WPS first season opened up with a showcase match at the Home Depot Center. Marta’s LA Sol versus Abby Wambach’s Washington Freedom. I predicted a spectacular match this morning on the site and even with those lofty expecations the game was amazing.
So as far as the Football is concerned, WPS is probably better than MLS or USL. That’s a logical conclusion just by looking at the quality of the players signed by the league, and their place in world football compared to those who play in the two major men’s leagues on American soil. The technical skill and tactical awareness of both teams was outstanding for their first competitive matches together. A crowd of 14,832 attended the match which means the Sol home opener exceeded the crowd figures for the home openers of five MLS clubs this season and every USL-1 and USL-2 club last season.
Allison Falk’s initial goal was outstanding but even more impressive was LA’s second goal, on a counter attack created by the great Marta. Camille Abily finished the opportunity lobbing it over Briana Scurry for the clincher. WPS features some of the biggest names and best women’s footballers on the planet. That’s why its likely to be more watchable for the masses than MLS or USL are. Those leagues are wonderful for those of us that love football and support the American game, but WPS should it survive the rocky first few years could be the ultimate world league for woman’s soccer. Think of it as a potential Barclays Premier League for woman’s game
The now defunct WUSA, I would also argue provided better football than MLS much of the time in its short existence. But the league was run poorly and sadly did not survive past year three. The WPS which has learned from the WUSA’s mistakes has a better chance of survival, and has already provided us with an amazingly entertaining product.
Mark Rogindino and Jenn Hildreth did a very good job on the game call. Hildreth for her part is one of the best in the business: she works ACC Basketball, Football and Soccer for Raycom and FOX Sports Net and I have been impressed by her knowledge of every sport she covers for many years now. FSC’s production was also surprisingly good. Perhaps that is because the match was in Los Angeles. The real test for FSC could come next week in the Bay Area.
MLS Weekend Thoughts:
I’ll admit I watched very little MLS this weekend. My thoughts on the MLS playing on the same day as the US National Team have been articulated for years so I need not editorialize again. The little MLS that I caught left me with a few observations.
- Toronto FC has a championship caliber club. A good mixture of MLS and European experience makes the Reds dangerous. But will the players many of them older wear down late in the season thanks to playing on turf?
- I have a lot of faith in Frank Yallop and San Jose’s win over Houston was critical to get the Quakes season going. Good to see three first half goals also for San Jose who was offensively challenged much of last season.
- Houston is deep but also still adjusting to playing with DeRo. I do not believe the Dynamo can make an MLS Cup run without arguably the best player in the league’s history to lead them.
- I’m not eating my words just yet but Freddie Ljunberg looked very comfortable on the Qwest Field turf late Saturday. Perhaps he’ll fit a nice role with a veteran team that is well managed by Sigi Schmid and has fans who understand football better than many who’ve been watching MLS since 1996. (It amazes me how many MLS and USMNT fans still don’t understand football. The comments on my USMNT postgame blog are proof positive of this.)
- Attendance was very poor everywhere but Seattle this weekend. I’ve heard all the excuses before and they need not be repeated here. The first and most important reason for poor attendance was the fact that five of seven MLS weekend games conflicted head on with a critical World Cup qualifier for the US. The TV ratings for the US game which I should have sometime this week are sure to suffer also since their were still about 100,000 fans at MLS games on Saturday night that would have otherwise watched the US game live. That’s one full rating point!
- Brian Quarstad’s USL Week in Review.
- I’ll have some more thoughts on the US team tomorrow. In the meantime, I’d urge all US fans to keep the proper perspective on last night’s game.