Saturday, December 17, 2011

WPS life support

Women's Professional Soccer lives, albeit conditionally and mysteriously.

On Monday night, US Soccer's Board of Directors agreed to sanction "Division I" five-team WPS for 2012 on the basis of arguments made by league officials citing growing support from the 2011 Women's World Cup, continued exposure for the sport promised by the 2012 Olympics Games, and potential expansion.

Sanctioning was initially in question as the league contains only five teams right now, one less than it did last year when WPS was initially granted a waiver from US Soccer. With the expulsion of Dan Borislow's magicJack, the team was very much on the chopping block with only five teams.

Per the venerable Beau Dure, the top-tier sanctioning was dependent upon all five current teams agreeing to adding a sixth team in 2013, as well as a seventh and an eighth in 2014. There were also financial stipulations.

It's worth noting that, according to US Soccer by-laws, the federation will be receiving a $350,000 league fee due to the league's Division I sanctioning. In effect, the fed wasn't really losing anything by granting sanctioning. In fact, US Soccer always stood to gain at least a membership fee, not to mention a regular professional setting in which its player pool can develop.

The national team stars we all went crazy for last summer seem steadily committed to growing the game stateside. So long as someone's willing to pay their salary, don't expect an exodus of premier American talent to take place anytime soon. Remember, 22 of the 23 players from last year's World Cup squad played domestically, with only Ali Krieger player her club soccer for FFC Frankfurt in Germany.

What matters now is that US Soccer and WPS are on the same page. Both parties want there to be a league next year, they want that league to expand and succeed, and by all indications it will at least exist in the new year. Until then, we can expect plenty of speculation on the suitors of former magicJack stars like Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe and Christie Rampone. And for everyone except Dan Borislow, that's good news.

- Jacob Klinger

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