Steve Davis one of the most respected and well versed soccer writers in America raised a troubling possibility in his weekly ESPN column Monday. This is the possibility that MLS and WPS will in fact compete with one another despite unprecedented efforts at cooperation by the domestic first divisions for both men and woman.
We’ve already seen a team in the second division USL, the Atlanta Silverbacks withdraw their men’s team from league play next season in favor of keeping a woman’s team in the W-League. I’m told by the few Silverbacks fans I speak to that the men’s team and woman’s team had become competitors for fans even though they were part of the same organization.
WPS has the opportunity to be the leading woman’s soccer league on the planet. With impressive signings that for a woman’s league that rivals La Liga or the Premier League in the men’s game, WPS may actually provide a more entertaining and competitive product than MLS. While many do not consider woman’s soccer a threat to the men’s game, the final of the 1999 Woman’s World Cup on ABC achieved a higher TV rating than any men’s game has in US Television history.
The partnership between MLS and WPS has been setup to help both leagues. But in tough economic times, fans as Davis fears may have to choose one league or another to support in person. Most would opt for the men’s game it is assumed, but considering the quality of WPS will likely be top class from the get go, it’s possible MLS will be the league that is hurt.
- Kenny Cooper’s apparent decision to stay with FC Dallas despite attracting lots of interest from Europe is good news for MLS. But it also puts lots of pressure on Schellas Hyndman to win this season with the Hoops. Let’s face it: this is an organization that fired Colin Clarke after finishing second in the Supporters Shield race and fired Steve Morrow after one bad result at home. Hyndman did well towards the end of last season, but may not be long for the job if the Hoops don’t at a minimum make the Western Conference Final in 2009
- Landon Donovan’s loan to Bayern has finally become official. While Donovan is due back to MLS in March, I would fully expect the loan to be extended.
- Cory Gibbs has withdrawn from the US Squad for the January Training Camp and the friendly versus Sweden. Hopefully, this is not due to a reccurance of Gibbs serious injury problems.