USL News Release
Friday, September 25, 2009
After meeting their teams for the first time on Thursday, players attending USL’s W-League Combine began their on-field pursuit of a professional career here today at Ed Radice Sports Complex in Tampa, Florida. Friday began with an hour-and-a-half training session before breaking for lunch. The live action then got underway at 2:30PM ET. The third of three daily matches concluded at 8:30PM.
“The W-league has been a great vehicle for player development during the years between the WUSA and WPS,” said Washington Freedom Head Coach Jim Gabarra prior to the W-League Combine. “Therefore, the league has had an impact on improving the level of play in the women’s game.”
“I thought the level of the 2008 W-League combine was very good,” added Gabarra. “It was helpful for us in getting to see the best players from the W-League in one setting. It also helped us on draft day.”
An associate member of the W-League in 2006, the W-League Champion in 2007 and playing in their second league final in 2009, the Freedom have established one of the top female development systems in the world through their play in the W-League, USL Super-20 League and USL Super Y-League.
“We are very passionate about what we have built here with the Freedom,” said Gabarra. “We believe that this is the right way to operate a club and place a high priority on player development. This is how it is done all over the world. We try to allocate the proper resources to player development and are optimistic that it will pay off for the Freedom in a consistent way in the years to come.”
Accordingly, the Freedom placed five players from their W-League squad in the 2008 W-League Combine. This season there are four products of the Freedom’s development system in the combine (Jessie Wolfe, Kimmie Germain, Brittany Tegeler and Kate Watson).
“Through the support of the Hendricks and the strength of the Freedom brand we have been committed to our goal of creating a traditional club that supports a pro team. We always believed that women’s pro soccer would be back and we want to do all we can to make sure it is in the DC market for a very long time.”
“We have had the support of one of the best soccer communities in the country,” added Gabarra. “Not to mention a tremendous commitment from our talented staff and players.”
While the Freedom were an established club heading into the debut season of WPS last year, the Los Angeles Sol were at the other end of the spectrum, but used a number of W-League alumni to build a squad that went on to win the regular season title. Head Coach Abner Rogers is among the coaches returning for a second visit to the W-League Combine looking for similar players that may help win the league championship in 2010.
|LA Sol Head Coach Abner Rogers
“There’s players out there that we haven’t seen,” said Rogers as the coaches and players arrived in Tampa Thursday evening. “It’s gonna be an exciting weekend for us and the players. I think this weekend there’ll definitely be players that will be playing in a professional league next year. It’s hard to estimate the amount because a year ago there wasn’t a professional league, and so the numbers were much greater. They were going from college to playing in the USL.”
The W-League Combine is an important event for players and coaches alike in a such a large nation with a wide array of colleges and players.
“We can only go to so many events, so many college games,” added Rogers. “USL have done a great job putting top players in one venue and having a combine for us.”
He went on to highlight some of the key things he was looking for in players at the combine, noting that the ability to be flexible and play more than one position would be beneficial in a player’s resume. Among a player’s skills, their first touch, mobility and decision making in a physical environment was important.
He went on to discuss the adjustments players had to make coming to WPS last year, stating it was “A big step with speed of play being the biggest factor. Even some of our internationals took a while to adjust,” referring to the transition French international Camille Abily underwent in 2009.
New to the adventure of building a first-year franchise in 2010 are the expansion Atlanta Beat.
|Atlanta Beat Head Coach Gareth O’Sullivan
After recently adding initial players to his roster via the expansion draft, many of whom were W-League alumni, Atlanta Beat Head Coach Gareth O’Sullivan remarked that he was hoping to fill at least 2-3 roster spots with players identified at the combine.
“We feel there’s a lot of good players in the W-League and we’re excited to be here this weekend,” said the new WPS coach, who went on to note that he felt there was a very good senior class coming out of the college ranks this fall, “But at the same time I feel that the W-League has girls in it that have got a couple years experience, that have been able to, maybe, mature a little bit, get that experience. And I think that’s important.”
“When you weigh up a collegiate player against a girl that has a couple years W-League experience, you’re usually, probably, gonna go with the girl from the W-League.”
O’Sullivan said he was looking for players who were comfortable on the ball with composure and an excitement to want the ball. He also offered some advice for the potential WPS players for the weekend, saying to “Not be nervous and just go out and have some fun. Everyone wants players that are gonna work hard. No matter where you are in the world, no matter what level you’re playing at, we want players who are gonna give 100 percent whether its training or game time.”