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The Weekly: May 16, 2011

The Weekly

What a week, huh?  This is The Weekly – Monday, May 16, 2011:

A lot more after the jump:

Check out what Borislow had to say to the Miami Herald:

“I refuse to be a zombie and do things just because the league says,” Borislow said. “The league is dying, and may not even be around next year, so I am doing what I can to keep it going. The league is overlooking the important thing, which is that we are attracting girls to come watch women’s soccer. We are reaching girls, encouraging them to play soccer and not be lazy cupcake eaters. I’m not trying to make money at this. I’m doing it because there’s a place for women’s soccer and, hopefully, we can work out our differences with the league.”

The fact that Borislow wants to stand up against what he feels is a poor business model is not the issue.  Owners should be trying to change a clearly struggling – and to be frank, failing – business model, but the way he is going about it has hurt the image of the team, league and sport.  First, Borislow decided to call league officials “infidels” and he followed that up with arguments in, of all things, the comments section of two highly visible women’s soccer sites.  Check that out here and here, where Borislow argues with Sun-Sentinel reporter Jeff Rusnak.  Frankly, I’ve never seen such a forum used for a public squabble between a reporter and team owner.

Naturally, the league had something to say.  That is probably best left in full, so check that out here.

Hope Solo issued a series of 12 tweets about the point deduction before her entire history of tweets mysteriously disappeared.  The lead-off tweet was this:

“So,MagicJack gets docked a point?Somebody please enlighten me if this has ever happened in sports?Let’s make sure marta’s team stays on top.”

In an interview with Shawn Mitchell at the Columbus Dispatch, Abby Wambach called Borislow “fantastic.”  Borislow has treated his players extremely well, evidenced by condos on the beach, lunches with Donald Trump and reportedly generous player wages.  For the few fans I have heard try to claim that fans, media and the league should be happy because ‘oh look the players say everything is great,’ is ludicrous.  The players won’t have a job if they decide to say anything else.  This is one of those stories where true feelings come out years later.

It’s clear from Twitter that magicJack players feel the point deduction was an excessive penalty.  In talking to players, coaches and owners around the league, I can tell you that those around the league view the situation as a huge detriment to the women’s game.  To think otherwise would be living in a bubble.  When the subject came up over the weekend, there was a lot of head dropping, sighing and eye rolling.

And the notion that any PR is good PR?  Nonsense.  The only reason national media is paying attention to the situation is because it is unprecedented and absurd.  Does anybody actually think that major national outlets picking up this story – not anything else about the league, but just this – is a good thing?  Since when does NPR care about WPS?  At best, these outlets are documenting the struggles of a fledgling league.  At worst, they are taking the opportunity to have a good laugh at the absurdity of the situation.  Go ahead and search “WPS” on Google news and see what you get.

Anyway, as somebody passionate about this game, I would like to be able to focus on the product on the field, which has looked pretty good thus far in 2011.  Sunday should provide a great game between magicJack and the Western New York Flash in the battle of the unbeatens.  Unfortunately, this subject surely will not go away.

On to the actual games on the field…

The United States defeated Japan 2-0 on Saturday behind goals from Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez.  The two teams meet again on Wednesday in Cary, N.C.  Also check out this piece on Japanese women’s club soccer and the Nadeshiko League.

The Western New York Flash topped the Boston Breakers 3-2 after shaky goalkeeping at both ends.  Breakers Head Coach Tony DiCicco was not happy with some of his young players.

Brazil beat Chile 3-0 in a friendly World Cup tune-up match on Saturday. Marta, Rosana and Aline Pellegrino.

Australia defeated New Zealand 2-1, but Lisa De Vanna has been dismissed from the Matilda’s squad.

Canada drew 1-1 with Switzerland.  Kaylyn Kyle had the goal for the Canadians.

Check out Jared Montz’s podcast with Carli Lloyd here.

Lisa Eisenmenger takes a look at how New Balance is making waves in the greater Boston area.

Congratulations to Jenna Pel on inking her first piece with espnW.

The USL W-League kicked off this weekend with Pali, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte and Vancouver all picked up wins, while Seattle and Victoria played to a 0-0 draw on Saturday.  Former FC Gold Pride and Boston Breakers forward Tiffany Weimer scored both of the Vancouver Whitecaps goals in a 2-0 win over the Victoria Highlanders on Sunday.  Vancouver is also playing every home game in a different venue this year and marketing the women’s team hard in their “Women’s Soccer Series.”  You have to wonder if that is a way of gearing up to go to a professional flight – whether WPS or the newly conceived WPSL Pro division that is supposed to launch in 2012.  Here’s an example of Vancouver’s marketing with Weimer at the center.

Also be sure to check out Gerald Barnhart’s spectacular piece on the connection between the W-League and Pia Sundhage’s Women’s World Cup roster.

The WPSL also kicked off this weekend.  The Bay Area Breeze topped the California Storm 1-0 off a Lauren Alkek goal (assisted by Tiffeny Milbrett).  Of note: Brandi Chastain was sent off in the sixth minute apparently for hitting the Storm’s Kristina Hall.

And speaking of the WPSL: Jenna Pel reported on the WPSL’s ambitions for a professional division, which is an interesting move in a time when WPS is perceived to be struggling.  WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli told The Equalizer that the pro division is a “natural” step for the league, which has evolved from six teams on the West Coast when it began 14 years ago to now 65 teams across the country.  The pro division would also start out west in 2012 and although plans are still very preliminary, the WPSL is trying to find a sustainable business model for women’s soccer.

“We will have a very different structure,” Zanelli said.  “We started out the WPSL with a model that was different.  We’ll try to learn from the WUSA and WPS and see how it can be structured to have teams on the West Coast.”

The team WPSL Pro division could serve as a way to prepare teams for entrance into WPS, which does not have any presence west of Atlanta.  But for now, it seems WPSL is trying to offer a professional model for the West Coast.  Zanelli said he hopes to see WPS succeed, “but at this point that doesn’t mean the West Coast should sit here and wait.”

According to Zenelli, the biggest difference in the business models will be player salaries.  Not all players would be paid in the WPSL Pro set-up.  Those who no longer have college eligibility would be amateur status, but training would be worked around daytime jobs that players hold.

“The one thing that’s done in both leagues’ is salaries,” Zanelli said.  “The attraction for top South American and European players has obscured the market.  The survival of the league and teams is our goal.”

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