Sacramento, CA (February 9, 2012) – In a move to support women’s soccer in America, and as a prelude to planned growth of a professional league in 2013, the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) has announced the creation of a special WPSL Elite League for the 2012 season. The league will be based in the East Coast and Midwest and will include squads from Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) teams The Boston Breakers and The Western New York Flash. The move will allow professional female soccer players from the WPS teams to remain in top form as the WPS moves toward resuming play in 2013. Current WPSL teams, The Chicago Red Stars of the Midwest-North Division and FC Indiana of the Midwest-South Division, will participate in the WPSL Elite League. More WPSL teams from the East will be added over the next few days.
Jerry Zanelli, WPSL Commissioner, said “The WPSL recognizes the importance of a professional women’s soccer league in America and that it is critical to provide a showcase for these top women players, and to inspire young athletes.”
The West Coast has commitments from San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Bay Area, and Seattle for 2013.
“We have put together a plan that will allow WPS teams individually to join the WPSL in the Elite League,” said Zanelli. “Officially, they will not be professional teams, but would allow our top professional players to play in a highly competitive league. The WPSL has many pro-level players and we have been exploring the idea of offering a pro-am division. The timing is right for us to step in and help women’s soccer in the USA.”
“No matter what eventually happens with the WPS, forcing these players to sit out a year would be a mistake,” Zanelli said. “When the WPS suspended the 2012 season, it left them without a way to stay competitive. Everyone wants to help these players. We all recognize this and are willing to work together to solve this immediate problem.”
“Our main purpose was to find ways to continue to have the highest possible level of soccer for women in the United States,” Zanelli continued, “and to help prepare for the return of professional women’s soccer in 2013. We also wanted to make it financially viable for present WPSL teams to join the Elite League and raise their level of play.”
Zanelli clarified that this was not a case of the WPS joining the WPSL; rather it will be these individual teams joining with WPSL teams to form a competitive league for 2012.
The new Elite League would have no restrictions on the types of players each team could roster; a team could be all professional players or could have a mix of professional and amateur players.
Currently two WPSL teams, the Orange County Waves and Bay Area Breeze, include both professional and amateur players.
Steady growth has been the motto of the WPSL. From its origin fifteen years ago, WPSL has grown from a handful of West Coast teams to the world’s largest women’s soccer league, with over 70 teams across the United States. On January 28, at the 2012 WPSL Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nev., the league planned the formation of a pro-am league for the 2013 season.
With the withdrawal of the WPS 2012 season, the WPSL decided to fast-track the development of the Elite League in the East and Mid-West. “This move is a way of continuing the growth of the WPSL pyramid that we have been working on for years,” said Zanelli. “This year the WPSL formed a separate under 20 nation-wide league. We already had plans for the semi-pro league in 2013 when this opportunity presented itself. We certainly feel it is a good idea. It fits into our plans and we feel it fits into the WPS’s plans as well by allowing their players to stay sharp.”
(more at the source)
Boston Breakers announcement
"The Breakers roster is already taking shape, featuring forward Katie Schoepfer, who is coming off a great debut season with the Breakers, newly signed defender and Olympic gold medalist Cat Whitehill, and recent draft pick, University of North Carolina forward Courtney Jones."
Sky Blue FC won't be in the WPSL Elite League
"Sky Blue FC has formally committed to a 10-day training camp in Japan with Plenus Nadeshiko League club INAC Kobe Leonessa. As part of the planned schedule, the two teams will play a pair of exhibition matches in Kagoshima and Okinawa."
Paul Riley confirmed Philly won't be in the league either.
It's nice to remember what optimism feels like.