Will MLS and WPS Cannibalize One Another?


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.

Other Thoughts: 

  • 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  • Cory Gibbs has withdrawn from the US Squad for the January Training Camp and the friendly versus Sweden.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.

8 thoughts on “Will MLS and WPS Cannibalize One Another?”

  1. “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.”

    This is a very deceptive comment, as the far more people actually watched the World Cup final (men's) in 1994 than the women's World Cup final in 99. The audience was split between ABC and Univision, however, so on their own neither broadcast exceeded the ratings for the Women's World Cup on ABC. Nonetheless, far more American eyeballs were on the '94 final, and that's what matters.

  2. Your thought about Hyndman having a short leash could not be further off of the mark. The Hunt family has tried to get him to take the head coaching gig for the longest time and now that he has it, he will be given as much time as he wants. In fact, many FCD fans worry that Hyndman will be allowed to drive the team deep into the ground (if that is the direction it goes) before HSG ever pulls his plug.

  3. FC Dallas hired a college coach and missed the playoffs for only the second time in history. Meanwhile Colin Clarke has guided the Puerto Rico Islanders to the Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and Steve Morrow is working for Arsenal. Yet some Dallas fans like the FCD watcher here want Hyndman to be manager for ever. I guess you like Hitchcock also. Enjoy another Dynamo title this season!

  4. Kartik, you must not have known that Clark Hunt, owner of FC Dallas, played for Schellas Hyndman at SMU. That's why HSG pursued Hyndman relentlessly and why he'll be given quite a long leash on how to run things in Frisco.

  5. Um…really? I personally am a fan of women's soccer. I might be one of the 10 in this entire country. That article is a joke.

  6. I love WPS. Just look at the photo you posted and everyone will definitely love WPS. They are so beautiful. However, MLS sucks big time. US female soccer team have won the World Cup but the US male soccer team have not won any FIFA World Cup. What a shame!

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