Sunday, March 14, 2010

She's out of your League

Originally, I was going to post some more on strikes, failed mediations, and shattered dreams. Well, at least the first two. The broken dreams part was the remnant of listening to Eighties radio this morning. Oh, Eighties music: it's all fun and games 'til Johnny Hates Jazz camps himself in your brain for the morning.

ANYWAY, after diving into the first three lines (of the post, not the song), a wave of depression came over me. It felt eerily similiar to what those disembodied smilie faces experienced in that Zoloft commercial before they started chasing those butterflies. At least, that's what I guess.

But before I hit up the medicine cabinet, I had a moment of clarity. Something clicked inside of me. 'Hey', I heard myself say. 'There's more to life than MLS.' I initially scoffed at the idea. However, the mind works in mysterious ways. I felt a spirit inside me. I suddenly decided to turn my attention in a different direction. What's that I hear? Birds chirping? And wait - is that sun coming out?

Oh, my dearest Women's Professional Soccer. It's so good to write about you again!

Now, my last post about WPS - the one about the LA Sol closing its doors - was not a happy piece. There were no butterflies roaming fluttering around the laptop on that one. So here's the first, cheery WPS piece of 2010.


The trees are still bare here in Boston, but the air is shedding its frosty bite. And while MLS players and the League are battling over guaranteed contracts, player options, and free agency - all worthwhile causes, mind you - the women of the WPS are quietly gearing up for the upcoming season which will, for sure, commence April 10th.

And by "quietly," I do not mean "passively." By no means. They're doing the same preseason drills as their MLS counterparts. The same crazy games of soccer golf and "Butts Up." And they're definitely getting in some good, healthy scrimmages as the calendar nears the official start of spring.

By "quiet," I mean they are simply going about their business. There is no labor strife in WPS. In fact, Commissioner Tonya Antonucci recently announced that the average player salary has increased this season. This, of course, is excellent news given the dire predictions unleashed when WPS was born three years ago.

Anyway, aside from all the off the pitch patter, WPS looks like it's finding more solid ground, despite the loss of its regular season champion Sol. They added Atlanta and Philly as expansion teams in a true-to-life, one step back, two steps forward move. The US Women's National Team just collected another Algarve Cup championship last week. And nearly all of the league's flagship players - Marta, Abby Wambach, Kelly Smith and Eniola Aluko (who, by the way, is probably one of the most technically gifted players I've ever seen) - will return.

Some of this year's storylines: Can Sky Blue FC defend the title it pretty much stole from the Sol last summer? Will the supremely-talented Breakers finally play up to expectation? How will MVP Marta adjust to her new teammates in the Bay Area? And how many times will Tony DiCicco get fined for post-match criticisms of the officiating?*

(*After one interview with Tony DiCicco, you wish every head coach or manager was as honest and blunt as him. He has little use for diplomatic language, and his pressers often have reporters trading "he didn't just say that" glances with each other. That guy. No filter at all. And it is awesome.)

All in all, it's not such a bad time to be a soccer fan here in the States, despite the sour soundbites spewing from the MLSPU.

So while a strike looms in MLS, the show will go on in another first division pro soccer league. And there's nothing depressing about that.


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