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Monday kickaround: WPS commissioner's departure is official, D.C. United awaits Simms injury update, video of Rossi goals for Villarreal

*The news broke exclusively on the Insider on Saturday, and now it's official: Tonya Antonucci is stepping down as commissioner of troubled Women's Professional Soccer.

In a statement released this morning, the second-year league said that Antonucci would be replaced after the season by WPS general counsel Anne-Marie Eileraas, who will become chief executive. "Under on-going league restructuring, Eileraas will head up the business and organizational aspects of the league office, working with the board [of governors], which will guide the strategic direction of the league."

Despite the kind remarks made about Antonucci in the official media release, make no mistake: From what I understand, she was forced out by the investors, who have watched the league struggle to build an audience (only 10 of 84 regular season matches in 2010 drew 5,000 spectators) and the Los Angeles Sol and St. Louis Athletica shut down this year.

WPS spokesman Rob Penner countering my assertion by saying: "The timing and the decision to step down was entirely the commissioner's."

The league reorganized operations this summer, cut many jobs and ended national marketing. Some investors, sources told the Insider, have yet to commit to financing the league next year.

*D.C. United is evaluating midfielder Clyde Simms, who was a late scratch from the lineup Saturday after injuring himself in pregame warm-ups. The club suspects a sports hernia, the same injury that required surgery and sidelined him for about two weeks last year.

*Two goals for Italian-American Giuseppe Rossi in Villarreal's 4-0 victory over Espanyol:

By Steve Goff  |  September 13, 2010; 9:48 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United , Spain , Women  | Tags: D.C. United, Villarreal, WPS  
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Next: Goalkeeper Hope Solo vents again after women's soccer match, criticizes referee and league

Comments

At least James has the day off....

Posted by: boda-united | September 13, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I hate to say it but I put the chances of WPS surviving to start another season at no better than 30%; despite brave talk of starting a Western New York franchise.

Posted by: Ron16 | September 13, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

We have already renewed our Freedom season tickets - please order your own now and help save the league.

Posted by: Tony-Tony-Tony | September 13, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Rossi? If I was looking for that kind of trash I'd just watch Jersey Shore. Fuggedabout it.

Posted by: DadRyan | September 13, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Are we gonna get an Insider Loyalists Champions League fantasy league rolling? Probably try to put a team together this afternoon on the UEFA website... Who's in?

Posted by: DadRyan | September 13, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else agree that Najar could be more dangerous on the left? While his crosses are good from the right, but who will finish them consistantly? The reason I bring this up is because in the last few games he hits the really weak outside of the right food shots while on the left he would be hitting a more precisely. He does like to cut inside as well

Posted by: SexyOffender | September 13, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

As of this comment, Antonucci's profile is still on the WPS website. I guess they need to fire their PR/web person as well.

Antonucci had some huge challenges in this job and wasn't able to conquer them all. Hopefully, Eileraas will have some better ideas. Maybe one idea will be setting their sights lower. If 5K fans/game is the investors' goal, Eileraas won't last long either.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | September 13, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the animus towrd Rossi. He had the choice of playing for the USA or for Italy, and he chose Italy. It happens. There are also players who could choose to play for some other national team but end up choosing to play for the US. It cuts both ways.

Get over it.

Posted by: Ron16 | September 13, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Well, they just halved their staff, so I can see how that fell through the cracks.

Posted by: Reignking | September 13, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

she is still officially in charge until after the season, so maybe that's why they didn't bother updating the website.

Posted by: fedssocr | September 13, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Ron are you talking about me or Goff? He's the one posting video links of the guy... my point is I don't care about what Rossi is doing anywhere. No hard feelings, I'd rather see JWoWW and Snooki getting wasted than pine for some Jersey Doosh nozzle who didn't even make it the team for the World Cup.

Posted by: DadRyan | September 13, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Rossi is an Italian. He made that choice himself. Why are we still posting clips of him?

Posted by: funkyfleer | September 13, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Rossi is an Italian. He made that choice himself. Why are we still posting clips of him?

Posted by: funkyfleer | September 13, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"I would have made those saves." -- Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi

:)

Posted by: SportzNut21 | September 13, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

DadRyan:

I'll be up for defending my crown if a league is created.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | September 13, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

From Tony-Tony-Tony: 'We have already renewed our Freedom season tickets - please order your own now and help save the league.'

...heck, I'd have bought Freedom season tickets right from day one (I was a STH at the WUSA Freedom all three seasons) and renewed for next season if only they played some place more accessible than the Maryland Soccerplex - it's nowhere near public transit and I don't drive (and even if I did drive it'd be a bit of a yomp from where I reside in Virginia). Luckily I've been able to see the Freedom at the DC United doubleheaders at RFK - but I guess even that isn't a sure bet for the future, especially now with United considering leaving town.

I also note that WPS decided to stop marketing nationally...but then, when was the last time the Freedom even marketed locally?

Posted by: Lukashenko | September 13, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say it but I put the chances of WPS surviving to start another season at no better than 30%; despite brave talk of starting a Western New York franchise.

Posted by: Ron16 | September 13, 2010 10:16 AM
_________________________________________

Would you have said the same thing about MLS after its second season, when it had lost more money than WPS ever will? (In a previous thread some people wondered what was the point of a WPS players' union. Again, would they have said the same thing about the MLSPU circa '97?)

Wouldn't Real Maryland and Crystal Palace give their eyeteeth to draw crowds as large as the Freedom has been drawing? Should we be wondering whether those teams (and most of the other teams in the second and third tiers of North American men's soccer) will be around next year?

Posted by: universityandpark | September 13, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Yo Chest!
Started a league on the uefa.com site.
League Name: Soccer Insider
Pass Code: 118893-21573
Please come join the game folks. Starts tomorrow. For those busy at work, you can quickly auto fill your team and go back and tweak the team until the free transfer deadline sometime tomorrow.
Cheers!
http://en.uclfantasy.uefa.com/

Posted by: DadRyan | September 13, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

That's Crystal Palace Baltimore, obviously, not the mother ship across the pond.

Posted by: universityandpark | September 13, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

universityandpark, I remember the 2nd MLS season very well. Its first season went well, they met attendance goals. The second season attendance was down a bit, but for the most part teams were getting critical mass out for games. The league had a lot of buzz, which continued into its third season. My sense at the time was MLS was off to a reasonably good start, and I was optimistic the league would continue.

WPS, on the other hand, had some buzz and decent crowds in the beginning of year 1, but crowds tailed off as that season progressed and this season crowds have been PATHETIC. AWFUL. ABYSMAL.

FC Gold Pride play some very nice soccer, they have the best player in the world in Marta, and they have a roster loaded with a lot more talent. Yet their turnout at home has been TERRIBLE. They typically have about 2500 fannies in seats, though Saturday they did better, with a crowd that looked to be around 4000.

Sorry, but crowds in the 4000's for the few better-attended teams ain't gonna cut it.

If that weren't bad enough, the league has NO IDEA nor any resources for turning that around. They have shut down their national marketing. Their local marketing has been paltry at best.

The aura around this league right now is basically a death watch. MLS has had its challenges, but the outlook for the league has never descended anywhere near these levels in any year in MLS's history.

There is a chance WPS investors will circle the wagons and try to go one more season to try to get some traction. I hope they do. But I'd reckon the chances of that are no better than 30%.

Posted by: Ron16 | September 13, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

"I could of saved the WPS"

-Hope Solo-

;)

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | September 13, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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