans that way.  That will definitely be something we’re looking to do.  Our fans have been fantastic, so we’re just looking to continue to grow at this point.

  • Ray Orr

    Wow… this writer is one big Leslie Osborne and Lisa Cole fan, eh? I could be mistaken but doesn’t she work for the Breakers? I thought I’ve seen her name a bunch of times on their website/social media…

    • randomhookup

      I don’t know much about Meg, but I don’t think she has worked for the Breakers. She is Boston based, so she’s going to do those stories more than the other teams.

      • Gotye

        Correct, Meg did not work for the Breakers, wasn’t paid by the Breakers or any other team for that matter. The team, from what I understand, was in agreement with Equalizer to share photos, and neither the Breakers nor Equalizer gave each other special treatment.

        • Ray Orr

          Well… the Breakers need to do their own work! its called “conflict of interest.” Journalistic integrity as well can be thrown in there, too. That’s why I posted my first comment: this read like a Boston PR piece, off their website, from someone who I’ve seen do work with the Breakers. I’m an old guy, old school. I’ve had a lot of my friends work in the newspaper business and this sort of arrangement would never happen back in our day. Different times, I guess… overall, this is a great soccer site! Jeff is to be commended for his dedication. This is all about the semantics of the issue.

          • Gotye

            We’ll agree to disagree, Ray. Conflict of interest would’ve been if the Breakers were paying her or hired her to do work. Like Jeff stated earlier, he has writers in all markets. Meg covered the Northeast, as did another one of his writers. One thing you did say that is true is that Jeff should be commended. Excellent soccer site!

          • http://twitter.com/JeffKassouf Jeff Kassouf

            Thanks all. I appreciate the kind words. For sure understand where you are coming from, Ray. I’m ‘young guy, old school,’ so I get it. We will always be transparent with what we do. Given the content was photos, it wasn’t too much of a concern. I promise you won’t see us post verbatim press releases from any team…ever. We are working on plans behind the scenes for increased coverage. Stay tuned.

          • Ray Orr

            Thumbs up all around! No issues with this site, just discussion over the this and that. That’s good in my opinion.

    • http://twitter.com/JeffKassouf Jeff Kassouf

      We shared our photos with the Breakers during the WPSL season, so that’s where you would have seen Meg’s name. If you’ve followed along, we have beat writers in all these markets along with our national scope, so yes, Meg would naturally be handling a lot of Breakers stuff (along with Courtney), like Liviu handles Seattle, Jennifer handles DC, etc.

      • Ray Orr

        Thank you for the clarification Jeff! Thumbs up!

  • Steglitz49

    Reading this interview made me wonder what the policy is towards hiring players outside of the 3 nations defraying the participation of their NTs players?

    Is this new NAFA league modelling itself on the English FA WSL, where there are hardly any players from outside the British isles. OK there English FA seems to be a gentlemen’s (ladies’?) agreement to let clubs sign players from Wales, Scotland, Northern-Ireland and Ireland, but else there is an underrepresentation of players not from the British Isles. Meanwhile, players from the UK play all over the continent.

    Does anyone know?

    • Meg Linehan

      The focus will definitely be on NA players, mostly due to the backing of USSF, CSA and FMF. Including players from other nations will become a budget issue, more than anything else. If a team has money to pay someone from any of the other number of places – Europe, Oceania, SA, etc. – then I think they are fair game as far as I know. But the bigger issue will be if one of these 8 teams can support paying more than 2-3 of these types of players. With the federations picking up the tabs on the national teamers, there could potentially be money out there, but how much of that will get eaten up by operational costs and traveling costs? Each team will probably come at it differently, but let’s say Portland ends up with Rapinoe, Sinclair, and Wambach – how much extra firepower will they need to go buy elsewhere? That sort of thing.

      If the goal was to develop the game in NA ahead of WWC, theoretically NA players should be given priority over the rest of the world. But again, it’s all up to the teams, the ownership, and the coaching staff how they want to play it.

      • Steglitz49

        “Rapinoe, Sinclair, and Wambach” might be over-egging the pudding a bit. Maybe trade Sinclair for a solid defender?

        • randomhookup

          If “allocated” by the Fed/League, trading probably won’t be an option. With only 8 teams, some are going to look more stacked than others.

          • Steglitz49

            To state the obvious, successful teams have strength in attack, midfield and defense, and usually an excellent goalie though the men’s Dream Team of 1970 managed with a weak goalie. Thus, if I could have three top outfielders, I would want a strong organizer of defense and trade an attacker to get that. Of the three that Meg named, I would trade Sinclair and keep the Wombat — though I would trade both of them for Alex Morgan, at the drop of a hat.

  • Steglitz49

    I read in the interview that Lisa Cole contends that they need: “An international level goalkeeper. We need to add some more players in the attacking mid position … it would be nice to get some veteran leadership in that position.”

    The veteran midfielder with leadership skills is (too) easy. It has to be Aya Miyama. She played for LA Sol and Atlanta Beat, so she knows USA.

    As for goalies, on the WSU web-site there was a disussion about young goalies. Here is a selection:
    – Aurora Cecilia Santiago (18 years) who played for Mexico in last year’s world cup at the age of 16½ Mexico might be a possibility.
    – Maria Christensen of Fortuna Hjørring in Denmark is only 17. She had a fabulous match against Göteborg in the CL that Hjørring lost narrowly.
    – The Canadians will probably fork out for Sabrina D’Angelo (19) currently at Southern Carolina University.
    – Christiane Endler (21) of University of South Florida though she is Chilean might be
    another candidate.
    – Looking again across the pond this time to Germany there are Desirée Schumann (22) of Frankfurt and Almuth Schult (21) of Bad Neunahr.

    Just to get her statred.

    • TsovLoj

      D’Angelo is fantastic, but isn’t taking money for play going to mess up her NCAA eligibility?

      • Steglitz49

        Your point is well taken. The world is your oyster and you pays your money and makes your choice. Lindsey Horan chose to forego UNC and go straight to PSG. More power to her elbow – or her feet more fittingly.

        Soccer is increasingly internationalized. Just now UEFA signed an accord with the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) where UEFA will help the AFC develop their men’s game while AFC will help UEFA develop their ladies’ game.

        If Ms Cole needs a good goalie, then either the Mexican lass or the Danish would fit the bill and they might not be too expensive either. Maybe one of the Japanese keepers would cross the Pacific? They are worth a shot if, as you imply, Ms d’Angelo prefers to play out her college days. Why she would want to do so in a weak college is another question.

        • randomhookup

          Well, she is getting a subsidized education.

          I don’t expect the Breakers to go outside CONCACAF to secure their next GK, unless it might be a Yank on someone else’s NT looking to return to the US. You will have at least 6 of the C/M/US GKs available as well as others in the region who haven’t quite gotten to the NT level.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily, your points are well taken. I think the players who might be most disappointed are those currently playing abroad who choose to leave good clubs to come and play here in a hope that they will be selected for the NT. If they come back simply because they want to play in north-America they will be fine.

            As for Ms Cole, if I were her I would bid for the Mexican lass to guard her goal and if Miyama were interested, I would grab her before someone else does. But, as you type, this will be a CAMEXUS-league.

          • randomhookup

            Too many good GKs in the US and I doubt this league will spend money on one. Italy-England-Canada-NZ-Colombia-South Africa all have US-based/citizen GKs on their NTs and there are undoubtedly others who haven’t gotten a chance.

          • Steglitz49

            Football is the common worldwide entertainment. The new league should go further and make women’s soccer a new factor in human affairs.

            Therefore, the new league should approach the State Department and request that as part of fostering international relations and aid to foreign countries they sponsor eight players from the Third World at least one of which should each be from North-Korea and Myanmar.

  • Steglitz49

    Just to show you what women’s soccer is up against all over the world, there is an advert on “Shekicks.net” (which describes itself as a “girls’ and women’s football magazine*) where a county advertises for a Football Development Officer. It is a fulltime post. The advert list 16 key responsibilities — yes sixteen. The two top are:

    – Retain participation in male 11-a-side football
    – Establish a programme of intervention to address the decline in adult male football

    There is no specific mention in the remaining 14 points that this person should do anything for women. Nevertheless, this is a public body and the post is defrayed by tax-payers’ money (and the FA are putting money into developing the ladies’ game). One almost expected find the code “JBWNNA” but at least that was missing.