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WPS received a boost in popularity and attendance from the coverage of FIFA’s 2011 Women’s World Cup. But even before all that media, WPS was being covered by bloggers, and to a lesser extent major publications and the TV networks. Though not at the level that hardcore fans would like, finding news about the league is a far cry better than it was in the inaugural season.

The chat this week will look to find what works with these outlets, what could be improved, and where you get your WPS news.

Q1: The Bloggers

  • What is the impact made by this outlet to the promotion and success of the league? How could the league promote this channel?
  • What is it that you look for most from this outlet and why?
  • What type of content would you like to see from bloggers?

Q2: The Major Publications

  • What is the impact made by this outlet to the promotion and success of the league?
  • What is it that you look for most from this outlet and why?
  • What type of content would you like to see from major publications? Does that change whether the publication is online or print?

Q3: The Major Networks

  • What is the impact made by this outlet to the promotion and success of the league?
  • What is it that you look for most from this outlet and why?
  • What type of content would you like to see from major networks?

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.

The latest issue of Our Game chronicles the story of Sydney Leroux, a young player who finally finds her way to the top. Not only is she currently playing at UCLA, Leroux is likely to be a top pick in this year’s WPS draft.

During the WWC, we saw younger talent like Alex Morgan and Lauren Cheney step up and make critical contributions to the USWNT run for the cup. Younger players can bring a lot to their teams with speed and skill. But they might not have the same levels of maturity that more experienced players bring to the game. In this week’s chat, we’ll explore this dynamic and how it affects the WPS.

Q1: What assets do younger players bring to their teams?

Q2: How can coaches integrate their younger players with seasoned veterans?

Q3: Which young players in the WPS do you see making critical contributions to their teams?

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

It is with a heavy heart that I write this week’s #WPSchat questions. This week’s chat will focus on the two teams– the US and Japan– that made it to the WWC final and the impact the WWC has had on the WPS. Being a fan of the losing side in the final, I am in part using this as part of my healing process.

Q1: The USWNT WWC Story. Topics for discussion:

  • Losing a match for the first time in group stage
  • The Incredible Game
  • Abby’s last-minute heroics
  • Cheney: a future star?

Q2: The Japanese WNT WWC Story. Topics for discussion:

  • Beating Germany
  • The Golden Boot Girl
  • First victory over the USWNT
  • First World Cup title

Q3: Interest in the WPS Coming from the WWC.

  • How should the WPS capture the boost in popularity given to women’s soccer by the WWC?

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

Welcome to the special edition, #USwnt chat! I will be moderating this chat as part of the Twitter Campaign to build support and awareness for the US WNT before, during, and after the match versus Italy on November 27th at 2pm EST. If you are not able to attend the game live like me (watching it on ESPN3) then join us for the pre-game questions, in-game discussion as the live action happens, and post-game discussion to wrap up. If you are live at the game (lucky!) join in the discussion and tweet live in-game moments.

The questions below will be pre-game questions starting at 1:30pm EST. The chat will then go into a live discussion surrounding the action on the field. We will then “hit the showers” and do a post-game wrap up of the match.

Q1: The Lineup.

  • Who would be your starting XI?
  • What player will have the most impact on the game?
  • Would you make a substitution?

Q2: The Game.

  • Who will score first US or Italy?
  • What player has the best opportunity to score?
  • What will the final score be?

Q3: The Cool Down.

  • Whether the outcome is good or bad what happens to Pia?
  • What are your final thoughts before kick-off?

Get your virtual pre-game on and join in on Saturday at 1:30pm EST to throw your thoughts into the mix. Just log on to Twitter, Tweetchat, or Tweetgrid, and use the #USwnt tag.

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.

This post couldn’t wait until tomorrow, although I am exhausted and by the time it gets posted it might just be well after midnight. As I sit watching the NCAA finals, I swear I hear the crowd chanting “Breakers, Breakers, Breakers!” This is the result of an evening at the Breakers “Meet the Team” event. Before I get into the details, I would like to thank the Breakers front office for holding this event for their members, the coaches for being the ultimate hosts, and the players for their kindness and dedication.

The “Meet the Team” event had a great turnout with over 400 fans in attendance to show their support. The fans got a chance to mingle with each other. They shared their favorite stories from last season while munching on a selection of delicious cheeses, crackers, and grilled vegetables (Chioma, hope you got to try some of them.) After a full belly and a few stories,  Andy Crossley stepped up to the podium and introduced the hard workers from the front office who make these events and games run seamlessly. At the completion of the front office introductions, he welcomed into the room the 2010 Breakers.

And at this the room erupted into a loud cheer. Tony took the podium next. He took a  moment to explain the upcoming introductions, player autograph signings, and most importantly, his outlook for this team and the 2010 season. The first player up to the podium was Leslie Osborne. In only a way she could, Leslie made the room all hers. She introduced herself by giving her name, position, where she is from, her college alumni, and former team. Tony then listed out her accomplishments on the pitch. This would repeat all down the line for each player.

I point this out for two reasons. The first is that these players deserve recognition for what they have done and I am glad Tony took the time to mention them. The second is that it shows the players dedication to the team and its accomplishments rather than their individual ones. The fans showed their appreciation for each and every player. But they did give a little extra for the returning players for what they treated us to last season. As the crowd wound down, the players took their seats and started signing autographs and greeting fans.

As I worked my way through the line to each player, they were all friendly, courteous, and excited to meet their supporters. Kelly Smith was sitting, standing, sitting, and standing again and again; signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. She did so without a flinch and with a smile. Alex Scott and I had a chuckle about her ability to go forward and find the back of the net and whether Tony would be able to stop her from doing this. Jen Nobis is as great in person as her Tweets would indicate. Stephanie Cox gave her recap of the USWNT snow bowl game versus Mexico. Amy LePeilbet, Allison Lipsher, and Liz Bogus were swarmed by the masses for pictures. Kristine Lilly- I don’t need to say more just that she is fantastic, humble and great. Claire Zimmeck and Fabiana were signing away; I wonder if their hands started to cramp. The  Taryn Hemmings, Leslie Osborne, and Analisa Marquez table was the most efficient of the evening. Sarah Walsh and I discussed her hair and how much product she uses to get it that way (your secret is safe with me.) Sarah’s hair tried to over shadowed Maggie Tomecka, but she was great to talk too. Tiffany Weimer and Kasey Moore were great fun to chat with and had the second most efficient table. In my opinion, the best table was saved for last with Lauren Cheney and Jordan Angeli. Lauren was as friendly as can be and Jordan had me chuckling.

The night has left me excited for the upcoming season and what the Breakers will accomplish. This post is just one of the ways I will be spreading the word about how extraordinary they are. I wish each and every player success- you all deserve it.

This is the second installment in the ‘Who Dat’ series. As I mentioned in my last post, I will be taking an in-depth look at all the WPS teams in a lead up to the start of the season. The Boston Breakers are this post’s team to go through the ‘Who Dat’ treatment.

The Front Line: This group had its ups and downs last season for the Breakers. A terrific first half of the season and a bumpy second half. The Breakers looked to improve the frontline in the offseason and have done just that. The other team’s defense will no longer have the luxury of a single focused strategy on stopping Kelly Smith without being hurt by the Breakers other offensive threats. The fresh faces of this group Lauren Cheney (USWNT goal leader so far in 2010), Laura del Rio, Tiffany Weimer, and Sarah Walsh will be welcomed by Kelly Smith and will finish plays. A not so fresh face to the team but a fully recovered Fabiana will bolster this group as well.

The Midfield: Best performing group through out the whole season last year for the Breakers was the midfield led by team captain Kristine Lilly. This group really did it all last season from setting the frontline up to getting back and defending. They were tenacious and looked to be weakened by the retirement of Angela Hucles. The Breakers did an outstanding job in free agency to fill the hole left and make it better than last season. The acquisitions of Leslie Osborne and Chioma Igwe will bring this group to that next level.

The Defense and Goal Tending: The defense and goal tending for the Breakers was solid for most of the last season. There were only a couple of notable let downs last season against Sky Blue FC and the season finale against the Sol. The Breakers retained Allison Lipsher who did wonderful in net replacing Kristin Luckenbill midway through the 2009 season. In the games she started only Karina LeBlanc had a better GAA and percentage of shutouts vs total games. In the draft the Breakers selected net minder Alyssa Naeher to spell Lipsher. Opponents had extreme difficulty breaking the defensive wall of the Breakers last season that consisted of Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Alex Scott, and Candace Chapman. At the beginning of the offseason that wall looked to be falling apart with the loss of Heather Mitts and Candace Chapman in free agency. The breakers made their biggest fix for the defense in the dispersal draft with the selection of Stephanie Cox. Stephanie will fill the spot left vacated by Heather Mitts and Breakers will use Kasey Moore and Jordan Angeli to fill the center defense.

The Breakers will be a team to watch in the 2010 WPS season and look to be a good challenger to Sky Blue FC’s championship defense.

The next team to be put on the table for the ‘Who Dat’ treatment will be the Chicago Red Stars, so stay tuned.

Since the end of the draft I have come across many stories covering a player’s draft day experience and one player’s very unique story. I like to categorize these stories as ‘feel good draft day stories’ because of the joy, excitement, humbleness, gratitude, and comradery found in them.

The first ‘feel good draft day story’ I came across was Ali Riley’s account of her day and moments leading to the announcement of her selection by FC Gold Pride. In the third paragraph you were able to sense the joy and excitement, the humbleness and gratitude, and the comradery. She logs-on to twitter right from the start to follow the draft and she sees Tobin, Lauren, and Kelley go in that order as the top three selections. And as she watches the next six selections go by, she gets a text from college teammate Kelley O’Hara “get readyyyyy”. Ali then gets selected 10th overall by FC Gold pride and with moments is on the phone with Kelley, Tobin, and Lauren shrieking with joy.

The next ‘feel good draft day story’ accounts Becky Edwards day of the draft. Becky’s day started similar to Ali’s, with her waking up early and logging-on to twitter to follow the draft. Becky was rooming with another potential draftee Kaley Fountain for the u23 USWNT training camp. The two wait in anticipation to see their names tweeted in the hotel, the first round has ended, and FC Gold pride is selecting first in the second round. And Becky has to wait no longer as her selection by FC Gold Pride gets tweeted, both players screamed with joy and excitement. Now they would wait for Kaley selection and eight selections later Kaley was chosen by none other than FC Gold Pride as the 2oth overall pick. Not only are they roommates and good friends they will be teammates.

The last ‘feel good draft day story’ I will mention is unique from those I mentioned before and those of all the other draftees selected. It is the story of Danielle Collins which tells a special message. Before draft day and up until her selection as the 62nd overall pick by the Philadelphia Independence Danielle (best known around the office as Dani) worked in the front office for the team. Dani was injured last fall before last year’s draft and decided to take a job for the Independence after graduation. She continued to play and work on her game while handling her responsibilities in the office. It was at this year’s open tryouts for the Independence where Dani got the respect she deserved as a player. After reading about Dani’s story I could only feel good.

These are only a few of the many more ‘feel good draft day stories’ to be told.

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