Here’s what we know about women’s soccer in the D.C. area and what we don’t know, all leading up to a couple of hypotheticals:
KNOW: The WPS team formerly known as the Washington Freedom is now magicJack’s Washington Freedom. Yes, magicJack … not magicTalk. Dan Borislow, the team owner, says the product name “magicTalk” will be changing.
DON’T KNOW: How many, if any, games this team will play anywhere near Washington. The schedule released today says the following: “The home venue for magicJack’s Washington Freedom will be Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. The team might play one or two of its home games in the Washington, D.C. area.”
KNOW: Barring an unexpected construction surge, the team will break the record for smallest WPS crowd. Our Game contacted the university’s assistant director for facilities, Mitch Silverman, who said the team would play all of its games at an on-campus stadium that would hold 1,200-1,500 fans. By my hasty calculations scanning through the 2010 and 2009 results, the current record is 1,878.
DON’T KNOW: Whether anyone in South Florida has noticed that they’re getting a soccer team loaded with some of the best women’s soccer players anywhere (Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Christie Rampone, Shannon Boxx). General news searches for “freedom wambach” and “freedom ‘florida atlantic'” turned up nothing. A search for team owner “Borislow” turned up nothing at the Miami Herald and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel sites. And these are papers with excellent soccer reporters. That’s how quietly Borislow is doing things.
KNOW: The Maryland SoccerPlex, the Freedom’s home for the last seven years, will be the home field for the W-League’s Washington FC.
DON’T KNOW: Who owns Washington FC. (Yes, I’m looking into it.)
KNOW: Borislow, who bought the Freedom from the Hendricks family (WUSA founders), owns the Freedom trademark and could be stuck with it thanks to the complexities of uniform contracts with Puma. If he were to stop using that trademark, it could revert to WPS. But it’s a little murky from that point.
DON’T KNOW: Whether Borislow could sell or bestow that trademark to Washington FC. When asked if he would be willing to let a new club inherit the Freedom name and the Freedom’s relationships with youth clubs, Borislow said, “I would do anything to help youth soccer.” He wasn’t sure whether he could grant Washington FC the rights to the name.
KNOW: WPS has no leverage with Borislow. He most likely saved the league from extinction. If he hadn’t stepped up, WPS might not exist. And no one in the Washington area did it.
DON’T KNOW: Whether women’s soccer as a whole will be better off this way. I asked aloud on Twitter today whether fans would’ve preferred that the remaining WPS teams simply fold into the W-League, where they can play as professional teams. The reaction ranged from indifference to enthusiasm.
So is the best solution for Washington fans to hope that the W-League Washington FC is run by ambitious folks who can reclaim the Freedom name and build a team that could possibly jump into WPS if the league is healthy down the road? Possibly.
Can they do it?
We don’t know.