Two NWSL reserve teams in WPSL Final Four, we think

Never easy, but here’s what I’ve figured out so far from the WPSL site schedule:

Home teams listed first, where applicable.

West Region
Champions of Northwest (Issaquah), Pac North (Spurs), Pac South (SoCal); plus Pac South runner-up (San Diego) 

Playoffs (July 18)
SoCal FC 5-0 Tottenham Hotspur Eastbay Ladies
Issaquah Soccer Club 3-1 San Diego SeaLions

Final (July 19)
SoCal FC vs. Issaquah Soccer Club

East Region
Champions of Northeast (Boston), Power 5 (New England), Mid Atlantic (Yankee); plus Mid Atlantic runner-up (Hershey) … news report said Seacoast United Phantoms would be in.

Playoffs (July 18)
New England Mutiny 2-0 Yankee Lady FC
Boston Breakers Reserves 6-1 Hershey Soccer Club

Final (July 19)
Boston Breakers Reserves 2-0 New England Mutiny

Midwest Region
Champions of Midwest-Central (Chicago), Midwest-Great Lakes (Motor City) and Can Am (Empire); news report said Fire and Ice also would play

Playoff (July 17)
Chicago Red Stars Reserves 5-1 Empire City FC

Final (July 19)
Motor City FC 0-2 Chicago Red Stars Reserves

SOUTHERN REGION

News report said we would see this:

1. Sunshine Conference playoffs July 11-12

2. Semifinals and final July 18-19, starting with
Sunshine vs. Southeast
Big Sky vs. South Atlantic

Sunshine played games listed as regular-season games July 11:
Tampa Bay Hellenic 4-1 Florida Sol FC
Florida Krush 0-2 Pinellas County United SC

Southeast played games listed as playoffs July 10:
FC Nashville Wolves 4-0 Alabama FC
Knoxville Lady Force 3-1 Chattanooga FC

This Big Sky vs. Southeast game is listed as a playoff, not final (July 18)
Knoxville Lady Force 0-2 Oklahoma City FC

According to WPSL Twitter, Oklahoma City FC qualified for national championship. They’re hosting.

South Atlantic champion ASA Charge played instead in the USASA National Championship with South Atlantic runner-up Fredericksburg FC, Power 5 runner-up New York Athletic Club, and something called Olympic Club. Winner seems to be Olympic Club. 

So it appears we’ll have two NWSL reserve teams in the Final Four (meanwhile, the Washington Spirit Reserves are in the W-League Final Four), plus Oklahoma City FC and the West winner.

U.S. soccer’s cluttered amateur/semipro/youth landscape

Summers are getting shorter all the time, aren’t they?

If you’re a soccer player or fan, they certainly are. My county’s school system only wrapped up its school year 30 days ago. And already, a lot of our local soccer teams have finished their seasons.

That’s the reality today for the W-League, WPSL, PDL and NPSL, which try to squeeze competitive seasons, national playoffs and the occasional cup competition into the 10 weeks or so between the end of the college academic year and the time their players are due back on campus for preseason training.

The teams all have different goals. Some are offshoots of youth clubs giving their oldest players another opportunity to play. Some are official or unofficial reserve teams for the pros. Some are Changing the Way You Will Think About American Soccer! That’s a tough task in a 10-game season. (Actually, Nashville FC’s grass-roots ownership plan is a noble experiment.)

There’s no such thing as parity. BCS Clash finished its NPSL season with a goal difference of -105. In 10 games. In the WPSL, Lion Soccer Club (known as Lions Swarm last year) lost a couple of blowouts and was dismissed from the league, with all its games recorded as 3-0 forfeit losses.

Attendance is erratic. Some NPSL teams play in utter obscurity, while Chattanooga FC drew 2,800 for a regional final. The PDL averaged 590 fans leaguewide, driven by nine teams with a median over 1,000. (See Kenn.com’s typically comprehensive figures.) The W-League, which Kenn notes as less of a marketing force than it used to be, had a few teams drawing over 400.

The USL operations (W-League, PDL) are generally sound from operations standpoint. The WPSL is far more chaotic. (“Skipped the playoffs in a dispute with the league” was my summary of FC Dallas in the power rankings two years ago.)

It’s not as if each player gets 10-12 solid games. These teams list anywhere between 25 and 40 players on the roster.

And in some respects, that’s good for players. They might have multiple responsibilities. Braddock Road’s W-League team was basically their Under-18 national (USYSA) title contender with a couple of key additions. Ashley Herndon scored a crucial goal for VSA Heat in the USYSA national championships this week, then another for the Washington Spirit Reserves in the W-League semifinals. VSA Heat played for (and won) the U-19 national title without her Saturday night. Where’s teleportation technology when you need it?

Want to make these seasons even shorter? That’s what would happen if college soccer plays a full-year schedule with a championship going into June, like college baseball.

That college reform plan probably won’t happen — personally, I’d love to see more meaningful spring soccer, but I’d wrap it up at the end of April. As chaotic as summer soccer leagues might be, they serve a valuable function, giving players another opportunity for elite play during their developmental years and giving a few adults (especially grad students) a chance to stay in the game. (Update: Some people are backing a college championship in May rather than June, and the schedule would start later in the summer.)

The problem with all of this — we’re obsessed with national competitions when they’re not necessary.

That mentality has seeped into youth soccer, too. Development Academy, ECNL (Elite Clubs National League), U.S. Youth Soccer national league, U.S. Club Soccer premier leagues and Super-Y League not enough for you? Form your own national league. We’re seeing that now with the formation of another national league, which SoccerWire commenters find quite amusing.

Several WPSL teams already played a national championship this summer, one that was also open to W-League teams. Now they’re playing the league championship.

So some teams are cramming two tournaments into the brief summer window along with league play. Some have been sitting idle for a couple of weeks.

Take away the insistence on national competition, and things get a lot simpler. One national cup per age group should be fine. Then teams can use the rest of their seasons with league play and perhaps a showcase tournament or two.

We can all agree on that, right?

W-League, WPSL still going – with a few changes

The old leagues are not dead. Long live the new league — and the old ones.

The USL’s W-League has survived to its 19th season. Heading to last season, the league lost no teams and added three. Of those three teams, two have rebranded (Central SC Cobras –> Carolina Elite Cobras; VSI Tampa Flames –> VSI Tampa Bay FC).

This season, several teams have gone:

– FC JAX Destroyers, the third new team from last season, fared poorly in their debut and shut down along with their men’s team of two seasons. Little official word except for a comment on Facebook (see response to Ian Garrett):

– The New Jersey Rangers club was folded into Luso Soccer Academy, sans the overmatched W-League team, which won four games in its 2010 debut and only once since then.

– The Northern Virginia Majestics have wrapped up a 14-year run (at least for now) by throwing their efforts into the Washington Spirit’s operations. The club will still have youth operations reaching up through the Super-Y League.

– The Rochester Ravens, another long-standing team, also decided not to compete with the Western New York Flash now firmly established in the market.

– The most surprising news came from Canada, where the Vancouver Whitecaps had demonstrated that they weren’t interested in going to a top-flight league despite a long line of Canadian national team players on the all-time roster. But did anyone expect that they would drop from the W-League to the PCSL?

– The Victoria Highlanders, a longtime PCSL team that spent a couple of years in the W-League, also dropped back to the PCSL and will play under the unwieldy name Peninsula Co-Op Highlanders.

Then there’s one change: D.C. United Women are now the Washington Spirit. With the top squad in the NWSL, the W-League team will be the reserves.

The Spirit reserves are amateur, but the W-League has at least one pro team this season: The Bay Area Breeze have moved over from the WPSL.

Three teams renamed – Hamilton (now K-W United FC) and the aforementioned Carolina and Tampa Bay changes. Also, New York Magic added “-FA Euro” to the name

So the league has gone through yet another pro league’s launch with a few changes but not a complete overhaul. As the song says, steady as she goes.

The WPSL is larger and looser by design. Last year, the league put together an Elite league, providing a helpful bridge from WPS to the NWSL. WPS clubs Western New York, Boston and Chicago were able to stay on the field while giving a lot of players a chance to stay in the game, and the Long Island Fury’s New York offshoot put together another strong pro team under Paul Riley’s guidance.

Now Western New York, Boston and Chicago are back in the fully pro ranks with the NWSL. The New York Fury are gone, though the Long Island Fury remain in the WPSL. The New England Mutiny return home to regular WPSL play. So will the Philadelphia Fever and ASA Chesapeake Charge, two teams that played in the Elite last season. We’ll come back to the eighth team, FC Indiana.

Change is constant in the WPSL. Check David Litterer’s archive, and you’ll see 15-20 teams moving in and out of the league each of the past few years.

(For the current version of the NWSL, W-League and WPSL, check out this map from Laura Taylor:

[cetsEmbedGmap src=https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=206089036518127071689.0004c5e64b34c2bac8df5&msa=0&ll=39.842286,-94.482422&spn=36.415967,86.572266 width=500 height=375 marginwidth=0 marginheight=0 frameborder=0 scrolling=no]

And the situation tends to be fluid. The Houston Aces site still makes several references to playing in the Elite League this season, though there’s no sign that the Elites are back in 2013.

The Houston site lists three of its games with a WPSL Elite logo — two vs. FC Indiana, one vs. San Diego. But the San Diego site lists the Houston game as “Inter League Exhibition.”

Then consider FC Indiana, which fielded a lot of Haitian national team players and picked up five points in 14 WPSL Elite games last year? We know they’ll field a team in WLS (Women’s League Soccer), which is moving indoors.

As for the summer — they’re playing the WPSL’s Houston Aces twice in May. The Houston Aces site lists the opponent as “FC Indiana (Haiti WNT).”

On FC Indiana’s Facebook page, they say they’re chasing another league title, and they say they’re playing WPSL. But their games aren’t listed on the WPSL site, and they’re not mentioned in the standings.

And remember the L.A. Vikings, which put together big exhibitions with impressive rosters? Web pages are gone, Twitter hasn’t updated since November, Facebook has gone even longer.

The WPSL site does have a few words on their new teams and the Eastern Conference.

The Pacific South and South Atlantic look strong. The Pac South has three perennial powers, one of whom (San Diego) just added a top-level WPS player (Nikki Krzysik). The South Atlantic has two former WPSL Elite teams (ASA Chesapeake Charge, Philadelphia Fever) and the ambitious ACF Torino USA (formerly Maryland Capitols FC).

As best as I can tell, here’s the list of who’s in and who’s out:

IN
ASA Chesapeake Charge (from WPSL Elite)
Philadelphia Fever (from WPSL Elite)
New England Mutiny (from WPSL Elite)
Boston Breakers College Academy
Des Moines Menace (from WLS)
AC Seattle (mostly Italian)
Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club Diamonds
Westside Timbers
A second California Storm team (now Storm Elk Grove and Storm Sacramento)
Los Angeles Premier FC
Tucson Soccer Academy
Fire and Ice Soccer Club
Kansas City Shock
Empire Revs WNY
FC Westchester
Tri-City Celtic
Yankee Lady FC
FC Lehigh Valley United Lady Sonic
New Jersey Blaze (returning from hiatus)
Lions Swarm (Southern Maryland)
FC Surge (South Florida)
Alabama FC (Birmingham)

OUT
Bay Area Breeze (now pro team in W-League)
Los Angeles Vikings (see above)
Portland Rain (Portland Timbers now backing NWSL’s Portland Thorns)
FC Dallas (MLS team out)
New England Mutiny Reserves (parent team is in)
Phoenix U23 (parent team remains)
Mississippi Fuego FC U23 (parent team remains)
Tampa Bay Hellenic
American Eagles
FC Austin
Arkansas Comets
West Texas Pride FC
FC Milwaukee Nationals
Ohio Premier Women’s SC
FCW Elite
Milburn Magic
Clermont Phoenix

OUT?
FC Indiana

NAME CHANGES/REPLACEMENTS
Salt Lake United –> Real Salt Lake Women (MLS affiliate)
FC St. George –> St. George United
Aztec MA –> Boston Aztec
Maryland Capitols FC –> ACF Torino USA
Penn Legacy Inferno –> Lancaster Inferno

DIVISION CHANGE
Long Island Fury (New England –> Tri-State)
New York Athletic Club (Mid Atlantic –> Tri-State)
FC Bucks (South Atlantic –> Tri-State)
Buxmont Torch (South Atlantic –> Tri-State)

All told: Last season, the WPSL had 73 teams, including eight in the Elite League. This year, it’s 70.

Corrections, updates, explanations welcome.

Women’s soccer leagues: How much video should fans expect?

Do you need a live stream of your local women’s soccer team? Highlights? What else?

Here’s one suggestion from a BigSoccer thread:

I have NO problem with games not streaming for free anymore, I think they aren’t really worth the laborious efforts and will never generate enough interest and should not be done unless a time comes where it can be shown they generate pay-per-view subscriptions or ticket sales. However, goals and highlights videos should be put on official youtube channels (free on demand hosting) weekly, as well as new coach/player interviews daily.

I can only speak for myself, but live streams generally don’t do much for me unless they’re professionally produced — usually a live local TV broadcast replicated online. They usually go like this:

Hey, that green blob just passed to another green blob. This could be a chance. Where’s the ball? …. (buffering) ….. WHY IS THE ANNOUNCER SHOUTING AT ME?!?!

But highlights and interviews are good. Maybe “daily” is a stretch. But weekly? Should be possible.

Being an amateur videographer myself (in a promotion/relegation scheme, I’d probably be eighth division), I’d suggest a few tips for teams to keep the budget low and still put forth some solid video content:

1. Get one or two cameras, maybe just basic Flipcams, in addition to whatever they’re using to shoot the game for scouting purposes. Get creative with placing these — maybe in the corners, or maybe use the behind-the-goal view in this D.C. United Women highlight reel to show how the plays unfolded.

2. Free video editing software is abundant. You Mac people could probably recommend something better than what I’m using.

3. Captions are your friends. Who’s that Number 8 who just scored? Who  got the assist? Was this the 23rd minute or a stoppage-time winner? If your free video editing software makes captions difficult, choose again.

4. Learn how to frame an interview. Notice the difference between ESPN’s typical studio interviews and the “camera in the face” interviews you often see elsewhere. (To be fair, Fox is professional, and I once thought they were about to push the camera up Ives Galarcep’s nose.)

Maybe NSCAA could help teach teams how to do this. Amanda Vandervort has led popular sessions teaching coaches and team managers to to do social media. Video is the next step in social media.

Live games just don’t need to be a priority. If the new league gets a TV deal, great — and maybe some of the teams’ highlights can be featured in an “Around the League” segment at halftime. But before everyone tries to rewire the Maryland Soccerplex and hire webcast commentators, mastering YouTube would be a great step.

Women’s soccer, the new league and Hope Solo: Can’t we all just get along?

We got two fillings for THIS?

There’s three sides to every story — yours and mine and the cold, hard truth Don Henley

There’s blood in my mouth ’cause I’ve been biting my tongue all week Rilo Kiley

Jules: Yolanda, I thought you said you were gonna be cool. Now when you yell at me, it makes me nervous. And when I get nervous, I get scared. And when (bleepers) get scared, that’s when (bleepers) accidentally get shot.
Yolanda: You just know, you touch him, you die.
Jules: Well, that seems to be the situation. But I don’t want that. And you don’t want that. And Ringo here *definitely* doesn’t want that.Pulp Fiction

Maybe I’m reaching with the last one. Perhaps I should’ve skipped to the part where Jules says the Ezekiel verse one last time and says he’s trying real hard to be the shepherd. The U.S. women’s soccer community could use a shepherd.

As you know if you follow me on Twitter, I bought Hope Solo’s memoir, skimmed the personal parts and read the soccer parts. No offense intended to her personal story — I was just in a hurry to learn what she had said.

I mentioned a couple of things that surprised me. One was a quote that I thought could be taken the wrong way. Another was that she reiterated her racism accusations against Boston Breakers fans, accusations that most of us thought had been put to rest.

People were angry with me. A couple of them were people I respect and like, and we talked it out. A couple were people I don’t know as well who slung a few drive-by insults at me and declined to elaborate on what exactly I’d said.

The latter isn’t a surprise. Solo has a legion of fans who will mobilize against any alleged “hater,” even if she doesn’t ask them to do so. Just check out the reviews at Amazon, where the one person to say anything negative is marked with the dreaded “1 in 24 people found the following review helpful.” (To be sure, the review doesn’t say much. But some of the other reviews marked as “helpful” are simply insane.)

If anyone’s reading here wondering if I’m going to be a “hater,” you might be disappointed. I didn’t hate this book. Her story is well-written — co-writer Ann Killion is never one to mince words (ask Don Garber), and the book moves briskly. And though some people come across better than others, this book wasn’t written to settle grudges. It’s her story. She spends much more time talking about the truly important people in her life — family and a few supportive coaches — than she does about her conflicts. Plenty of people will find this book inspiring.

If you read the book, just remember the Don Henley quote here. There are multiple sides to every story.

Continue reading Women’s soccer, the new league and Hope Solo: Can’t we all just get along?

New women’s soccer league — here we go

The timing was interesting — I got a press release at 12:26 a.m. I’ll reproduce it in full here.

One question has been answered: It appears there are no hard feelings between this group and the WPSL. See the comments from Jerry Zanelli. They say this league isn’t competing with the WPSL and W-League — teams can actually move between them. (Looks like it’s not traditional promotion-relegation but rather economic — if you can move up, move up; if you need to move down, move down.)

Then another question has popped up: There’s another Seattle group? What about the Sounders?

And another: Where’s Western New York? UPDATE: Here’s what Boston’s Mike Stoller says about the Flash: “One of the five teams that are finalizing their involvement.  They have been a driving force over the last year and continue to be as we finalize all details of the new league.”

Note: They are not yet sanctioned. But I have a hard time believing they’ve gone this far without at least some conversations with U.S. Soccer.

MORE UPDATES: There are MLS teams involved. Also, the interested teams are planning to be fully professional — in other words, no college players.

If I get answers, I’ll let you know. Here’s the release:

Top Teams Finalizing the Formation of Women’s Soccer League

CHICAGO, IL (Aug. 9, 2012) – With the conclusion of both the WPSL Elite League and W-League semi-pro women’s playoffs and the ongoing thrilling performance of the U.S. Women’s National Team at the Olympic Games, five of the top women’s soccer teams in the country are announcing the formation of a new professional women’s soccer league that will start play in the spring of 2013.

Among the teams are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, a newly formed team in Seattle, and New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC, three out of four of which were members of the prior Women’s Professional Soccer league. Additionally, four other teams are finalizing their participation in the league including another team that will be located on the West Coast.

“All these teams are committed to playing with and against each other starting in 2013 and to working out the final details to allow a sustainable professional league for women’s soccer in the U.S.,” said Michael Stoller, Managing Partner of the Boston Breakers. “We want to emphasize this is not a competitor to any of the existing leagues, but rather this is a significant step up in the competitive level and professional standards and we expect to establish a natural relationship to allow teams to enter this new league and perhaps to fall back (self-relegate) to their prior league if they need a break from the higher spending and competitive requirements.”

Much work has already been done to structure the minimum standards, season length, player requirements and conferences. It is expected that several more teams will join the league in the coming month or two as discussions continue with several other ownership groups.

This league is being created by ownership groups within the existing leagues on the basis of understanding the successes and failures of the first two attempts at a professional league in America. A main goal for the league is to provide the best U.S. players with the ability to develop and train at a high level on a consistent basis. The team owners are driving this effort and are working to make sure the league will help prepare those players for international competition with the U.S. WNT.

The founders of the new league have been working with United Soccer Leagues (USL) and Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) to attempt to solidify the relationship and roles of the existing women’s leagues with the new league and participation for all teams that elect to meet the minimum standards. This is an acknowledgement on the long-term success and sustainability of semi-pro women’s soccer leagues in this country.

WPSL has participated in the planning for the new league, “We have supported women’s soccer for decades and are very proud of our creation of the WPSL Elite League this year and the role we have been able to play in bringing this new league together for 2013. We are committed to easy movement for teams between WPSL and this new league and we will also provide a place for reserve teams to play,” said Jerry Zanelli, founder and President of WPSL. “Many details remain to be worked out but we will support the new league in its growth and are happy to see an unambiguous future for women’s professional soccer in the United States.”

“We are excited to bring the highest level of women’s soccer to Seattle,” said Bill Predmore, President of Seattle-based digital marketing agency, POP, and the leader of the ownership group for the new Seattle club. “Seattle has a long history of enthusiastic support for professional soccer, which we hope will provide us with a strong base of fans for the new women’s club.”

According to Arnim Whisler, owner of the Chicago Red Stars, “This is an inclusive not an exclusive effort. If teams want to join and can meet the minimum standards then we welcome them. This league is for the players that want to play and be on the WNT radar, the fans that continue to support us despite our false starts in the past, and the teams that are committed to elite women’s soccer. We have been very happy with the WPSL Elite season that we just completed and cannot thank Jerry enough for his providing so many teams the place to play this year on such short notice and we see this as a natural extension of that model to a more permanent league and infrastructure.”

In the near future, there will be more detailed discussions with U.S. Soccer on the proper sanctioning process.

AmWoSo (W-League, WPSL) final power rankings

The age-old quandary: Playoffs or regular season?

My gut tells me Pali Blues (technically unbeaten but lost league title on PKs) and the Boston Breakers (lost in playoffs while defensive anchor couldn’t get there) are the best teams in the country. But we reward playoff winners in this country, and the teams that beat them aren’t bad, either.

But then we had another trophy-winning team that lost the WPSL Elite title on PKs.

And so let the controversy begin, because that’s the team I’m picking. (Note that the records here reflect draws in both the WPSL Elite and W-League finals. And the W-League third-place game. Silly PKs.)

(And these are only mine. Don’t blame Jenna Pel or Jeff Kassouf for these.)

1. Chicago Red Stars (10-4-2, WPSL Elite; Last week: 3). Split its squad between the Women’s Cup and the WPSL Elite, yet only seemed to get stronger. Won the Women’s Cup, then beat Boston to reach the Elite final. Host Western New York won on PKs.

2. Western New York Flash (10-2-4, WPSL Elite; LW: 5). Came on strong at the end of the season to add a WPSL Elite trophy to their W-League (2010) and WPS (2011) titles.

3. Ottawa Fury (11-2-1, W-League Central; LW: 10). A couple of puzzling losses in the regular season, but the Fury put up a brick wall in front of the goal against D.C. United Women and ousted Pali on PKs in the W-League final.

4. Pali Blues (15-0-2, W-League Western; LW: 1). The PK loss can’t diminish their feat of running through the stacked W-League West with no losses and one draw.

5. Boston Breakers (11-4-0, WPSL Elite; LW: 2). Surprising loss in the semis, but Chicago was on a roll.

6. New York Fury (9-4-2, WPSL Elite; LW: 4). Costly collapse in the semifinals against Western New York.

7. D.C. United Women (13-1-2, W-League Atlantic; LW: 6). Threw everything and the kitchen sink at Ottawa and just couldn’t break through. Mixed up the lineup in the third-place game and drew Quebec City before winning on PKs.

8. Seattle Sounders Women (10-4-1, W-League Western; LW: 7). Really curious to see what they do next year.

9. New England Mutiny (6-5-3, WPSL Elite; LW: 8). Wish the season had been longer.

10. Charlotte Lady Eagles (10-2-2, W-League Southeast; LW: 9). Good season for team with proud history.

11. Atlanta Silverbacks (8-1-3, W-League Southeast; LW: 11). The poster team for changing the W-League playoff format.

12. Gulf Coast Texans (9-0-0, WPSL Southeast): Won WPSL championship with sheer domination in the playoffs — 3-0 over Salt Lake United, 4-0 over Aztec MA.

13. Quebec City Amiral (8-3-3, W-League Central): Not quite as overmatched in the W-League semifinals as we all feared.

14. New York Athletic Club (8-1-2, WPSL Northeast Atlantic – Mid): U.S. Women’s Cup finalists.

15. Long Island Rough Riders (9-4-0, W-League Northeast; LW: 12). Best of a curious division.

16. Salt Lake United (8-1-2, WPSL Big Sky – North): U.S. Women’s Cup and WPSL semifinalists, going out to California to beat the Elite-bound California Storm and San Diego SeaLions to earn their way to the semis.

Alphabetically also considered:

Aztec MA (10-2-1, WPSL Northeast Atlantic – North): Beat Oklahoma FC 1-0 in the WPSL semis.

FC Dallas (12-1-0, WPSL Big Sky – South): Skipped the playoffs in a dispute with the league.

Turbo D’Feeters (Texas amateur): Not a bad showing in Women’s Cup semifinals.

Oklahoma Football Club (10-2-2, WPSL Big Sky – South): They did beat FC Dallas once this season.

Next up: A complete reshaping of elite women’s soccer in the USA! Maybe.

Women’s soccer power rankings, politics and TV listings

It was the best of weeks, it was the worst of weeks for women’s soccer in the USA.

The W-League playoffs saw Pali Blues keep rival Seattle Sounders at bay, while D.C. United Women confirmed their status as the best in the East and Quebec City Amiral emerged as the best of the non-Ottawa teams in the Central.

The WPSL Elite regular season wrapped up with Boston taking first ahead of Western New York. Then New York, which just signed Casey Nogueira away from FC Dallas, held off Chicago for third. New England finished with a winning record. Chesapeake finally got its second win, 2-0 over Philadelphia, to finish sixth. Philadelphia and FC Indiana finished with identical 1-11-2 records.

Chicago may have dropped to fourth in the WPSL Elite, but the Red Stars won the Women’s Cup in a 3-2 thriller over New York Athletic Club after rallying to beat Turbo D’Feeters (featuring a couple of FC Dallas players) 5-3 in the semis. Chicago put roughly two-thirds of its regular starters in its WPSL Elite finale and the other third in the Women’s Cup games.

Then we have the WPSL playoffs. The West proceeded nicely, with Salt Lake United upsetting the San Diego SeaLions 3-1 even though half of United was also busy with the Women’s Cup.

The problems:

Continue reading Women’s soccer power rankings, politics and TV listings

D.C. United Women impress in W-League conference final

How good are D.C. United Women?

Their opponent in Sunday’s W-League East final, the Charlotte Lady Eagles, had eliminated the defending W-League champion Atlanta Silverbacks by winning their division. Charlotte followed that up with a rout over the Long Island Rough Riders, who had won a tough division that included the talent-laden New Jersey Wildcats.

Tough test? You’d think so. But United had Charlotte on its heels from the get-go, taking a fully deserved 3-0 win.

Next up: the W-League semifinals as the Eastern U.S. representative. Pali Blues will represent the West, and Quebec City Amiral will make the slightly shorter trip to join the host Ottawa Fury.

Continue reading D.C. United Women impress in W-League conference final

AmWoSo (W-League, WPSL) Power Rankings and playoff picture: July 16

It’s playoff time, and we’ve already seen some good teams’ seasons end — the W-League’s Atlanta Silverbacks, New Jersey Wildcats and Colorado Rush; the WPSL’s Beach FC and Maryland Capitols.

The WPSL Elite has one more week of the regular season, but the four pro teams are already in the playoffs. The regular-season title may come down to a Sunday showdown between the two teams tied for first — Western New York and Boston — playing in Rochester. But Chicago, three points, back, has a game in hand. Fourth-place New York will finish with three games in seven days after yesterday’s game at Philadelphia was rained out.

1. Pali Blues (13-0-1, W-League Western; Last Week: 1) – roster
Won 1-0 over Seattle in preview of Western playoff. Surprisingly didn’t rest many players — Sarah Huffman, Sasha Andrews and Whitney Engen all played 90.

2. Boston Breakers (10-3-0, WPSL Elite; LW: 3) – roster
Beat Philadelphia 2-0. Reminder: One of their losses (to Western New York) is on a technicality over player registration.

3. Western New York Flash (9-1-3, WPSL Elite; LW: 4) – roster
Routed FC Indiana 5-0 and had a big 2-1 win at Chicago. Turning the corner?

4. Chicago Red Stars (9-3-0, WPSL Elite; LW: 2) – roster
Lost to the surging Western New York Flash.

5. New York Fury (7-3-1, WPSL Elite; LW: 5) – roster
Busy week ahead after Sunday rainout.

6. Seattle Sounders Women (10-3-1, W-League Western; LW: 6) – roster
Won first two games on California swing before dropping decision to Pali.

7. D.C. United Women (11-0-1, W-League Atlantic; LW: 7) – roster
No trouble with Virginia Beach in regular-season finale. They’ll meet again in East semifinals; the Piranhas are the only team to take a point off them this year.

8. New England Mutiny (4-5-3, WPSL Elite; LW: 8) – roster
Injury problems were a factor in draw with Chesapeake that ended faint playoff hopes.

9. Charlotte Lady Eagles (8-1-2, W-League Southeast; LW: 11) – roster
Got early goal and held on to eliminate defending champion Atlanta Silverbacks.

10. Long Island Rough Riders (9-3-0, W-League Northeast; LW: 12) – roster
Strong finish in tough division.

11. Ottawa Fury (10-2-0, W-League Central; LW: 9) – roster
Meaningless game but still puzzling to see them lose finale to Quebec City.

12. Atlanta Silverbacks (8-1-3, W-League Southeast; LW: 10) – roster
Tough to drop them out of the top 12 even if they’re not going to the playoffs. Blame the W-League’s quirky playoff system — if they took the top runner-up in the Eastern Conference, the Silverbacks would be playoff-bound.

Bubbling under: Quebec City Amiral (top seed in W-League Central playoffs), FC Dallas (top seed in WPSL Big Sky South), Salt Lake United (top seed in WPSL Big Sky North; U.S. Women’s Cup semifinalist), New York Athletic Club (top seed from WPSL Northeast Atlantic-Mid), Aztec MA (top seed from WPSL Northeast Atlantic-North), Gulf Coast Texans (top seed from WPSL Southeast)

W-LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
all times Eastern

Eastern (D.C. United Women hosting)
Saturday – semifinals
Long Island vs. Charlotte, 3:30 p.m.
Virginia Beach vs. DCU Women, 6 p.m.
Sunday
Final, 4 p.m.

Central (Quebec City Amiral hosting)
Saturday – semifinals
Hamilton vs. Quebec City, 1 p.m.
Laval vs. Toronto, 4 p.m.
Sunday
Final, 1 p.m.

Western
Final – Sunday (at Cal State Fullerton; doubleheader with USL Pro’s LA Blues vs. Guatemala’s CSD Municipal)
Seattle at Pali Blues, 4 p.m.

Conference winners plus Ottawa advance to final four July 27 and 29 at Ottawa

WPSL

West

* Pacific South (one berth): San Diego SeaLions got it.

* Pacific North (one berth): California Storm took the berth with a 3-1 win over North Bay FC Wave and a 3-3 draw between fellow contenders West Coast Wildkats and Bay Area Breeze.

* Northwest (one berth): Spokane Shine also got everything to line up, beating Emerald City 1-0 Friday, routing Oregon Rush 6-0 and seeing Emerald City draw Issaquah 1-1 in the finale Sunday.

* Big Sky North (one berth): Salt Lake United drew with both Phoenix teams in Phoenix to clinch the berth.

Playoffs (San Diego hosting)
Saturday – semifinals
Spokane vs. San Diego, 8 p.m. ET
Salt Lake vs. California, 10:30 p.m. ET
Sunday
Final, 7 p.m. ET

Midwest

* Big Sky South (three berths): FC Dallas (12-1-0, +52 goal differential) clinched first place ahead of the only club to beat them, Oklahoma Football Club. American Eagles Soccer Club took third ahead of Houston South Select.

* Midwest (no berths): FC Milwaukee Nationals won all five games.

Playoffs
American Eagles at Oklahoma FC, 8;30 p.m. ET Thursday
AE-Oklahoma winner at FC Dallas, Saturday 

Southeast

* Sunshine (four berths): Tampa Bay Hellenic finally shed points, drawing Team Boca Blast 0-0, but clinched first place and home field throughout the divisional playoffs. Florida Sol FC took second, followed by Team Boca Blast and South Florida Strikers.

* Southeast (one berth): Gulf Coast Texans scored 31 and conceded 3 in seven games.

Playoffs
tba

Northeast

Playoffs already underway (home teams listed first in results):

First round – Sunday
New England Mutiny Reserves 1-0 FC Bucks
Maryland Capitols FC 0-2 Syracuse Lady Knights

Semifinals – Wednesday
New England at Aztec MA, 7 p.m. ET
Syracuse at New York Athletic Club, 8 p.m. ET