WPS: Looking Forward to the Sequel

9 09 2009

The inaugural season of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) ended in August, but I have been delaying writing anything here (or transferring the All-Star game to DVD) as it makes it so… final. It’s time to take one long last look at this fledgling league and wait wistfully for next year.

  • Yes, I made DVD copies of every single game on Fox Soccer Channel this year, if for no other reason than to have tangible evidence that WPS really happened. If it completely crashed and burned a few weeks into the season, I wanted some artifact to preserve the idea. I’m pleased to note that WPS will be back for another season, with expansion teams, even.
  • No, thank YOU.

    No, thank YOU.

  • WPS was excellent not only for bringing more opportunities to see Hope Solo in action, but players from all over the world that prior to this year I had never heard of. Abily, Bompastor, and Aluko come immediately to mind.
  • Which ties into something I expounded on at length this past year about WPS and women’s athletics in general: I have a fresh slate of heroes. And never mind who I like, coming from a 40 year-old male who doesn’t live in the WPS market (het hem), how about all of the girls and young women who are inspired to play better soccer, or soccer itself? I’m holding out hope that boys and young men took inspiration from WPS as well, but let’s start with the women.
  • I have high, heaping praise for Fox Soccer Channel. Not only did they carve out room (and committed resources) to a WPS game of the week throughout the entire season, I still owe a thank-you email to FSC for the duo of Mark Rogondino and Jenn Hildreth. Oh, my god, ESPN could learn a few things about covering women’s sports from these two. No corny gimmicks, no “wired” coaches, no mugging for face time. It’s all about WPS itself and the quality on the field. Hell, in a league that features enough firepower to destroy a planet (Major League Soccer should be so lucky, honestly), it shouldn’t be about the announcers. Mark and Jenn did great justice to the league and to the network. I can’t praise them enough but will say, “FSC, you had better bring them back next year!”
  • Since I used my money line in the previous bullet, I’ll briefly note that the All-Star game was pretty exciting for what I expected to be a “nothing” game. Umea IK (Sweden) scored two goals in the first half, which put WPS on notice that this wasn’t a “for fun” game. But like I said, even with the European stars off pulling national team duty, WPS still has enough firepower to destroy a planet, or Umea IK, as needed. 4-2 WPS.
  • I don’t want to hear any bullshit about women being weak, and not athletic enough. Know what’s in my stack of DVDs? Graphic, uncut, uncensored footage of Natasha Kai dislocating her shoulder in the run of play, and having a teammate yank her arm back into its socket. And then it was off to keep making runs looking for scoring opportunities. She can drink from my canteen any day.
  • (Why use a canteen when you have a championship trophy?)
  • Oh, how could I forget to mention this? Player/coach Christie Rampone coached/played with the WPS Champion Sky Blue FC… WHILE NEARLY THREE MONTHS PREGNANT. Silence, fools.
  • Since this is a WPS article, I have to, by law, mention Marta. What’s amazing about Marta is that she is so incredible to watch, but that doesn’t mean LA is guaranteed to go undefeated on the basis of one player. BUT. Marta delivers, even when she goes scoreless and LA loses. While US audiences got to see much more Marta this year than ever before, I wonder if the trade-off is going to be that Brazil takes all the marbles in 2011. Maybe not, as the USWNT has – say it with me – enough firepower to destroy a planet. Brazil has Marta who got to play with and against components of the USWNT war machine. 2011 just got even more exciting to think about.
  • I was crushed when Saint Louis got canned by Sky Blue FC in the super semifinal, but Hope Solo can’t play both ends of the pitch. Warning flags shot up when Aluko was cited as the go-to goal scorer (as if nobody else could score any) and she was off with her national team. Hope Solo made some spectacular saves, but that doesn’t put points on the board for STL. Hats off to Sky Blue FC for defying some pretty enormous odds to go all the way. Really, three coaches in one season doesn’t exactly cry out “WPS champion team” to me, but what do I know?

Alright, enough reminiscing for now. I’m geeked about 2010, what with WPS coming back bigger and better, plus a diversion that some know as the World Cup. With any luck, I’ll make it to more than one WPS game next season. Three cheers for WPS!

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