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WPS Opener a Big Hit


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.
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  1. jun

    March 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm


  2. Drako

    March 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I once watched a “scrimmage” match between the US women’s national team and the U17 men’s team. I put the word scrimmage in parentheses because they weren’t keeping score…and no wonder. Had the been keeping score it would have gotten out that the best women’s team in the world had been thoroughly outplayed by a bunch of teenagers and beaten 4-0.

  3. Lars

    March 30, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    I’ll be interested to see how Jessica Sinclair does.

  4. Angry USA Fan

    March 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I understand a lot of men look down on the womans game but if you don’t WPS is a better product than MLS.

    I wish we had a team here. WPS features perhaps top to bottom the best woman playing soccer on the planet. MLS? It’s now questionable whether top to bottom it’s the best league in North America. I mean the best players in MLS kill USL, but the USL bench guys are probably better than MLS bench guys. Truthfully both leagues are sorry.

    WPS on the other hand will be high quality week in and week out. Kartik you are 100% correct in stating MLS and USL don’t deliver that. They don’t even come close. My concern is if WPS catches on, will they over expand and dilute talent like MLS or quickly fold teams before they create a niche like USL?

  5. Kartik

    March 30, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Lou- excuses for attendance have been used by MLS for years and I will not make them particularly for cities with competitive teams.

    Dallas is another story. I applaud those Hoops fans still going to games and will have a piece later this week on the mismanagement of that team and why their fans need to be cut some slack by the rest of the league.

    The womens game is different than the mens game, but I think not a single MLS or USL roster contains as many technically skilled players looking at first touches, tactical sense and international pedigree as the LA Sol. People may laugh at that assertion but I firmly believe that.

  6. eplnfl

    March 30, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Very nice words about the US male Chris. Do you think men in other countries see women’s sports as a threat to their status?


    Also look around the US this week and you saw some terrible weather. The Fire was in DC where the weather was poor and from the highlights I saw KC had bad weather and Columbus must have been bad.

  7. The Gaffer

    March 30, 2009 at 5:11 am

    This may sound a bit sexist, but it’s nice to see men (myself included) interested in watching the WPS opener. I enjoyed it, and Marta’s (among others) was a joy to watch. The US is one of the few countries in the world where the men are mature enough to sit down and watch women play soccer. You would never see that happen in most of the countries from the old world (England included).

    The Gaffer

  8. vic

    March 30, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Marta probably could make a MLS roster. Perhaps the Dallas Burn could use her marketability. Dallas’ sunday attendance was shameful. I read that Dallas has had a recent history of losing at home, or of winning more away- can you blame them? Perhaps they see the lack of support. Why do they schedule Sunday games, anyway? Those are always the worst attended. MLS may want to limit the amount of teams in the midwest. Its never been a good soccer area, even when the supposed “soccer city” (st. louis) had a NASL team. And people are clamoring for another midwest MLS team?
    Put the brakes on expansion and solidify what you have. Until NY, New England, and the Bay Area can bring out 20k for a game, MLS shouldnt even think of going to places 1/7th the size of those places.

  9. tony

    March 29, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    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

    I pefer MLS to WPS, your missing the obvious fact that not 1 player from WPS could make a MLS roster.

  10. Lars

    March 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Denver’s can partially be excused (I’ve been told it was extremely cold there this week). But Columbus was embarrassingly empty… It was sad and I hope this was an exception and not the rule.

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