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Thursday musings: On the age-old dream of endless expansion

Expansion is the age-old debate in American soccer circles.  Everyone wants to predict where the next MLS team will land, how the NASL and USL-PRO will compete in similar markets and if WPS can garner interest from new owners.

On Wednesday, Lisa Eisenmenger posted an interview with Vancouver Whitecaps Women’s Head Coach Hubert Busby Jr., where he said, “we’re exploring opportunities to play at the highest level, whatever acronym that may be.”  Obviously right now, that level is WPS, which Busby Jr. acknowledges.

Vancouver, which plays in the USL W-League and lost in the 2010 final to the Buffalo Flash (now WPS’ Western New York Flash), is currently looking into acquiring a WPS expansion team.  However, the Whitecaps will not entertain the idea of being the only West Coast team in a league currently based exclusively on the East Coast.  Well, duh.  They won’t need to be librarians to research what happened to FC Gold Pride.

Vancouver will stay right there in the W-League, which features an eight team Western Conference, unless Seattle decides to make the jump to WPS along with the Whitecaps.  The Seattle Sounders are also currently in the W-League.  Along with Vancouver and Seattle, Orange County – which tried to enter WPS in 2011 but could not come up with enough money – is the other leading expansion candidate for 2012.

Busby Jr. states that another team or two on the West Coast needs to enter the league in order to help convince the Whitecaps into moving up to WPS.  That most definitely means Seattle, which is essentially a bus ride.  The 1,300 mile trek to Los Angeles is not exactly convincing as a ‘local’ game, although it is closer than say, Florida, some 3,500 miles away.  Good luck on that road trip.

So, unless Vancouver and Seattle make a pact to come into WPS together – similar to how MLS has rapidly grown its Pacific Northwest footprint – don’t get overly excited.

In other Whitecaps news, the team has signed former FC Gold Pride and Boston Breakers midfielder Tiffany Weimer for the upcoming 2011 season.  What is interesting is that actual link.  Notice it lands on the women’s section of Vancouver’s MLS Web site.  On Wednesday, the Weimer story was the No. 2 headline in scrolling news on the home page.  That shows some of the potential exposure a WPS team owned by an MLS club could get.

Elsewhere:

  • magicJack (the latest incarnation of the club’s name) has changed its colors to green, white and black.  Jenna Pel first Tweeted it and a league source has confirmed it with The Equalizer.  Looks like those jerseys really were set to change.  The normally 18 month uniform process now has one month to get done.  Expect generic uniforms (and that won’t be Puma’s fault).
  • Also, magicJack mutually terminated Erin McLeod’s contract.  Looks like the Canadian goalkeeper is headed overseas.
  • Philadelphia Independence Head Coach Paul Riley has been named Person of the Year by Philly Soccer News.

    “I’m honored to accept the award from Philly Soccer News, especially following last year’s winner Nick Sakiewicz, who has done so much for soccer in Philly,” said Riley. “The Philadelphia Independence players have accepted and created a tremendous soccer culture, and I’m extremely proud to be a part of it. Their work ethic and dedication to the cause has been instrumental in the success we have enjoyed in our short existence,” he added. “I want to thank the players, support staff and the owner of the Independence, David Halstead, for their complete support over the past year. It has been memorable and rewarding.  I’m excited to make 2011 even more memorable, and hopefully we can give the brilliant fans we have in Philly a WPS Championship to enjoy.”

  • While reading all of this, you could have listened to the latest Equalizer Women’s Soccer podcast.  You should still do that anyway.  The topic is U.S. Women’s National Team players playing the juggling act with WPS games.  Didn’t they learn when they felt burnt out at the end of 2010?
  • And not to be forgotten is Kristine Lilly, who will have her Breakers No. 13 jersey retired on May 22.
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