I’d like to be one of the first sports reporters in Washington, DC to say to the Washington Freedom… we’re glad you’re here.
Washington, DC once again has a women’s professional soccer team, the Washington Freedom.
These ladies will be playing at the Discovery Sports Plex in Germantown, MD, with (hopefully) a few featured double-header at RFK Stadium with DC United. They announced their schedule a few weeks ago. (see below)
The Freedom’s roster can be found here. Notables include Abby Wambach, a forward (and one of the leading scorers) from the USA Soccer Team, as well as some key international draft picks, including Sonia Bompastor of France and Lisa De Vanna of Australia.
On the communications front, I’m a huge fan of how the Washington Freedom is active on a variety of social media platforms. For example, not only do they have their own Facebook Fan Page, but they also have a Twitter account and a YouTube channel.
Hopefully they’re reaching out to local youth soccer teams (the club leagues, in particular) to ask coaches to send e-mails to their players, promoting the Freedom’s Facebook Page. DC-metro area is full of incredible talented women’s soccer players, so generating a crowd, especially in suburbia, should be no problem.
I may be attending some of their games this year to promote their schedule and visibility in the area. I’m especially looking forward to games when the Freedom could be playing a double-header with DC United, the professional men’s team in the area (whose fans are awesome, by the way).
I know this isn’t exactly the best source, but here’s what Wikipedia says about the founding of Women’s Professional Soccer (interesting)…
“As a result of the US Women’s National Team‘s (US WNT) first-place showing in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a seemingly viable market for the sport germinated. Feeding on the momentum of their victory, the twenty US WNT players, in partnership with John Hendricks of the Discovery Channel, sought out the investors, markets, and players necessary to form the eight-team league.
The WUSA played for three full seasons, suspending operations on September 15, 2003, shortly after the conclusion of the third season. Neither television ratings nor attendance met forecasts, while the league spent its initial $40 million budget, planned to last five years, by the end of the first season. Even though the players took salary cuts of up to 30% for the final season, with the founding players (who also held an equity stake in the league) taking the largest cuts, that was not enough to bring expenses under control.
In June 2004, the WUSA held two “WUSA Festivals,” featuring matches between reconstituted WUSA teams (often with marquee players borrowed from other teams), in order to maintain the league in the public eye and sustain interest in women’s professional soccer.
With the WUSA on hiatus, the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) and the W-League regained their status as the premier women’s soccer leagues in the United States, and many former WUSA players joined those teams.”
Regardless of how it happened, we’re happy they’re here. It’s going to make an exciting spring/summer season for soccer in DC. I hope some of the suburban Maryland youth teams go out to the games and support these women.
Here’s the schedule (click the picture if you want to check it out for yourself):