NWSL's Wambach Believes Playing In Western New York Benefits Team, League Longevity
Western New York Flash F Abby Wambach after "having played in two leagues that have folded" wants the new eight-team National Women’s Soccer League “to be part of her legacy,” according to Ronald Blum of the AP. Wambach said, "I took it as a responsibility and a failure on my part that the last previous leagues didn't succeed.” The NWSL follows the failed Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer leagues. Wambach while playing for the Flash “will be based in Buffalo, N.Y., about 70 miles from her hometown of Rochester.” She said, "It was the right choice for me and for the league. Of course I would love to have been in Portland, but I really do think it was and is the best decision for the game, for this league, so that it can strive and not just survive." Blum noted Wambach will be “joined in the new league by all her American teammates and by Canada captain Christine Sinclair.” The new league “gives players regular competition in the gap between last year's Olympics” and the ‘15 Women's World Cup, which will be played in Canada (AP, 1/14). Wambach said that it was “her decision to come home.” Wambach: “I think this team gets more popular in this league with me in its cities, and I also think the other teams around the country will be able to create (interest).” In Rochester, Jeff DiVeronica notes bigger crowds show up in Rochester when Wambach plays there more "infrequently" (ROCHESTER DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE, 1/15). USL Rochester Rhinos and Sahlen’s Stadium President & COO Pat Ercoli on Saturday said the Flash’s season-ticket sales “doubled” since it was announced that Wambach would be playing for the Flash (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 1/12).
CAPTAIN MORGAN: ESPNW.com’s Graham Hays wrote under the header, “Alex Morgan Becomes Face, Voice For New League.” Morgan, who will play for NWSL club Portland Thorns FC, said, “We’re still looking to finalize our negotiations with U.S. Soccer, both the women's national team contract and the (contract with the) league. And we're hoping that is going to be solved in a timely manner so we can focus all of our efforts on the league and getting it started in March." Hays wrote of Morgan, "This is her league in so many ways. Not hers alone, of course. But whose voice carries a greater distance in the public space?" The NWSL placed Morgan in “perhaps the most soccer-mad city in the country, a city in which the University of Portland women's soccer team packed Merlo Field even as two professional leagues rose and fell in other markets” (ESPNW.com, 1/14).
IN GOOD SPIRITS? In DC, Steven Goff wrote the Washington Spirit’s lack of a “marquee player” will make preseason ticket-selling “a little more difficult.” Spirit Owner Bill Lynch said that the team is “aiming to average about 3,000 spectators for home matches at Maryland SoccerPlex.” Lynch: “That’s where it becomes sustainable and comfortable. We think it can be done.” Goff noted the league’s full calendar “isn’t expected for a few weeks.” Lynch is “aiming to play home games on Saturday evenings.” However, he said there are "thousands of variables” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/14).
NEW & IMPROVED: The DEMOCRAT & CHRONICLE’S DiVeronica wrote, "The major difference between NWSL from WUSA and WPS is that the USSF, Canadian and Mexican soccer federations are paying the salaries of the 55 allocated players (16 each from Canada and Mexico), so the player-payroll burden felt by owners won’t be as heavy.” Flash coach Aaran Lines said that there is “a salary cap but declined to disclose the figure.” The profile of America’s star players “also is much higher and should help attract fans and advertisers” (DEMOCRATANDCHRONICLE.com, 1/12).