Women’s Professional Soccer Preseason Kicks Off This Weekend
After a six-month off-season that saw two new WPS teams in Atlanta and Philadelphia build their rosters from scratch, and the transfer of Michelle Akers Player of the Year, Marta, to Bay Area’s FC Gold Pride after the Los Angeles Sol discontinued operations, the eight teams in Women’s Professional Soccer will officially open preseason when players report on Sunday, March 7.
U.S. National Team players are arriving at camp this weekend following their 3-2 victory over Germany in final of the 2010 Algarve Cup which saw some standout performances by WPS stars, including No. 2 WPS Draft selection Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers) notching a team-leading four goals and midfielder Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) receiving USSoccer.com Woman of the Match honors in the final. This season will see the addition of players from one of the most talented college classes in recent years with the top two draft picks, Tobin Heath (Atlanta Beat) and Cheney, both national team regulars and No. 3 selection Kelley O’Hara (FC Gold Pride) receiving the MAC Hermann Trophy as the top college player in 2009.
Other internationals are arriving from both the Algarve Cup and the 2010 Cyprus Cup this weekend. WPS has seen a big increase in international representation in the offseason including first-time players from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain and Switzerland signing with teams and solidifying the league’s position as the best women’s soccer league in the world. That brings the total countries represented in WPS from 12 in 2009 to 19 entering preseason. Adding to the global mix, two new WPS head coaches also come with international backgrounds including Sky Blue FC’s Pauliina Miettinen of Finland and Irish-born Gareth O’Sullivan with the Atlanta Beat. The league has also seen an influx of several more players from England (3 more) and Sweden (4) – two countries with strong national teams. WPS teams are each allowed to have five international players on their final rosters announced on April 1.
Clubs have already been holding optional training and local tryouts this week and teams must report their preseason rosters no later than Monday, March 8. Preseason training camps can have a maximum of 28 players in camp at any one time, although more players can be announced as part of the initial preseason rosters in the case of absences due to injury, travel, national team call-ups or other. The league will also release the full WPS Preseason Exhibition Schedule on Monday.
Team rosters will be cut down to 24 players and announced on March 16. Final WPS rosters, consisting of 18 players plus 4 optional development players, will be announced by teams on April 1.
WPS Preseason Key Dates
March 7 Camp Opens
March 8 Preseason Rosters due & Preseason Schedule Announced
March 16 24-player Rosters Announced
April 1 Final Rosters Announced (18 players + 4 optional development players)
April 10-11 WPS Kick-Off Week
About Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)
Headquartered in San Francisco, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is the world’s premier soccer league for women with eight teams across the United States featuring the best players from around the world. WPS completed its inaugural season in August 2009 as Sky Blue FC of New Jersey became the first-ever WPS Champions. In 2010, eight teams will each play 24-game schedules from April 10-September 12 including six original WPS teams – Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Gold Pride (Bay Area), Saint Louis Athletica, Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY) and Washington Freedom – and two expansion teams Atlanta Beat and Philadelphia Independence. The top four finishers in the regular season will qualify for the 2010 WPS Playoffs scheduled for September 19-26. For more information, visit the WPS official website at www.womensprosoccer.com or follow all the news at www.twitter.com/womensprosoccer.