WNY Flash to be sold, relocated to North Carolina

Dan Lauletta January 6, 2017 184
Rochester Rhinos Stadium won't have NWSL soccer this season. The Flash are heading to North Carolina.

Rochester Rhinos Stadium won’t have NWSL soccer this season. The Flash are heading to North Carolina.

Three months after winning the NWSL Championship, the Flash are leaving Western New York. Multiple sources have confirmed to The Equailzer that the club is in the final stages of being sold to a group that will relocate it to North Carolina. The players and staff were informed of the news late Thursday. A formal announcement is expected prior to next Thursday’s NWSL draft in Los Angeles. FourFourTwo also reported the news late Thursday night. The club has scheduled a major announcement for Monday, January 9.

The club will now be under the umbrella of North Carolina FC which re-branded from the Carolina RailHawks late last season. At the time owner Stephen Malik said, “We aspire to be at the top level of both men’s and women’s professional soccer, so we are pursuing MLS and NWSL bids as well as a new stadium. We made a conscious decision to brand ourselves as North Carolina’s professional club. A united soccer community will be one of the keys to reaching these goals.”

The next three months figure to move at breakneck pace for the relocated franchise. North Carolina FC play at WakeMed Soccer Park. The stadium was opened as SAS Soccer Park in 2002 and housed the Carolina Courage of WUSA. Last year, Malik purchased the trademark for the name Carolina Courage. It is unknown what the now former Western New York Flash will be called.

The departure of the Flash from Western New York ends a short but storied history. They debuted as the Buffalo Flash in 2009 and a year later were champions of the USL-W League. Led by owner Joe Sahlen the team made an ambitious leap into WPS in 2011 and began playing home matches in Rochester while maintaining a training base in Buffalo. The arrival of the team helped save the league for that season and the likes of Marta, Christine Sinclair, and rookie Alex Morgan propelled them to the title.

The 2011 Flash also hosted the marquee event in league history when they hosted magicJack and hometown favorite Abby Wambach just days after the Women’s World Cup final. A weary Wambach was reduced to spectator and autograph giver but the match drew an overflow crowd to Sahlen’s Stadium.

A year later they struck again, this time in WPSL Elite before joining NWSL as a charter franchise in 2013. The four years in NWSL were a mixed bag. Wambach played there for two seasons, the first of which ended with the inaugural NWSL Shield and a disappointing loss at home in the NWSL Championship. Player revolt dotted the 2015 season and led to Aaran Lines stepping down as head coach and Paul Riley taking the reins.

In 2016, Riley guided a youthful squad all the way to the NWSL Championship. Unfortunately for Flash fans in Western New York they will be unable to see their team compete as defending champions this season.

  • Som Termanni

    This makes the Carolina team and the Washington Spirit regional rivals. Should be interesting at the very least to see what off-pitch things go horribly wrong.

    WNY retweeted Lianne Sanderson’s DIVA Magazine sports personality of the year award two days ago with a #LoveIsLove hashtag, which I’m sure will go over well in HB2 Land.

    The Flash were (are!) selling season tickets, complete with a “Free 2017 team scarf” which I’m sure will look good on Rochester’s less fortunate residents.

    Did the NWSL board meet? They had to have, right? If so, did they talk about anything else? Is the FCKC sale to a Minnesota-based owner approved? Did everyone team up on Bill Lynch, give him a swirlie, and force him to puke into Jill Ellis’s rubbish bin at HQ while she’s at camp as penance for 2016?

    Anyway, at least Scott Vallow’s taking the news well:

    https://twitter.com/ScottVallow/status/817172716159647744

    • Steglitz49

      As you noted elsewhere drawing 5,400/game in the new location would be a 1,600/game improvement over at WNY.

      I replied that if it costs $4m a year to run a ladies team and there are 20 home games and no revenue sharing, then you must clear $37 in profit from each 5400 man, woman and child that attends. That is a tall order and 8,000/game would need $25, easier.

      The rules about the tax-deductability of sponsorship makes it very hard to sponsor women’s teams because they do not bring in enough revenue. The sponsorship gets classed as a donation not a sponsorship. Thus, for the time being owners must be willing to absorb the losses.

      • Constant Weeder

        But the current season is 20 games=10 home games. a 40-game season is probably not going to happen very soon.

        Where does the $4 million figure come from. Others have guesstimated that the break-even figure for attendance is 4000-5000, which would suggest much lower total costs.

        • Steglitz49

          I exaggerated for effect but 10 home games with 5000/game and $20 nets you $1m.

          I doubt that $1m will be enough. It will also make it harder to get sponsors than $4m.

          • Constant Weeder

            Any idea what ticket prices average across the league? Or operating costs? I have no idea myself, but to me, $1 million does seem low; $4 million seems high.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. For $2.5m you will need to clear $50/person/game in profit.

            Apart from player salaries (NB new CBA not yet settled) you must pay coaching staff, physios, team doctor, travel incl any hotel costs, rent of stadium unless you own it, etc etc. Once you add players salaries etc, you are easily into $2m if not $2.5m, maybe even $3m.

          • Som Termanni

            “Average ticket price” is a tough one to figure in the NWSL due to the diversity in stadiums and ticket options. A place like Portland has at least eight types of tickets available, compared to a place like Boston, which… doesn’t.

            Min/max for general admission and normal reserved-seat tickets for 2016 regular season matches:

            Portland: $13.50-$45
            Orlando: $20-$69
            Houston: $16-$57
            Seattle: $18-$32
            WNY: $12-$28
            Washington: $25-$50
            Boston: $15-$25
            Kansas City: $12-$35
            Chicago: $20-$45
            Piscataway: $19-$35

            This doesn’t count tickets that include perks, like Portland’s beverages-included terrace seats or sports lounge.

            Most teams also sell 100 or so pitchside tickets. Those range from $65 (Chicago) to $112 (Portland).

            The cheapest season ticket packages, mostly GA or 10-ticket packs, ranged from $90 (WNY, KC) to $180 (Seattle). The most expensive season ticket packages, which include perks or specific reserved seats, ranged from $220 (WNY) to $450 (Portland). (Orlando and Houston didn’t make such packages public, so they might buck trends. Doubtful, though.)

            Thanks to a glitch in their ticketing system, I was able to pull down data about all of the seats made available and sold for the Spirit’s home playoff match. FWIW their stadium configuration was:

            150 fieldside seats at $70/seat ($100 playoffs)
            1,220 “premium” seats (bleacher seats with backs) for $40 ($60 playoffs)
            708 reserved seats (bleacher seats without backs) for $30 ($45 playoffs)
            294 midfield seats for $50 ($75 playoffs)
            3,378 GA/lawn tickets at $25 ($35 playoffs)

            A full-stadium sellout for the Spirit in the regular season, without group or STH discounts, would gross $151,370.

            A full-stadium sellout for the Spirit with their playoff prices–they did not grant STH or group discounts to the 2016 match–would gross $217,860.

            Assuming the Spirit were to sell out every match, including a home playoff match and without discounts, their ceiling in ticket revenue is $1,731,560. Conservatively assuming $5 per ticket in concessions, add $316,250 to a sellout season for a total non-merchandise revenue ceiling of $2,047,810.

            Considering their attendance and discounts, they likely made about 60 percent that, or in the ballpark of $1.2 million. Per Bill Lynch in 2015, an average attendance of 4,000 turns a profit for him; the Spirit have a negligible retail presence, little merchandise, and few sponsors (their jersey sponsor is Lynch’s own company), so any revenue beyond the gate would have to come from shared league sources.

            We don’t know anything about their expenses beyond the $289k salary cap, but guessing $500k/season for staff and $750k/season for facilities and operations, I’d figure $1.5-$2M/season is break-even for what is probably one of the two or three most frugal teams in the league.

            And don’t forget all of the youth soccer revenue they draw, which Bill Lynch is arguably more enthusiastic about than the pro team. We also have no idea what league-wide sponsorship or TV deals are worth, or if owners share in any revenue they generate.

          • Rdalford

            Thanks for the research and the specific no of seats @price info and resulting revenue example for Spirit at soccerplex.
            Helpful and adds some live example context to woso business.

          • Steglitz49

            Does it? I got no message out of that.

            The issue was some sort of average, like $35 ($20-50).

            The comment is a data dump without analysis. Like all WoSo> long on excuses; short on penetration.

          • Som Termanni

            Without data, analysis is impossible. All I have is bad data from pulling information from public team sites.

            It’s a shame there isn’t a journalistic outlet somewhere, maybe a website or such that could brand itself as the #1 source for professional women’s soccer news, that could provide in-depth coverage of the sustainability of professional women’s soccer by using their access to team and league officials to gather, publish, and analyze such data.

            Oh well. Guess we’re stuck with me copying and pasting low-quality data from team sites, and Steg crapping all over everyone.

          • Steglitz49

            That it was what the EQ was but no longer is

          • Constant Weeder

            Wow! This is great. Thanks for doing the legwork on this. These numbers give us at least a bit of non-speculative basis for assessing the league’s economics.

          • Som Termanni

            I’ll readily admit that my guesses at team expenditures don’t come from any real knowledge. They could be twice as much; I’m guessing largely on the assumption that Bill Lynch tells the truth about when and how the team breaks even, which is shaky ground.

            That said, calibrating on the Spirit’s numbers, here’s some more baseless conjecture about what a sellout could draw for each team, give or take about 20%:

            Portland: $761k (21,144 sellout)
            Orlando: $3.32M (full 60k bowl), $1.29M (23k home opener)
            Houston: $1M (full 22k sellout), $594k (13k best on record)
            Seattle: $307k (12k expanded seating), $179k (7k initial outlay sellout)
            WNY: $308k (13,768 sellout)
            Spirit: $150k
            Boston: $80k
            Kansas City: $100k
            Chicago: $720k (20k Toyota Park sellout), $576k (16k best on record)
            Piscataway: $140k

            And here are some very unscientific, likely quite liberal extrapolations of what these teams might have made in ticket revenue for the entire ’16 regular season, using their real-world attendance figures, in order from best to worst total attendance:

            Portland: $5.34M
            Orlando: $4.24M
            Houston: $2.27M
            Seattle: $1.03M
            WNY: $758.2k
            Washington: $1.32M
            Boston: $617.3k
            Kansas City: $774.8k
            Chicago: $946.4k
            Piscataway: $529.7k

            Orlando does well, thanks in part to GA tickets that are 50% more expensive than Portland’s and reserved tickets that are 20-40% more expensive–Orlando’s GA tickets are the league’s second most expensive, behind only Washington. Had Orlando hit Rawlins’s 10k goal, they likely would have made another $550k.

            Note WNY sandwiched between Seattle and Washington. The Flash tied with KC for the cheapest low-end tickets at $12, and had the second-cheapest reserved-seat tickets, behind only Boston. Their >30% increase in attendance over 2015 added about $200k to their season take, but they still likely didn’t come remotely close to breaking $1M at the gate despite outdrawing the Spirit, who made $1.32M.

            Again–nothing true about the stuff above. It’s all rudimentary math and flawed reasoning. Best to ignore it.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. These sums are fascinating.

            My conclusions. Portland and Orlando can carry a WoSo team. Houston might be OK. The rest are in the red.

          • Som Termanni

            Houston likely does well thanks to low facility and staff overhead from their MLS arrangement.

            Seattle spends very little on facilities, is well connected for marketing and advertising via its ownership, and makes more per ticket than most teams. They also probably rack in an inordinate amount of merch cash on Solo, and to a lesser extent Rapinoe.

            The Flash clearly underperform, and having to pay rent on Rhinos Stadium in 2016 and get screwed over when they had a chance to effectively run it for the same cost could’ve been the biggest nail in their coffin.

            Washington, per its owner’s estimates in 2015, likely broke even thanks to the home playoff match. But their growth went in the wrong direction, and the roster collapse is a likely symptom of deeper problems. Gabarra was probably a budget pickup in staffing because he wanted to be closer to home.

            Boston does exceptionally well with sponsorships and local media deals. If they can keep pushing on the league to let them hammer out the NESN deal for live matches that they nearly closed in 2016, they could easily out-earn teams who make more at the gate.

            KC, on the other hand, is a red flag. They were already struggling with staffing costs despite sharing with the Comets, with Vlatko Andonovski coaching both teams until recently. The proposed new owner has deep pockets, and clear goals for business growth (and is already spending toward them) but little understanding of the league or sport and a history of ties to corruption and unlawful acts; if he misses his targets or gets caught out misusing the team for some scam, KC could follow WNY in the sale-and-move dance. Even so, they are healthier without facing a season full of Likens/Budzinski drama.

            Chicago, despite pulling down nearly $1M on crap attendance, has to be seen as a relative failure. If they drew even Seattle’s numbers, they’d be much closer to breaking even. The Toyota Park move backfired. If the Fire are still interested in working with them beyond lending their stadium, they haven’t acted on it–no doubleheaders, little cross-promotion, no buyout interest. Attendance, if up on the median, is underwhelming for the market. Marketing is nonexistent despite having one of the 3 or 4 most marketable players in the league in Press. All of this is happening next to league HQ with no signs of improvement.

            Sky Blue doesn’t care. Their owners probably spend $500k a month going on vacations. They have no incentive to do better, no incentive to sell, and won’t do anything with the team until forced. It’s a toy for their kids and won’t move until their kids grow out of it.

          • Lorehead

            I’m reasonably sure that your guesses for how much the best attendances brought in are big overestimates. First, a lot of those sales were discounted season tickets. Second, all teams give a lot of seats away.

          • Steglitz49

            You’ve lost me. What is the 32 word summary?

            Is the average $20 or $30 or $ 34.67?

          • Som Termanni

            The 11-word summary:

            I know you hate reading, but try it this one time.

          • Lorehead

            Nice one. I take it you’re assuming a sellout means no freebie tickets given away? And the Maryland SoccerPlex has a lot of people just sitting on blankets on the grass or standing around and watching. Your back-of-the-envelope calculation, though, shows that the Spirit would pretty much have to move to a better stadium (the men’s team just got $100M of taxpayer money to build a soccer-specific stadium downtown) to become viable.

        • guest

          Best to ignore him. He doesn’t give figures, and usually doesn’t know what he’s talking about anyway, least of all in matters of finance.

          Now he’s saying the NWSL is a charity (ok) and sponsorships are not tax-deductible (right).

          • Steglitz49

            Sponsorships are tax-deductible BUT the problem for WoSo is that the attendance and income at the gate is so low that the opportunity for sponsorship as opposed to donation is limited.

            That is why WoSo MUST get more bums on seats and preferably charge more for the pleasure.

      • $4 million?? What? I find that hard to believe. $1-$2Mil, maybe.

        • john

          It’s been pretty consistently mentioned $3 million for NWSL and $1 Million for better WPSL teams. Which makes someone like Lynch notable for his woso support.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. $3m sounds just about plausible though I contend it is too low.

        • Steglitz49

          You, Slicey, are closer to the hearth rug than I on this but don’t let the soft glow of the embers seduce you.

          It obviously depends on what you include in the costs. You have to pay the coaching staff, the physios and the team doctor. You must pay for travel incl overnight stays. You pay rent for the field and training facilities including a gymn with weights etc, unless you own all that.
          Then you add the salaries of players and the hidden employment costs.
          $2.5m does not seem outrageous, all things consider but I can accept your bid of $2m, though I contend that $3m is closer to the actuality.

    • mockmook

      I wonder if the NWSL will re-jigger the unbalanced schedule/rivalries to account for this move.

      Maybe better:

      BOS — SBF
      WAS — NCF

  • kernel_thai

    Doubtful Riley returns…I wonder if Charlie Naimo is still handling the draft

    • Som Termanni

      I can’t imagine the new overlords telling the WNYF staff (at least those who stay on and commit to the move) to chuck their draft plans out of the window.

      On the other hand, NCFC were crowing about Anson Dorrance’s advisory involvement when they had their big press event, so I’m sure at least a little lobbying on behalf of UNC players, if not outright meddling, will take place.

      • Steglitz49

        One assumes that the management staff of new owner has been in touch and they have worked out a strategy for the draft. Seeing that WNY just won the Championship, they may well be in agreement of which players are their top choices.

    • Steglitz49

      Any rumors about who might be the head coach? Shall we open a book? Any odds for
      Fishlock, Neid, Abby, Bell, AN Other?

    • kernel_thai

      According to Chris Henderson via twitter Naimo and Riley will be handling the draft unless something changes.

  • DNG

    I can’t say I was expecting this. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

  • xanthophobe

    I think I’m a little more surprised than I should be about this. The chatter around North Carolina seemed to indicate they were trying to move quickly, but I was so focused on it being framed as an expansion team that I didn’t consider an team would be relocating. I have a few thoughts on this:

    -If any club is going to relocate, it should be WNY. I say that mostly because it was probably the toughest market for a pro women’s soccer team–sure, they don’t have other teams in the region to compete for attention with, but there was always speculation that they wouldn’t be able to keep up financially as the league grew. Better to relocate than fold (right after winning the championship, no less–hey FC Gold Pride!)

    -NC is a good place to move, given the enthusiasm we’ve seen at the College Cup when it’s held in Cary. I don’t know too much about the region but seems like an okay fit.

    -While I think this is a good move for the league and the club, I have some concerns about the timing. It’s possible things have been in motion for a while but doing this in January, three-ish months before the season? Many have noted the Dash tried to launch too soon, why do this again?

    -I feel bad for all the WNY fans but it’s good they got to end their run with a championship.

    -I would think this means the next two expansion teams will be on the west coast–I already kind of felt that way but it seemed like NC was the only viable east coast option.

    • Steglitz49

      WNY has won a championship, like Portland. That may have been the aim of the owners and now it has been achieved, it makes sense to offload a loss-making enterprise. Smart business sense.

      • USMNTfan4life

        Professional WoSo is aways going to be a loser in terms of turning a profit, don’t you think? I guess at some point down the road, they may make a small profit, but it will never turn into a multi-million dollar enterprise. That is just my two cents.

        • Steglitz49

          When you think about it, these big stadia stand empty most of the time. Ladies weigh less and thus wear the pitch less. Thus, I would not be surprised that the top mens clubs have figured out that filling their stadia with fans of WoSo, they can turn a tidy profit.

        • mockmook

          Women’s tennis and golf are big time. Seems some WNBA games draw big crowds.

          It may take decades, but I can see WoSo eventually being a big money sport.

          Look at how things are going/progressing now: More leagues springing up all around the world, NWSL seems to be viable and still expanding, FIFA video game, and they are playing the most popular sport on the planet.

  • Matthew Henry

    Well this really sucks. As a season ticket holder and a fan who has attended every match since The Flash started playing in Rochester I’m very disappointed and more than a little angry that the organization has been asking for and taking money for tickets when they planned on moving out of state.

    • Katie Curtiss

      I agree. They better have a plan in place to refund the money people used to buy season tickets already.

    • Steglitz49

      Judging by whom the rich European clubs are signing, a fullscale migration seems unlikely. OTH there are tons of smaller clubs who no doubt would be pleased to have Americans come and play for them.

    • sowerofpower

      Major bummer ! Just bought some Flash merch as stocking stuffers this past holiday season trying to spread the gospel. Of course as a ex WPS Gold Pride fan, probably should’ve figured something like this would happen to my WoSo team once they become champs. Still love the players but I guess I’ll test the free agent fan market ha ha. At least until the bay area gets a NWSL team…

      • mockmook

        I’d latch on to the Dash.

        It rhymes
        They are an exciting team
        And, you can’t be accused of jumping on a winner’s bandwagon

        • rkmid71

          “Luv Ya Blue & Orange” — Now Houston just needs oil prices to go to $150 and Waldrum to start chewing tobacco and wear a cowboy hat and boots.

          Look out football, here we come,
          Houston Dash, number one.
          Houston has the Dash, the greatest football team.
          We take the ball from goal to goal like no one’s ever seen.
          We’re in the air, we’re on the ground … always in control
          And when you say the Dash, you’re talking Champions.

          ‘Cause we’re the Houston Dash, Houston Dash, Houston Dash, Number One.
          Yes, we’re the Houston Dash, Houston Dash, Houston Dash, Number One.

          We’ve got the offense.
          We’ve got the defense.
          We give the other team no hope. ‘Cause we’re the Houston Dash, Houston Dash,
          You know we’re gonna hold the rope.

        • USMNTfan4life

          They need all the fans they can get. They pull no more than 3,000 at best per home game, even with Carli Lloyd.

          • Som Termanni

            The Dash didn’t sell fewer than 4,000 tickets to any game (their minimum was 4,329), and averaged 5,696 tickets sold. For turnout to never pass 3,000, about 1,700 ticket holders per game would have to fail to show up.

    • mockmook

      They probably weren’t “planning” on this. NC just decided to go aggressively for a NWSL franchise.

      • JL

        It wasn’t planned.

      • Guesting

        There may have been strong indications that they would probably not have a chance at getting one of the two expansion franchises for 2018, . So rather then take any chance, why not just buy an existing one and move it. This move might even help speed up the process in them getting a MLS franchise in the future.

    • Lorehead

      I feel for the fans up there. On the bright side, there are more investors who want to get in than investors who want to leave.

  • Steglitz49

    There are some comments on this over on the “Thursday Roundup: Sunderland Ladies drop pro status” entry. Please could the EQ staff transfer them here for conveniecne.

  • Franchise the World

    Franchising, relocations, players have no contracts with their clubs, season ticket holders getting surprised of their team (or franchise) playing now somewhere else, players have to move since a team got re-allocated, and so on. What kind of league is that? Why do I need to associate Disney products with the NWSL?

    • Steglitz49

      It is a loss-making league.

      Till WoSo becomes profitable outside of Portland, someone must pump in money to keep the shebang afloat.

      The owners of WNY, having won a Championship, seem to have felt they have achieved what they set out to. Now they cut their losses. They have helped establish the NWSL. High time for someone else to take over.

    • Happens elsewhere

      Other professional sport leagues have teams move, player traded, etc. Companies move and relocate employees or fire them.

  • smallchief

    The move raises an interesting ethical question. Will soccer fans support a team in a state that has anti-LGBT legislation — and has been boycotted by many sports, entertainers, businesses, etc?

    Will players refuse to play in NC?

    The new governor of NC has vowed tor repeal the law — but the troglodytes in the legislature have refused to do so.

    • Steglitz49

      The proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof.

    • guest

      will megan rapinoe start a gay protest before games or even boycott the nwsl league games in NC?

      • Steglitz49

        Seattle could always trade her there …

      • Som Termanni

        Lianne Sanderson was just named sportsperson of the year by Diva magazine, “Europe’s only mainstream lesbian magazine”, two days ago. The Flash, who still hold the rights to her at least up until the start of the season, even retweeted it. If anyone’s going to say or do something publicly about this, I’d look to her. So far she hasn’t brought it up.

    • mockmook

      Do fans go to UNC games? Duke games?

      BTW, I don’t see those places taking a “moral” stand and moving out of state, do you?

      And, just because you keep calling it “anti-LGBT legislation” doesn’t make it so.

    • Gary Diver

      Interesting question. Other sports organizations have taken a strong anti-discrimanation stance. Time will tell. And it is an evolutionary battle. In the past, conservative states have passed legislation which makes it legal to discriminate against someone if it can be shown to be consistent with religious beliefs, making an issue a battle of rights. And, of course, before that southern states argued that states rights allowed them to uphold segregation laws, laws against mixed-marriages, poll taxes, and voting literacy tests. (It is interesting that some people argued that poll taxes and voting literacy tests weren’t really discrimination against blacks since it applied to everybody. Anything can be justified if you have a mind to justify it.)

      There is no doubt that WoSo in general and NWSL players support the LGBT community, so it will be very interesting to see what NWSL does though Jeff Plush may take a 12 month vacation and deals with the problem when he gets back.

      • Bruce

        But isn’t Plush already on a 12 month vacation?

        • Gary Diver

          His face definitely should be put on milk cartoons.

      • mockmook

        So, you’re obviously against the cities that want to flaunt Federal law and declare themselves as sanctuary cities, right?

        • Gary Diver

          Let’s stay on course and discuss WoSo and WoSo-related issues.

          • mockmook

            Then why did you bring up voting rights, etc?

            I guess only you are allowed to bring in extraneous matters, right?

          • Gary Diver

            The issue is what NWSL should do with a very controversial and unpopular elsewhere state law. (But I wish I had not brought up the voting rights analogy. Sorry, I apologize.) NWSL may have to deal with the LGBT issue or, as Dan Lauletta has suggested, they may just ignore it and hope it goes away on its own. Like everything else about the NC move, we will see.

      • Lorehead

        Unlike national college championships, there’s not a lot of long-distance travel to NWSL league matches, is there? And WakeMed is next door to Charlotte, in the middle of the state, not right next to a state line. I doubt an inclusive employer in the city whose anti-discrimination ordinance set off the state legislature to pass its ban in the first place is going to be the target of a big boycott by people in South Carolina or southern Virginia.

  • Steglitz49

    Meanwhile on the other side of the Pond, Linköping have signed Irma Helin from Piteå. They have started to rebuild after losing Pernille Harder to Wolfsburg, Fridolina Rolfö to Bayern Munich and Stina Blackstenius to Montpellier. Irma is 22 years old, which is more than Blackstenius and about the same as the other two.

  • mockmook

    Well, sucks for WNY fans.

    But, unlike previous leagues, this wasn’t a “midnight” collapse of a franchise — this happened because someone desperately wanted the team (and seem to have the resources to make a go of it).

    • Steglitz49

      The current owners, the meatpackers of whatever they do, had just won the Championship. What better time to sell?

      • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

        Thery’re the Brooklyn Dodgers of WoSo!

        • Steglitz49

          Well, it was 70 years ago, was it not?

  • Steglitz49

    Jessica Diggins has just won today’s stage in the Tour de Ski in Toblach. She was bubbling cheerful and most charming afterwards, saying the greatest was that she got to share the podium with her teammate Sadie Bjornsen. Krista Pärmäkoski was 2nd.

    Tomorrow is a 10 km classic style masstart with interval bonuses. The distance and technique favour Pärmäkoski, Weng, Östberg and possibly Diggins over Stina Nilsson, who may well end up in 4th or even 5th place before the Final Climb.

    Three cheers for Jessica and Sadie.

  • Michael V

    Big bummer – but makes total sense! I’ve stated before, the Flash are/were an institution for us in WNY with girls that played on higher level club teams and local colleges. The Flash players attended our games as we did theirs.

    Going back to 2011 – it’s not hard to see that Mr. Sahlen, who had the money, bought into the team for at least three reasons – to give his daughter a team to play on, to give his son-in-law a team to coach, and a new rich-guy hobby. Fortunately, for us, they did exceptionally well and the team might have been the best women’s team ever assembled. Other success along the way, but it was rocky at best – especially the Abby and Carly big personality years.

    Forward to today, the family has grown with children of there own, they’re no longer player and coach, and at best, the rich-guy hobby is less interesting to Mr. Sahlen. And their youth soccer academy is the real money maker, not the pro team; so, it makes sense to sell, but that’s unfortunate for us fans.

    • VaFan51

      Thanks for this perspective.

    • xanthophobe

      thanks for sharing this! very interesting to get a local fan’s perspective.

    • Gary Diver

      Did Sahlen seriously attempt to find a local buyer for the team so the team could stay in Rochester? Attendance-wise, WNY is doing better than half of the NWSL teams.

      • Michael V

        I can’t speak to that as I have no insight, but I’d bet it would be a tough sell because of logistics and population spread in Upstate NY – multiple millions in population but spread across 150 miles of I-90.

        The ownership of the Rochester Rhinos, a men’s USL powerhouse, might have been a good fit, but they even have their own attendance challenges which have seemed to prevent them from achieving their goal of gaining MLS.

        Logistically – Buffalo doesn’t have a sufficient game facilities; Rochester doesn’t have a sufficiently sized indoor training facility for February and March for full field/high ceiling indoor practices. Therefore the arrangement that was in place.

        Syracuse likely has the best facilities if one could secure and afford the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University but that takes the team further from the larger populations of Rochester and Buffalo.

        The biggest change that I observed on game day was the gradual, but great drop in attendance from 2011 to 2016. If one remembers, WNY was 2nd in attendance to Portland for the initial seasons. We even drew a record crowd after the 2011 World Cup for the USWNT.

        There seemed to be less casual fans, my daughter’s club team friends from Syracuse and Buffalo (75+ mile drive) showed up less frequently. It seems that the novelty had worn off, and the lack of big names (though of great quality) weren’t enough of a draw.

        Taken together, these are likely a tough combination to overcome for local ownership.

        • Gary Diver

          As I mentioned earlier I attended the Chicago Red Stars match on July 1st – even bought five “on-field” seats. The game had a nearly 1 hour rain delay, but I greatly enjoyed the game and found Sahlen’s Stadium a good soccer stadium which was easy to access from driving in from south of Rochester. (Too bad I won’t be able to repeat this experience this summer.)

        • Som Termanni

          > The ownership of the Rochester Rhinos, a men’s USL powerhouse, might have been a good fit

          The ownership just turned over last year because the previous owner was incompetent. It also affected stadium operations, ended the Sahlens’ naming rights agreement to the stadium, and made a mess of shared operations. The Rhinos were, arguably still are, in bad shape organizationally.

          The Sahlens reportedly even tried to take over stadium operations in 2015 but were pre-empted in their attempt by the new USL-backed owner of the Rhinos.

          So they’re stuck in a pickle. They don’t get along with the Rhinos org anymore, stadium scheduling decisions outside of their control put them in the position to make themselves a laughingstock at Frontier Field, stadium operations made it worse in handling visiting team’s player injuries. Even if the Rhinos ownership were both capable of and interested in buying the Flash, the Sahlens at that point might well have preferred to ship the entire team out than hand them the keys.

          Another complication: As of October the Sahlens were in the middle of moving the ownership of Sahlen Packing Co. from Joe Sahlen to his kids. Even with Alexandra involved, I imagine it’s no coincidence that new Sahlens would decide to cut the team as dead weight while trying to fund a simultaneous, sudden, and unprecedented expansion of their meat business into national supermarkets in Q3 and Q4. http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/news/2016/10/19/smooth-sahlen-owner-says-hot-dog-company-will.html

        • Som Termanni

          Oh, and don’t forget: the NCFC ownership and management group is full of ex-Rhinos anyway. Their first GM Chris Economides was previously the Rhinos’ GM. Ex-Rhinos president Frank DuRoss and ex-CEO Steve Donner were part of the Railhawks’ original ownership group. Ex-Rhino Scott Schweitzer was their first head coach, and he brought in Rhinos players.

  • VaFan51

    As someone who lives about halfway between Germantown MD and Cary NC, I am overjoyed about this. The Flash have become one of the most exciting NWSL
    teams to watch and watch I shall.

    I have been to a couple of WNT matches in Wake Med Soccer Park (Canada and Switzerland) and can attest to the quality of the experience there. Still looks new-ish (the stadium complex, not me), well-maintained, good parking, big-time while still low-key, with an upper deck added a few years ago. It’s a good place to watch a match, although the weather can be pretty beastly in the summer.
    The area has at least one big and highly successful youth club, CASL, and there are thousands and thousands and thousands of youth players in central NC. It’s interesting to note that the only NC college product on the Flash roster is Jess McDonald.

    When I have watched Flash home matches online, I often have been a little dismayed at the turnout in the stands, especially once the team got really rolling this season, but I also know that the “TV view” does not always give an accurate impression. I could not help thinking last year that the team deserved better home support, especially after that baseball field fiasco.
    On the other hand, I have always enjoyed the work of the people who have done the Flash webcasts. I am sorry I do not have their names, but they have done an excellent job covering the games.

    With the team moving to NC, I may become one of those people who live in another state, but still get season tickets.

  • Gary Diver

    A Sad Day in Western New York

    I grew up in Western New York and am not happy about this news. When I visited my family last July, I bought “on-field” seats for five family members for the Chicago Red Stars match. (I was hoping to attend a match again this summer.)

    The Western New York Flash have existed for 9 years and been part of 4 WoSo leagues (USL W-League, Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite, Women Professional Soccer, and NWSL). So NWSL is losing not only a charter team, but a team with rich WoSo history.

    According to NWSL, WNY averaged 2,863 fans in 2015 and 3,868. That represents a 35% increase in attendance. What team moves when they have just recorded a 35% increase in attendance in a league that is struggling? WNY were 8th out of 9 nine teams in 2015 attendance and jumped to 5th out of 10 teams in 2016 attendance.

    Where is Jeff Plush? NWSL has to be one of the worst run professional leagues in existence. They would be better off if they fired Plush and used a dart board to make league decisions.

    If NWSL wants to replace a “weak franchise” they should first consider the Red Stars (3,000 fans in 2016) or Sky Blue (2,100 fans in 2016). How can a team survive when they can draw only 2 thousand fans per game?

  • I actually really like this move. NC gets a team and we still (probably) get 2 more expansion teams next year. I hope it’s two of Atlanta, LA and Vancouver.

    • Gary Diver

      But NWSL has 2 or 3 teams that are even weaker than WNY pulling the league down.

      • True, but Sky Blue for example has been unwilling to sell in the past. I know it is not fun for people who are WNY fans, but I do think it’s a good move for the league. Helps create more of a Southeastern presence along with Orlando.

        • Gary Diver

          I see your point, but it is still a bummer for WNY fans (going back 9 years). This WoSo site fixates on attendance and here is a case where WNY increased its average attendance by 35% and the team gets pulled. Other than the club opener, Orlando was not the bright star everyone was predicting last year. And they play 1/2 of 2017 season without their marquee player. With nothing happening with USWNT this year (other than gossip), NWSL better have their ducks in a row.

          • Steglitz49

            The selling owners, the Sahlens, had achieved what they wanted: won the Championship. The daughter, who used to play, is doing other things. Likewise the other relative, who used to coach. No reason to hang on to a drain on their resources.

            The buyer, who offered the right price, is in NC. It is a free country.

        • kernel_thai

          Another possible plus is it adds another warm weather site. Lets say both expansion teams next year r also in warm to moderate winter climates. It makes it much easier for the league to lengthen the season.

          • Gary Diver

            Yes, but your “warm” could be 90+ Fahrenheit and 90% humidity in July and August.

          • guest

            You do know Houston has a team, right? BTW Texas has a bathroom bill in the works, as do many states. Maybe we should all move to California?

          • Very good point. I hope that does happen and we get longer seasons. But that does cost more, can the league afford it?

        • Steglitz49

          If the price is right a deal can be struck. So far the price has not been right.

  • Don

    NC has better stadium to play in. Also, not Rochester NY. What is the big deal?

  • Gary Diver

    Question: If we read today that Sky Blue or the Red Stars were being sold and moved, would the reaction be different?

    • Som Termanni

      The news for the last three months that FCKC _might_ be moving because an out-of-stater was trying to buy them, even as the proposed new owner tried to reassure fans that they would not, and the reaction was almost as hyperbolic. Hell, it flared up again a week ago on fresh news that the new owner was doing such dastardly things as renting office space in Kansas City and hiring sales and marketing people for the team ahead of the deal being official.

      I think the gut punch that makes WNYF’s move more noteworthy, aside from it actually happening as opposed to being a rumor, is that it came out of nowhere, it’s the holding league champions, and it’s one of the oldest surviving fully professional teams in North American woso. It’s the closest I’ve seen to a midnight moving truck situation since the Browns, particularly in fan impact.

      • Steglitz49

        Hear hear! Thank you.

  • John

    Sky Blue needs do this

    • Sky Blue should sell to City Football Group and move closer to NYC. They’ve done a great job with Mac City and Melbourne city women’s teams already.

      • Steglitz49

        Sky Blue may not want to sell to Man City. Anyway, where would they play? Where is there a soccer specific stadium closer to NYC? I can’t remember one except Red Bull arena but that is still in NJ, not NYC.

  • Bruce

    Smells like a fire sale and potential disaster.

    The RailHawks (NCFC) management group has NO track record for successfully marketing its product or drawing attendance to its suburban (read inaccessible) stadium. That they have re-branded is nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig.

    NCFC is likely already hemorrhaging cash from its operations in a league on the verge of folding (NASL) since they draw under 5k per game. When crunch time comes, where do you think a women’s team will sit on their list of priorities?

    A league on the rise should be pursuing stable MLS teams that are not at risk of running out of cash, are proven attendance draws and can simply insert NWSL operations into a pre-existing, proven marketing machine. The risk of this move makes no sense for the NWSL.

    Management matters.

    • Gary Diver

      As I said yesterday, NWSL must be one of the worst run professional leagues in existence. The fact we are not sure Jeff Plush is alive says everything about NWSL.

      • USMNTfan4life

        I think Plush just wanted Commissioner experience so he can replace Garber when he retires. It seems NWSL is run out of someone’s closet.

        • Lorehead

          In all seriousness, US Soccer runs the league office and doesn’t charge the league for it.

          • Steglitz49

            I don’t understand. I presume that the USSF is to CONCACAF/FIFA as the FA is to UEFA/FIFA. Thus, one assume that USSF needs must have some role in NWSL. In short, think of the NWSL as the FAWSL and FAWPL.

    • Cody

      North Carolina has already built grass soccer stadium

      • Gary Diver

        We will see. After the season opener, some people were predicting Orlando would draw 10,000 fans for every match. Man proposes and God disposes.

        • Som Termanni

          “Some people” including OCFC president Phil Rawlins. Not that I imagine the Pride had anything to do with it, but Rawlins is no longer the team president.

      • Bruce

        Just having a stadium guarantees nothing. Chicago only drew 3k per match to Toyota Park (beautiful, but inaccessible) last season.

        Marketing matters. Management matters.

        • Cody

          Wake Med not in the middle of no where. Much easier access. Though your right they have market it. Paying money for advertising the team. Which these cheap teams do not do.

          • Som Termanni

            WakeMed seats 10,000. The RailHawks averaged 4,539 in 2015 and 4,856 in 2016.

          • mockmook

            NCFC might do better — top-tier league, novelty, championship team.

          • Som Termanni

            I just saw the news of the NASL/USL D-II agreement and have no idea if it’ll be meaningful to NCFC raising its profile. But it’s something.

            For what it’s worth, the Flash outdrew the Rhinos in 2016 thanks in large part to the men’s team’s attendance cratering by nearly 2,000/game (down from 5,570 in 2015 to 3,655 in 2016).

        • USMNTfan4life

          Marketing only matters if they stand to make money. With WoSo, that is never going to be the case.

          • Steglitz49

            Never say never!

        • Steglitz49

          Money matters.

          Just look at the remaining last 8 in the ladies Champions League: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Hjörring, Lyon, Man City, PSG and Rosengård.

  • Gary Diver

    Has a championship team ever been relocated in the past? You can spin a positive take (like Dan Lauletta), but it doesn’t look right nor does it smell right for a struggling league that seeks stability and credibility.

    • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

      After the Brooklyn Dodgers won their first World Series in 1955, McCarthy used it as bargaining chip to move the team to LA in 1958.

      • Steglitz49

        I think Arsenal moved from Woolwich to Highbury and then again to wherever Emirates Stadium is located. Their name comes from the Arsenal in Woolwich. But that was voluntarily relocation decided by themselves not being sold by an owner.

    • Som Termanni

      As noted online, the FCKC sale is happening at the same time. That’s two of the league’s three champions changing ownership within a year of their title wins. The third champion is owned by an MLS team.

  • Gary Diver

    What about next week’s NWSL draft? It would seem obvious that the new owners of the “Flash” have their own views about going forward, but the current Flash management, who will soon be shown the door, will make the draft decisions.

  • kernel_thai

    So if I were NCFC the top of my list would be looking into Crystal Dunn. If she would like to return to her ld stomping grounds and if Chelsea would loan her she would make the perfect center piece to sell tickets around. As to Washington, NCFC has the type of young talent and the #2 draft pick that might make a trade work.

    • quest

      More like getting washed up Heather O’Reilly. who wasn’t good enough to make Europe move. after removing all her kc bio

      • Guest

        Yeah we know she will be trying get on that team. she only retired from WNT because Ellis was firing her. she tried out for Arsenal and wasn’t good enough. Still trying milk her NT career out of it. Lucky for her, she can earn little money NWSL pays because she got a bunch money from her long WNT career. Still a nobody now without WNT tag,

        • guest

          wtf? sounds like someone has a personal issue with OReilly.

          • Steglitz49

            To some ARod and Syd are paragons of how to plan and run your pro-career.

    • Breakers fan

      Heath second? Ohai third?

      • Jim

        Just because they went UNC, does not mean that want live there and play for their professional team. Tobin lives full time in Portland. Kealia lives in Houston full time. More like O’Reilly.

        • Breakers fan

          I wasn’t saying it because the players would necessarily prefer it to where they are now but because the organization may want to pursue them to help get more fans to the games.

          • John

            NCFC is not getting those two players. Tobin and Kealia would not play for that team. They bought team that won title. Fans will have get excited for those players. Like I said it’s not college, professional team. Neither has connection to NC, other than playing there for college. Both are adults now. Tobin enjoys west coast now, Kealia same in Texas.

          • Breakers fan

            I was just throwing out a light-hearted idea for fun, following suit on the Dunn suggestion. I don’t care if they get them. I don’t root for that team. But the idea makes at least some good sense from an organizational/marketing perspective. And it shouldn’t mean anything whether or not a player likes where she currently lives in the world of pro sports. I know that the NWSL is a rare league where that is sometimes taken into account but if I’m a GM for a team and I want a player from another team I’m not calling her up and saying “Hey, Jane, are you happy in Portland? You are? DAMMIT. Oh well, ok, thanks. I’ll see if I can find another player…”

          • mockmook

            “Hey, Jane, are you happy in Portland? You are?”

            It may not be the deciding factor, but you do need to take it into consideration (especially at these low salaries).

          • Breakers fan

            That would be ideal — getting a player’s green light before making a trade. Heath wouldn’t be paid a low salary of course, relatively.

            Good research project:

            1. With how many (what % of) NWSL trades to date were a players’ feelings consulted *before* a trade to gauge how they felt about moving? Ones in this category: Leroux to Seattle, Leroux to KC, Morgan to Orlando, Zerboni back to WNY, I’m sure others.

            2. With how many trades were players not consulted at all about it in advance? Ones that come to mind in this category I think are: Zerboni and Farrelly to Boston, Salem to Boston, Mewis to Washington, Kallman to Washington, Engen to Boston, Naeher to Chicago.

            In other words, ideally you get permission first, but it’s very hard to run a business that way.

          • mockmook

            “it’s very hard to run a business that way”

            Most businesses run “the other way”

            You can’t force employees to transfer to a different location — so, businesses expect to lose a good number of employees when re-locations are forced. Sports is the exception, not the rule. And, SUPER-LOW paying sports bring us back to the norm.

          • Breakers fan

            Good point about non-sports jobs. I meant “a pro sports franchise” where the norm is to not ask a player if he/she wants to be traded first. And athletes know the nature of their profession and what can and does often happen, that re-locations are common, the norm.

            What % of NWSL trades to date do you think involved getting players’ permissions first? I guess we have no way of knowing. I just know that other sports do not ask, unless a veteran has reached a “no trade clause” point in his career

          • mockmook

            Again, this is NOT a (traditional) sport — this is more like a hobby.

            Of course you will move if someone is offering you a million dollars or whatever in the REAL sports.

          • Breakers fan

            I know it isn’t. My point is: You’re the GM of a team. Do you or do you not, every time, get permission from your player to go to a certain city in a trade you have in mind? This is what GM’s face when deciding whether to change their roster by trades. Either you get permission or you don’t. And then if the other coach or GM involved is asking her player then even if you have it from your player you wait for the answer at that end and her preference of where to live kicks in. What you seem to be saying is that you’d be a super nice GM and would only trade players who agree to go a specific city in a trade. Am I reading you correctly? You would allow your team to not ever alter by trade if every player you had who you considered trading nixed the deal in advance,,am I reading you accurately? Just getting down to the brass tacks of actually running a team and trying to alter your roster through methods other than the draft and signing international players. They’ll make the same in Boston or KC, remember. It’s just living somewhere else.

          • mockmook

            Every trade and player is unique.

            If I’m acquiring a high value player, I’d make damn sure that they would move before I make a deal (like, before I send my entire draft to a rival).

            If it is a mid level trade/player, I might gamble that her passion for the game will bring her to me (even if she doesn’t want the move).

            It’s about being smart, not about being nice.

          • Breakers fan

            That makes sense – do some research in advance. Farrelly, even though some mysterious injury was also involved, to Boston was not wise, and 2 months in we learned that Zerboni to Boston was also not wise – by Boston. But what about Paulson there – he most certainly did not ask Zerboni or Farrelly if they were ok with leaving Portland to go to Boston. He wanted to make that deal and he made it, their feelings, their happiness living in Portland be damned. Then you have a good soldier like Angela Salem who clearly loved being in Washington but she accepted the deal to Boston and made a go of it, did her best, didn’t complain.

            You did not address if you would ask your player if she was ok with leaving. Would you get permission from your players necessarily first? If you’re a player in Portland how many do you think would, if given a choice, leave Portland for another city?

            When you put the players in charge of trades it just seems a slippery slope of consulting feelings, how every player might feel about every city, when the vaguest of whims would determine whether any trade occurred, and then if a trade occurred that went against a player’s preference does the player have the right to be in an eternal tantrum on her new team? Maybe so and as you say, with players “like that” you need to find it out in advance.

          • mockmook

            Playing GM:

            Whether a player is happy leaving is no concern to me — that’s a problem for the GM on the receiving end of the deal.

          • Steglitz49

            Until fans go along and watch WoSo so that the income at the ground and thereby the sponsorship goes up, WoSo will remain a hobby. A select few superstars can make somewhat of a living from it.

            The responsibility of successful WoSo rests on the fans — and the odd character like Terry, Aulas and Paulsen.

          • Breakers fan

            Whoa. Apologies to Ms. Farrelly. I just looked her up on twitter and right at the top of her page, 8 months after her last post, is a new post that links you to her facebook page. She addresses where and how she is in the present and her current relationship to soccer. Check it out.

          • mockmook

            Yes, I saw that.

            I think I owe you an “I told you so”

            Unless my memory is playing more tricks on me, a few months back you were railing against Farrelly and I suggested you wait to hear the story first — but I could be making all this up, my own “fake news”

          • Breakers fan

            My memory is saying “probably, and to some extent”. I think I would have added “I’m not sure what’s going on with her, need to hear” but I do admit that I harbored some skepticism, worried that she just didn’t want to play in Boston, I do think I would have added that I needed to hear more. You, though, probably left out more of the skepticism part, so you’re right to say this here.

          • mockmook

            The fact that Farrelly didn’t issue some sort of statement after the accident happened should have been a big red flag for Boston.

            There was no need for “secrecy”.

            I hope they encouraged her to open up about it at the time.

            But, ultimately, we are all responsible for our own lives — it was up to her to stop holding all this in.

          • Breakers fan

            Did you watch the Yang video? Just saying – if Mallory Pugh (sorry, Mal, nothing against you) did all those things you see in the video fans would be rushing to their computers to gush.
            I know it’s a highlight reel and thus shows her at her best but she *did* all those things and on dumb astroturf fields too. Not sure at all how she compares to big program players but I was impressed by her play.

          • mockmook

            Yes, watched the video.

            Not as impressed as you — she seems like a fine player, but I think if we put the top players’ highlights against hers it wouldn’t seem as impressive.

          • Breakers fan

            I’m not super-duper impressed but if I saw that and you told me she played for UNC or Virginia I wouldn’t have doubted you. Better than I expected before I hit play and some flashes of razzle-dazzle too that were effective. I have to think that if she had gone to a higher-profile program she’d be better known. But as you said it’s hard to judge effectively when you’re seeing just positives.

          • Lorehead

            I’m sorry to hear that she’s still having problems from her accident. Concussions, on or off the field, are very serious problems. Wherever she chooses to go from here, and the whole world is open to her, I wish her the best.

          • Steglitz49

            Lyon did it with money like LASol many years ago. Chelsea seems to do it another way because of FA rules.

          • Som Termanni

            Indeed, none of the current Flash roster’s players have hometown connections to the Carolinas. Jess McDonald went to UNC and Sabrina D’Angelo went to South Carolina–that’s as close as they get.

            They have more players connected to Southern California than anywhere else. Almost seems like a wasted opportunity.

          • kernel_thai

            Which brings to mind LAFC who may be looking to come in next year. How much better would it have been to start with a quality team with so much SoCal related talent than get an expansion team a year later?

          • Steglitz49

            Why do you think Jean-Michel Aulas pursued Alex Morgan?

            Morgan was meant to do it for Orlando and maybe she did. Who can do it for these NCs?

      • No way Heath will leave Portland. Ohai maybe. I could also see KO possibly making a move to NC – closer to Atlanta where she is from.

      • guest

        Heath will stay in Portland at least through 2018, when her girlfriend leaves the Red Stars for LAFC. I could see Tobin leaving for LA if they are still together. They have made their off season home in portland anyway.

        • Breakers fan

          I love all the personal, extra-soccer stuff. Honestly, it’s sweet. And the NWSL is a place that does sometimes factor in individuals’ happiness. Other sports couldn’t care less. They’re there to assemble as good a team as they can, and “why shouldn’t a player be happy in my fair city too?” But, yes. I think you’re right in predicting that Heath will stay in Portland and not come to North Carolina.

          • Steglitz49

            I do not love their brand of “personal, extra-soccer stuff” because it is nasty, slanderous garbage, only typed to denigrate women players. The writers are vile bottom-feeders, that must be weeded and stamped out.

            These lowlife that fly under the flag of convenience of “guest” must be put to the sword. WoSo does not need these backyard rats putting their sticky pawprints all over the bodies of young players.

        • Steglitz49

          Has Tobin announced that she has a girlfriend? If not, please desist from your muck-racking bottomf-eeder slimey behaviour.

      • kernel_thai

        Second would be HAO from KC. Both r realistic as opposed to trying to get a teams best player. O’Reilly is local and u get a year round cheerleader for the team. They will also be able to host one of the better tryout camps in the league.

        • Breakers fan

          Dunn would be “trying to get a team’s best player” though. More so than Ohai.

          Why would their tryout camp be one of the best? The warmer weather?

          • kernel_thai

            It’s plain she doesn’t want to play for the Spirit. She is the first of the NT players not to tie and overseas deal to a loan back to the NWSL. Instead she plans to sit around for June, July and August. And yes the Spirit can stubbornly hang onto her rights until they revert back to the league and she re-enters thru UFI.

            Because they will have all those undrafted players from Clemson, Wake Forest, UNC, South Carolina, Duke, etc within driving distance of a tryout.

          • Breakers fan

            Thanks — excellent point about the tryout NCFC can have, I hadn’t thought of that.

            What do you make of the news that Dunn bought a house in the DC area and purportedly told Gabarra she wants to stay with the Spirit? I don’t know what to make of it, do you just not buy it?

  • Gary Diver

    Is it true that Lyon plays most of its matches at the Plaine des Jeux de Gerland, which only holds 2,200 fans? What is Lyon’s average home attendance for league play? The average home attendance for one of Division 1 Féminine’s lesser 10 teams must be awful. WoSo in Europe doesn’t seem to carry their weight with ticket sales, but everybody expects NWSL to be profitable based on its attendance.

    • kernel_thai

      For example when people think of Dunn signing with Chelsea they think of Stamford Bridge (40K) but the ground the Ladies use only holds 3000 fans.

      • guest

        For some reason I thought the English league womens’ teams played in the mens’ stadiums. I guess that was dumb.

        • Som Termanni

          Some do. The FA Women’s Cup finals were in Wembley and drew 30k. But most matches are held on practice grounds, training team facilities, or youth stadiums, much as in the majority of the NWSL.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. The FA women’s Cup final of 2015 attracted 30,000 in the stands and 2016 it was almost 33,000. The matches were shown live on the BBC as awell.

            Nevertheless, most of the time the English lasses play in front of one man and his dog.

        • Steglitz49

          The FA requires that matches for the FA women’s Cup are played on natural grass. This is not negotiable. Thus, some of the early round matches are played in quite big stadia.

          Else it is true that their ladies play in small stadia that are not full by any means.

    • WoSo in Europe doesn’t need to carry their weight on ticket sales because they have huge men’s clubs backing/paying for them. It’s a drop in the bucket for Lyon/PSG/Chelsea to support a women’s team and it’s also why they can pay way more than NWSL teams for world class players.

      Without major teams backing them, NWSL teams only way to make money is attendance.

      • Gary Diver

        Why are the men’s European teams financially supporting WoSo. Is there political pressure? Is it guilt? Is it good PR? Rich people usually don’t part with their money unless they get something in return.

        • guest

          Soccer feds are supposedly required by FIFA to support women’s soccer leagues.

        • USMNTfan4life

          All three (political pressure, guilt and good PR). That is professional WoSo in the US too.

    • guest

      Average attendance for the FAWSL this past season was 1,128, according to the FA. BYU women’s soccer, in contrast, drew an average crowd of 2,957 this season.

    • Steglitz49

      Yes. Lyon plays in their men’s stadium for matches expected to draw large numbers, which in the past has meant the later stages of the Champions League.

      The sort of attendances that Umeå was able to attract in their glory days is still only a dream and figment of the imagination in other European leagues. The sad note of realism is that last season Umeå was relegated from Damallsvenskan.

      The puropse of the NWSL is to satisfy the need for a league. The NWSL does this for its founder members, to wit Canada, Mexico and USA.

    • Som Termanni

      I crunched the numbers in another thread, but D1F so far this season is averaging about 730 attendance per match. Only one match all season has drawn 2,000 or more fans, and it was Guingame-Marseille. Lyon averages 1,037 per match, PSG 844.

      When Morgan played in front of more than 23,000 in Orlando’s opener, she played in front of more people than the combined attendance to all matches of the first six rounds of this D1F season.

      • Steglitz49

        So what?

        Lyon allegedly is paying Alex 25,000€ per month. That is reality.

  • Gary Diver

    Off-Topic Alert: When was Jeff Plush’s last press conference? (When was he last seen alive?)

    This would be a perfect time for Plush to face the public. USSF, USWNT, and NWSL want public support, yet they never seem to want to be accountable to anybody.

    Plush should respond to:

    1. USWNT players going to Europe.

    2. NWSL plans for expansion.

    3. Are more MLS teams going to have sister teams?

    4. Are Vancouver rumors real? Would NWSL allow a Vancouver team to pick-and-choose Canadian players? Would Christine Sinclair be part of the negotiations?

    5. Explain what is going on with the “buy-and-take” North Carolina franchise. Was the league informed ahead of time? Does the league have an issue with the North Carolina LGBT controversy?

    3. Ideas for structural improvements for NWSL.

    4. NWSL TV contracts for 2017.

    5. Progress on getting NWSL sponsors?

    6. Marketing plans for NWSL?

    7. A NWSL all-star match?

    8. Rule changes?

    9. fill in the blank . . .

    • You are right. Don Garber (MLS Commish) gives a yearly “state of the league” press conference, it should be the same for NWSL.

      • Som Termanni

        Doesn’t the NWSL usually do this at the draft, presumably so they can co-opt the NSCAA Convention equipment and save themselves $50 on a PA system rental? That new second-hand fax machine isn’t going to pay for itself, after all.

      • guest

        that’s one more than jill ellis.

    • Steglitz49

      #1 — it is a free world in which to pursue life and happiness.
      #2 — there will be no matches. Maybe the FA, DFB and FFF will sue for damages owing to a cancelled SBC?
      #3 — he long ago said 2018 at the earliest
      #4 — ask the MLS teams — if I were an MLS team, I might demur
      etc etc ad infinitem

      • Gary Diver

        My questions were asked in terms of how these things affect NWSL. Is NWSL just a mirage so USSF can have a national club team without it being called a national club team? Is not clear Plush and his directors actually do anything. Two years ago when NWSL decided to change the rules for hosting the championship match, it was leaked to the media before it was publicly announced by the league’s office. Everything NWSL does appears to be an amateur operation. For example, remember Alex Morgan using social media to deal with the bed bug problem? Apparently NWSL doesn’t have any mechanism to deal with such issues.

        • Steglitz49

          The main purpose of the NWSL is for their to be a pro-league. It fulfills this obligation for Canada and Mexico as well as the US.

          The German DFB has a limit of 3 non-EU players per club for WoSo while Sweden has no such limit. The Swedish FA has been criticized for allowing too many foreign players (a couple of years ago there were on average 6 -7 in a starting XI.)

          WoSo has no money the world over. Women players playing for wealthy men’s clubs have massively better conditions than their sisters in non-male clubs.

          Last night I was at a men’s hockey game. The team in question is not very good, towards the bottom of the pile. It was sold out. The sponsorship was massive. Wine and beer flowed like no tomorrow. At the same time, top rated WoSo clubs eke out an exiseance.

          Alex Morgan probably does not need to worry about bedbugs in Lyon, nor will she need to sleep on the coach to save a hotel bill for the club.

  • guest

    USSF made decision to provisionally consider both NASL and USL as DII
    from SI article
    “That both are provisionally second-division leagues means there will be no third-tier league this year. But there could be one in 2018 if the standards—which also cover the number of member teams, owner net worth and other elements—aren’t met during the next 12 months.”

    the North Carolina FC team that is in process of acquiring WNY Flash is one of the teams playing in NASL (currently only 6 confirmed NASL teams).
    The NCFC owner (and soon to be NC Flash/Courage? owner) will have a lot to juggle during next 12 months (wants to build new stadium etc )