Monthly Archives: December 2010

2010′s 10 Most Memorable Matches

10.) December 19th – Brazil 2, Canada 2/Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paolo Final

 

Granted, it’s recent history but this match was too entertaining to resist. A bullet header, a nasty injury, a red card, an amazing comeback (or two), all topped off with two world-class goals.

And thanks to reader Christopher who shared this link of Sinclair’s goal from a different angle. The curve on that ball is just unnatural.

 

9.) August 1st – Germany 2, Nigeria 0/2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Final

The last game of the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup was noteworthy because it featured the first ever African side to reach the Final. After Alexandra Popp’s lovely effort, Nigeria made things uncomfortable for a Germany team that had previously been unmatched throughout the competition. Kim Kulig’s late header killed the game off, but Nigeria’s valiant effort shouldn’t be forgotten.

 

8.) September 16th – Denmark 2, Sweden 2/Second leg of UEFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying playoff 

Denmark entered the second leg of the UEFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying playoff against Sweden down 2-1 on aggregate. The team scored two first half goals that thrilled the home crowd. If the score stood, Denmark would be through to the World Cup while Sweden would be knocked out of qualification for the first time ever. With this in mind, Charlotte Rohlin scored a momentous brace with seconds to spare in stoppage time. The terrific comeback put Sweden ahead on aggregate and left Denmark wondering what the hell had just happened.

 

 7.) September 25th – South Korea 3, Japan 3 (Penalties: South Korea 5, Japan 4)/2010 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Final 

Entertainment is pretty much guaranteed in a 3-3 draw, particularly ones that have to be decided in penalty kicks. Given how attack-minded and exciting these two sides were, perhaps FIFA should have just allowed the game to conclude at 3-3 before staging the second leg of the Final the next day. It probably would have ended 9-8 on aggregate.

 

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10 Breakout Players of 2010

 

Counting down the 10+ players who burst on to the scene this year and left quite the mark. As always, reaction and/or other suggestions welcome below. 

10.) Jordan Angeli
 
Birthdate: 5/31/1986 (24) 

Country: United States 

By the time July rolled around, the Boston Breakers were in the midst of a serious goal drought. The team had scored just three goals over seven games in the months of May and June. A squad with the likes of Kelly Smith and Lauren Cheney would inevitably start starting goals. Jordan Angeli’s sizeable contribution to the team’s improved attack was surprising, however. The 16th overall pick in the 2010 WPS Draft scored a total of seven goals on the season, five of which came in a span of seven matches. The Breakers won all but one of those seven games. As a result of the team’s hot streak, Angeli was named WPS Player of the Month in July. Additionally, the Breakers carried that momentum into second place and a Super Semifinal appearance. The Santa Clara alum’s sparkling play in central midfield has apparently made an impression on the right people as Angeli received her first USWNT call-up this month. 

 

9.) Josée Bélanger
  

Birthdate: May 14, 1986 (24) 

Country: Canada 

The Canada Women’s National Team has seemingly had a rebirth in 2010 under Carolina Morace’s tutelage. Several Big Red players that had been previously neglected in Even Pellerud’s regime have had renaissances as well. Josée Bélanger  certainly qualifies as player with that distinction. As AWK’s Canadian guru Lissa points out, Bélanger was capped once back in 2004 but didn’t secure a place in the National Team set-up for several years to come. The 24 year-old has become a consistent starter under Morace and has shown her appreciation by banging in goals. In addition to scoring two goals in CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying, Bélanger’s excellent positional sense made her a constant threat to opposing defenders. She looks to have locked up a spot up top alongside Christine Sinclair. It looks like the Université de Sherbrooke’s favorite Kinesiology student is making good. 

 

8.) Jonelle Filigno 

  

Birthdate: September 24, 1990 (20) 

Country: Canada 

While Jonelle Filigno’s rise to prominence with the Canada Women’s National Team may not have occurred overnight (she got some minutes in the 2008 Olympics under then-coach Even Pellerud as a 17 year-old), it’s been pretty meteoric nonetheless. The 20 year-old appeared in all five games of Big Red’s CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign in Cancun and had quite the impact with four goals. That total was only bested by Christine Sinclair, Abby Wambach and Maribel Dominguez. The Rutgers forward finished 2010 with five goals and plenty of promise for a Canada team that’s been chock full of surprises. 

 

7.) Dzsenifer  Marozsán 

  

Birthdate: April 18, 1992 (18) 

Country: Germany 

Calling Dzsenifer Marozsán  a “breakout player” is probably something of a misnomer. The Hungarian-born German international made her Frauen-Bundesliga debut at age 14, becoming the youngest player ever to do so. A year later she scored her first goal in the top flight and set another record mark. Marozsán  was top goal-scorer at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and the 2008 UEFA U-17 Championship. She’s continued to show glimpses of greatness, contributing significantly to Germany’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup win this past summer, including setting up Alexandra Popp’s goal in the Final. Marozsán has also made great strides in a star-studded Frankfurt team this season, scoring once every three games. The 18 year-old is a rarity in the women’s game; a strong, determined playmaking central midfielder with the presence of a player far beyond her years. 

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11 Best Goals of 2010

It’s time to recount some of the year’s prettiest goals.     

      

11.)   Sylvia Smit (3:37)/December 16th – Netherlands 3, Mexico 1 – Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paolo Group Stage         

      

*Insert requisite video of free kick driven in to top right corner by Dutch player. Remember to note technique, precision, power.*     

        

10.) Guadelupe Worbis (1:37)/October 30th – Mexico 7, Guyana 2/CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying Group Stage       

       

There were plenty of goals in this match – one every 10 minutes to be exact. But Worbis’ arching long-range effort is a real peach.     

      

9.) Kandace Wilson/September 26th – FC Gold Pride 4, Philadelphia Independence 0 – 2010 WPS Championship       

       

The fullback chose a memorable occassion to score her first professional goal. Wilson came streaking down the left flank with pace, exchanged passes with Marta before retrieving the ball, battling with center-back Allison Falk and looping in a hopeful shot whilst falling to the ground. It’s difficult to judge who was more surprised when it hit the back of the net: goalkeeper Val Henderson or Wilson herself.       

  

8.) Laura del Rio/August 15th – Boston Breakers 4, Sky Blue FC 0     

       

Did anyone in WPS strike a goal-bound ball harder than del Rio did for this beauty? At such an acute angle? Off a one-timed effort? Unlikely. And that probably wasn’t even the best goal of the game, as will be explained in a bit.        

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Frauen-Bundesliga Winter Break Review: The Top 40 Edition

The first leg of the 2010-11 Frauen-Bundesliga season is over. The season is truncated due to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup so fixtures are set to end early on March 13. Each review will be accompanied by a song from the Top 40 that best characterizes the team’s season so far. Note: The actual quality of each song isn’t being promoted here. Particularly these first two.

A round-up of how Americans have fared up to this point (yes, including Kriegs) and a projection of how the season will end at the bottom.

 

12.) Herforder SV – “Say Goodbye” by Chris Brown

 
1 point from 15 matches

Leading goal scorer: Laura Feiersinger/6 goals

It’s curtains for Herford. The team is as good as relegated with its lone point and whopping -47 goal difference. Herford’s return visit to the top flight has been both dreadful and surprising, as the team went undefeated in the 2.Bundesliga North last season.

No one has told Austrian attacker Laura Feissinger of Herford’s D.O.A. status, however. The 17 year-old has appeared in all of Herford’s league games and has scored six goals, two more than the combined total her team has scored.

Although Herford has a pretty appalling record, it won’t be the worst in Frauen-Bundesliga history, even if the season ended today. In the 2005-06 season, FFC Brauweiler Pulheim finished the season on 0 points with 100 goals conceded. And you thought Derby County’s 2007-08 Premier League season was bad.

 

11.) USV Jena – “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz

 12 points from 15 games

Leading goal scorer: Genoveva Anonma/7 goals

Things weren’t supposed to be this bad. Jena has traditionally hung in the balance between mid-table mediocrity and relegation fodder throughout the team’s spell in the Frauen-Bundesliga. This year has been particularly rotten however, particularly off the back of last season’s surprising DFB-Pokal Cup Final appearance. The team had also finished in a comfortable 8th position.

So what has gone wrong? First off, Jena parted ways with Coach Heidi Vater in the offseason. Newly-installed manager Thorsten Zaunmüller was then sacked in mid-November for a record that showed two wins, three draws, and eight losses under his tutelage. The team then ushered in Daniel Kraus on an interim basis but was informed he was not fit to lead after it was discovered he lacked an A-license.

Meanwhile, only five players outside of star forward Genoveva Anonma have appeared on the score sheet. Zero of them are strikers. The team has only had one win since September 26th and relegation looks certain as six of the team’s final seven opponents are teams in the top seven. 

 

10.) Saarbrücken - “Save Me” by Nicki Minaj

13 points from 15 games

Leading goal scorer: Nina Rauch/4 goals

And then we arrive to the teams who would likely be relegation bait if it wasn’t for the hopelessness of the team’s below them. Saarbrücken started the season well, winning three of its first four games.

The team’s bright start has probably saved them from entering the relegation battle as September and October were dreadful. The team won just two matches whilst losing the ten others. Saarbrücken has only managed to play four times throughout November and December due to severe winter weather.

Saarbrücken has got some tough fixtures ahead of them as five of the team’s last seven fixtures feature teams in the top half of the table. The club will have to hope that Jena and Herford keep stinking it up. That will likely be the team’s only saving grace.

 

9.) Essen-Schönebeck – “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn (In fairness I had no idea what song to choose but this was a good one.)

13 points from 15 games

Leading goal scorer: Melanie Hoffman/6 goals

Essen-Schönebeck has been largely inconsistent thus far, but much like Saarbrücken, the spate of canceled matches – and a burning bus – has done the team no favors.

Essen-Schönebeck went into Halloween with just four losses and a defensive record that seemed more appropriate for the top of the table. Since then, however, things have gone south quickly. After scrapping to a surprising 2-1 win over Bad Neuenahr on November 7th, the team has endured a three-match losing streak. Perhaps most poignantly, the eventual game-winning (err, game-losing) goals have come in the 60 or later.

36 year-old veteran Melanie Hoffman has been one bright spot, leading the way with six goals, one more than her total last season. Essen-Schönebeck will have to recapture the form it had throughout the autumn months. After all, being inconsistent is better than being consistently poor.

 

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Notables for December 21st, 2010

  • The latest WPS player transactions include Tasha Kai, Leigh Ann Robinson and Kia McNeill to Philadelphia, Cat Whitehill to Atlanta and Yael Averbuch to Western New York.

 

  • All Western New York needs now is a decent winger or two. Once that’s been taken care of it’s a toss-up between the Flash and Sky Blue FC as to which WPS club has amassed the strongest squad ahead of 2011.

 

  • Abby Wambach has been named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year for the fourth straight time. U-20 goalkeeper Bianca Henninger claimed the Young Female Award.

 

  • Pia Sundhage will select 15 of the 26 players called into a January training camp for the Four Nations tournament in January. New faces include Whitney Engen, Jordan Angeli, Meghan Klingenberg and Kristie Mewis. It’s well and good that new players are getting a run out but one has to wonder whether a tournament that will feature competition of the caliber of Canada, Sweden and China is the right place to experiment. Additionally, Morgan and Klingenberg are the only two players eligible to be drafted on January 14. It will be interesting to see if they make it out to Baltimore the day after camp concludes. And as Chris Henderson mentioned earlier, it’s funny how eight veterans were given an extended break but Kristine Lilly is not one of them. And she’s probably just fine with that.

 

  • Notre Dame senior Melissa Henderson won the Honda Sports Award. The honor was determined by ballots sent in from 1,000 NCAA member schools.

 

  • Moncton is among the Canadian cities hoping to become a host venue for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. We should know exactly how many cities are serious about bidding come December 24 when each city is to make a $25,000 non-refundable deposit to Canada Soccer and thereby FIFA. There’s a lot more information about prospective bidding cities in this article.

 

  • Birmingham City has released its roster ahead of the new FA WSL and former Chicago Red Star Karen Carney looks to be among the players included.

 

  • Bad weather disrupted Frauen-Bundesliga fixtures for the third week running. The league is set to take its annual winter break and will resume on February 6th. Turbine Potsdam holds a slim one point lead over Frankfurt but the challengers have a game in hand. Meanwhile, Herford are relegated and Jena are also in the drop-zone but Saarbrücken, Essen-Schönebeck and Bayer Leverkusen are all less than 3 points from joining them.

 

  • Fixtures in France’s Feminine Division have also been ravaged by the winter weather. Olympique Lyonnais have not yet dropped a point and are six points clear of both Juvisy and Montpellier. Play resumes January 9th.

 

  • As for the supposed new content for this week – well, I either lied or neglected to remember that’s it’s Christmas season. This being the case, new stuff including year-end reviews of the Canada WNT, the Frauen-Bundesliga and other happenings are due out next week. In the meantime, thanks for the continued support and readership. Have a wonderful, happy and fulfilling holiday.

Sunday Brief: Canada, WNY Flash Affirm Their Awesomeness

If Canada’s 2-2 draw with Brazil in the final of the Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paulo is any indication, next summer’s Women’s World Cup is going to be pretty spectacular. The match produced a bevy of shots and saves, a sending off, a blown ACL (which isn’t so spectacular), breakneck end-to-end action, and two of the most spectacular goals you’ll likely have seen in 2010 and possibly in 2011 and 2012 too. And all of this was played before a raucous, near-capacity crowd complete with smoke bombs and joyous, shirtless Brazilian dudes.

Canada and Brazil advanced out of the group stage as leaders. The two teams finished their group stage meeting at loggerheads but Canada was flattered by the 0-0 result. As AWK’s Canada contributor Lissa put it, Canada got the ‘palm-face’ treatment by a Brazil team who were hard done by some excellent work from Canada’s third-choice goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé.

Labbé continued to set a fine impression of herself early on in today’s final, appearing composed before a Brazil attack that was happy to follow Marta’s lead. Canada’s defense withstood some scary moments early. The back four denied Marta the opportunity to revel in the end result of some excellent playmaking.

Canada was rewarded for its stoutness early as Melissa Tancredi bounded towards the touch line and sent in a pin-point accurate cross in for Josée Bélanger who arrived on cue. Bélanger’s header from point-blank range beat Brazil’s goalkeeper Andreia and sent Canada forth, much to the host’s surprise.

Shortly thereafter, FC Gold Pride ca. 2009 player Renata Costa fell to the floor in a heap, clutching her knee in agony. It was an ugly sight and Brazil appeared a little shaken immediately thereafter. The first half whistled to a close and Big Red was halfway to winning its third title of the year, after victories in the Cyprus Cup and CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying.

The women’s soccer gods were seemingly keen to save the best for last, as the second half featured some of the most entertaining fare witnessed all year. Both goalkeepers were put on guard as shots came raining in from the likes of an enthused Bélanger and a confident Formiga. Canada seemed less content to sit back and absorb the waves of pressure. Rather, the team passed its way out of danger and attacked goalkeeper Andreia with conviction. Brazil, meanwhile, matched Canada’s endeavor and threat in the counterattack.

And then the moment came when Marta rose to the peak of her powers and exhibited why she is the most dynamic attacking player the women’s game has ever seen. Her blistering slalom run in which she rounded three or four or maybe five Canadian defenders, then finished with the coolest of finishes rivaled some of Messi’s best stuff. I know that sounds like hyperbole but just watch the goal and judge for yourself.

More dramatics ensued as Canada’s center-back Marie-Eve Nault was whistled and subsequently red carded for an unfortunate hand ball in the box. Marta was called into action and again slotted a calm shot past Labbé. Brazil had doubled its lead to 2-1. The momentum seemed to be irretrievable, particularly as Canada was forced to complete the match with 10 men.

But Marta’s former FC Gold Pride strike partner treated herself to a goal that was as brilliant as it was nonsensical. Christine Sinclair, who had been having a pretty pedestrian match, teed up a shot right on the edge of the area that somehow overcame the acute angle and ricocheted off the goalpost before settling into the corner of the net before Andreia had a chance to regain her bearings.

It was an absolutely sensational strike that most players wouldn’t even bother attempting. The circus shot tied up the game and gave Canada enough points in the table to overcome Brazil in the round-robin tournament.  Marta’s last-gasp free kick was cleared and Canada was cleared through to a surprise victory. It was also the team’s second title earned in a gruff away environment after Sinclair’s penalty kick dashed Mexico’s hopes of winning CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying on home soil.

 The victory caps off a spectacular year for Big Red. The team will hope to spoil yet another homecoming come World Cup time when Canada opens its campaign against mighty Germany in the nation’s capital. The game is set to be the best-attended women’s soccer game on the European continent. Berliners should be prepared to be won over.

Video after the jump.

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Notables for December 17th, 2010 (Updated 5:30 pm CT)

  • Huge thanks to Izabel for finding a news report with a very confident sounding Santos team President. The article states the team is “finalizing negotiations” with the league. Welcome aboard, Mermaids?

 

  • The league has released an official statement regarding the Santos connection:

“We welcome conversations with global soccer clubs about investment and involvement in WPS as our league continues to be the place for the world’s best to play.”

 

  • Jeff Kassouf is reporting that the Washington Freedom cleared house under new owner Dan Barislow. Additionally, the team’s name will in fact be changed and Briana Scurry may be set to take over as General Manager.

 

  • Included in the house-clearing was a fire sale of all old Freedom merch. However, the fire sale has seemingly been canceled.  What the heck is going on over there?

 

  • So if reports are to be believed and Santos really is about to close a deal with a WPS team, who do you think would be the likeliest candidate? This is pure conjecture but good thing there isn’t a team that’s in the midst of being re-branded, doesn’t have stated ambitions of signing Marta, has yet to officially sign any new players, just let go everyone from the old regime and is in talks of splitting games in Florida in WPS. Oh wait.

  

  • The Atlanta Beat has today announced the signing of Carli Lloyd. The move isn’t all surprising considering Lloyd will have to fight for a place in the SBFC midfield that includes Tobin Heath, Heather O’Reilly Allie Long, Carolyn Blank, Angie Kerr, Laura Kalmari, Kendall Fletcher and perhaps another quality signing or two still to be announced. The fact that the Beat is coached by her former trainer probably doesn’t hurt either.

 

  • Yet more rumors: Megan Rapinoe is headed to Philadelphia and Ella Masar is going to Washington and/or Florida.

  

  • We start off with some tragic news. Equatorial Guinea Women’s National Team player Teclaire Bille Esono died in a motor accident in Cameroon on Tuesday night. She was 22. Esono was set to appear for Equatorial Guinea in the country’s first Women’s World Cup this summer.

 

  • New developments have surfaced regarding Santos joining WPS and they are as interesting as they are perplexing. The team still seems to be interested in joining WPS next year (2011?) and President of the women’s soccer team Murillo Barletta is quoted as saying, “I believe we will have new developments in a few days, and we can announce the creation of Santos USA”. The articles states the team intends to add Marta and four Santos players to a WPS team but doesn’t say which one.  With the Chicago Red Stars officially out of the picture in 2011, who could it be? (Thanks Marshall and Izabel)

 

  • Group play of the Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paulo has concluded. Both the third place match between Mexico and the Netherlands and the final between Brazil and Canada will be played on Sunday. You can view all the highlights on the tournament’s main site. (Thanks, Lissa)

 

  • Some FA WSL tidbits for you. The BBC has an audio interview with Hope Powell. In it she discusses how playing in the summer will benefit the FA WSL and why English players drop out of the women’s game at a young age. Elsewhere, The Guardian has published more information about the WSL. The FA will invest £2 million ($3,104,600) into the new league over the next two years. Perhaps most interestingly, central contracts will be doled out to 20 England players and a salary cap will limit each club to have a maximum of four players who earn more than £20,000 ($31,000) a year. ESPN will broadcast a highlight show and five live matches per year and the league will not be expected to cover production costs.

 

  • The “failing” WPS is referenced in the article, and it serves as a reminder as to how unique WPS is. As harsh as it sounds, paying women livable wages to play soccer just isn’t commonplace in today’s world. Paying every player wages is even less common. WPS’ model may prove to be unworkable but it certainly is ambitious and thus, admirable.

 

  • Powell referenced England’s winter time training camp in La Manga, Spain in the BBC interview. The FA has released the 27 players who have been called up for the camp.

 

  • The 2011 WPS Draft will occur on January 14th and will be streamed live. Unlike previous years, the draft will only feature 24 picks and the amount of picks varies per round. There will be eight in the 1st round, four in the 2nd, seven in the 3rd, and five in the 4th.

 

  • Whitney Engen is the newest member of the Western New York Flash and India Trotter has joined the Atlanta Beat.

 

  • Christine Sinclair has been named Female Player of the Year by the Canadian Soccer Association for the sixth straight time.

 

 

  • The Canadian-based It’s Called Football podcast interviewed the CSA General Secretary Peter Montopoli about Canada’s bid to host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. It’s a highly recommended listen. Download the podcast here or search for it on iTunes.

 

  • Also check out the latest edition of the Equalizer Soccer Women’s Podcast with Richard Farley and Jeff Kassouf. Miley Cyrus and Joe Louis get mentions. You can find it by searching ‘RF Football’ n iTunes.

 

  • FF USV Jena forward and AWK darling Sylvia Arnold was honored as Jena’s Sportswoman of the Year. The club was represented as winners in four of the five categories in the cermony. Video here.

 

  • Attention women’s soccer curators, today’s the final day to claim some exclusive FC Gold Pride souvenirs on eBay.

 

  • Rumor of the day: Kia McNeill and Tasha Kai are set to join the Philadelphia Independence. If this indeed true, it will the Independence’s first new signings of the offseason.

 

  • This has nothing to do with women’s soccer per se, but The Guardian’s Louise Taylor has a great piece on Blackburn Rovers’ new chairwoman Anuradha J Desai. More powerful, quotable women in the Barclay’s Premier League please, and particularly those who demand pretty football.

 

Apologies for the extended absence this past week. Expect more new content next week.

Good Thing The U.S. Isn’t In Need of Creative Midfielders, Right?

Mexico’s #19 in their match in Brazil against Holland yesterday should look familiar to those who have been keeping tabs of the U.S. youth national teams through the years or the college game. Yes, that’s Teresa Noyola, the creative midfield general that was pulling the strings for Stanford’s high powered attack this year (let’s ignore the ill-timed right winger experiment in the 2010 NCAA Final). The very same Noyola who featured at the U20 World Cup this year for the U.S. and who would have likely been on the winning 2008 team had she not pulled out for school concerns (leading then U20 coach Tony DiCicco to infamously question Noyola’s integrity).

Needless to say this is a massive, but understandable blow for the U.S. Noyola will likely slot right in with Stanford teammate Alina Garciamendez on Mexico’s 2011 Women’s World Cup side which seems to be hitting a rich vein of new talent in recent years. The odds of Noyola breaking into the full national team for the United States in the next few years looked bleak, especially given Pia Sundhage’s reticence in blooding youngsters with the senior side. Nobody knows what the future ultimately entails, and Noyola (born in Mexico), was likely more than eager to make the jump and get a chance to play in her first World Cup.


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As Chicago Red Stars Dim, Santos Link Comes to Light

A twist in the Chicago Red Stars tale has come to the fore as three sources confirm that the Brazilian club Santos had its eyes on partnering with a team in WPS for the 2011 season. On November 12, a report surfaced in Folha de Sao Paolo – regarded as being one of Brazil’s biggest newspapers – that included President of Santos’ women’s soccer team Murillo Barletta stating, “[WPS] really wants us to be part of the league. I can say we have a 60% of reaching an agreement.”

It can be exclusively revealed that the WPS team of interest was the Chicago Red Stars. The two teams were involved in a long-standing relationship that one source suggests was initiated back in March or April. It is believed that Santos had an interest in forming a partnership in WPS beforehand as well.

At the center for the deal was the signing of superstar Marta, who is fresh off her WPS Championship title with recently-defunct FC Gold Pride. Marta has appeared on loan for Santos in every WPS offseason since 2009. Despite new Washington Freedom owner Dan Barislow’s stated ambitions of signing Marta, Santos was interested in bringing the four-time FIFA Player of the Year to Chicago, possibly because of the link with Cristiane, who also has connections to Santos.

A source familiar with the situation concedes that Marta’s salary was always an issue but felt that the Red Stars “had a way through it”. Failure to agree to terms over Marta’s wages does not appear to be why the deal was unconsummated, however. Rather, the sudden folding of FC Gold Pride severely compromised the likelihood of getting a deal done ahead of the 2011 season. A source admits, “[It] didn’t paint a picture of a league a team could invest its brand in coming from the outside like that.”

In fact, the deal was nearly inked before the news regarding the imminent foldings of FC Gold Pride and the Washington Freedom surfaced on October 31.

“When things looked like they were getting closed, [Chicago] had to completely re-start and reshape the discussions at that point,” the source continues.

Despite Monday’s news of the Chicago Red Stars’ suspension of operations, sources indicate that the two teams are still involved in an ongoing relationship. A source confides that the Red Stars were also involved in discussions with another international club that could have been a “game-changer” for WPS.

If a partnership had been agreed upon by Chicago and Santos, it would have been a first for WPS. Major League Soccer features a “parent club” relationship with Los Angeles-based Chivas USA and the Mexican First Division side Chivas de la Guadalajara.

Santos is one of the most well-known Brazilian clubs in the world, having been the club Pelé spent most of his professional career with. The club’s women’s team has won nearly every competition it has entered since 2007. The team won its second consecutive Copa Libertadores Femenino this October. It features several members of Brazil’s Women’s National Team including the likes of Marta, Cristiane, Grazielle, Erika, Andréia, Aline, and Maurine.

Marta recently inked a three-month loan contract that will see her return to the Brazilian club. The deal was reportedly heavily subsidized by sponsors.

Chicago Red Stars Put on Ice for 2011

The Chicago Red Stars has officially ceased operations ahead of the 2011 season but has intentions of returning to WPS in 2012. On November 15, the team was granted a 30-day extension to find additional investors. With the December 15 deadline looming large, the team has failed to find further funding and is forced to close up shop, with the hope of re-joining the league the following season.

Chicago’s suspension of operations leaves WPS with six teams ahead of its third season, which is set to kick-off on the weekend of April 9-10. It will also make WPS an unofficial regional league, with all six franchises concentrated on the East Coast.

Only three of the original seven teams involved in the 2009 launch of WPS will be involved in the 2011 season. Incidentally, half of the teams had predecessors in the WUSA; the Atlanta Beat, the Boston Breakers and the Washington Freedom.

More details about the suspension of operations,  a potential saving grace that was not to be, and the long-term outlook for the club should emerge later this week.

Our deepest condolences to everyone affected by the folding.  Hopefully everything can be worked out ahead of 2012.