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Week 2 of the #WPSchat unintentionally had a theme running through it: college, college, college. Half the questions were in reference to that theme, starting off with chat contributors sharing who their favorite collegiate rookie in the WPS is. The two overwhelming favorite rookies were Tobin Heath from the Atlanta Beat and Lauren Cheney (the real LC) from the Boston Breakers! Kelley O’Hara from FC Gold Pride was a close third.

There were many return contributors from Week 1. One even emailed me her thoughts to post during the discussion. (That is true dedication and passion, thanks @katiemarx!) Add in the new contributors from this week, doubling the number of contributors from the first chat. We had Tweetchat really working.

This week, question 1 (What impact does college soccer have on the WPS?) was the most discussed. All were in agreement that there is a back and forth benefit between women’s collegiate soccer and the WPS. A professional league is an incentive  to develop talented players so that they are able to compete for spots. This increases the quality of play at the college level.  Some also thought that talent would be wider spread throughout the NCAA, rather than being concentrated in a few top programs (UNC and Notre Dame, for example.)

Question 2 dealt with how we as fans can help drive attendance, including the use of  grassroots tactics to spread the word about the WPS and how extroardinary it is. Another suggestion is continuing to build the supporter groups for the teams which helps bring in fans and enhance the game experience. And when you attend a game bring a friend with you so they may experience the beautiful game for themselves.

We find the “Tweet of the Chat” from question 2 about how fans may drive attendance to games:

“The WPS has to do is find a way to turn all the millions of soccer players in the US into soccer fans” – @AreYouOnTheBall

Continuing on the collegiate theme, our favorite play of the week was from a collegiate rookie. Carolyn Blank’s goal which evened the score in the Atletica vs. Breakers game was by far our top pick.

If you weren’t able to attend this week’s chat you may join next week’s chat on Monday starting at 8:00 pm EST. Next week’s question will be posted on Friday.

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Unfortunately, I’ve been sick this week.  So sick that I haven’t had a lot of time to blog.  The good news is that I’m on the mend and should be well enough to host the second #WPSchat on Monday.

At the end of the first chat, there were lots of great suggestions for future discussion.  For the next session, we’re going to focus on two of them (saving the others for a later date.)  Based on suggestions from @wpsdude and @dharv5:

Q1: What impact does college soccer have on the WPS?

  • How does the development of collegiate talent affect the WPS?
  • Now that the US has a professional women’s league, how might this change college sports?

Q2: What can fans do to help drive more attendance at games?

  • Think big and small

Q3:  What was your favorite play this week– from a collegiate rookie player?

Q4: Is there anything you want to discuss in upcoming chats?

We’ll start discussion this Monday at 8:00 pm EST. On a technical note, some contributors to last week’s chat found Tweetchat to be a great way to participate in the discussion.  Just log on to Twitter (or Tweetchat) and follow the #WPSchat tag.

See you then!

The first #WPSchat on Twitter has come and gone. It was a great 90 minutes spent tweeting with fellow WPS fans. Over the course of the chat, we discussed four questions, ranging from the Defend Your Turf campaign to the fantasy league to our favorite plays of the week. Athletica and Breaker fans were well represented along with the Independence.

The hot topic for the evening was the “Defend Your Turf” campaign. We all felt that the campaign was powerful, would bring new fans to the games, and increase the league’s following. Our two favorite aspects of the campaign are the projection screens and the “trash talk” on Twitter using the #DYT hashtag. Some chat members thought that the campaign could be incorporated into the game experience, enhancing it and helping drive return fans.

The second most discussed topic was the fantasy league, where this week’s “Tweet of the Chat” comes from:

“I’m ranked 673rd. Be jealous.“-@dharv5

We were all in agreement that the fantasy league was a great addition to this season.  It has made fans follow the games more closely.  None of us were doing well but we love it anyway!

A recurring question for each chat will be the favorite play of the week. The most liked defensive play was Amy LePeilbet’s block of Lori Lindsey. Discussion quickly turned to the “least favorite” play of the week, including one of the most controversial calls so far this season; the foul call reversal in the Breakers and Independence game.

There were 8 contributors in the chat who tweeted 250 times during the session for an average of 31 tweets per contributor. (@wpsdude: these numbers are for you. Get crunching!)

I want to thank everyone who helped make the first #WPSchat such a success. Thanks to @christinet6d, @wpsdude, @katiemarx, @triscutbiscut, @maire_ryan, @dharv5, @thedingmiester, @redstarsgm, and @rmajd.

If you missed out on the action this week, make sure that you stop by for the next #WPSchat, Monday at 8:00 EST. Next week’s questions will be posted this Friday.

Last weekend marked the official kick off of the WPS’s second season.  Even though the league is in its second year, there are still lots of “firsts” to talk about.  With that in mind, I’d like to kick off the first #WPSchat with a few new additions to the WPS fan engagement:

Q1: What do you think of the new “Defend Your Turf” campaign?

  • Limited release of projection screens in a few WPS cties
  • The teams twitter backgrounds and facebook fan page pictures
  • The TV commercial

Q2: What do you think about the fantasy league?

  • How is your team doing?
  • Will you be making any changes to your roster after two weeks of games?

Q3: What was your favorite play of the first two weeks?

Q4:  What about the #WPSchat?

  • Is there anything you want to discuss in upcoming chats?

Hopefully, the #WPSchat is another great first for the second season.  See you on Twitter this Monday, 8-10pm EST– just follow the #WPSchat hash tag.

Have you gone to a game? Have you chatted up the person next to you, asked about their favorite player or team? This is one of my favorite parts of going to Breakers games—meeting fellow fans and talking with them about the sport and team we support. But why wait until game time for all this when the wonders of modern technology allow for (drum roll, please) the #WPSchat.

What: The #WPSchat is a weekly discussion hosted through Twitter every Monday. Each week we’ll cover topics that are important to the league, and discuss some of the previous week’s highlights. The chat is moderated by @wmtammickiii and @christinet6d.

Why: The WPS is a national league, and though we may support different teams, we’re all at heart committed soccer fans. This chat is a place where we can voice our opinions, share our favorite plays, and be part of the WPS community. And no, we’re not officially with the WPS—we’re just a bunch of fans with a lot to say.

How: Easy. Every Friday, we’ll post the chat questions on the Pitch Side View blog so that you can get a preview of the upcoming discussion. Sign on to Twitter every Monday between the hours of 8-10 pm EST. Search for “#WPSchat” and join in.

Just like the league, keep it classy—we’ll be posting a summary of each chat on Wednesdays, and will highlight a few great quotes from the chat. If you’ve got suggestions for a topic or question, that’s great. Just tweet it out using the #WPSchat tag and we’ll incorporate it into the coming chat.

As fans of the WPS, we want to use the #WPSchat to raise awareness for our league, our teams, and our players. In order to do that, we believe it is important to show our enthusiasm and dedication to this sport. We do this in the real world, every time we go to a game, or cheer on our team from the living room couch or bar stool. Now we move online.

Chat questions will go up on Friday, April 16th, and our first discussion go live on Monday, April 19th. You in?

Yesterday, I traveled to Pennsylvania to check out the Independence vs. Beat game.  This post is broken in to two sections: my trip down and my observations of the game.

The Trip:

As I rode the train from Boston to West Chester sipping my Earl Grey soy latte, I couldn’t help but think of yester year.  I was on my way to take in the battle of the expansion teams on the 2010 WPS opening weekend, traveling by train like many sports writers before me.  They would travel by train from city to city, more than likely sitting in the meal car drinking brandy or scotch.   Wearing a fedora with press pass, they were armed with nothing by a pencil, and writing pad. There would be a good chance that the writer would be on the same train as the team. After the story was complete, the writer’s work would be sent via telegram once they arrived at the next destination. And this was seen as breaking news, sent by the latest and greatest of technology. Though the WPS wasn’t around then, I feel connected through history– I was about to see one of the oldest sports around today; the game of football or known also as soccer.

There cannot be reflection without comparison and so I look at the fabled sports writer of times past in light of that of today.  Instead of pencil and paper, the writing of the story is done on a computer or laptop using word or even directly through the internet. The writer’s work is either posted directly through the internet or sent by email to the editor, no more telegrams. The article is then distributed through blogs, online articles and publications, and social media (twitter, facebook) rather than print newspapers. Lastly, the sport I am about to see has even come along way. It is now considered a major professional sport in America and it will be female athletes taking the field.

So what does this all mean? It means professional sports are evolving and progressing. But more evident is that the essentials are the same, but the medium is changing. The games will still be played and reported on; these are the essentials. The means of how information is gathered, written, and distributed are what is ever-changing. This means that us sports junkies are able to get our information quickly, and the WPS is the best in the game at delivering it.

The Game:

The match I went to see featured the two new teams to the WPS: the Philadelphia Independence and the Atlanta Beat.  The game was played on the Independence’s turf. I arrived at John A. Ferrell stadium on the West Chester University campus 45 minutes prior to kick-off, and the atmosphere was electric. Before I even entered the stadium, I got hit with the energy; fans were tailgating in the parking lot, a band was playing, and there were plenty of kid activities outside the stadium entrance. The flow of electricity did not stop once inside the stadium. The music was rockin’ and the fans were enthusiastic—dancing, cheering, and clapping. All this was happening before the introductions of the starting line-ups.

The electric atmosphere did not waiver through out the evening. During the introductions, the Independence’s mascot was unveiled. A bald eagle from the Philadelphia Zoo, it was a beautiful bird and I sat in amazement at its glory. The players were introduced, beginning with Atlanta’s starting line-up and then to the Independence, where the decibel level of the crowd went up more than a few notches. The international players were presented flowers to cheers from the fans. Next up was a local inspirational speaker who got the cheering crowd on their feet, and set the bar for the rest of the evening. And now the teams and fans were set for kick-off.

The game was all that I have come to expect from a WPS game. I was a bit surprised by it being so because I was watching two expansion teams. The WPS has succeeded where most other sports leagues have failed in expansion. This confirmed two thoughts of mine prior to the start of the season. One is the depth of the talent pool in the 2010 draft being that of the likes we may not see for quite sometime.. The Beat midfield controlled that part of the field, led by rookie Tobin Heath.

My second observation is that the folding of the Sol consolidated the talent in the league, pushing a lot of talent in to the new expansion teams.  Although the independence were without Heather Mitts, Karina LeBlanc, a former Sol player, held a clean sheet. I was afraid to take my eyes off the action as I might miss a goal or shot on goal. The excitement did not stop at all during the game, and the cheers of 6,000 fans attested they had an extraordinary experience.

On the eve of the first game of the 2010 WPS season the ‘Who Dat’ series will wrap up. The final installment will feature the Washington Freedom. The Freedom are one of three teams whose roster has not gone through major change. The other two are the Saint Louis Athletica and Sky Blue FC.

The Front Line: This group is high-octane. The front line for the Washington Freedom doesn’t appear that it will slow down at all from last season. The freedom lead the league in GPG at 1.60. That league leading attack was fueled by Abby Wambach and speedster Lisa De Vanna.

The Midfield: The Freedom’s midfield cannot be talked about without mentioning Sonia Bompastor. Sonia’s tenacity is what fuels this group which includes Homare Sawa and Sarah Huffman. The midfield will run the offense by controling the attack and setting up the front line.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense and goal tending was as bad as the front line was good. This group had the worst GAA in the league at 1.60 matching their output. The goal tending returns both Briana Scurry and Erin McLeod. The defense returns Cat Whitehill, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Jill Gilbeau. The freedom looked to improve the defense by adding Brittany Bock, Nikki Marshall, and Kristi Eveland. These newbies should help to bring down the GAA but by how much will be interesting to see.

The Washington Freedom look like they won’t slow down offensively and should pick it up a bit defensively. There is a chance they could challenge for the championship and should make the playoffs.

This is the second to last installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series, featuring Sky Blue FC. They are the reigning champs, so it will be interesting to see how much they’ve changed their line-up to set themselves up for repeat success.

The Front Line: There isn’t much that has changed for this group in the line-up or on what they are capable of doing. They should pick-up where they left off at the end of the 2009 season. The front line features Natasha Kai and Kacey White who led the attack for the team and will do so again this season.

The Midfield: This group will get it done in any way that the team needs and they have the personnel to do so. Back from last season is Rosana, Yael Averbuch, Heather O’Reilly, and Meghan Schnur. They will be joined by USWNT member Carli Lloyd. This group could be the most talented midfield in the league.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense returns all but one of its starters from the 2009 season with Anita Asante, Keeley Dowling, and Christie Rampone. Sky Blue FC will also return Jenni Branam as the net minder from the 2009 season. If there was any weakness in this team, it would be the defense and goal tending. But don’t tell them I said that!

The Sky Blue FC look good to repeat and defend their title as champions of the league. But they will be tested because there are more than a few good contenders ready and willing to knock them off.

The next and final team to be put on the table for the ‘Who Dat’ treatment will be the Washington Freedom, so stay tuned.

This is the sixth installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series. As I mentioned in my previous post, the beginning of the 2010 season is fastly approaching and to be sure each team gets its due, there will be two series posted at a time. The Saint Louis Athletica is this post’s team to go through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: The front line for the Saint Louis Athletica had a slow start to the 2009 season but that shouldn’t be a problem for this year’s group. Eniola Aluko is familiar with the teams system and should pick up where she left off at the end of the 2009 season. In fact, she will have more help now with fellow front line players Madelaine Edlund and Lindsay Tarpley. This unit will be ready to play from the get go.

The Midfield: If you thought the front line for the Saint Louis Athletica was stacked with talent, then you may be surprised that the midfield is as well. They have two veteran USWNT members in Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny who will steady this group and provide consistent play. On top of that, they have two international star players in Daniela and Aya Miyama who will provide a great offensive boost. This group shouldn’t have any problems working as a unit and providing great play for the Athletica.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The Athletica goal tending and defense will be as good as any in the league for the 2010 season. You will see a lot of familiar faces in the back line and minding the net. This group had the second best GAA for the 2009 season at 0.75. Tina Ellertson, Kendall Fletcher, and Elise Weber were the reason for this and they are back for 2010 season. In between the sticks you will find Hope Solo who had the leagues second best GAA of 0.82 for last season. This group is top-notch and will be hard to score against.

The Saint Louis Athletica is a good contender to be regular season champs and to knock off Sky Blue FC in their title defense.

The next team to be put on the table for the ‘Who Dat’ treatment will be the Sky Blue FC, so stay tuned.

This is the fifth installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series. The beginning of the 2010 season is fastly approaching and to be sure each team gets its ‘Who Dat’ treatment there will be two series posted at a time. The Philadelphia Independence are this post’s team to go through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: The front line for the Philadelphia Independence is an unproven group in the WPS. Amy Rodriguez (number one overall pick of the 2009 WPS general draft) didn’t have as a successful first WPS season as she would have liked with the Boston Breakers. And the internationals in this group; Holmfridur Magnusdottir, Karina Maruyama, and Lianne Sanderson have had success in their other league play but have yet played a game in the talented heavy WPS.

The Midfield: This group for the Independence will give the offense a spark and boost. Lori Lindsey will provide the main spark to this group creating the offensive boost. International stand out Caroline Seger will be the second catalyst in this group to give the offense some kick. Around them will be Joanna Lohman and Jennifer Buczowski who will fill in the rest of the midfield for the Independence.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense and goal tending for the Independence is the most proven group on the team. Sol transplants Allison Falk and Karina LeBlanc will be part of a back line which will be tough to break. They will be joined by US Women’s National Team standout Heather Mitts who will be slotted in her natural right back position. The rest of the Independence back line will be filled in by Nikki Krzysik and Sara Larsson.

The Philadelphia Independence will keep games close and exciting to watch. They will gather some wins as they make their way through their inaugural season.

The next team to be put on the table for the ‘Who Dat’ treatment will be the Saint Louis Athletica, so stay tuned.

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