Professional soccer’s Spirit back in Germantown -- Gazette.Net


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When the team formerly known as the D.C. United Women formed two years ago and filled a void left by the sudden departure of the Washington Freedom after 10 seasons, the ultimate goal was to someday become a professional organization, former United coach Mike Jorden said.

That became a reality on Nov. 21 when the U.S. Soccer Federation announced it would start a new professional league of eight teams in the spring of 2013 and included the Washington, D.C., area’s entry on the list.

On Dec. 11, the club revealed its new identity. And Jorden was named the team’s head coach.

The Washington Spirit will train and play all its home games at the award-winning Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, a pristine 22-field facility that Spirit general manager Chris Hummer said likely would impress most Major League Soccer teams.

“It’s very exciting that we got chosen as one of the eight teams. It had always been a hope and a plan that we’d end up where we are today. This is such a soccer-rich area with great fans — it’s exciting we could get this done,” Jorden said.

The National Women’s Soccer League will be the third attempt at a women’s professional soccer league in this country since 2000.

The previous two — Women’s United Soccer Association and the more recent Women’s Professional Soccer — each lasted three seasons.

The Washington metropolitan area has a rich history in women’s soccer.

The Washington Freedom won the 2003 WUSA Founder’s Cup in the league’s final season.

Area teams have historically drawn the world’s best players, including former Freedom players Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach. U.S. Women’s National Team defender and gold medalist Becky Sauerbrunn played several games for the United Women in 2012.

A completely different model sets the NWSL apart from it’s predecessors.

The top seven players’ salaries on each team will be funded by their country’s soccer federation.

U.S. Soccer will run the league and fund three national team players per team — 24 total.

Canada, which will host the 2015 Women’s World Cup, will pay the salaries of 16 national players and Mexico will pay 12.

“This cost structure is in line with the predicted revenue. The top seven players on the team will not even come off the payroll,” Hummer said.

The top player allocations are expected to be announced by the end of the year, Hummer added.

The league then will hold a four-round draft on Jan. 18 for college seniors, Hummer said.

The Spirit will hold a combine at the SoccerPlex on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 to fill the remaining spots on its roster, which is expected to reach 18 to 20 women.

While Jorden and Hummer have little control over which players the Spirit will receive in the allocation — Jorden submitted a list of his top choices and the 24 players listed theirs — he said there will be an opportunity for United Women players to stay with the team.

The organization also will continue its W-League program — the United Women finished third in last year’s championships — as well as a Super Y 20-under team. Though with drafts and allocations, they will not serve as direct reserve teams the way academies work in Europe, Jorden said. The hope is some of the young players the organization develops will come back.

Much of the Spirit is yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure, women’s professional soccer is back in Germantown and Jorden said the intent is to continue area teams’ winning tradition.

jbeekman@gazette.net