MLS's Orlando City set to expand into NWSL for 2016

时间:2019-09-01 责任编辑:倪碓蒜 来源:合乐888首页 点击:249 次

The National Women’s Soccer League is expected to name SC as an expansion team for the 2016 season, according to sources that have spoken with the Guardian.

Orlando City SC, which joined Major League Soccer as an expansion team this year, is close to finalizing an entrance into the league, though sources could not specify when it will be confirmed. Sources declined to speak on the record because details have not been announced.

The commissioner, Jeff Plush, declined to confirm the expansion candidates remaining in the process for 2016, but he said club owners will discuss expansion at their next meeting at the league championship in Portland on 1 October.

“We don’t have anything to announce right now and we don’t have anything finalized,” Plush told the Guardian on Sunday. “Our next board meeting will be during the final and we’re working hard to put something in front of ownership for everyone to consider. But we’re not there yet.”

When reached for comment, an Orlando City club spokesman issued the following statement: “Considering the massive support for top-caliber soccer in Central Florida, we continue to evaluate all opportunities to bring the highest levels of the sport to the market in the future. We hope to have more information to share in the coming weeks.”

The Lions have plans to open a new $155m stadium next year in downtown Orlando. Construction for the 25,500-capacity soccer-specific stadium began last October and is expected to be complete next summer after both the NWSL and seasons have started.

Orlando City is already set to expand its footprint with a third-division men’s team in the United Soccer League next season. Plans for where that USL team will play have not yet been announced, but it will be in a different location than the MLS first team.

Sources indicate that Orlando City is looking at having a women’s team share the same venue with the MLS side once their new stadium opens rather than share a venue with the USL team.

For now, the Lions’ first team plays at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, which will host the US women’s national team in October for a friendly against Brazil. As of last week, that friendly has sold more than 31,000 tickets. It is unclear where the women’s team would play next year while the MLS team continues to play at the Citrus Bowl.

Plush had previously said that the window on naming an expansion team for 2016 was closing and any expansion teams would likely need to be in place by the championship game, which is set for 1 October.

“We’d like to be able to immediately after the final know what 2016 looks like,” Plush told the Guardian two weeks ago. “Our work for 2016 on some level has already started, but it starts in earnest somewhere around midnight of 1 October. That’s certainly our plan but the reality is you’re going to expand when the timing is right, when the people are right, when the geography and stadium are right.”

If Orlando City indeed joins the league for 2016, it will follow in the footsteps of two other MLS franchises: the Portland Timbers, which fielded the Thorns in the NWSL’s inaugural 2013 season, and the Houston Dynamo, which added the Dash as an expansion team in 2014. With the addition of Orlando, the NWSL would expand to 10 teams.

Plush has said that MLS franchises are valuable because of the shared resources, including personnel and infrastructure that they can bring to a league that has strict spending caps designed to promote the NWSL’s sustainability.

Off the field, the Thorns clearly set the bar in the league’s inaugural season and have provided a stark contrast to the clubs without MLS backing. In an unrelated conference call this week, Portland Timbers and Thorns general manager Gavin Wilkinson expressed a desire to see more MLS clubs to join the NWSL with women’s teams.

“I think that expansion for the NWSL will continue to look very bright for the future and I think the MLS clubs will play a big, big part in that,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I think when you start to look at minimum standards, I think the league is aware that they need to be addressed.”

With Orlando City poised to join the league next year, it appears to be a step in that direction

Title contenders

There may be 10 teams in the NWSL next season, but now just two remain to vie for the 2015 title. The Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City will play in a rematch of last season’s championship on 1 October.

The road to get to the championship ran through Sunday’s semi-finals first, with the Chicago Red Stars and the Washington Spirit both denied their first appearances in a final.

If a mistaken staffer had accidentally put “Seattle Reign v Ashlyn Harris” on the sign greeting entrants of Memorial Stadium, it’s doubtful fans would’ve even noticed. The Washington Spirit goalkeeper turned into a one-woman show, fending off wave after wave of the Reign attack Sunday – that is, until Beverly Yanez showed up.

After missing nearly three weeks with a hip injury, Yanez subbed into the pulsating semi-final in the 70th minute. Less than a minute later, in her first touch of the match, she finished a cross from Megan Rapinoe past Harris to break the deadlock and finally put the Reign ahead.

Rapinoe doubled the Reign’s lead just four minutes later from a difficult angle. Mariah Bullock added the insurance goal a minute before full time, also on her first touch as a substitute, and secured a 3-0 win. It will be Seattle’s second straight appearance in the NWSL championship.

The Spirit again looked to Crystal Dunn, this year’s Golden Boot winner and a favorite for MVP, but the Reign swarmed the young playmaker, cutting off her ability to create goals. Without their lead architect, the Spirit spent most of the match defending. Harris kept the busiest as Seattle massively outshot Washington, 18 to three.

Meanwhile, it should’ve been a closer affair at Toyota Field, but FC Kansas City silenced the Chicago area crowd in just 12 minutes and never looked back en route to a 3-0 romp past the Red Stars.

Chicago coach Rory Dames gave back-up goalkeeper Michele Dalton the nod over starter Karina LeBlanc, which he may regret in hindsight. The hosts are known for having one of the most solid defenses all season, but mistake on a back pass near goal teed up forward Amy Rodriguez and started off scoring in what would be a long day for the Chicago.

Rodriguez returned to terrorize Dalton in the 25th minute, rounding the goalkeeper with a few quick touches and slipping a shot through three defenders that dropped back to cover. Erika Tymrak also scored just minutes earlier.

The Red Stars outshot Kansas City, 18 to 11, but struggled with finishing. Christen Press, the star striker who buoyed the Red Stars’ standing early this season, had trouble putting clear chances on frame, like an 8th minute shot at the top of the box that went just over the bar. In the 26th minute, Press chipped goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart but it cruelly knocked off the crossbar.

With Seattle and Kansas City set to meet again for the championship, the Reign will look to avenge their loss at last year’s title game despite winning the NWSL Shield for the best regular season record. The Reign won the Shield this year.

Coaching changes

For the teams that have finished their seasons already, the work begins immediately to make the playoffs next season – and that includes changes at the top.

For the Portland Thorns, a side with bountiful resources and talent, missing the playoffs is not something that can go ignored. Club general manager Gavin Wilkinson was blunt in his post-season conference call to reporters: “With what we have in Portland, we should be able to perform a lot better on the field.”

And so the question becomes: Was coach Paul Riley the problem? The Thorns front office will answer that soon. A decision on whether to replace Riley will be made within the next three weeks, Wilkinson said.

There’s no question the Thorns suffered a series of injuries that would disrupt any coach’s plan. Wilkinson noted the Thorns were only able to field the same starting 11 three times all season. Alex Morgan, perhaps the team’s top player, appeared in just four matches due to injury and World Cup duty.

But then there were the things within Riley’s control. The team’s three-back formation didn’t work and Riley didn’t secure the personnel needed to create a more suitable system. He also traded away the team’s leading scorer from 2014, Jessica McDonald, and replaced her with an equally good forward, but one who was also on the English national team and would miss several weeks for the World Cup, Jodie Taylor.

The club’s evaluation of whether to re-sign Riley, whose contract has expired, will include interviewing both the players and Riley individually, Wilkinson said, as well as considering other factors, including fan support. “In looking at Paul’s position with the club, it really is a holistic view,” Wilkinson said.

Meanwhile, the coach for the NWSL’s worst team this season is already out.

The Boston Breakers, who finished a dismal 2015 in last place and just four wins in 20 games, are looking to replace Tom Durkin, who stepped down on Thursday. He will remain with the club overseeing the Boston Breakers Academy.

“An immediate search for a new head coach has started,” general manager Lee Billiard said in a statement. “It is important we get this right as we have great ambitions in the coming years.”

With the Breakers, something had to give. They lacked the firepower of better teams throughout the league, but also seemed to struggle in the acquisition of much-needed talent, bungling trades and losing top players.

As the Guardian noted in the final week of the regular season, Durkin has amassed as Breakers head coach over two seasons. Lisa Cole, who was fired midseason, had done better with a .425 winning percentage over her shortened season at the helm.

Whether a new coach can turn around a team that is short on both talent and confidence within a single offseason remains an open question.