The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) season has come and gone, but for players across the state of Washington the images remain and the embers of pro soccer dreams that have been stoked burn on. (The Gulf Coast Texans won the national title, BTW.)
The Spokane Shine, Issaquah SC and Emerald City FC brought semi-pro women’s soccer to Washington this spring and summer, and the way they did it and what it meant to their communities proves to me that all three clubs deserve to return and play again in 2013. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if someone in Tacoma stepped up to field a team too? Maybe Bellingham? The more the merrier.
The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.
The Spokane Shine finished their second season by winning the WPSL Northwest Division. The Shine are the lone outdoor club in the Lilac City playing in a national adult league. Issaquah SC and Emerald City were born as “twins” in 2011. It’s storybook stuff for them, as they were meant to be one big club and then split off before the season started. So their matches against each other, rightly called city derbies, were intense and meaningful. The Northwest Division wasn’t decided until the last match.
I know there are issues with this league and with our teams. The Shine really shouldn’t be playing at Joe Albi Stadium. It’s a fake pitch surface and much too large for their audience. Issaquah SC and Emerald City FC are funded by their youth clubs, and some have argued as to whether or not running WPSL teams is good use of youth player funds. Spokane opted out of the playoffs at the end of the year due to mainly financial restraints. They couldn’t finance the trip to San Diego and were also short a few players.
Still, even with these troubles and obstacles, these clubs deserve to be back next year. The youth players who attended, cheered, got autographs, and saw in the women on the pitch a chance for a higher level of play for themselves, deserve to see these clubs again in 2013.
The state of Washington has a long track record in the Premier Development League (PDL) dating back from the days of the Yakima Reds, Spokane Shadow, Everett Bigfoot and Sounders Select all the way to today’s grouping of four clubs (Kitsap Pumas, North Sound SeaWolves, Sounders U-23, Washington Crossfire). It only seems right that “The STATE of soccer” should have comparable clubs in the WPSL for our female players over the summer.
When the time comes for Spokane Shine to think about a third season in the WPSL, I hope they feel energized to not only return, but to break free from Joe Albi and find a place where their fans can get closer to them on match day.
When the time comes for Issaquah Youth Soccer Club to decide on funding for a WPSL return in 2013, I hope they sit down with head coach Erin Redwine and talk about what the team means and can mean to their community. I hope they look back at the photos of young girls looking up to heroes.
When Emerald City FC Youth Club wonders if the WPSL team they took in at the last-minute was just a one-year “stray,” I hope they decide the money and effort were worth it.
It was a great season for Washington in the WPSL this year. Our teams led the way.
Our teams deserve a 2013 encore.