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Posted at 12:17 PM ET, 02/17/2011

With WPS schedule set, the Freedom is a Washington team in name only

By Steve Goff

The Washington Freedom is listed among the six teams in Women's Professional Soccer, a three-year-old league struggling for survival. The Freedom's ties to Washington, however, are all but severed.

In unveiling the 2011 schedule Thursday, the league announced that the Freedom will operate at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton but still "might play one or two of its home games in the Washington, D.C. area."

For additional details.....

The move had been expected since last fall, when a Florida investor purchased a majority stake in the organization from the Hendricks family, founders of Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications and longtime women's soccer supporters.

Given the ownership change, "it makes absolute sense for them to play in Florida, and if they're going to play a couple of games in this area, we would love to have them here," said Trish Heffelfinger, executive director of Maryland SoccerPlex, the Freedom's home the past two seasons. She added that she has had no recent communication with any club or league officials about staging matches at the Montgomery County complex this year.

George Mason University and the University of Maryland are plausible locations, as well.

With the team leaving the area, why hasn't the club shed "Washington" from its nickname? The 2011 uniforms (seen here) were manufactured before owner Dan Borislow could make up his mind about the team's future, and he apparently hasn't decided whether to pay for rebranding costs, sources told the Insider.

Calling itself "the world's best women's soccer league," WPS has seen four founding clubs shut down operations in the past 13 months (Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and Bay Area). Since last year, the league has expanded to Philadelphia, Atlanta and western New York but no longer has a West Coast or Midwest presence.

By Steve Goff  | February 17, 2011; 12:17 PM ET
Categories:  Freedom, Women  | Tags:  WPS, Washington Freedom  
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Next: D.C. United waives defender Julius James

Comments

I still believe that at some point, WPS will need to operate as the women's team option of an MLS club. And perhaps on a regional basis only.

A tough loss for Freedom fans in the area.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 17, 2011 12:31 PM | Report abuse

What a farce.

Posted by: spidergoose | February 17, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Maybe VBB, but MLS investoperators don't want to start a new money-losing venture very soon. THe regional idea is intriguing because it might mirror college conference and maybe help build rivalries. Did I just write "rivalries?" Garberhands

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The only thing we can hope for is an expansion team for 2012 with the Freedom name. Never thought ANY sports owner could make Dan Snyder look so likable.

Posted by: stwasm | February 17, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

What a farce.

Posted by: spidergoose

+1

Posted by: DCU99fan | February 17, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

OT, big news:

#DCU has released Julius James & acquired allocation money from LA: http://bit.ly/gmoUzQ


They must really like Kitchen and White, huh?

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | February 17, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

OT, big news:

#DCU has released Julius James & acquired allocation money from LA: http://bit.ly/gmoUzQ


They must really like Kitchen and White, huh?

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | February 17, 2011 1:09 PM

They must, because JJ was pretty good cover back there. that being said, I dont think he has the talent to ever be an every game starter (esp not for a quality team), but his effort was always appreciated.

Posted by: VTUnited | February 17, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@I-270Exit1,

Exactly. I don't think the MLS owners have any real appetite for it.

But, if you remove all redundancies in operations, and simply hand them women's United or Women's Timbers kits, hire them a coach and a trainer, and pay salaries, you would think that the continued growth of the soccer infrastructure would help the product find its footing a little bit.

Think WNBA, but regional, and for now, very subordinate to the men's product. At least you could house the talent domestically and in many cases give additional events to the SSS's that at least break-even.

Just thinking and typing here...

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | February 17, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The Freedom owners did everything they could to keep that team going. And they finally found someone (anyone) they could sell to, and he wants to move the team. How you could compare them to Snyder is beyond me.

Posted by: Reignking | February 17, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The Freedom owners did everything they could to keep that team going. And they finally found someone (anyone) they could sell to, and he wants to move the team. How you could compare them to Snyder is beyond me.

Posted by: Reignking | February 17, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse


I was referring to Dan Borislow in the Snyder comparison. He never communicated with the season-ticket holders and kept the remaining players in the dark about everything. No one knew who the new GM and coach were until they were introduced at the WPS draft. He showed zero respect for the people who made the Freedom over the last 10 years and, in all of his interviews, has an I-know-everything mentality about running the team, even though his only coaching was with 13-year-old girls. I'm not mad at the Hendricks, at all. But, Borislow is going to find out that the had a GREAT market here in DC whereas the place he's moving the team has lost two MLS teams.

Posted by: stwasm | February 17, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

what just happened? James improved tremendously last year. Could DCU not trade him for a backup keeper?

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | February 17, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I imagine that Borislow doesn't care -- if he did, he wouldn't move it.

Total guess, but this is a tax write-off for him. He has not shown any interest in the league, players, fans, etc.

Posted by: Reignking | February 17, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

what just happened? James improved tremendously last year. Could DCU not trade him for a backup keeper?

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | February 17, 2011 1:36 PM

he was a standout on the worst team in MLS history. that does not mean that he could make the 3 deep at CB for most MLS teams.

Posted by: VTUnited | February 17, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Borislow somehow thinks that buying a WPS team will increase his VOIP device sales greater than any other advertising. One the one hand, the Magic Jack commercials are amateurish, so maybe he's right. On the other hand, he'll probably fold the team mid-season when sales haven't met his expectations.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 17, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

he was a standout on the worst team in MLS history. that does not mean that he could make the 3 deep at CB for most MLS teams.

Posted by: VTUnited | February 17, 2011 1:42 PM

Standouts hold value to other teams lacking CB, especially when that player only makes 60k. He has a green card so its not an intl spot

Posted by: TenoriosLaptop | February 17, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Boo!!! Down with Borislow!

Posted by: WorldCup | February 17, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

The new owner of the Freedom says they may play two home games in the Washington area. They don't have the Sportsplex so where are viable alternatives? Does DC Utd have any doubleheaders? They have only 2 televised games. Hope Fla enjoys them.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | February 17, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm a bit surprised at JJ being cut outright. My thinking on that is that Olsen has probably concluded that either he doesn't focus enough or isn't professional enough. B/c he's good enough to at least be a sub if you figure he's not a starter.

As for the Freedom, it's an absolute shame. And it makes little sense for MLS teams to pick up women's teams. For the NBA it does....you have the WNBA play in the offseason and you fill your venue. But for a grass field, you don't benefit from extra games. And the single biggest reason WUSA and now WPS aren't making it is the failure to get women to come to games. So I really think the future for women's professional soccer is in venues where there isn't a male professional team--so they're the only game in town. In such cases, you'd get a lot of men who would go to watch a WPS game. But if they can choose between MLS or WPS, most men would go with MLS for a higher standard of play and more athleticism. And women's sports teams have trouble drawing enough women to be successful at the gate.

Posted by: JoeW1 | February 17, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the comments that the new owner can make a decision about the location of the team. My issue is the appearance of the lack of control that WPS had here. The decision on the teams name and location should have been months ago. Most certainly before the jerseys were designed. League management should have mandated a drop dead date to the new owner. Instead it just keep floundering around until the schedule was published. It looks like the WPSL should be considered the top flight league for women in the US. Certainly give the impression they are better managed.

Posted by: onenetnut | February 17, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Um, MLS posters -- this is the wrong thread so go find the 7,893 other places to chat about men's soccer. Or log-in to the Post's online chats which never talk about women's sports unless there's an epic failure of a top team or a hair-pulling incident....

This is such a sad time for professional women's soccer in the DC area. I don't profess to understand the finances or the difficulties of keeping this sport alive -- but I will always cherish showing up at the MD Soccerplex with my two soccer-playing daughters to witness the first Freedom practice -- with all of 6 people in the stands besides us and seeing the intensity and the skill of the women who were trying to make the team in 2009. I pulled my daughters out of school and took off from work to attend other outdoor practices and we sat on blankets and marveled at what we sat 10 feet away from. Good luck getting THAT experience with any men's professional sport. Proud: hell yes...unbelieveably sad...hell yes...

Posted by: clg0519 | February 17, 2011 4:45 PM | Report abuse

This is incredibly bittersweet. I'm happy the league is still around. Unfortunately, one of the people who helped save the league is taking the Freedom to Florida.

Posted by: adam131 | February 17, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

FAU? Really??

And they are serious about being a professional league?

One or two more years before the league folds....

Posted by: LloydHeilbrunn | February 17, 2011 11:22 PM | Report abuse

The new owner of the Freedom says they may play two home games in the Washington area. They don't have the Sportsplex so where are viable alternatives?

Posted by: VirginiaFan | February 17, 2011 2:16 PM
________________________________________

Just because they don't have a yearlong lease at the 'Plex doesn't mean they can't get it for one or two dates. And there are other options. For instance, last year they played a friendly against the Canada WNT at George Mason.

Although the club may be keeping Washington in its name simply because it already had its uniforms for this season, it does create an interesting possibility for Borislow to hedge his bets and return to this area if things don't work out in Florida.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 18, 2011 7:48 AM | Report abuse

FAU? Really??

And they are serious about being a professional league?

One or two more years before the league folds....

Posted by: LloydHeilbrunn | February 17, 2011 11:22 PM
_________________________________________

This is comparable to the second and third tiers of men's soccer in this country, which have been around forever.

While you are it, you should check out some of the places where NFL teams played in that league's formative years.

Posted by: universityandpark | February 18, 2011 7:55 AM | Report abuse

It's a sad the WPS can't catch hold. With all the soccer clubs and the huge turnout for girl's soccer in the Washington, D.C. metro area you would think more people would have come to Freedom games. Not sure it would have a difference though with this new owner.

People profess interest in soccer and then don't support it. WPS games are better than WNBA games in terms of athleticism and skill shown, but pro soccer is not getting attention.

I agree that WPS should link with MLS.
Let's at least support DC United. With the soccer fans and international population, this area should be rocking soccer like the people in Seattle do for their team. Now that's a soccer culture and enthusiasm at its best.

Posted by: beachvbman | February 21, 2011 10:22 PM | Report abuse

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