By Phil Hecken
Following the failure of the first women’s professional soccer league (WUSA, or “Women’s United Soccer Association”) in 2003, the future of women’s pro soccer in the United States looked bleak. After all, if a league featuring most of the ladies who catapulted USA women’s soccer to the forefront of our collective American minds following their World Cup victory in 1999 (who can ever forget this?), largely due to mismanagement and poor marketing, a new league, “Women’s Professional Soccer” (“WPS”) is back to pick up the mantle where the WUSA failed. Will it survive? Who knows. They begin play later this month and there will be teams from seven geographic locations (which I say because there are teams from “New Jersey/New York” and the “Bay Area”), specifically: Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. in 2009. There are currently plans to expand to 10 teams in 2010, when the league will add Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Dallas.
Couple of things I learned about the league: They’ll be using a cool new ball design. The logo features a silhouette based on none other than Mia Hamm. Also, all the kits and the balls will be made by Puma.
The league, which had gone by the working name “Women’s Soccer, LLC”, announced its name and logo in January 2008. Since that time, teams have been having tryouts and signing “name” players from around the globe. With a little fanfare last month, the league held a “fashion show” during which several of the players were seen wearing what are described as “skorts” (‘skirt/shorts’). This caused a bit of an uproar around the blogosphere, including on Uni Watch, as this was decried as “unprofessional” and other unflattering things. Speculation that this was done solely to attract a male audience was rampant. However, upon further review, and since this was, after all, just a fashion show, it was ascertained that the “skorts” would not be worn during actual game play. A collective sigh of relief was heard around the globe. Each team has it’s own weblink, and all are accessible through women’s pro soccer (dot) com.
Since I know next to nothing about soccer, I’m not prepared to comment upon the success or failure of the previous incarnation of women’s pro soccer, nor do I wish to speculate on the future of the new league. I do know i watched with rapt attention the 1999 World Cup and thought the final against China was one of the greatest sporting events I ever had the pleasure of watching (at least on TV). It was one of those sporting events where I will remember the exact setting, location and time I saw it. While I doubt this new league can ever match that one, single event for pure excitement and historic proportions, I would hope the WPS is successful in this go-around. So, without further ado, lets have a look-see at what the ladies will be wearing, uniform-wise, in their inaugural season.
Bay Area FC Gold Pride: The Gold Pride will wear black and gold uniforms, with the black kit (I believe) serving as the home. The gold top will serve as an away jersey, and black pants (not skorts) will be worn with both. As with all these uniforms, I am not certain what, if any, advertising will appear on them, nor do I wish to speculate if there will be any at this time (although, it being soccer, it’s hard to imagine there not being any).
Boston Breakers: Unlike the defunct USFL team of the same name, these Boston Breakers hope to last more than one season. I don’t believe the jersey I just linked to (also see here) will actually be what the team trots out, nor will this one (yes, that’s Steve Nash, who will play a role in the new league), although both uniforms were, I believe, originally considered. Instead, the Breakers will sport white and blue kits, the ones seen in the fashion show. (Those original light blue kits were probably just props for the 2008 announcement of the first signees.)
Chicago Red Stars: Of all the jerseys, these are probably my favorite. The away kit features a white jersey, with 4 red stars, and the home jersey is light blue, also with four stars. Both tops have the team crest just below the left shoulder. Unlike some of the other teams, the home and away kits will have different color shorts. Not sure if the cleats will remain black with the away whites and white with the home blues.
Los Angeles Sol: The LA Sol will also feature home and away uniforms with separate shorts for each. Socks on each kit will also match the uniform’s color. Home will be dark blue and white will be away, and both have gold stripes on the shoulders, plus the “soul patch” (lol) on the upper left portion of the shirt. In a development leading me to believe advertising will adorn all WPS uniforms, I found this shot of star player Marta with Kobe, showing the “Amway” logo. I’m guessing, of course, but I’d be willing to bet all the jerseys will have something like this on them when the league begins play shortly.
New Jersey/New York Sky Blue FC: OK, I’m not in love with the name (’tis quite the mouthful, no?), but i do very much like the aptly named Sky Blue uniforms. The kits will be sky blue for home and orange for away, and (although they can’t be seen in) white socks with both, and white shoulder stripes. I also like the boots that will likely be worn with the unis. Although not all merchandise is yet available for all teams, I would expect that most will have something like this available for sale before the first games begin.
St. Louis Athletica: Best logo, IMHO, of them all. It is evocative of Joan of Arc, and interestingly, spells out “Saint” rather than just using the “St.” abbreviation which is common to teams from that city. The lady on the horse, surrounded by two fleur de lis’ and holding a “St. L” flag (to cover all bases) is resplendent in teal green, blue and gray. Mimicing the logo’s colors, the team uniforms will also be teal and gray, with the home uniform comprised of all teal white the away kit will feature a gray top. While I’m not a designer, I’d venture to say the designers spend proportionately more time on the logo than on the uniform itself, but what do I know? Socks will be gray with teal stripes.
Washington Freedom: The final team in the inaugural season of the WPS will be the Washington Freedom. Despite the apparent ‘orangish’ hue to those jerseys, they will indeed be both red and blue, with red socks for the red uniform and blues for the blue. (They’re from Washington, maybe you were expecting purple and teal?) Like all the uniforms for this new league, they are decidedly understated. As appears in the fashion show shoot, the boots will be white. However, we’ll see how they look when the ads appear. The red, blue and white trim are perfect for DC, although it looks like the red kit will have both white and blue thin stripes, and the blue shorts will have a wide swath of white on them.
Well, there you have it. The 2009 Women’s Professional Soccer league. I wish I knew more about the sport and I welcome any of you who have more knowledge of it and the league to please enlighten me (and all of UW) with the details. I’d always like to learn more about this sport. If you’d like to work with me on a future column on soccer, gimme a shout.
So, what do you all think of the unis? Anyone with more info on the possible adverts? The floor is yours.
This and That: I’ll probably have a post on the World Baseball Classic tomorrow, but the New York Times has an interesting take on the Australian team … The New Mexico Women’s Lobos will be auctioning off their Pink Zone unis to benefit breast cancer research and the Kay Yow Foundation … Ken Rosenthal opines that if you’re going to use PED’s, maybe you should learn how to do them properly … Sports Illustrated had a nice little piece earlier this week (carrying an AP Wire story) on the Cuban Baseball “amateurs” and how they view MLBers … Not used to seeing Garrett Anderson in anything but a
Los Angeles California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim uniform? Neither are these guys, who think he looks pretty sharp in a Bravos uni … Are you concerned about J-Roll’s health? You shouldn’t be, at least not according to Rollins himself … Sad news in the world of puck, as Mrs. Hockey has passed on … Who knew? Apparently having too many home furnishing stores in your city is a sign of being “unmanly” … Here’s an odd set of convergences: Dubai gets fined $300,000 by the WTA (World Tennis Association) for not allowing Shahar Peer, a female Israeli tennis player a visa, yet they have granted a visa to male Israeli tennis player Andy Ram … The NCAA has put Florida State University on four years probation for major violations including academic fraud involving 61 student-athletes across 10 sports — who knew they had 61 “student-athletes”? … Serena Williams has joined the chorus of top tennis players who believe new anti-doping measures on athletes are “too strong” — a claim Serena’s opponents often level against her … the Cleveland Cavs threw-back again last night — do the ever wear their standard unis? … uh oh, Yankee fans — CC winces — 7 years, $161 million sighs emanate from Yankee camp … I’d love to see this in Whaler green next season … This may have been reported already, but the Phillies will don gold-trimmed jerseys on opening night … and finally, this comes from Teebz (don’t ask me why he’s reading Glamour magazine) — present day actresses recreating famous American icons — the last of which ties a nice bow on this soccer post, eh?
Don’t Forget To set your clocks an hour ahead tonight — daylight savings time is here!