Let the girls play: North America needs a pro league

Rumors are swirling about a new professional women’s soccer league in North America. The league would likely have teams in a number of U.S. cities with some squads based out of Canada. The potential is exciting, especially for Canadian players and fans with the Great White North hosting the 2015 Women’s World Cup. A new league would be the perfect preview and buildup for such a world-class event.

Most North American players have been on the sidelines since the WPS folded earlier this year. Although Canada’s Rhian Wilkinson and Diana Matheson are currently playing in Norway, the majority of the senior team is waiting. Of course the squad deserved a break after the Olympics considering the physical and emotional highs and lows they experienced, but it’s now late October. You can imagine they’re all ready to hit the pitch again.

A number of the girls have gone the coaching route. Carmelina Moscato is currently an assistant at the University of Wisconsin. Her squad features four Canadian youngsters, including forward Monica Lam-Feist who is having an exceptional year for the Badgers. The team is gearing up for the BIG Ten Tournament and are winners of five straight, including an impressive come from behind victory on Sunday versus Indiana. Desiree Scott is also coaching in her home, Winnipeg, at the University of Manitoba.

Jonelle Filigno and Chelsea Stewart have been busy this fall with their respective college clubs. Thanks to a full schedule of games, they’ll be ready for national squad fitness testing scheduled for December.

So, where does that leave the rest of the players?

These girls shouldn’t be waiting on the sidelines to play. The WPS provided an excellent outlet for players to hone their skills after finishing college or while on break from their national teams. When the Western New York Flash won the WPS title in 2011, they boasted a lineup of some of the world’s best: Christine Sinclair, Marta, Caroline Seger and Alex Morgan. Who wouldn’t want to watch those players on a weekly basis, especially with the chatter about women’s soccer so high right now?

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati spoke this week and mentioned they were in talks with the Canadian Soccer Association about a potential pro league. He, too, reiterated the importance of having teams where players will see steady time on the field. The interest is strong on both sides of the border. Women’s soccer in Canada is as popular as ever, while their American counterparts are equally embracing the sport.

The key will be focusing in on markets where teams can thrive, while having games on ideal days that will bring in decent attendance numbers.

My fingers are crossed and I know the same can be said for thousands of people on this continent. Hopefully this will come to fruition in the next few weeks. Simply put, North America needs professional women’s soccer.

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