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Arsenal’s Losses to WPS Could Become Gunners’ Gain

If Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) sides Boston Breakers and Chicago Red Stars have their way, Arsenal America had better get ready for a new wave of members.

This weekend, both Boston and Chicago hit the road to make their WPS debuts, facing the – it has to be said – curiously-named FC Gold Pride (Santa Clara, California) and Saint Louis Athletica (Saint Louis, Missouri), respectively.  It will be a huge weekend for all parties involved, but with EPL Talk being by definition an Anglo-centric publication, we’d be amiss if we didn’t zero in on some of England’s finest that have come across the Atlantic Ocean to try and make professional soccer in the United States a success its second time around.

For me, I am going to find it especially interesting to track the progress of Boston’s Kelly Smith and Alex Scott as well as Chicago’s Karen Carney, three England and Arsenal Ladies alumnae who have left the Gunners’ seemingly bulletproof women’s team for the financially greener pastures of the United States and WPS.

Of the three, the spotlight will undoubtedly shine brightest on Smith, who joins the Breakers with prior experience playing in America (first in college at Seton Hall in New Jersey and once again as a professional in the now-defunct Women’s United Soccer Association – I’ll get to that in a bit) and was referred to in the Daily Mail this week as the Zinedine Zidane of women’s football.  Arsenal fans from N5 to 90210 should be keeping an eye on the entire trio, though, as even though they’ve left North London, their success in the new American league could result in Arsenal’s reputation stateside growing even more than it already has.

As we neared the end of the long hiatus of professional women’s football in the States following the disbandment of the WUSA in 2003 and it became evident that WPS brass had learned from the mistakes of the WUSA’s business model, it also became increasingly likely that the world’s biggest names in the game would soon be on their way.  You may notice that I neglected to put ‘women’s’ before ‘game’ there, but with the colossal failure that was Beckham-mania, I suggest that all bets are off as to whether the decade has already seen its greatest British footballer plying their sporting trade in America.

Sure, the WPS probably won’t keep up the kind of attendance numbers that 14,832 fans provided for the league’s inaugural game between Los Angeles Sol and Washington Freedom in California last Sunday.  However, if we get to the second Sunday of August and Boston and Chicago stand atop the final regular season standings in WPS’ single table – another thing I like about the WPS, considering MLS’ hesitation to switch away from its format of Eastern and Western Conferences – chances are good that the ex-Arsenal Ladies stars will have played a large part in their new clubs’ success.  If that happens, their former employer would be foolish not to try and capitalize on that.

Arsenal Football Club already enjoys an impressive following in North America, and has made even deeper inroads with their business partnership with MLS’ Colorado Rapids.  Why not do the same with WPS?  The loss of Smith, Scott and Carney to the new American league may have already hurt Arsenal Ladies in the short-term – as indicated by Sunday’s 3-0 home loss to Everton, snapping the Gunners’ staggering 108-league game unbeaten streak – but if stateside success helps to further boost the club’s image abroad, surely that’s the best thing for everyone.

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  1. Just Dawn

    April 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    As a Gender Communication instructor, you covered this material in a professional and non-genderizing manner that simply looked at what women’s soccer will bring to the table…or field (versus Frank Deford’s June 2006 Sports Illustrated article about Anna Kournikova –“sports hottest pinup girl” and the “Jezebel of sweat” (p98).
    Good for you, Matt~

  2. Matt

    April 2, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Great article. I am very glad it was picked up in my Google Alerts. I would hope that if Arsenal Ladies creates a partnership with a specific team that it is my club the Boston Breakers. BTW the website I listed is for the Breakers Supporters Club the Riptide. Wouldn’t hurt to check it out!

  3. ArthurArseGooner

    April 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    this is a very good article, i was waiting for some one to point that out. arsenal can really show their strength in this country through the success of its ex players. i will be cheering on my local team chicago red stars, not only do they have karen carney, but their assistant coach was also an assistant at arsenal. it shows that arsenal has a great development program for both men and women footballers. i will also be cheering on the seattle sounders because they have former arsenal academy member steve zakuani. they also have freddie ljungberg, so this is a team to watch for me.

    dont mind the first two commenters, theyre probably spuds fans.

  4. Anti Idiot Party

    April 2, 2009 at 4:31 am

    Go for it Arsenal ladies, show them how it is done!

    Up the Gunners!

  5. Connor Knight

    April 2, 2009 at 2:34 am


  6. bob

    April 2, 2009 at 1:57 am


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