NWSL allocation details trickle in

Jeff Kassouf December 20, 2012 50

The National Women’s Soccer League was formally unveiled on Saturday, even if the U.S. women’s national team players gave a collective lukewarm welcome to it (more on that later).

There still are not any players on any teams, but the allocation process of U.S., Canadian and Mexican players will be completed sometime prior to the start of the NSCAA Convention on Jan. 16, 2013. Of note: the matching of players to their desired teams is supposed to be done by a third party (not teams and not U.S. Soccer), according to a source close to the situation. The process will be much like WPS, where U.S. players submitted requests of three places they’d like to play, and they were matched to those cities as best as possible (this time around might get a little more interesting with a perceived high interest in Seattle and Portland).

Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that U.S. players still need to sign on with this new venture.

A report from Examiner suggests that other international federations may try to subsidize players, but one team source said that no other country will have “direct involvement” like the three North American federations.

The NWSL Draft will take place at the Convention and will likely be Friday, Jan. 18. The Friday of the Convention served as WPS Draft day from 2009-2012 (despite the 2012 season being suspended just two weeks after that draft).

A $200,000 salary cap — which is the number referenced in the above piece — would be interesting. Let’s crunch some numbers:

Hypothetically, let’s call it three U.S. players, two Mexican players and two Canadian players per team for a total of seven subsidized players (MLS’ term of “Designated Players” — “DPs” — flows way better). Call it a roster of 24 players, meaning 17 need to be paid by teams. That leaves for an average of about $11,765 per player. Say the roster is 20-deep and you’re looking at $15,685 on average, to go around among 13 players not funded by a federation.

Clearly, those aren’t livable standalone wages, but they are also for a season that will last approximately seven months. That means there are opportunities for players to continue pursuing coaching and training gigs in the postseason, as well as off-season loans overseas so they can continue to play through the winter.

One more link from Kansas City: Ben Palosaari from The Pitch has a piece on FC Kansas City (I swear, I’m not just linking because I’m quoted in it) stating that the team is searching for a stadium that seats 5,000 fans, minimum. Yes, you read that correctly — not maximum, but minimum. When Ben told me that during our conversation, I was shocked. A 5,000 seat venue is perfect and plentiful for this league. To try to fill anything larger would be overly-ambitious and end up cavernous (surely Kansas City fans remember the days of the Wizards at an empty Arrowhead Stadium. Scale that down, and that’s the vibe you would have with a women’s crowd of 3,000 or so in, hypothetically, a 10,000 seat stadium.

  • StarCityFan

    The Washington Spirit have Tweeted that they expect to get the list of 56 allocated players tomorrow (Friday).

    • Michelle

      They will get the list on Friday and rank the players in the order that they want them from that list. The players will also submit their lists (presumably sometime this weekend or right after the holiday – perfect time to discuss it with their families) and then they’ll get matched.

      I love that a third party is doing the matching. That way the women that don’t get placed in their desired location can’t get upset at US Soccer.

      • Steglitz49

        If the NWSL management has had any sense they would have encouraged (at least some of) the ladies to agree amongst themselves how to form into 3-packs. In other words one defender, midfielder and attacker per team agreed between each other.

        The teams, of course, would have been encouraged to agree amongst themselves which 3-pack to ask for.

        This could be done in a smoke-filled room over a beer, except these ladies don’t smoke and, probably, only down mineral water.

        • I wouldn’t be concerned so much about defender-midfielder-attacker (those can be filled in elsewhere) so much as marquee player (top eight) – stalwart (second eight) – fringe (third eight). Someone on BigSoccer thinks Portland should get Morgan AND Solo, and I just don’t see that happening.

          • randomhookup

            Are you thinking Seattle rather than Portland?

            It’s possible the allocation process will take care of that, but if it’s what the players & the teams want, fine. Both players can end up not joining the league which is a worse outcome (and neither is making noise about being all in with the league right now).

          • Steglitz49

            If a wealthy team like Barcelona would offer Alex Morgan $300k to play for them, why should she not?

          • randomhookup

            And if that’s what she wants to do, she should.

          • Steglitz49

            I worry that the NWSL is not about the players but simply a poorly disguised exercise in ensuring that USA, Canada and Mexico have strong WNTs for 2015, when Canada need not qualify being hosts and USA and Mexico will do it in a walk. There will, of course, be a spill-over effect to the Olympics 2016.

            Keeping the discussion to the USWNT, provided they remain injury-free, the attacking line is already oversubscribed. There are perhaps 6 places up for grabs in the whole team. Hope Solo could play on the moon for the next 3 year if she liked because she and the referee was what got the gold in London.

            Those Americans returning from foreign teams might not make the grade but at least they get to play in their homeland, even if they might lose out on glory. One assumes that they take the longer view.

            BUT. Who is going to employ the youngsters coming off the assembly line in summer of 2013 (and 2014)? How quickly can the NWSL expand to meet demand?

          • randomhookup

            Remember players are “supply”, not “demand”.

            Fans are demand… and we need more consistently paying ones to be able to support more teams.

          • Steglitz49

            I hate to depress you but as far as I can see all women team games are subsidized activities, in other words artificial.

            Ladies can earn decent money as individual sportswomen as in golf, tennis, skiing — alpine, X-country & biathlon — and figure skating. Why it does not work for team sports is a fascinating question and could be the subject of a dozen PhDs in various fields.

            That is why I doubt that the franchise model can work for ladies’ soccer. I would not mind, indeed love, to be proven wrong.

          • Steglitz49

            It goes without saying that all teams would love to have their Grenoli. Nevertheless, I put it to you that teams that win trump elegant teams, as in the Wonder of Bern.

            Given that we do not know who is going to join NWSL, which three would you pick of all in the world? Morgan, Asllani and Kumagai?

      • I wonder if it’s one list or three (one for each nationality). Presumably it’s three so that there are three US, two Canadian, and two Mexican players on each team.

  • Fundraiser00

    $15,785 for season = $2,255 per mo. =$564 per week = $14 per hour for a 40 hr week.
    Do they at least get medical benefits that cover rehab or other care outside the season? I know the new league has to start somewhere and build a sustainable business model but boy howdy, this makes me sad to face this financial reality.

    • Ray Orr

      If the basics are covered (housing, etc.) plus the opportunity to augment income through coaching, etc., this is a liveable wage. There are a lot (I repeat, a lot) of people in the US who would take this type of job in less than a heartbeat, esp. in these times. But if you’re coming from the “entitled” ranks than, well…

      • Steglitz49

        The lady soccer players of USA (and Canada and Mexico) are among the very best in the world, as witness the last world cup and olympics. The women’s playing career is shorter and they are more prone to injury than the men. What does the idea of a “liveable wage” mean in this context?

        How much should a top player like Alex Morgan earn? 1% of what Zlatan earns (and he is not the best paid male player)? Would 2.5% be more like it? Should a journeyman lady, playing in the boiler-room of the team, command 30% of Morgan’s?

        Why should someone train hard and risk injury for peanuts? Maybe someone in the Equalizer team could find us some figures for players’ earnings around the world. You will be surprised how little women soccer players earn, not least compared to third rate male players.

      • Fundraiser00

        Respectfully, Ray, I’m not sure what you mean by the “entitled” remark and how you calculate $10-$14/hr as a living wage in Seattle, Boston, NJ, metro DC areas. Or how many US/Canadian/Mexican female soccer players actually have access to paid training gigs Oct-Feb each year — much less how they are supposed to coach a team in the “off-season.” But this isn’t about putting unemployed Americans back to work any way, is it? It’s about what the top 200 female soccer athletes in North America get paid to pursue a professional career that requires them to lean on host families who have to provide pull out couches in the basement for housing because they don’t have $1,500 to sign a year’s lease for an apartment. So I remain saddened by the current market value assigned to these magnificent, remarkable female athletes.

        • Steglitz49

          How much for Abby Wambach? $500k per year? Pick your own favourite. It need not be her.

          • Fundraiser00

            You know, I flat out have no idea what she makes or made playing in the WUSA or the WPS — I would like to think she pulled in a million a year — but I think I remember that it was Marta with the $500k team contact with the LA Sol. And I have no clue what the WNT actually pays their players or what bonuses they offer. I know Abby has some endorsement deals and corporate sponsors but again I’m woefully ignorant about what kind of compensation that entails. Ditto for Rampone, Boxx, Solo, Lloyd. Yeah, it’s true: there just isn’t that much about the money being offered that I DO know. That’s a part of why seeing the proposed salary scale/caps for the new League shocked me.

          • Steglitz49

            One can discuss whether a top lady player will play for 6 years or 10 years, but let´s for the sake of argument say that you play for 6 years at a level to get paid $220k and 4 years at $150k, then your playing earnings will be $1.92M which translates into $48 000 per year over 40 years.

            $48k is an OK salary for a woman but not a brilliant one. We do not yet know what the pay scales will be but we can guess that the top ladies might earn $50k per year in this league (max $100k).

            It is said that the very top earning women players in Europe, such as Lyon, earn about $200k a year plus the use of a small car and an apartment but the vast majority earn (almost) nothing. Some teams in France pay a “bonus” per match of about $300. The German league is one of the few in which one or two teams do not race away with all the points.

          • Top salaries in the WUSA were $85,000 a year for the “99ers”,. though that dropped a bit in the final season. WPS was definitely less.

          • randomhookup

            In the 2006 contract, the NT had top salaries of about $70k, plus a housing allowance & year-round health insurance. The lowest level was about $30K per year. They probably have gone up since then and they do get bonuses for tourney wins. They make okay money for a woman pro in today’s market. The original contract was designed to keep the top players in the game, especially if there isn’t a pro league available.

          • Steglitz49

            Do you think that the DP will be paid the same? Well understood, it may be different between the Canadian, Mexican and USA DPs, but it would make sense to be the same for each player within a tribe.

            $70k for seven months work sounds reasonable though not over generous. $30k I suppose is OK for any old player but low for someone who is a candidate for an NT.

          • randomhookup

            I think the US contracts will be about where they were going into the year. If you were making $70k, you’ll stay at $70k; if you were at $30k, then you’ll stay there. That’s still 2-3x what other players in the league might make.

            I don’t think the other feds had their players on salary before, so I expect them to pay them roughly the same across the board. It will be interesting to see if US labor law gets involved — paying workers different amounts because of country of origin is generally illegal.

        • Ray Orr

          Respectfully “Fundraiser00” (whoever you are) I stand by my statement. I repeat: if all the basics are covered, $14-15/hour is a very good wage. If the basics weren’t covered, than its not. Simple. The teams will set up potential off-field job opportunities. WLeague/WPSL teams do that, so NWSL will surely do the same. Its hard work but that’s what NWSL needs: dedicated players who are willing to put in the work (the right way) for a sustainable league. My “entitled” remark is meant for those who think they should have everything handed to them on a silver platter. The younger generation is full of those types, unfortunately, and the adults who enable them. This is about putting unemployed women’s soccer players to work, in relation to the reality of the modern world. Instead of general platitudes about these remarkable players (which they are), I live in the real world. Please name me a current major league sports league (NBA, MLB, etc. who have been in operation for decades upon decades) that had all its players start out with full pay, benefits, etc.? Did Babe Ruth get paid like Alex Gonzalez? No. There’s a financial crisis in the US and you simply can’t print money to allow every talented athlete or influential teacher or adept businessperson to live a feet-in-the-air, comfortable lifestyle. Respectfully, you’re living in a dream world.

          • Steglitz49

            Your point is well taken, Ray, that until a league is on sound financial footing beggars cannot be choosers and hard graft is needed to build the system. Those players, who want to get fast cash, may sign on with foreign prelates, but the market will set the rate and USA has an abundant, indeed an oversupply, of fine young lady players.

            My concern is that the NWSL structure will keep salaries artificially depressed. US players clearly worry that unless they play in the home league and preferably as one of DPs, they will not get selected for the NT. Yet, it will be a brave manager to overlook Lindsey Horan and Sarah Hagen. Well understood, in 2011 Asllani was not selected for Sweden but she was in 2012 and she is paring fabulously with Horan for PSG this season.

            Finally, pay in all sports has increased amazingly since the 1950s and even 1970s. The difference for women is that they generally are active considerably shorter time than men. Some retire at 25 most by 27 and only a few continue beyond 30, so they have less sunshine to make hay in.

          • randomhookup

            You are spot on. The WPSL & W-Leagues were able to find in-season & off-season gigs for their players to supplement their incomes and this league is already doing that (Breakers set up an “academy” which will employ some of the players during the season). Most of the teams provide a host family or housing along with insurance. Meals aren’t usually covered unless the hosts provide. Transportation can be harder, but they usually do shared housing to make it easier to share a ride.

            For working 2-3 hours per day at their sport, they will be fine. I can give you about 100 ways to make outside money with that much free time in a big city. They won’t be resorting to food stamps to live.

          • Fundraiser00

            Just wondering — I didn’t think the DC United Women franchise offered ANY paid contracts — at least not in its first season — so was there a team by team situation regarding payment? Don’t know about Boston (different league last year, right?)

            Same thing for insurance — I thought that state law requires worker’s compensation coverage for on the job injuries like any other business, but since initially at least, there were two competing “semi-pro” leagues — the W-League and the WPSL, I wasn’t sure what actual health insurance coverage was offered nor how wide the range pay scales (if any) were.

            However, it’s hard to for me to believe that players only work 2-3 hours a day during pre-season and during the regular season. That’s not what I saw with the Washington Freedom — two a day practices in the preseason, fitness and other training in addition to practice during the season, plus travel and team-required appearances with fans or charities (which might have been paid but I don’t know by whom). Pretty much a full time gig as far as I could tell. Down time, sure, but I didn’t see most of the players doing training or coaching or camps or local commercials and I had two daughters playing elite travel soccer in the area so I think I would have seen something in that regard.

          • randomhookup

            NCAA rules say that a college player can’t play on a team with anyone who is being paid to be there, so if there’s a college player on the team, no one is paid (at least for playing). The Breakers had pro players, so all were paid (or at least had the opportunity to be paid). HS players can play on a team that’s paid (generally), but they can’t be paid themselves.

            Maybe I underestimate, but you really can’t push players with 3 hours of physical activities in season. Team meetings, film, other activities can be added in, but teams that have players who need to work can be pretty flexible and don’t ask the extra stuff from the players who aren’t paid much. Even asking 4 hours a day for players gives time to make outside money (if you are creative). One thing I’ve heard from pro players, men or women, is that they usually end up with a lot of down time. I assume that there is payment for clinics and similar activities that generate money for the club. Not sure how they handle promotional appearances.

            When I talk about insurance, I’m talking about health insurance. Pretty much all teams at the semi-pro level offer insurance. Not sure how state laws treat injuries to unpaid players, since it really isn’t work, but they usually provide insurance as a protection.

          • Fundraiser00

            Ah…so that’s how it worked. Thanks for explaining,makes sense and I appreciate the information from you.

          • Steglitz49

            Being a fulltime player means so much more. It means being able to train during daylight hours, not after work in the dark when it is late.

            The NWSL and all leagues for that matter have to define what product they are selling and then sell it! The market place is crowded and getting worse so, as the No-Hockey-League can attest. Modern TV-technology have brought old sports fresh to the screen and those and other sports have adapted themselves to the market place.

            Why pay to watch women play ball when there is so much other sports available at the push of a button?

          • Steglitz49

            It is early days yet, but if one day NWSL want to attract 2 players per team from abroad salaries probably need to get to $100k per year? Maybe some would come for less but if the league wants the very best the punishment has to fit the crime.

          • Fundraiser00

            Gee wiz, Ray (whoever YOU are — LOL!) — someone cut you off in traffic today? Drink the last of the milk and put the carton back in the frig? Grumpy much? I care about women’s soccer. I think it’s sad that professional women athletes as supposed to be glad they have a job paying $14/hr. You apparently don’t. Well, good on ya then!

            I hope they get good health insurance because they play a contact sport and need it. At the end some WPS pros were playing for as little as $200 a game so I’m certainly glad there is a new league — I hope it stays and I hope the players begin to earn a living equal to their talent. And Babe Ruth — if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say he was probably one of the highest paid players of his time making much much more than the average American of the day…but, of course you know best so thanks for sharing your wisdom with me! It made my day….

          • randomhookup

            Babe Ruth made more than the President. When asked about it, he replied “I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.”

  • luke

    If they have covered all living costs: meals, equipment, accomodation and health care I wouldn’t say 2k per month is not livable.
    Of course it’s not enough for retirement after 10 years of playing…

    • Steglitz49

      I make it $980 per month (11765/12). I checked the WNBA:

      The minimum amount a WNBA player with no years of service in the league must be paid in 2012 is $37,000. Players with one year of service must be paid a minimum of $38,000. Players in the WNBA are paid according to where they were taken in the WNBA Draft.

      It is alleged that in their off-season WNBA players can add to the average $72,000 WNBA salary by playing overseas, where a typical seven-month contract starts at $40,000. Marquee players can allegedly make as much $600,000 though that sounds like a misprinted zero too many.

  • Steglitz49

    “Say the roster is 20-deep” does not make sense because you need at least 22 (2 x 11) players to practice. Most European teams list 18-27 players in their first team and as many in their second (reserves) team. Obviously few of those are paid very much if at all but as the CL results show, the top European teams are all full-timers.

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  • Steglitz49

    Kobe have just announced that their manager (head coach) Hoshikawa will leave the club after the 2012 season. The question on everyone’s mind in Japan is why, after such great seasons. It has been rumoured that he has been offered to coach either abroad or a men’s team, but it may just be that he feels it is time for a change. Are we likely to see him in the NWSL? Does anyone know?

  • Steglitz49

    Bev Goebel-Yanez scored an opportunistic goal today (22 Dec) for Kobe Leonessa in the Empress cup. (The video can be seen on WSU.) Does anyone know if Bev is staying in Japan or joining the NWSL?

  • Quick As A Flash

    Based on the data trickling in, monthly salaries in the US league will be low relative to opportunities in Europe for really top players with WPS and international experience. The quality of the top European leagues will almost certainly be higher and the top teams, with players from all over the world, will be clearly better. Also top European team have Champion’s league games at the beginning and end of the year. And if players want a monthly salary for 12 months rather than 7, Europe looks even more attractive. If you are someone who likes the idea of learning another language and another culture it is a serious alternative.

    If you are in the US squad the sum of the NWSL salary and USWNT salaries will be competitive. In the “big” years the potential bonuses make playing in the US the obvious choice. However if you are a “hopeful” it is far from clear that playing in the US is the best opportunity. A year or two in Europe with a good coach and on a great team would maximize development and so maximize the probability of an eventual call up to the national squad.

    It would be really exciting if the NWSL could organize a tournament of champions, bringing together the champions of 4 or more leagues from around the world. Surely that would generate major TV interest and help to raise the visibility of the new league.

    • randomhookup

      The European leagues aren’t quite as diverse as one might hope. I looked at some of the current German teams and they are 80% German, even though they can draw from any EU country without constraint. Similar with French teams. Sweden has more variety, but still draws mostly from the EU.

      The countries don’t have enough depth of talent to support the 12 or so teams and they often end up with the top money spending teams bashing the rest of the league. The CL provides a good level of competition and the coaching can often be much better, but Europe isn’t necessarily a panacea.

      That said, I do recommend some North American players head over there for the development opportunity and a different soccer adventure. For some it will possibly get them to the promised land (like it did for Krieger).

      • Steglitz49

        The Swedish league has (rightly) been criticized for having too many foreign players. On average each team has 6 and many have 7 foreign players. This buys temporary success but does not develop the next generation(s).

        The UK leagues have had some unwritten agreement not to sign non-British isles players. That has started to break down this year with Liverpool, owned by the American outfit that owns the Red Sox, signing non-Brits and others following suit.

        Nevertheless, there were 4 Americans in Göteborg and there are 3 in Bayern Munich and 2 in Kobe Leonessa in Japan, so go where the spirit moves you. The world is your oyster.

    • Steglitz49

      Randomhookup’s points below are well taken and the journalists of The Equalizer might want to write a piece dealing with those points.

      As regards the Tournament of Champions, it was played a couple of weeks ago in Japan. It was won by Lyon.

  • Short_Change

    This league is a poisoned chalice and I wouldn’t blame the players if they don’t drink from it. The sad thing is if they squelch the deal they’ll get the blame. Convenient. I think the organizers and proprietors aren’t just lacking in capital but in vision, competence, and commitment. You can talk about investment value all you like but who is talking about the value of the investors? And yes I’m going to include US Soccer in that. There’s a reason that Madison Avenue is more interested in the individual athletes rather than the shambles that is women’s soccer in this country.

    • Steglitz49

      Please can you be a bit more specific? What exactly bothers you?

      There is a fundamental question here of whether you can break even, let alone, make a profit from running a women’s soccer team. So far the evidence suggests a resounding “No”. Maybe the NWSL can show a better way? Let’s hope so though history is not on its side.

      • Short_Change

        If the players decided to turn away from this league you will hear some voices that will claim the players were not ready to accept market realities or make sacrifices. That’s hogwash. The players have made commitments and entrusted themselves to the domestic leagues in the past. Those leagues did not fail because of the players. It takes commitment from the owners/leadership as well. It has to be about pride and personal investment not just pocketbook investment. If it’s only the latter then a league is not possible for the long haul anyway. This is a league whose benefactors have pushed the salary ceiling (and floor) possibly to the breaking point. They talk about building a foundation but with no stomach for long term investment or the needed attrition levels that foundation will always be built on quicksand. All this only reinforces the idea that they will fold up at the first sign of trouble and adversity. I don’t see any Art Rooneys or Wellington Maras. We need more investors with passion. More Willy Wonkas and fewer Slugworths. Some people involved in this are genuine fans of the sport but many are not. You don’t want to be involved with a league where people will be quick to pull the plug and the reassuring level of commitment is simply lacking here. I also don’t want to hear about the thriftiness or wisdom of clubs so out of touch with reality that they overindulge pursuing unrealistic soccer venues. So yes it is a question of competence and commitment … on the part of the owners not the players.

        • Steglitz49

          You may well be on to something because allegedly the Japanese striker Ohno is said to be moving to Lyon for a yearly salary of about $115 000 while there is also a rumor that Rapinoe will join Lyon for the remainder of the season before joining an NWSL team.

          Lyon wants to be historic by winning 3 CLs in a row and those two players would massively strengthen Lyon’s chances. Verily, to step out on the turf at Stamford Bridge in May would be a girls’ soccer dream come true (even were it to pour with rain).

          The Rapinoe-rumor is particularly interesting because so far at least one American lady playing in Europe chose not to carry on with her European club allegedly because the club wanted FIFA’s rules for release for international duty to apply. Also probably because she felt that unless she played in the NWSL her chances of selection for the USWNT were poor. Matters that one assumes would be unlikely to worry players of Rapinoe’s calibre and campaign medals.

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