Press Releases

Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Plans to Expand to Philadelphia in 2010, Bringing League to Eight Teams

SAN FRANCISCO (May 27, 2008) – As Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) prepares for its inaugural 2009 season, WPS Commissioner Tonya Antonucci announced today that Philadelphia investors have signed a letter of intent with the League regarding an expansion team for the 2010 season. Slated to host a team for 2010, Philadelphia is the league’s eighth franchise, while WPS play commences next April in seven cities: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

“Since signing on the dotted line with our initial seven investor groups in September of last year, we’ve had our sights set on adding an eighth team to the league,” said Antonucci. “In Philadelphia, we have the perfect foundation for success, combining a strong operating group with the city’s recent acquisition of an MLS team to create a prime market for women’s soccer.

“Yet, even with Philadelphia beginning play in 2010, we haven’t ruled out the possibility of having an eighth WPS team play in the 2009 inaugural season,” added Antonucci. “The league is exploring a number of solid expansion opportunities in other cities with the intention of adding another team by year’s end.” Additional expansion options include the California Bay Area; San Diego, Calif.; Cary, N.C.; and Atlanta, Ga.

Matthew Driver, CEO of the Delaware Valley’s Team Dynamic, LLC, will serve as managing partner of the Philadelphia WPS team. The investor group, which includes David Hershey, managing partner and owner of the NJ/NY Boat Show, will be comprised primarily of local personnel with ties to the region’s many youth soccer programs. Driver plans to bring on additional investors within the next year and, as with other teams within WPS, is already exploring potential synergies between the Philadelphia WPS and MLS teams. It is expected that home games will be played at MLS Philadelphia’s soccer-specific stadium to be built in Chester, Pa.

“WPS is poised to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and I’m honored to be a part of the movement,” said Driver. “Even more so, I’m proud to give local fans access to the highest caliber of women’s play and help put Philadelphia on the map when it comes to professional soccer.”

Added Hershey: “I see a tremendous opportunity to reap a large return from my investment by getting in from the beginning. The timing is right for the boom in women’s professional soccer in the Delaware Valley region.”

“This is an exciting time to be a fan of professional soccer in Philadelphia,” said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO & Operating Partner of MLS Philadelphia. “If the response to the arrival of WPS is anything like what we’ve been receiving, then the new women’s team will do very well in Philadelphia. We look forward to identifying ways in which we can partner with WPS to further elevate professional soccer in this region.”

“A number of cities have expressed interest in hosting a WPS team and Philadelphia in particular is a hotbed of soccer talent and enthusiasm. Soccer fans have made it clear that they want a women’s team in Philly to complement the new MLS team,” said Michael Stoller, managing partner of the Boston Breakers WPS team. “Matt’s experience with minor league, professional teams, and youth soccer will serve him well in developing the WPS team’s brand identity and driving ticket sales. We’re honored and excited to welcome him to the WPS family.”

Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth largest television market, provides a prime opportunity for WPS. The region, which extends from Eastern Pennsylvania to Southern New Jersey to Northern Delaware, boasts more than 400,000 registered youth and adult soccer participants. From 2001-2003, Philadelphia hosted a Women’s United Soccer Association team, the Charge, which exposed many fans in the area to professional women’s soccer. Moreover, even before MLS announced that it would establish a team in Philadelphia, nearly 2,000 eager fans pledged to buy season tickets.

“We’ve said all along that WPS will be a league built on long-term growth and stability, and expansion into Philadelphia is simply reflective of that strategy,” said Antonucci. “With such strong leadership and an enthusiastic core fan base, the Philadelphia WPS team will no doubt be a successful venture on its own, while simultaneously contributing to the overall awareness and popularity of women’s soccer in North America.”

In addition to serving as vice president of marketing for the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., Driver’s list of soccer accomplishments is long, having served as first assistant coach of the MLS New England Revolution and founder of the South Jersey Barons, the first professional minor league soccer team in Southern New Jersey. Renowned for his innovative coaching philosophy focused on block defending and counterattacking schemes, Driver authored the book “Coaching Dynamics,” as well as produced and starred in three-best selling coaching videos. He holds several industry accreditations, including a USSF A License, NSCAA Premier License, NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, Brazilian A License and Scottish Football Association A-I License and has served as the State Director of Coaching for the NSCAA for the state of Delaware and as the Director of Olympic Development Program for Delaware.

Driver pioneered a minor league soccer system in the Delaware Valley and owns three WPSL teams – the AC Diablos in South Jersey; the CDSA Future in Dover, Del; and the Philadelphia Liberty in West Chester, Pa. – and one National Premier Soccer League (NPSL, Men) team in the immediate region. More than 100 of the nation’s top female college stars, many of whom aspire to play in WPS, already compete for Driver’s WPSL teams.

He is also the owner of the Youth Premier Soccer League (YPSL), the youth component of the WPSL and NPSL. Additionally, Driver operates a summer select youth program and runs camps and clinics servicing the Delaware Valley’s youth soccer clubs and associations. The minor league teams and their youth programs provide a natural connection to the local soccer community and are designed to help the Delaware Valley Region’s young players ascend the developmental ladder from youth to the minor to the pro ranks.

About Team Dynamics, LLC

Team Dynamics was founded to provide youth soccer players with access to the highest level, most accomplished coaches in the Delaware Valley area and beyond. The staff members are highly regarded and successful professional coaches with incredible track records in player development. Individually, they possess an amazing wealth of knowledge and experience at every level of soccer here in the United States – Olympic Development Program (ODP), Super Y-League (SYL), Collegiate, United Soccer Leagues (USL/PDL/D3 Pro League/A League), Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), and, of course, Major League Soccer. For more information, visit

About Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)

The mission of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and the global standard by which women’s professional sports are measured. Play kicks off in the spring of 2009, with WPS teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. The league will expand to eight teams by 2010 with the inclusion of Philadelphia. For more information, visit

Jennifer Peters
Fleishman-Hillard Sports Business

Two-Time NBA MVP Steve Nash, former Yahoo! President & COO Jeff Mallett to Invest as Owners in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)

SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 5, 2008) – Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) announced today that two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and former Yahoo! President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Mallett will become investors and part owners of the league, which begins play in 2009 with teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. While Nash and Mallett will not operate a team, their investment will fund the ongoing development of WPS and is specifically earmarked for new media ventures and initiatives.

“I am really excited to play a role in bringing professional women’s soccer to North America,” said Nash. “As a father of twin girls, I’m especially pleased to help young women around the world realize that their dreams of being a pro soccer player can indeed come true.”

Nash, a first-round draft pick by the Phoenix Suns in 1996, is well known in the sports world as having dual passions for basketball and soccer. Growing up in Victoria, British Columbia, soccer was in Nash’s blood. His father, John, played professionally in South Africa and his sister, Joann, was the captain of the University of Victoria women’s soccer team, while his brother, Martin, plays professionally for the USL First Division’s Vancouver Whitecaps and also represents the Canadian National Team. Nash, in his own right, was on the Mount Douglas Secondary School soccer team that won the provincial championship, leading him to be named British Columbia’s Most Valuable Player.

Mallett, best known for helping build Yahoo!, from its start-up phase into the global franchise it is today, is also a former soccer player, having spent two years in Canada’s National and Olympic soccer team programs as a teenager. Still an avid fan of the game, Mallett serves as an advisor to League Commissioner Tonya Antonucci, who formerly oversaw Yahoo! Sports and served as general manager of Yahoo’s partnership with the FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups. Mallett is also a principle investor and executive committee member of Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, a role which includes ownership and management of the award winning AT&T Park and part ownership of the San Francisco Bay Area’s regional sports cable television network.

“I believe the opportunity in North America to build a successful professional women’s soccer league that attracts the best players in the world is here and now,” said Mallett. “I look forward to working with the commissioner’s office and the board of governors to help chart the course and deliver a compelling business venture, along with exciting entertainment to the millions of soccer fans around the continent.”

“Steve and Jeff’s passion for women’s soccer, combined with their overall sports and business acumen, make them ideal ambassadors for the sport and perfect partners for WPS,” said Antonucci. “With just over a year until play begins, we will no doubt keep our newest owners actively involved with a number of events, business initiatives and other announcements.”

About Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)

The mission of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and the global standard by which women’s professional sports are measured. Play kicks off in the spring of 2009, with WPS teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit

# # #


Please first reference the league in print or broadcast coverage using the full name of “Women’s Professional Soccer,” after which the “WPS” acronym can be incorporated. Please do not abbreviate the league’s name to “Women’s Pro Soccer,” or qualify it as “the Women’s Professional Soccer,” “the WPS,” “Women’s Professional Soccer league,” “WPS league,” “the Women’s Professional Soccer league,” or “the WPS league.” Any questions regarding usage of the league’s name or logo should be directed to:

Jennifer Peters
Fleishman-Hillard Sports Business

Women’s Professional Soccer League to Launch in 2009

Seven cities committed today; additional markets in consideration to host teams featuring players from the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2008 Olympic Games

WSII CEO Tonya Antonucci named as new league’s commissioner

SAN FRANCISCO (September 4th, 2007) – A new North American women’s professional soccer league – under the temporary working title of Women’s Soccer LLC – has been formally established in the United States by seven investor groups, with play beginning in the spring of 2009. Initial teams will be based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington D.C.

Though funding could have allowed for a 2008 start date, team owners finalized the 2009 launch date based on a number of factors, including the 2007 FIFA World Cup and 2008 Olympic Games.

Launch Timing

“Careful consideration was taken in timing the launch of the league, as team owners are being judicious to ensure that this league is sustainable and successful in the long run. It’s a simple matter of preparation and operational readiness,” said Tonya Antonucci, newly named league commissioner. “Also, we fully expect that the FIFA 2007 Women’s World Cup, which will be broadcast on ESPN, as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, broadcast on NBC and its family of networks, will provide excellent exposure for our players and sport as we build momentum toward opening day.”

“We would very much have liked to start playing games in 2008 and in fact several teams were able and ready to do so. However, as a league we are very focused on how we fit into the overall sports landscape and two overwhelming factors contributed to the decision to start playing in 2009,” added Michael Stoller, managing partner for Boston Women’s Soccer, LLC, the ownership group overseeing the women’s professional soccer team in Boston, the Boston Breakers. “The first was being sure that we have longevity in our league and we overwhelmingly believe that starting in 2009 will assure the long term success of each and every team.

“And most importantly our sport has two critical events during 2007 and 2008, namely the FIFA World Cup starting in several weeks and the Olympics next summer. We did not want to impact the various national teams between these two events and we did not want our league to take the focus away from these two great events for our players or our fans.”

A New Business Model

The seven ownership groups are comprised of the following: AEG L.A. Women’s Soccer, LLC; Boston Women’s Soccer, LLC; Chicago Professional Women’s Soccer, LLC; Hendricks Investment Holdings, LLC (Washington D.C.); St. Louis United Soccer, LLC; Sky Blue Women’s Soccer, Inc. (New Jersey/New York); and Sting Soccer Group LP (Dallas).

League operations will focus on cost-containment and shared infrastructure efficiencies, as guided by a conservative business model developed by not-for-profit Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc. (WSII) officials under the legal counsel of global law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP. The league, which will implement a comprehensive 18-month marketing and branding campaign leading up to the 2009 launch date, will also feature a commercial partnership with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) of Major League Soccer (MLS), as well as MLS Owners sharing soccer-specific stadiums. Team owners also look forward to continuing their relationships with both the United Soccer Leagues W-League and Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL).

“The integration of Sky Blue’s amateur W-League team with our franchise in the new professional league will set an example of how future US soccer clubs will be structured,” said Thomas Hofstetter, CEO of Extolution, Inc. and lead investor for Sky Blue Women’s Soccer, Inc. “With the 170,000 participants in New Jersey Youth Soccer Association (NJYSA) supporting the team we can move forward with the integration from youth soccer, to amateur level all the way up the professional ranks.”

League Leadership

Antonucci, after two and a half years as CEO of WSII, will transition to the role of league commissioner. Antonucci brings over a decade of sports business experience to the effort, having spent more than seven years with Yahoo, Inc., where she served as the director of Yahoo! Sports and subsequently as general manager of Yahoo’s partnership with FIFA and the commercialization of the official, global web sites for the FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups. Antonucci played soccer at Stanford University and, following her college soccer career, spent years as assistant coach at both Stanford and Santa Clara University.

“Tonya’s vision, knowledge and tenacity have been the consistent guiding forces that have allowed women’s soccer to return to the professional sports landscape,” said Peter Wilt, president and CEO Chicago Professional Women’s Soccer, LLC. “Her background in soccer, marketing and business leadership make her the ideal candidate to lead this league through its critical birth and infancy.”

Added John Hendricks, WUSA founder and chairman Freedom Soccer and Hendricks Investment Holdings LLC, “I have been very privileged to witness the inspiring and relentless movement in this country to establish a premiere women’s professional soccer league in which the world’s most elite and talented players can compete to the delight of their many fans.
“In Tonya Antonucci this movement has a new leader who has given the entire investment group the confidence that this new exciting new effort will succeed and be sustained for generations to come. As the league’s commissioner, Tonya’s passion for excellence, creativity, and integrity can now be fully unleashed for the lasting benefit of women’s professional sports.”

Player Perspective

“I am thrilled and elated that a professional league will be coming back in 2009. I know from my path to the national team, a league was the most important component to getting me completely prepared to play at the next level,” said Abby Wambach, current star of the U.S. Women’s National Team. “What this means is that more women will have more opportunity to not only play at the next level, but also fulfill life long dreams of being a professional athlete. This is what may be most important; to make dreams come true, and today, I feel like many women’s dreams are coming true.”

“Our players have been hoping this day would finally come,” said Flo Dyson, president of the Illinois Women’s Soccer League (IWSL), which has already signed on as a partner of the Chicago-based women’s professional soccer team. “Whereas the former league did not have any representation in Chicago, now there will be three teams in the heart of the country. The girls very much need and want the aspirational heroes that this league will create. We are proud to be partners with the Chicago team from the outset and we pledge our full support to the team and the league.”

Women’s Soccer in the United States

According to the U.S. Soccer Federation, soccer continues to experience unprecedented growth in the United States – particularly among America’s youth, with more than 3.2 million players registered with the U.S. Youth Soccer Association and 4.5 million adults involved with the organization as parents, coaches, referees, and administrators. In addition, up to 250,000 U.S. adults play soccer at the amateur level. Meanwhile, MLS teams are seeing consistent increases in attendance and looking for ways to cater to their ever-expanding fan base, including the construction of more soccer-specific stadiums.

“The start of a women’s professional league in 2009 is further evidence of soccer’s continued growth and potential in the United States,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We believe this will be the world’s top league and destination for elite women’s professional soccer players. Major League Soccer will make available resources, assets and facilities to the new women’s league, helping to ensure a strong start in 2009 with stability and opportunity well into the future.”

Kathy Carter, the executive vice president of SUM, added, “Soccer has a unique and powerful ability to connect with people, and that will be even more true with the relaunch of professional women’s soccer in the United States. SUM is committed to connecting this league and the great fan base with partners in the corporate community.”
“AEG’s investment in the new professional women’s league is in-line with our company’s commitment to growing soccer in the United States,” said AEG Executive Vice President, Marketing & International, Andrew Messick. “We expect that the mix of strong and committed leadership on a league level, the resources and experience of MLS and SUM, and an ownership group dedicated to launching this league in the most professional manner will create a viable and popular league. We can’t wait until our Los Angeles franchise takes the field at The Home Depot Center.”

In 2001, shortly after the U.S. brought home the championship at the 1999 Women’s World Cup, women’s professional soccer experienced relative success via the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), which suspended operations in 2003. The new league, while honoring the WUSA’s great playing talent and devoted fan base, will embrace die-hard WUSA fans side-by-side with new soccer audiences and mainstream sports fans who respect the best of the best competing in sport on American soil.

The announcement of a new league comes prior to the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, Sept. 10-30. The National Team, ranked No. 1 in the world and led by U.S. legends such as Abby Wambach and Kristine Lilly, left for China on Monday, August 27, following a send-off ceremony and 4-0 victory in a friendly match vs. Finland at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Saturday, August 25.

Also that Saturday, Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm – both former stars of the U.S. Women’s National Team, two-time Olympic gold medalists, and two-time FIFA World Cup champions – were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y. This marks the first time in the history of the Hall that female athletes were the sole inductees in the Player Category.

“For years, the U.S. has been home to some of the world’s best female soccer players. They and their international counterparts deserve to play on a professional stage, which will make this league a coveted destination for elite athletes from around the globe,” said Antonucci.

The Future of Women’s Soccer

“Much has changed since the WUSA took to the field in 2001. Most notably, there has been rapid growth in the number of people in America who play soccer and consider themselves soccer fans, thanks in large part to the collegiate opportunities afforded by Title IX and the growing success of the U.S. men’s national team and MLS. Soccer’s popularity has exploded in this country and a women’s league is a logical byproduct of the sport’s ever-expanding fan base and following,” said Antonucci. “We also now have a range of digital and online capabilities that allow us to put women’s soccer front-and-center among fans and sponsors. But ultimately, it all comes back to the fact that our league will boast the world’s greatest athletes playing the world’s greatest game.

“At the same time, we’d be remiss in not examining the operations of the WUSA and learning from their experiences, particularly in the realm of operational efficiencies,” added Antonucci. “The new league is taking every step to ensure that this league is a permanent fixture on the nation’s professional sports landscape. We are not expecting overnight success, but are committed to long-term growth and profitability.”

Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Launches Social Networking Site

Exclusive Olympics content from U.S. players and WPS coaches at

Brandi Chastain to pick winner of WPS “Top Town Video Challenge”

SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 5, 2008) – On the eve of the U.S. Women’s first soccer match in the 2008 Olympic Games, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) has launched a social networking site at, giving soccer fans around the world an opportunity to interact with each other while viewing exclusive content such as live chats, reporter commentary, and player blogs. The theme? “Beijing Now. WPS Next.”

“All eyes are currently on Beijing, as the world’s greatest domestic and international soccer players go for the Gold,” said Tonya Antonucci, WPS Commissioner. “It’s only fitting that WPS give fans worldwide a place to come together and rally around these Olympic athletes before many of them put their talent on display professionally in our League next April.

“From the beginning, we have said that WPS will be unique in that we will provide Fans unparalleled interaction with our players and each other; this site is the first step in fulfilling that promise,” added Antonucci.

Among the site’s highlights is the “Top Town Video Challenge,” featuring special guest judge Brandi Chastain, former U.S. Women’s National Team member and star defender for the WUSA San Jose CyberRays. Now through Tuesday, August 26th, fans are encouraged to visit and submit their home videos explaining why their city is the “Top Town” when it comes to soccer – either as a 2009 inaugural WPS market (Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington D.C.), a future city (including Philadelphia, slated for a 2010 expansion team), or a prospective WPS city (such as San Diego or Atlanta, top candidates for near-term League expansion). Chastain will choose the winner, who will be awarded an all-expense-paid trip for two to an upcoming WPS event.

“What I love about soccer is the passion — the intensity, the spirit, the celebrations. I can’t wait to see fans’ videos expressing that same zeal as they aim to prove that they’re living in America’s greatest soccer community, “ said Chastain, a native of San Jose, Calif. “Like soccer, I expect this to be a competition filled with tricky moves and surprises, and I’m looking forward to the challenge of picking the winner.”

In addition to the “Top Town” video challenge, the WPS Social Networking site will supply fans with news and content that is unavailable anywhere else. Hosted by, site features will include:

  • Live online chats with Tony DiCicco – current head coach of the WPS Boston Breakers who led the USWNT to the first-ever Olympic gold medal awarded in women’s soccer in 1996 – during each U.S. Women’s National Team game beginning with the match against Japan on Saturday, August 9 at 4:45am ET
  • Regular blogs from U.S. players Cat Whitehill and Leslie Osborne, who will provide direct access to the U.S. Women’s National Team (including Osborne’s pre-recorded video interviews with her teammates) and their own perspective on missing the 2008 Olympic Games due to ACL injuries
  • Beijing “behind the scenes” blogs from Chicago Red Stars Head Coach Emma Hayes and General Manager Marcia McDermott
  • Olympic soccer commentary from’s Graham Hays
  • Links to worldwide coverage of each game including post-game match reports, news and video highlights
  • Interactive poll questions and discussion forums
  • WPS and U.S. Soccer event calendars, including details of the League’s post-Olympics allocation of the U.S. Women’s National Team, international draft, and player combines

About Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)

The mission of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and the global standard by which women’s professional sports are measured. Play kicks off in the spring of 2009, with WPS teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. The league will expand to eight teams by 2010 with the inclusion of Philadelphia. For more information, visit


Jennifer Peters
Fleishman-Hillard Sports Business

Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Announces Post-Olympics Timeline for National Player Allocation, Team Tryouts

U.S. Women’s National Team allocation week of September 15, immediately followed by International Player Draft and WPS General Draft

Combines, Post-Combine Draft and local tryouts conclude player selection process

SAN FRANCISCO (July 8, 2008) – Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) announced today the details of its player selection process leading into the kickoff of its inaugural season in April 2009. WPS teams will build their rosters through an allocation of U.S. Women’s National Team stars, a draft of international players, combines, additional League drafts and local team tryouts.

WPS will begin securing domestic talent with the post-Olympics allocation of the U.S. Women’s National Team (WNT) and U.S. WNT Player Pool in mid-September, to be immediately followed with a draft of the top international players. In October, WPS will conduct a general draft for both domestic and international players, followed by east and west coast combines in December and a post-combine draft in January. WPS Teams for the inaugural 2009 season – Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington D.C. – will then complete their rosters via local tryouts.

“The player allocation and draft process has been the top priority for the League office and Team owners since first announcing the League’s formation last September,” said Tonya Antonucci, WPS Commissioner. “WPS will be the ultimate showcase for the world’s best female soccer talent and, for those athletes competing in the Beijing Olympics, the next stage in their careers. As a North American league, our first priority is the U.S. Women’s National Team players, whose skills will be complemented by the world’s top players, as well as the domestic players who have the talent and dedication required of professional athletes.”

“This is an exciting time for the National Team players as the Olympics are right around the corner and then a few weeks after we come home from Beijing we’ll be allocated to WPS teams,” said U.S. National Team star Abby Wambach. “I’m eager to learn which team I’ll be playing for and to connect with the fans in that market.”

“From a team roster perspective, we are being very thorough in the player scouting and draft process,” said Jeff Cooper, chairman of the St. Louis WPS franchise. “The end-goal is to create a cohesive team ripe with talent and personality, and poised to win, of course.”

On a local level, teams are already rallying community support around their soon-to-be players, thanks to a Marketing Services Agreement (MSA) with the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA). The MSA allows members of the U.S. WNT / U.S. WNT Player Pool to appear at community events and media functions, as well as participate in photo and video shoots on behalf of the League and teams now through next February. The power of this agreement was on display last month in Portland, Maine, when U.S. WNT forward Abby Wambach was the guest of WPS at the U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Championships Opening Ceremony. There she reminded the tournament’s more than 5,000 participants that anything – including playing professional soccer – is possible with determination and hard work. Multiple WPS-related appearances – including charity/community events, media functions, and promotional clinics – by members of the U.S. WNT are slated for later this year and early next and will be announced by the League and individual teams as details are confirmed.

“All of the WPS markets have a rich soccer tradition, and WPS will be unique because our players will be some of the most fan-accessible professional athletes in the country,” said Thomas Hofstetter, CEO of Sky Blue Soccer (New Jersey/New York WPS). “That’s important to our fans, who will be cheering the players from the stands and avidly following them off the field, as well.”

The complete WPS player timeline is as follows:

Date Event
July 8 – Week of Sept. 15 Advancement of player contract discussions between WPS and U.S. WNT / U.S. WNT Player Pool; contracts to be finalized prior to post-Olympics allocation. Note: U.S. WNT Players / U.S. WNT Pool Players have already submitted their WPS market preferences.
July 8 – Aug. 5 WPS teams may enter discussions with international players, in advance of International Players’ post-Olympics draft
August 5 – 23 Beijing Olympics quiet period; no WPS communication with any Players competing in the Olympics
September 2 WPS Teams submit U.S. WNT Player preferences to the League
Week of September 15 U.S. WNT / U.S. WNT Player Pool domestic allocation
Week of September 22 Draft of top International players (2 per WPS team)
October 6 WPS General Draft of Domestic and International players
December 10 – 13 WPS West Coast Combine (will include players who have completed their NCAA eligibility)
December 17 – 20 WPS East Coast Combine (will include players who have completed their NCAA eligibility)
Week of January 14 WPS Post-Combine Draft
Beginning February 1 WPS Tryouts in Team’s local market may begin any time after January 31. Exact dates of all local tryouts will be posted to both league and team websites.
March 1 WPS Pre-Season begins
April 4/5 (TBD) WPS Regular Season begins

In addition, the WPSL and W-League will hold player showcases August 28 – 31 and September 4 – 7, respectively, allowing WPS general managers and coaches to preview the nation’s soccer talent pool firsthand.

About Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)

The mission of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and the global standard by which women’s professional sports are measured. Play kicks off in the spring of 2009, with WPS teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. The league will expand to eight teams by 2010 with the inclusion of Philadelphia. For more information, visit


Jennifer Peters
Fleishman-Hillard Sports Business

Relaunch of Women’s Professional Soccer League Clears Key Milestone

New Jersey/New York, Boston groups commit to league, bringing total charter markets to eight

April 18th, 2007 (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) – Owners from two East Coast markets, New York/New Jersey and Boston, have joined with six other groups to relaunch women’s professional soccer in the United States.

The relaunch effort is led by the Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc. (WSII). With New Jersey/New York and Boston now confirmed, the WSII has met its initial goal to have eight teams signed before the league’s planned launch in Spring, 2008.

“The signing of these two new markets is an important milestone,” WSII CEO Tonya Antonucci said. “It’s a critical step in making our dream of relaunching the WUSA a reality. There’s a lot of hard work ahead, but we’re excited to move forward.”

US National Team member Abby Wambach said she is glad to see the new league moving forward. “The growth of women’s soccer across the country is such a huge plus for both players and fans,” she said. “People will get to experience first-hand what this sport is about, and what it can bring to their lives.”

New Jersey/New York – Sky Blue Soccer –

“We are excited to be part of the founding members of the new women’s professional soccer league,” said Thomas Hofstetter, CEO of Sky Blue Soccer. “A completely changed business model and a highly competent and proven group of owners will make this league not only the leading league in women’s pro soccer in the world, but will also help to solidify the entire US soccer community as a leading force in world soccer.”

Sky Blue Soccer includes:

  • Thomas Hofstetter, CEO of Extolution, Inc.
  • Phil Murphy, former executive at Goldman Sachs
  • Francesco Prandoni, CEO of DOC-International, Inc.
  • Doug Rotatori, Managing Principal, Odyssey Investment Partners, LLC

A fully operational company, New Jersey-based Sky Blue Soccer is internationally recognized as a leading women’s soccer club.

“By joining the new women’s professional soccer league, Sky Blue Soccer completes its strategic vision in building a club modeled on successful European clubs,” Hofstetter said. “Our integration with youth programs in the New York metro area provides an end-to-end feeder system from youth clubs to amateur soccer to the professional level.”

Boston – Boston Women’s Soccer LLC –

“Boston is one of the country’s best sports cities,” said Michael Stoller, Managing Partner of Boston ownership group Boston Women’s Soccer LLC. “And the Boston Breakers were the most successful franchise in the former WUSA, so the relaunch is a natural fit for us.”

Boston Women’s Soccer LLC includes:

Gary Loveman, Chairman and CEO, Harrah’s Entertainment

Michael Stoller, Managing Partner of the group and former owner of Senior Living LLC. Stoller is the VP of Newton Girls Soccer, one of the largest all-girls soccer clubs in the country

Alex Zecca, a VP with Tudor Investments

Louis Hernandez, Chairman and CEO of Open Solutions and an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Lyman Bullard, a partner at Choate, Hall and Stewart LLP and owner of an AHL Franchise

Bill Helman, a partner with Greylock, a venture capital firm with over $2 billion under management.

Joe Cummings will serve as president of the new organization. Cummings was president and General Manager of the WUSA’s Boston Breakers from May 2000 until 2003, the final year of play in the league. The new organization will also use the Boston Breakers name.

“Each of our investors has a great love of soccer,” Cummings said. “Almost all have daughters who play or played at a high level, and they saw a void in sports without women’s pro soccer. They want to give everyone the opportunity to see the best players play this sport.”

“Moving forward”

“These markets are vibrant media and cultural centers, and it’s great to have them on board,” Antonucci said. “We now have a strong East Coast presence and an important base for fan development as we pursue sponsorship and partnership opportunities.”

Antonucci explained that these partnerships at the foundation of the league will separate it from the previous incarnation of the WUSA. In particular, the new league aims to have its teams play in venues designed for the sport, referred to as soccer-specific stadiums.

“We’re working hard to make this league an authentic soccer experience for our fans,” Antonucci explained. “Our objective is to showcase teams in small-to mid sized soccer specific stadiums. We’ll bring fans closer to the action, the field and the players,” she said.

Wambach said being “closer” to the fans means being good role models. “This is an opportunity for women to have a strong voice, a positive national presence,” she said. “We’re going to have a product anyone, especially young girls, can look up to. That’s a really rewarding aspect of this opportunity.”

The league plans a launch in April 2008. “The momentum is really starting to build throughout the country,” Antonucci said. “And this is just the beginning. We’ve reached our initial goal of eight markets, but we’d be thrilled to have up to two more franchise groups join the league at launch. We’re very open to the right opportunities.”

About the WSII

The WSII ( is a non-profit organization backed by grants from the U.S. Soccer Federation and U.S. Soccer Foundation. The organization was founded to build a new business plan to relaunch women’s professional soccer in the United States. Eight ownership groups have signed letters of intent to launch teams in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, New Jersey/New York, Boston and a market to be named later. Tonya Antonucci is the CEO of WSII. On the web at

Boston Breakers to Resume Play in 2008

Joe Cummings named President of returning women’s professional soccer team

Boston (April 18, 2007) – Women’s professional soccer will return to the Boston sports landscape in 2008. The Boston Breakers, who played from 2000-2003 as part of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), were today named the eighth team in the new women’s professional soccer league. The announcement was made by team representatives and former Boston Breakers players Kristine Lilly and Angela Hucles at the Cask ‘n Flagon restaurant in Boston.

Additionally, Joe Cummings was named President of the organization. Cummings previously served as President and General Manager of the Breakers from May 2000 through the final year of play in 2003. During that time, the Breakers received the Team Community Service Award, Fair Play Award, Coach of the Year Award for Pia Sundhage, MVP Award for Maren Meinert, and Cummings was twice selected Executive of the Year, the only league administrator to receive the distinguished award. A seasoned veteran in the sports industry, Cummings brings thirty years of soccer experience to the post, including leadership roles with the 1999 Women’s World Cup, 1996 Summer Olympics and Major League Soccer.

“We are thrilled to have Joe joining us as the President of the Boston Breakers organization,” said Michael Stoller, Managing Partner of the Boston franchise. “Joe’s experience is unparalleled in the soccer world in this country and he has tirelessly worked to revive the women’s professional soccer league for the last three years. We are confident that Joe shares with us the vision of running a first class team, stands for all the best values in sports today, and will bring success to our team and the league as a whole.”

The Breakers join seven other teams in the new league founded by the Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc (WSII). Franchises have also been announced in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Dallas, Chicago, and one other to-be-named territory. The addition of a NY/NJ franchise was also announced today. Play is slated to begin in April of 2008.

Founded in November 2005, as a result of the suspension of the Women’s United Soccer Association, the goal of the WSII has been to build a new business plan to relaunch women’s professional soccer in the United States. The group is led by Tonya Antonucci, CEO and Founder. Antonucci brings over a decade of sports business experience to the group, having spent over seven years with Yahoo, Inc., where she served as the director of Yahoo! Sports and subsequently as General Manager of Yahoo’s partnership with FIFA and the commercialization of the global websites for the FIFA Men’s and Women’s World Cups.

“Boston is a vibrant sports, media and cultural center, and it’s great to have the market back online for the fans,” said Antonucci. “We now have a strong East Coast presence and an important base for fan development as we pursue sponsorship and partnership opportunities.”

While a venue has not yet been finalized, the Breakers expect to play in the Greater Boston area. Announcements regarding venue, employment opportunities, ticket packages and player selection will be made in the coming months.

“I am excited by the opportunity to bring the Boston Breakers and their outstanding players back to the fans of New England. We look forward to a successful relaunch in 2008,” said Cummings.

Veteran players Kristine Lilly and Angela Hucles played for the Boston Breakers previously and are current members of the U.S. Women’s National Team, which is preparing for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in China. Both were on hand for today’s announcement and expressed their excitement to bring professional soccer back to Boston.

“We’ve been working very hard over the past few years to bring women’s professional soccer back,” said Lilly, who served as the Breakers Team Captain from 2000-2003. “I’ve devoted my entire career to soccer and accomplished much, but the establishment of a lasting and successful women’s professional league would be the pinnacle.”

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to bring the Breakers back,” added Angela Hucles. “From the investors to the players, everyone is steadfastly committed to the success of this league. We had terrific fan support in Boston the first time around, so we’re confident that those fans, and new ones, will come back to support the initiative.”

For more information on the Boston Breakers, visit or call 1-877-HEY-BREAKERS. The team’s headquarters are located at 400 Blue Hill Drive, Suite 104, Westwood, MA 02090.

Six Investment Groups Commit to New Major Pro Women’s Soccer League

Six Investment Groups Commit to New Major Pro Women’s Soccer League

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Dallas
  3. St. Louis
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. Chicago
  6. 6th market to be named later

February 27, 2007 (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) — Ownership groups representing franchises in six major U.S. cities have signed letters of intent to become charter members of the Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc.’s effort to launch a new professional women’s soccer league.

WSII CEO Tonya Antonucci announced the signings today and said the league anticipates a Spring 2008 launch, timed to capitalize on interest built during the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China in September.

The six announced charter teams will be led by the following investors:

1. AEG

  • Territory: Greater Los Angeles, CA

2. John Hendricks, Freedom Soccer LLC

  • Territory: Washington D.C.

3. Jeff Cooper, St. Louis United Soccer LLC

  • Territory: St. Louis, MO

4. Soccer Initiative, LLC

  • Territory: TBD, pending its final decision to select a market

5. Jack Hanks and Brent Coralli, Dallas Franchise Group

  • Territory: Greater Dallas area, TX

6. WGLSI, LLC and an additional investor TBD

  • Territory: Chicago and Bridgeview, IL

The league is three-quarters of the way to reaching its goal of 8 charter teams and has plans for expansion in 2009.

A critical step

“This is an important benchmark in the process to bring high-level professional women’s soccer back to North America,” Antonucci said. “We have taken both the lessons and the successes of the WUSA and applied them to create a business model that makes good economic sense,” she added.

The new league is built on a traditional franchise model and will play its games in stadiums designed specifically for soccer. This will give the teams opportunities to generate and retain more revenue and better showcase the sport, Antonucci explained.

In creating the league, WSII will also build partnerships with established soccer and sports marketing organizations. The league is currently in negotiations with Major League Soccer’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, to represent its national sponsorship and marketing assets.

“The new business model significantly reduces overhead while taking advantage of efficiencies and synergies with existing MLS club owners and other professional sports teams,” Antonucci said.

AEG Sports President Shawn Hunter said, “Having initial franchises owned and operated by organizations with not only strong ties to professional soccer but with established internal marketing, sales, promotional and operational infrastructures is a critical and significant component to launching a league that can have immediate credibility and success.”

St. Louis investor Jeff Cooper said the timing of the league is ideal. “There’s a tremendous upswing in women’s collegiate soccer, particularly in our market,” Cooper said. “Combined with the coming bump in media coverage and public interest during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, this just makes sense. It’s a good proposition for all involved.”

“AEG is strongly committed to professional women’s soccer,” AEG’s Hunter explained. “We believe that the combination of experience and resources the initial partnership group brings to the league, along with the dedicated fan base that exists for professional women’s soccer, will create not only a successful launch but a league that will be financially viable and extremely popular.”

Franchise in focus: Chicago

The league’s planned Chicago franchise is an example of how other teams around the country might be structured. The franchise is a partnership between former Chicago Fire President and General Manager Peter Wilt, FC Indiana and the 15,000-member Illinois Women’s Soccer League (IWSL). The group is seeking a majority partner.

The Chicago partnership announced this month that IWSL would provide the franchise more than 5,000 season ticket equivalents. AEG and the Village of Bridgeview have partnered with WGSLI to bring professional women’s soccer to Chicago and TOYOTA PARK, home of MLS’ Chicago Fire.

“Once we secure the additional investor, I believe Chicago will be the premier team in the world’s premier professional women’s soccer league. The Chicago area is a strong soccer market and with our partners we have an achievable business model to ensure success,” Wilt said.

Representatives from all six markets have signed official Letters of Intent to launch the women’s professional soccer league in 2008, and have made financial commitments toward that goal. The WSII estimates financial requirements to maintain and operate a franchise to be between $1.5 and $2.5 million per year.

“In addition to the cities we are announcing today, we are also in talks with investor groups about additional markets,” Antonucci said. “We are also building our list of expansion cities, and we encourage interested investors to contact us.”

About the WSII

The WSII is a non-profit organization backed by grants from the U.S. Soccer Federation and U.S. Soccer Foundation. The organization was founded to build a new business plan to relaunch women’s professional soccer in the United States. On the web at or via press inquiries at (618) 616-2490.