By Tim Grainey
This week, the Roundup presents some news from U.S. Soccer regarding a permanent Women’s National Team Coach and a new professional league for 2013. We also look at the second leg of the round of 32 matches of the 2012-13UEFA Women’s Champions League.
U.S. Soccer Appoints Jill Ellis as Interim Coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team
On Friday, October 5, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati named Jill Ellis as interim head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team for the October matches versus Germany on the Fan Tribute Tour (October 20 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois and October 23 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut). Gulati said that Ellis, currently U.S. Soccer’s Youth Development Director for women’s teams and a longtime successful coach at UCLA, has pulled herself out of consideration for the job on a permanent basis, as has her boss, U.S. Women’s Technical Director and former National Team head coach April Heinrichs.
Gulati explained that the federation has 25 to 30 resumes that they are reviewing and in some cases have had discussion with candidates, who include: “Some international coaches and some domestic coaches that are in the mix and from the various groups or types of coaches…which essentially meant international, some U.S. college-based coaches, some from our own programs that have coached in our National Team program and then those with professional experience. Clearly there are some that cross all of those lines. We don’t have a short list per se but we’re still talking to people in this first round of interviews.”
Gulati hopes to complete the process by the end of October though some candidates might be contractually obligated with their current jobs until the end of 2012.
U.S. Soccer also announced two other matches on the Fan Tribute Tour against the Republic of Ireland: on Wednesday November 28, 2012 in Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon and on Saturday December 1 in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
U.S. Soccer Update on a Women’s Professional League Effort for 2013
U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, also in his October 5 news conference, explained that U.S. Soccer is talking with 11 different potential investors/owner-operators in 10 cities to start a new women’s professional league next year.
Gulati said: “There are some former professional teams that are obviously part of that group, some current MLS teams’ investor-operators are part of that group and we expect to have that process pretty much completed by the end of October as well. We are doing a number of things parallel to that and the most important of which is talking to the U.S. team players about what that league could look like and their possible participation in it and so on. That would happen in the third week of the month in and around the games in Chicago and East Hartford. So the two or three most important stakeholder groups are the potential investor-operators, the National Team players and, and at this point working very closely with the Federation. The USL is part of this structure and would handle the front office possibilities, if we pull this together.”
Gulati said that the eleven interested parties include: “a mix of some of those very large top-10 markets” as well as groups in the east, west, midwest and central U.S.
Sources indicated that former WPS sides Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC and Western New York Flash—all of whom except Sky Blue played in WPSL Elite last season after WPS ceased operations—are part of the discussions, along with a group in Portland.
Gulati said that U.S. Soccer’s involvement would be much higher than in the past as they typically are only a sanctioning, regulatory agent for professional leagues. This additional involvement could include funding and operating the league, as Gulati revealed: “What form that takes is still being discussed but a big part of our participation would be that the National Team players would play in this league and perhaps be funded directly by U.S. Soccer.”
Gulati also said that there might be some involvement from individual MLS teams, as some teams have gotten involved with the USL W-League teams in recent times.
Gulati said that any participation by MLS sides would not be at a league-wide level: “That’s not a league-wide decision. Clearly MLS has to approve any of their owners participating in another league with the women’s team. It’s really case-by-case. There are some situations where individual MLS investors are enthusiastically looking at this possibility, others where they’re very much focused on their MLS team or the stadium situation, or they don’t want to do this now and see how this starts. This isn’t a discussion that’s taking place with [MLS commissioner] Don [Garber] and we have 19 teams looking at this in a unified way. How do I feel about it? It’s up to the individual MLS teams to do this. In some places it works much better than others and for some owners it works much better than owners to seriously consider the possibility.”
There is precedence for U.S. Soccer’s active attempt to run and oversee a professional league. U.S. Soccer ran a Division II men’s professional league for a year in 2010 after a dispute between USL Pro Division teams and breakaway teams who formed the North American Soccer League. The dispute was resolved after the 2010 season and the NASL currently runs the Division II league in North America with 8 teams in Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States.
U.S. Soccer’s efforts took many by surprise when Sunil Gulati first started talking about the possibility of a new women’s league at the London Olympics. However, it is an important move by Gulati and other U.S. Soccer leaders which could prove visionary. It seemed that with WPS’s demise that we would not see a professional league for years. Less than nine months after WPS folded, U.S. soccer is seriously considering launching a professional league when two previous groups failed. Without a professional league, going forward the U.S. Women’s Team might not be as competitive as they have in the past since the rest of the world is catching up to the dominant Americans, who have won four of five Olympic gold medals and a final four spot in all six Women’s World Cups to date. U.S. Soccer’s deep relationships with sponsors could help the league to maintain a firmer financial footing than did WUSA or WPS.
UEFA Women’s Champions League Round of 32 Review
Six round of 32 ties were decided on Thursday October 4 in the second leg games.
Host FK Zorkiy Krasnogorsk of Russia defeated Stjarnan of Iceland 3-1 on the night and on aggregate after a scoreless draw in the first leg. Vira Dyatel of the Ukraine scored a brace. Maria Ruiz, a Spanish international who played with FC Indiana and Buffalo Flash, also scored. Other imports include midfielder Pamela Conti of Italy, defender Janaina of Brazil, defender Alla Lyshafay of the Ukraine and two Mexicans with FC Indiana roots: Fatima Leyva, a former international midfielder and goalkeeper Anjuli Ladron.
For Stjarnan, three Americans played in the match, Midfielder Kate Deines and forward Veronica Perez (Mexican international), who both played at the University of Washington and for Seattle Sounders Women in the W-League this past season, while forward Ashley Bares played at the Marquette University. Perez had 12 goals in 14 games in finished second in the league in both goals and points (26) for the Sounders in 2012 while Deines had one goal in twelve games.
Arsenal of England easily cruised past FC Barcelona of Spain at home 4-0 (7-0 on aggregate) with three goals by Scottish international forward Jennifer Beattie as a substitute and three assists from former NJ Wildcats (W-League) and English international Rachel Yankey. Yankey won the W-League title with the Wildcats in 2005.
FCF Juvisy Essonne of France won a close battle 1-0 over FC Zurich of Switzerland to take the tie 2-1 on aggregate. French international Gaetane Thiney scored a penalty with about 20 minutes left. Juvisy’s team is comprised entirely of French citizens, a surprise as the league is rumored to be after some top U.S. players and could be the next top destination for North Americans abroad after Sweden, Germany and Iceland. For Zurich, imports included 16 year old Italian Alessia Raffino, along with two 33-year-old former German internationals: forward Inka Grings and defender Sonja Foss.
Roa Fotball Elite of Norway defeated BIIK Shymkent of Kazakhstan 4-0 at home, to take the tie 8-0 on aggregate. BIIK Shymkent is coached by Kaloyan Petkov, who got his coaching start in the U.S. (see last week’s Roundup).
FC Rossiyanka of Russia, one of the wealthiest clubs in women’s football globally, piped ADO Den Haag of the Netherlands on aggregate 5-3, despite losing their home leg 1-2. Former Stanford and Mexican international Teresa Noyola scored late in the match for Den Haag.
Germany’s Wolfsburg defeated Unia Raciborz of Poland 6-1 at home to take the tie 11-2 with two goals by former WUSA player (Atlanta Beat) and German international Conny Pohlers, who won a Women’s World Cup with Germany in 2003.
On ties decided on Wednesday October 3, the big surprise was that England’s Birmingham City LFC came unstuck, losing a 2-0 first leg advantage when they played at ASD CF Bardolino Verona. Verona’s Cristiana Girelli scored a hat-trick to overturn Birmingham’s advantage in overtime.
LdB FC Malmo (Sweden) defeated MTK Hungaria FC (Hungary) 6-1 at home to take the tie 10-1 on aggregate. Malmo is on track for a third straight Swedish title, holding a five point advantage over Tyreso FF, with three games left.
Stabaek FK (Norway) tied on the road at Brondby IF (Denmark) 3-3 and won the tie 5-3. Stabaek made the last 16 for the first time.
FFC Turbine Potsdam of Germany won 5-0 at home over Standard Femina de Liege of Belgium to advance 8-1 on aggregate, with 18 year old Macedonian forward Natasa Andonova scoring a hat trick, to go with her two goals from the first leg. Americans Keelin Winters (defense) and Alyssa Naeher (goalkeeper) started in the shutout win.
Olympique Lyonnais won 5-0 at home to defeat PK-35 of Finland, and 12-0 on aggregate. All of Lyon’s goals were single tallies from French internationals: Camille Abily, Sonia Bompastor, (both former WPS stars) Amandine Henry and Louisa Necib. Tunisian youth international Amel Majri also scored, to go with her tally in the first leg. Lyon is vying for their third consecutive European club title.
Fortuna Hjorring of Denmark tied Glasgow City of Scotland 0-0 at home to advance 2-1 on aggregate. Fortuna was runner up for the European club title in 2003 and long has imported talent. This year is no exception and they includes two Americans: forward Tiffany Weimer, who has played professionally in the U.S., Brazil and Finland, and defender Casey Ramirez. Ramirez played at Syracuse University. She won the W-League title this past summer with Ottawa Fury, along with Norwegian international forward Lisa–Marie Woods. Fortuna also has Chichi Igbo a 26 year old forward from Nigeria.
For Glasgow City forward Ruesha Littlejohn has played internationally for the Republic of Ireland at the youth level while Katharina Lindner is from Germany. One of Glasgow’s goalkeepers, Claire Johnstone, is English.
Gothenburg accompanied fellow Swedish side Malmo to the round of 16, finishing off the Spartak Subotica of Serbia 2-0 to win 4-0 on aggregate. Christen Press, who was an alternate on the U.S. Olympic side this summer, scored once for the side from Sweden’s second largest city.
CFF Olimpia Cluj of Romania came away from a trip to Austria’s NOSV Neulengbach with a 2-2 draw and won the tie 3-3 on away goals. Brazilian midfielder Giovana scored once for Neulengbach as did Austrian international midfielder Maria Gstottner. Seventeen year old Romanian youth international Alexandra Lunca scored both goals for Olimpia Cluj.
ASD Torres Calcio of Italy defeated Apollon Limassol LFC 3-1 of Cyprus to win the tie 6-3. Former Sky Blue FC (WPS) and Italian international forward Patrizia Panico had scored all three goals in the first leg in Cyprus.
One tie is yet to be decided: on Thursday, October 11, AC Sparta Prague (Czech Republic) defend a 3-0 lead at home to WFC SFK 2000 Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina).
Round of 16 draw:
31 October/1 November & 7/8 November
ASD Torres CF (ITA) v CFF Olimpia Cluj (ROU)
ASD CF Verona (ITA) v WFC Malmö (SWE)
Fortuna Hjørring (DEN) v Göteborg FC (SWE)
VfL Wolfsburg (GER) v Røa Fotball Elite (NOR)
AC Sparta Praha (CZE)/WFC SFK 2000 Sarajevo (BIH) v FC Rossiyanka (RUS)
FK Zorkiy Krasnogorsk (RUS) v Olympique Lyonnais (FRA, holders)
Arsenal LFC (ENG) v 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam (GER)
Stabæk FK (NOR) v FCF Juvisy Essonne (FRA)
The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals will take place next year on March 20/21 and 27/28, followed by the semifinals on April 13/14 and 20/21 with the Final set for London on May 23.
Tim Grainey is a regular contributor to Soccer365. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham was released earlier this month. Get your copy today.
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