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Connecticut expansion team rumors heat up

Last September Women’s Professional Soccer awarded an expansion franchise to Western New York after an expedited wooing process that took just two months. This year, another expansion candidate is close to going from myth to done deal in a similar time frame.

On Monday, former Philadelphia Independence general manager Terry Foley revealed via Twitter that a Connecticut-based franchise is close to joining WPS. The team would play in the Hartford, Conn. area.

“[A]ccepted the position of Technical Director for the new Connecticut franchise, assuming they join WPS in 2012,” he tweeted.

The recently rumored Connecticut franchise looks “very likely” to be part of WPS in 2012, according to one source close to the situation. There is no official word from the league yet, but the confirmation seems imminent. As Foley also said via Twitter on Monday, there could be an announcement as early as this week.

A potential group of Connecticut owners approached WPS about expansion opportunities following the success of the 2011 World Cup. Word of that quietly emerged at the WPS Championship in Rochester on August 27, which the still-mysterious Connecticut group attended.

Philadelphia Independence owner and WPS expansion co-chair David Halstead said in late September that if a new team were to enter the league for 2012, it would have to be within the month.

“We are not going to have any trouble incorporating [an expansion team] into the WPS world – branding, launching, expansion draft, the other player drafts that we have – as long as we can conclude things in the October period,” he said last month. “And I think that we are on track to do that.”

Several team officials throughout the league are confident that all six teams from 2011 will return in 2012, making Connecticut team No. 7 for next season. One source says the league expects at least three West Coast teams in 2013, which has been the plan WPS has put forth over the past two months.

Where the potential team would play still remains a mystery. Hartford is the word, but New Britain is just 15 minutes south and features Veterans Memorial Stadium, which hosted a WPS game on August 21, 2010 when the Boston Breakers hosted the Atlanta Beat.

Any WPS team in Connecticut immediately brings to mind Tony DiCicco, former Boston Breakers and U.S. Women’s National Team coach who is one of the state’s most recognizable soccer figures. Last month he said nobody had contacted him about an expansion team.

Following that game in New Britain last year, DiCicco commended the Connecticut fans and the match atmosphere.

“It was a good atmosphere. Connecticut has always been known for good soccer, good soccer support and this is something we should try to do annually,” said then Boston Breakers head coach Tony DiCicco.

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