Scouting at Algarve

The new American professional league has begun to emerge. Just before the World Cup last year the name, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), seven clubs and plans to start in April 2009 was revealed. And in January this sort of idea of a league was materialised a bit, with a logo, a website and clubs beginning to announce the hirings of managers and coaches.

And at Algarve Cup there were actual coaches from the league, scouting real life players. The New York/New Jersey franchise Sky Blue Soccer were present in Algarve with both their newly signed head coach Ian Sawyers and the coach for their W-League team Denise Reddy. Sawyers told Swedish media that he tried to keep a low profile "it's just good that they [the players] don't know who I am", but he was there to find players to his WPS team. But just watching: "When the right time comes, we will contact the clubs to get permission to talk to the players". And he does of course not mention any names, but says that there are half a dozen Swedish players that are interesting.

This is mostly speculation from my part, but if you piece together snippets from articles, interviews, blogs and forum discussions I think you can get a picture of what recruiting potential the new league has.
The ambition is "to be the premier women's soccer league in the world, and the global standard by which women's professional sports are measured" and anything else would be selling themselves short. But we are not talking about WUSA expenditures here.
Team budgets should according to reliable information be between USD 1,5 to 2,5 millions. In the lower end that is slightly less than the budget Umeå has (at the present exchange rate, if the free fall of the dollar continues it will soon be Linköping's budget).
We shouldn't expect any outrageous wage bids. Typical player salaries should be between USD 25,000 and 50,000 per season, which isn't out of reach for Swedish clubs either. The league commissioner Tonya Antonucci has, primarily with regards to Marta, said that "we're going to have to be competitive and creative to bring them over". Marta's present salary, which should translate to something like USD 150,000, might not be over-bid by any WPS club, but there are other ways for a player like Marta to make money in a market like the USA.
It also seems like there will be a cap on foreign players, possibly 4 per team. That would be 28 foreign players with 7 teams. It's not like the WPS will drain the European market, but on the other hand picking a few really big names (say Marta, Schelin and Ljungberg) could be enough to affect the popularity of the Swedish league.

And how interested are the Swedish players? Mildly interested would be the answer if you judge from what national team players in Algarve told the press. Older players like Victoria Svensson and Therese Sjögran declared they will stay with their present clubs while younger ones like Lotta Schelin and Caroline Seger are interested but in no hurry. One of the problems are the European Championships next summer, that might not be possible to combine with playing in the WPS.

By the way, Ian Sawyers didn't talk to any players, but his travel partner Denise Reddy certainly did. But she has a bunch of former team mates and house mates on the Swedish national team since her Malmö days, so it comes more natural for her. You can find her
travel report at Sky Blue's website.

Dagens Nyheter: På jakt efter spelare till damernas proffsliga i USA
Aftonbladet: Svenska spelarna nobbar proffsligan

Posted by: jocasta

The timing of this new American league is strange, with all these recent signings in Damallsvenskan. Like you, D., I am really excited about seeing some of these new international players in the league, and I think this could be one of the most entertaining D'skan seasons yet (err, despite the carping you might hear from me in other forums...). I really do want the US to have a good professional league, but on the other hand I do not want to see D'skan drained of its talent. Let's hope the US scouts and coaches are going to Germany too-- let's see *them* drained of *their* talent!

2008-03-18 @ 09:08:23
Posted by: Dandal

I think that the prospect of an American league actually has prompted some of the Swedish signings this year. I'm guessing that players like Joanna Lohman et al chose Sweden as a way to prepare for WPS in 2009.

That said, the situation in 2009 is nothing like when WUSA started 2001. The European game is much stronger, not the least financially and not only in Sweden, while the American side is weaker. I would even dare to say that every Damallsvenskan player that might be interesting for American clubs is already making more money than the WPS minimum wage. I'm sure several players will move anyway, because playing in a foreign land is an exciting prospect.

And I really hope Lisa de Vanna will get her **** together and sign that paper. A player that has been nick-named "the miniature missile" is a must see.

Posted by: RedCard

... I wouldn't be entirely surprised if some players held back the first year, if for no other reason than to see how the league fares. At least if they're playing in Damallsvenskan or Topserrien or the Bundesliga, they know they'll have a league to return to the following season. With this new league, there's no guarantee.

I'm also curious about what players with freshly-signed contracts will do. I'd always imagined Ingvild Stensland would come over to the new league, but with her new Goteborg contract, I'm not sure. IIRC, there was some serious friction between the WUSA and a couple of Toppserien clubs when players wanted out of their contracts and WUSA wouldn't pay for a buyout.

Who knows? I'm sure we'll be debating this here and elsewhere until players actually begin signing with teams.

2008-03-20 @ 01:10:12
Posted by: hagabo_i_exil

In all seriousness though, $5000 in the US and $5000 in Sweden are two very different things. Taxes, cost of living, everything.
In the US, you can choose to live in such a way that you get to keep most of the five grand. In Sweden you lose it all to taxes, housing and the virtually competition-free retail market.

That, and the adventure aspcet will lead to Swedes going over and also to international stars looking at the WPS rather than the Damallsvenskan. I mean, let's face it, the best Swedish ice hockey-players go to the NHL and not the Russian league despite getting paid way less. Why? Because the NHL is the NHL. That's where the stars are and winning the Stanley Cup is something. Had the Damallsvenskan built its myth properly, winning the Prinsessan Victorias pokal might be something, but we're not there yet :) :)

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