Leveling of the WPS Stage for a High Quality Play

Shobha KondraguntaCorrespondent IMay 21, 2009

CARSON, CA - MARCH 29:  Fans watch as the Los Angeles Sol host the Washington Freedom in their inaugural WPS match at The Home Depot Center on March 29, 2009 in Carson, California. The Sol defeated the Freedom 2-0. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league rolled into action with seven teams, each being allocated three players from the 2008 Olympic gold medal winning national team.

Many former U.S. national team players, international star players, and young players fresh out of college quickly filled the rosters of the seven teams during the draft season.

The process led to no individual team becoming a powerhouse. Credit to the league organizers and individual club coaches, the allocations and draft process distributed the talent and experience equally across the seven teams.

The result was a leveled playing field.

Attesting to this is the fact that every team is drawing an average fan attendance between 4000 and 6000 with a notable exception being Los Angles Sol, which on occasion draws a larger crowd because of Brazilian star soccer player Marta.

Although the season has just started, with many games yet to be played, it is worth exploring how the WPS league play is evolving.

After a very nervous start of the first game between the Los Angles Sol and the Washington Freedom, which at times was painfully slow to watch, the pace and quality of the games has skyrocketed.

Barring the game between Chicago Red Stars and Boston Breakers, there has been no single game where goal difference exceeded two. Seven games ended in a draw.  Given only a nine point difference between the top and bottom teams thus far, the fight for playoffs berth will be intense.

In the 23 games played to date, a total of 47 goals were scored. Of these, only 13 goals were scored by the U.S. national team players. Wambach, Lilly, Milbrett, and Tarpley have two each.

O’Reily, Hucles, Lloyd, Chalupny, and Kai have one each.

International players and the young U.S. players with no national team experience are playing major roles on the WPS stage, scoring more than 50 percent of the goals.

The obvious international standouts are Bompastor on the Washington Freedom, Smith and Scott on the Boston Breakers, Marta on the Los Angeles Sol, Daniela on the St. Louis Athletica, and Sinclair on the FC Gold Pride.

What a wonderful opportunity for the fans to watch and obsess about international players instead of just a handful of star players on the U.S. national team.

Close games with 4000 to 6000 fans watching live and many more watching on the Fox soccer channel is a decent start for the WPS league.  If the quality of the game is sustained at this level or if it continues to increase, there is no doubt that most teams will be playing for sold-out crowds.

Given the emotions with which some teams and players are already playing, some very good team rivalries are in the making. Maybe, fans will soon start a tradition and legacy with team songs and cheers. Good times are here for the beautiful game of soccer.