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America’s soccer youth has been the focus of the soccer world over the past month. I spent all of Saturday at US Youth Soccer’s Workshop taking in the workshops and exhibits. The US Women’s Under-23 is heading to La Manga, Spain for their Four Nations Tournament and the US Women’s Under-20 had great success in their Four Nations Tournament. The US Women’s Under-20 and Under-17 teams have CONCACAF Championship Tournaments to determine a berth for the age groups World Cup.  The past two games for the USWNT Alex Morgan has been larger than life scoring 4 goals and assisting on another two. This sparked the topic for tonight’s chat.

The chat will look to explore the importance of young players for the USWNT and youth programs (under-23, under-20, and under-17).

Q1: USWNT Young Players

  • What is the talent level of the young players for USWNT?
  • What role should the young players have on the team? Why?
  • What impact will they have on the future of the team?
  • What are some of the difficult decisions are put on a coach with such talent available?

Q2: The Youth Programs

  • What is the importance of having a WNT youth program?
  • What are pressures are put onto the players in the youth programs?
  • Do these programs set-up a feeding system? Why?
  • Do these programs help USWNT being a continuous leader of the game?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

There was something nice about the US Youth Soccer Workshop being hosted in Boston. That would be convenience– I have to admit it was a great feeling to be able to come back to my own bed after the days activities. My admittance or liking for convenience isn’t what you are reading this blog post for, but it is for the latter part of the previous statement the “days activities”.

The day started with a simple MBTA transit ride to Hynes Convention Center.

Once at the workshop I picked up my credentials minutes before my first workshop. Website design, best practices and where it is going – the presentation gave practical information for leagues, teams, and coaches to create or manage their web presence. The presenter was Shawn Griffin from Americaneagle.com, a leader in web design for many soccer programs including US Youth Soccer. The information was explained in detail without using too much jargon which was perfect for the audience. At the end Griffin opened it up to questions and was able to answer them with expert knowledge.

Next on the schedule was the exhibit hall. The first stop on the exhibit floor was at the Korrio booth where I learned about their recent survey regarding sports concussion. (Look for a future post about this.) If you’re not familiar with their efforts, check out my sit down with Korrio CEO Steve Goldman at the 2012 NSCAA Convention. As I made my way through the booths of trophies, uniforms, and equipment suppliers, I found the Boston Breakers/Berkshire Soccer Academy booth. The Breakers had great give aways (stickers and bracelets) and player Cat Whitehill was signing autographs. It was a great time hanging and chatting with the crew from the Breakers, and coach Caitlin and Eric from Berkshire soccer academy.

I had a little extra time between my exhibit tour and the next workshop so I made my way to the corner Starbucks to get a quick energy boost. It may have been the coffee but the next workshop was the highlight of the day. The session was women’s soccer in the middle east with presenter Sari Rose. Although Sari had computer trouble– or should I say potential computer virus– the presentation was captivating. Sari’s work which took her into more than a few countries in the middle east is more than inspirational. I am so moved that I am hoping to work with Sari.  Who knows– maybe a chat is in the future?

The day wrapped up with an on-field demonstration of drills to work on “speed of play”. Bryan Scales, the New England Revolution Director of Youth Development, ran through drills which focused on developing the mental skills of the players in tight and tough game situations. The drills used one touch passing, offense to defense to offense transition speed, and help and support decision-making. The drills then tied into a game at the end. It was a great way to end the day and workshop.

At the end of the day, I felt energized and excited about the future of youth soccer in the US.

After only two short weeks from the deflating news that WPS was suspending the 2012 season, we have been offered hope. This week WPSL announced the creation of an elite league which would include WPS teams. As describe in And They Play On, the Boston Breakers and the Western New York Flash have joined in. They will be joined by the Chicago Red Stars and FC Indiana. This keeps professional level women’s soccer play and players in the U.S. for 2012.

The chat will look to explore what this means for WPS, the players, and the game of women’s professional soccer in the U.S.

Q1: Women’s Professional Soccer

  • What does this do for WPS?
  • In what way may WPS benefit from this?
  • What impact does this have on the future of WPS?
  • What complications could come about from this decision?

Q2: The Players

  • What benefits do players get from this decision?
  • What decisions are players now confronted with?
  • What are the future considerations for the players?

Q3: The U.S. Women’s Professional Game

  • How is this a win for the women’s game?
  • Does this change the landscape of the women’s game? Why?
  • What does this mean for the future of U.S. soccer?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

“Elite”. One word, that is all you need to describe WPS, the players in the league, the coaches, and now the WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League). After WPS suspended the 2012 season, its teams, players, and coaches were left with two options; await the 2013 season to start playing or find a way to get on the field this year. Enter the WPSL. They are creating an Elite league which will include WPS teams the Boston Breakers and the Western New York Flash, former WPS team Chicago Red Stars, and FC Indiana.

One of the fears that came out of WPS suspending the 2012 season and the recent memory of the failed WUSA was what will happen to women’s professional soccer in the U.S. now. “The WPSL recognizes the importance of a professional women’s soccer league in America,” WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli said. “And that it is critical to provide a showcase for these top women players, and to inspire young athletes. We have put together a plan that will allow WPS teams individually to join the WPSL in the Elite League. Officially, they will not be professional teams, but would allow our top professional players to play in a highly competitive league.” WPSL has always looked to support and improve women’s soccer in the US and this is just another part of that initiative. “We have said all along that we will do anything to help improve women’s soccer in U.S.” said Zanelli. “This is a step in keeping that process going.” Breakers coach Lisa Cole saw this as a necessity when at a youth camp, “This is why this has to happen,” she said. “These girls have to have these players in their lives. The excitement that they bring from talking to the professional player is so important. The influence that these players have on others’ lives is tremendous.”

This is another endorsement of the women’s game along with the flood of tweets from players and fans. Boston Breakers Associate General Manager Lee Billiard has seen this first hand. “After the suspension of WPS was announced, we received overwhelming support from our fan base and sponsors,” he said. “Internally, it was clear for us to keep the Boston Breakers in the community and to provide an avenue for players to train and play at a competitive level. We are delighted with the outcome and happy to announce the Boston Breakers will be playing again in 2012 and stepping up our community outreach programs.” Leslie Osborne ,frequent tweeter, was moved by the support when she tweeted “It’s very important (to) keep this franchise around, (We) have (the) best fans.”

With the suspension of the season, one big question on everyone’s minds is what is next for WPS players? This concern is well expressed by  Lisa Cole. “The first week was really, really hard; the conversations I had with each and every player on the team were hard,” Cole said. “Some players were extremely disappointed, some were mad, some players were in disbelief. You’re so close to a dream and it just doesn’t happen.” She went on to say “I love how they’ve responded now. Our team especially has been upbeat and positive in social media… They’ll be playing to keep their dream alive.”

But what does it all mean for the future of WPSL elite league and WPS? Jerry Zanelli, WPSL commissioner,  had this to say. “Our main purpose was to find ways to continue to have the highest possible level of soccer for women in the United States,” Zanelli continued, “and to help prepare for the return of professional women’s soccer in 2013. We also wanted to make it financially viable for present WPSL teams to join the Elite League and raise their level of play.” The elite league will look to expand in 2013 to the west coast. Interest has come from San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Bay Area, and Seattle.

What do you think about partnership between WPS and WPSL? Is this a good way to keep interest in women’s professional soccer? Or does this water down the progress WPS had made?

Welcome to another special edition #WPSchat with our friends at Our Game magazine.

The US Women’s National Team has been in the spotlight over the past month due to their domination in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the Olympic games. Most notably is the young talent that was on display in the final versus Canada where Alex Morgan scored twice and assisted on two more for the US. The youth movement is prevalent in the US national program, no more so in the next star on the scene– Morgan Andrews.Ryan Wood, editor at Our Game magazine,  had the opportunity to sit down with the rising star. We asked Ryan to join this week’s chat to discuss the article, the player, and the youth movement. You will find the interview on page 20 of the February issue.

A week ago,WPS released big news that the 2012 season would be suspended. Since then players have been vocal from posting elaborate blogs to tweeting concern, disbelief, and support. That ripple was felt as well by Our Game Magazine who had an interview feature with then new member of Sky Blue FC Manon Melis by Ciara McCormack. A funny story for the crew at the magazine came out of it (we’ll let them tell it though.) You will find the interview on page 5 of the February issue.

We here at Pitch Side View are excited to be partnering with Our Game again to bring you this chat. Make sure you check out these articles and others in the current issue of Our Game magazine.

Q1: The Youth Movement (Player profile Morgan Andrews) with Ryan Wood

  • What was is like interviewing the rising star?
  • Is her off-field personality different from her on-field personality?
  • How soon do you see her making the jump to the first team?
  • Give us some highlights of her career?

Q2: Center Stage (Manon Melis) with Ciara McCormack

  • Tell us what happened when you learned the news of WPS suspending the 2012 season?
  • What did you have to do to get the article ready to go for this issue?
  • What is next for Manon Melis?
  • What were her thoughts on WPS suspending the 2012 season?

Join us on Monday at 8pm ET to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to TwitterTweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #WPSchat tag.

If you weren’t able to participate in a recent #WPSchat, you can view the transcripts to see what you missed. To participate in the live chat,  join the conversation every Monday at 8:00 pm EST. Just log on to Twitter, follow @wmtammickiii and @christinet6d, and search for the #WPSchat tag.

2012:

January 30th – WPS Suspends 2012 Season; Guest: Sky Blue owner Thomas Hofstetter

February 6th – Special Edition: Our Game Magazine

February 13th – WPSL Elite League

February 20th – US Youth Soccer Movement; Guest MD Capitols owner David Jones

April 30th – The Future of Women’s Soccer in the U.S.A.

May 7th – Smorgasbord: U-17 CONCACAF Championship & WPSL & USL W-League Season Starts

May 14th – WPSL & USL W-League Opening Weekends

May 21st – The WPS Finale

June 4th – Our Game Magazine June 2012 Issue: Special Guests Yael Averbuch & Alex Singer

June 25th – Title IX 40th Anniversary: Special Guest Lisa Cole (Boston Breakers Head Coach)

July 9th – US Women’s National Team Going for Gold or Broke

July 23rd – The ’99ers vs. 2012 USWNT Squads

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