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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

WPS approves Washington Freedom's plan to play some home matches in South Florida

By Steve Goff

The Women's Professional Soccer board of governors has approved the Washington Freedom's request to play some home matches in South Florida this season, increasing the likelihood that the franchise will leave the area altogether after 10 years in three different leagues.

Club owner Dan Borislow, who lives in Florida and operates a communications business there, bought the team from Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks in November. WPS spokesman Rob Penner said the league has granted Borislow approval to play some games in Florida for "trial purposes," contingent on the team identifying a stadium that meets league standards.

It remains unclear how many, if any, games would be played at Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County, the Freedom's home for its first two years in WPS. Trish Heffelfinger, the facility's executive director, said she has had no direct contact with Borislow or the league, which is in dire condition after four teams folded in the past year.

"I reached out to [Borislow] in early December and he never responded," Heffelfinger said. "We've offered to help any way we can, but at this point, we're planning to move ahead."

The Freedom's office lease at the facility expires Feb. 8 and the club has indicated it does not plan to extend it, Heffelfinger said. Only one Freedom employee is still based there and, with the WPS draft nine days away, the club has yet to fill vacancies for a general manager and head coach.

For more.....

Borislow, who has ignored multiple requests for comment, plans to re-brand the franchise with the name of one of his business products.

From 2001 to 2003, the Freedom played at RFK Stadium in the Women's United Soccer Association, featured superstar Mia Hamm and won a league title. When the WUSA folded, the team operated independently before joining a lower division until WPS launched in 2009. Only three of the original seven franchises remain in business -- the Freedom, Boston and Sky Blue (New Jersey) -- and three others have joined the league in the past year: Philadelphia, Atlanta and Western New York.

One Freedom season ticket holder told the Insider that her request for a refund is being processed and that she was told the team is not selling tickets at this time.

By Steve Goff  | January 5, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Freedom, Women  | Tags:  WPS, Washington Freedom  
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Comments

facepalm

Posted by: Reignking | January 5, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

facepalm

Posted by: Reignking | January 5, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

It was fun while it lasted.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 5, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Does this portend the future of professional soccer in DC?

Posted by: seahawkdad | January 5, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Given the current parlous state of WPS, they'd probably approve a request to play in red rubber noses and clown suits.

And I was so looking forward to the team's tenth anniversary season, too.

The team hasn't made an official announcement yet, but reliable sources have indicated that Briana Scurry is the new GM, and Mike Lyons (former assistant with Sky Blue) is the new head coach.

Posted by: kevinwparker | January 5, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

In the meantime, attrition of veteran players continues:

http://oursportscentral.com/services/releases/?id=4130648

Posted by: universityandpark | January 5, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Sadly reminiscent of the WUSA folding right before the 2003 World Cup.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 5, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

If Hope Solo had been in goal against Brazil none of this would have happened.

Yes, I am putting the demise of Women's Professional Soccer in the Untied States squarely and entirely on the shoulders of Greg Ryan.

Thx,

Jay!

Posted by: jayrockers | January 5, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we've lost Cat Whitehill (which I have very mixed feelings about: she has some sterling qualities, including a fantastic leg on set pieces, but she's been leading one of the most inept defenses I've ever seen on a women's soccer team). On the other hand, new head coach Mike Lyons is also Christie Rampone's trainer, which I think bodes well for a replacement.

Posted by: kevinwparker | January 5, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Professional soccer in the nation's capital is undergoing a slow death. And nobody seems to care. How depressing.

Posted by: jofij | January 5, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

So what are we thinking... the Miami MagicJacks?

Posted by: bbarrie | January 5, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Women's professional sports (not just soccer) faces some real challenges. Market data across the US shows that basically, women mostly don't go to sporting events. Oh, there are exceptions. Alumni related stuff (where you're supporting your school). Or b/c you have a family member connected with the team. Or usually you're going with a S.O. (boyfriend/husband/brother) who's a big fan.

While there are certainly some women who are fanatics about their particular team (be it the Mystics or the Freedom or any other sport in another city), they tend to be few and are between. The data on female youth players shows that most of them reach an age as teenagers where going to games is no longer "cool" (though obviously not true for all of them).

Which means that for women's professional sports teams to be successful, either one of two things needs to change:
--the culture around sports among women in the US (which is obviously not a short-term possibility)
--or they need to draw mostly male fans (and that's a challenge: b/c as a man, why would I choose to buy season-tickets to the Freedom but not DCU? Or the Mystics over the Wizards?).

As for the argument that professional soccer is dying in DC, the real issue with DCU is the stadium. Fix that and the belief that soccer is dying here goes away. Women's professional sports (not just soccer) faces HUGE obstacles to make it. But professional soccer is here to stay and if a stadium were to emerge as a near-term (ie: next 4 years) option, than we wouldn't be talking about DCU in dirge-type tones.

Posted by: JoeW1 | January 5, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

What, no one has blamed Kasper yet?

Posted by: Reignking | January 5, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The funny thing is I have been posting comments in this vein -- at least half-sarcastically -- about how MLS can expand its geographic reach and move to a FIFA-schedule calendar. Teams would have warmer-weather home ports in the winter before moving back north with Spring. Kinda like what MLB does with Spring Training, except the games would count and maybe the Southern cities would catch MLS fever. Maybe it could be two separate season, like the Apertura/Clausura set-up the rest of the Western Hemisphere uses.

Posted by: fischy | January 5, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

JoeW1:

re: "Market data across the US shows that basically, women mostly don't go to sporting events."

and

"The data on female youth players shows that most of them reach an age as teenagers where going to games is no longer "cool" (though obviously not true for all of them)."

References, please.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 5, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

You aren't TRUE Freedom fans!!!

Posted by: Reignking | January 5, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

If WPS is this dependent on the ludicrous whims of Dan Borislow to survive, the league is effectively dead already. It's very sad to see women's pro soccer go out this way.

Posted by: evwill | January 5, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Make 'em play in bikini's and see if people will come out to watch.

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 5, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it could be two separate seasons, like the Apertura/Clausura set-up the rest of the Western Hemisphere uses.
Posted by: fischy | January 5, 2011 11:51 AM

fiscy - did DadRyan drop off one of his homemade bolivian frosted Bearclaws (danish) & a 5 hour energy cocktail to you this morning?
Maryland Stadium Authority & DCU to meet at NSCAA Coaches Convention next week in Baltimore prior to the MLS SuperDraft.
Should be an Akron Zip draft reunion party & Herman Tropy celebration. Go Zips!
Steve Zakuani is scheduled to appear & has a #10 DadRyan XXXL stain resistant Seattle jersey set for delivery!

9Nine9 can you bring your Taxi by the Convention Center Wednesday Night a bunch of us need a lift to Little Italy for the pre-draft dinner.
Highlandtown United has a nice ring to it & Santino can hook everyone up with great parking!
Happy New Year DadRyan & my best to everyonme @ SuperFresh in Bowie...

Posted by: Zipfutbol | January 5, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

[A]s a man, why would I choose to buy season-tickets to the Freedom but not DCU?

Posted by: JoeW1 | January 5, 2011 11:36 AM
________________________________________

I'm sure that many men have chosen to do just that, for reasons of their own. It is extremely presumptuous of you to speak for other men.

Posted by: universityandpark | January 5, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Stick a fork in it (WPS) it's done!

Posted by: hohomonkey | January 5, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Is WPS's slow death the new zzzzzz?

Posted by: sofiaboy | January 5, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

So how does having two home stadiums work for the players? Is one stadium essentially an away stadium and the players will do all their training, living, etc at only one site; or will there be equivalent facilities at each site and the players will have to keep two homes, etc. Can you imagine Abby driving a U-Haul down I-95?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 5, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@270 -- some of the Freedom players lived with host families in MD as it was . . .

@Ron16 -- the Post recently did a piece on why women don't support womens pro sports, which as I recall supprts what JoeW says . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | January 5, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Aldershot's Marvin Morgan was today suspended, fined two weeks' wages and placed on the transfer list for comments he made on social networking website Twitter.

The League Two club issued a statement after meeting with the striker who was booed when substituted during the club's 2-1 defeat to Hereford on Monday.

Morgan responded to the crowd's reaction by later posting a Twitter message saying: "Like to thank the fans who booed me off the pitch. Where's that going to get you! I hope you all die.''

Posted by: Reignking | January 5, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

They can just treat games in Miami as additional away matches for logistical purposes, and put the players up in hotels. It is not clear why training facilities are needed in two locations. However, they would need a satellite front office of some sort for marketing and media relations purposes.

Posted by: universityandpark | January 5, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE news! This man has done nothing but destroy this franchise.

Posted by: stwasm | January 5, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Uh, universityandpark, it sounds more like it will be:

They can just treat games in Miami as additional away matches for logistical purposes, and put the players up in *area basements.* It is not clear why training facilities are needed in two locations *or even one, when there are public parks around.* However, they would need a satellite front office of some sort for marketing and media relations purposes, *or at least a friend of Borislow's with a phone and access to a Fedex/Kinko's.*

Sarcasm aside, it's sad.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | January 5, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

But what are you gonna do; if fans don't come, they don't come . . .

Posted by: fallschurch1 | January 5, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I-270--I can ABSOLUTELY imagine Abby a U-Haul!

Posted by: lovinliberty | January 5, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Semi-Related:


Kristine Lilly has announced her retirement from the Women's National Team. 352 Caps. And like 293 years.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | January 5, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

OWNTF, JoeW,

It sounds credible enough, but it would be interesting to look at the details the source sets forth.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 5, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Its about time Lilly retired. She has for too long now been taking up space on the USWNT that could have been used to get younger, faster, and better players needed experience. Good riddance.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 5, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

The news would be worth getting upset about if the league itself wasn't circling the drain already.

Posted by: CapsNut | January 5, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

1)Real Maryland-moved to PDL

2)Crystal Palce-ceased operations until at least 2012

3)Washington Freedom-moving to Florida

4)RFK Stadium-has been given last rites

These are dark, dark, days for professional soccer in the Mid-Atlantic region. We need a miracle guys.

Posted by: hateisnotafamilyvalue | January 5, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I disagree Ron. Younger, yes -- better and faster, no. Watching her at the Plex in her final year was thoroughly enjoyable, unlike for example watching Moreno struggle at RFK.

But in any event, this is not the time to debate the point, it is the time to stand tall and snap off the crispest damn salute we can muster in gratitude for one of the greatest careers of all time in the red, white and blue. The only possible remaining link between 1999 and 2011 is Christie Rampone, I believe.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 5, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

OWNTF, whatever her achievements, which are laudable, she has had no business on the national team for the last several years. Someone in their late thirties has zero business on that team, and should have enough scruples to retire and get out of the way so younger, faster, and yes BETTER players can develop.

Posted by: Ron16 | January 5, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit I only went to one Freedom game ever...and that's because they provided a couple of free tickets to the SoccerPlex. It wasn't comparable (not even close) to Maryland Women's Soccer hosting UNC. Ludwig had more fans and it was a better game. It is kind of sad, but nonetheless realistic, that low attendance is killing WPS. I don't think there is much cause for hope after this season and the Women's World Cup in Germany.

Posted by: soccerman | January 5, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Freedom. I feel sorry for its remaining fans. My wife, daughter and I had full season tickets the first year -- didn't renew. Issues: the trek from Nova almost to Frederick, the decidedly minor league stadium, a fan experience that involved little kids running around, but little hard core cheering and yes, booing and razzing the other team. The whole experience was just "meh." Finally, my then 17 year old daughter decided she liked going to DCU games far more than the Freedom -- a position 180 degrees from where she was in 2003 when Mia Hamm was her idol. Unfortunately her recent idols have been Troy Perkins, Rod Dyachenko and Facundo Erpen.

Posted by: griffin1108 | January 5, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Hope that the FREEDOM stays in DC. The Plex is ok w/ me, but I like RFK better, and it has more public transportation options.So sad that the FREEDOM was bought by a rich boy who is treating the team as a toy.

Posted by: 10bestfan | January 5, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

You'd think with every other pro team drying up (no mas CP Baltimore, Real Maryland down to PDL, and the Freedom seemingly going belly-up), that United would be able to attract some of their investors. Perhaps if all of them were to be *gasp* United, they'd have enough cash and pull to get a stadium built within the beltway (or at least less than 10 minutes outside it).

I'm not exactly in favor of United moving to Baltimore, but I'd rather have Bal'mer United than no club at all (which is what St Louis or NYC would mean).

Also, should United leave the area all together, I don't see MLS coming back to the market for a LONG time... like not until they have enough interest to become a 2-tiered league.

Posted by: alecw81 | January 5, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

But in any event, this is not the time to debate the point, it is the time to stand tall and snap off the crispest damn salute we can muster in gratitude for one of the greatest careers of all time in the red, white and blue.
Posted by: OWNTF
==========

You said it!

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 5, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

After reading the Borislow interview, I got the impression he bought the team on a whim as a tax write-off that *might* be a good advertising medium.

In that vein, if there isn't some significant effort put into the team in the next few weeks then don't be surprised when he just pulls the plug (pun intended).

All he would be out is a couple million dollars he can write off against MajicJack.

In my opinion, the only way for a women's league to survive is to be an extension of MLS similar to the reserve league. Unfortunately, we're probably 10 years away from making that a reality though.

Posted by: SoccerVA | January 5, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Tax write-offs are the best thing to happen to US soccer...

Posted by: Reignking | January 5, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

He could have bought a jersey sponsorship for a lot less money if advertising were his goa... ummm objective. Maybe he got a deal to outfit the entire Discovery building in Silver Spring with MagicJack and get free advertising on all the Discovery network shows: see Adam call Jaime using MagicJack to bust the myth that VOIP drops calls more often than traditional telephones; watch Great White sharks use MagicJack to prank-call surfers.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 5, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Steve, have you had any conversations with Hendricks about his future involvement with the game?

You know where I'm going with this...

Posted by: seahawkdad | January 6, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

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