No one ever said starting a league would be smooth and easy, especially one thrown together on short notice. The National Women’s Soccer League has had to hit the ground running — in steel-toe construction boots.
Positive vibes have greeted this small-scale circuit, which debuted over the weekend with four matches. From the gang of U.S. national team players to the USSF’s financial backing and a wiser business plan, the NWSL has got a chance to succeed where the WUSA and WPS failed.
Still, the launch is not going to be seamless. Some markets will draw well throughout the four-month season (Portland and Western New York, for instance), while others will likely face greater challenges (Chicago and New Jersey). There is no standard TV coverage and real-time information is difficult to come by unless you attend the games. Only two of the eight clubs (Washington Spirit and Rutgers-based Sky Blue FC) will play home games on natural grass, and several of the artificially blanketed fields include distracting football markings.
In Boston, the rough surface at a suburban municipal park did a number on the legs of Breakers forward Sydney Leroux, who tweeted this photo after scoring a late goal in a 1-1 draw with the Spirit.
And then there is the Spirit, which, because of the league’s thrifty budgets, embarked on a 908-mile roundtrip bus ride for the opener. The vehicle model was not what the club requested, prompting this biting item at the end of its postgame wrap-up:
The team also tweeted about their disgust with bus charter company U.S. Coachways after the charter firm dispatched an extremely old and beat up bus far below the standard the team had been promised. Unfortunately the company then also failed to deliver on a promised replacement, so the ‘First Ladies’ will have to trek home in the mold-infested jalopy at their own risk, while team management confirmed a different company had already been secured for the remainder of the season.
During the ride home Monday, the team playfully used the hashtag “EvilSpiritBus” on its Twitter account.
The Spirit (0-0-1) will play its home opener at Maryland SoccerPlex in upper Montgomery County this Saturday night against the Western New York Flash (0-1-0).