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The road for women’s professional soccer in the United States has been– simply put– bumpy. There was the first rendition in WUSA, then the second go-around with WPS, and now the NWSL. The one team to have weathered every storm is the Boston Breakers. Boston has hosted a professional women’s soccer team in every league. During the year between the collapse of WPS and the start of the NWSL, the Breakers even kept it going by forming a team to play in the semi-pro WPSL Elite.

Even with all this change, one thing remains constant for the Breakers—every player is excited for another chance to showcase their talent and love of the sport in front of the best fans. Since the announcement of the new league in November, more exciting news has been announced. Just last week, all teams in the league announced their allocations of the National Team players from USA, Canada, and Mexico. Lisa Cole returns as head coach for the Breakers, and the organization started the Breakers Academy, a youth development program.

I was able to catch up with some of your favorite Breakers; Katie Schoepfer and Heather O’Reilly to get their thoughts on the recent and exciting news.

Katie Schoepfer:

On Lisa Cole continuing as Head Coach:

“I’m really looking forward to Lisa being the head coach again. I think she is a great coach. Last year she really believed in me, and brought our team along. […] She can break down video like crazy and she very good at those kinds of “x’s and o’s” things in the locker room which I think helps us out tremendously. […] I think overall she is very much a player’s coach. She looks for a lot of input from her leaders and her team, which gives us some ownership. We’re able keep open lines of communication with Lisa and she is very receptive to it which is great for our team.”

On the new Breakers Academy:

“I really hope that girls around Massachusetts take advantage of the fact that they will be able to play and be coached by professional players and professional coaches. […] It is an honor for us to wear the Breakers jersey, so it is pretty cool for a 10-year-old girl to be able to put on that jersey too.”

“I love coaching, and I love being able to work with different teams and different age groups. Besides playing, it is one of my passions. I hope to get involved with the Academy as much as possible.”

On Heather O’Reilly:

“My rookie season I played with her in New Jersey with Sky Blue. There is really nobody like her. No one can match her work ethic. She loves to play and she loves the game. That’s really contagious on a team. You can tell the difference when she is at practice, and when she is in games. For me personally, it just gives me so much more energy because I try to match everything that she is doing. I’m looking forward to playing with her again. ”

Heather O’Reilly:

On the growth of soccer in the U.S.:

“I think as a U.S. player and a fan of soccer in our country, it’s exciting to see soccer take hold in our country. It’s amazing to be a part of this growth and another step for U.S. Soccer to advance the game in our country. I think in the last two years, with the 2011 World cup and the (2012) Olympics, we are proud of the stronghold we’ve had in terms of the attention (soccer has received).”

On teammate Sydney Leroux:

“Syd, although coming off the bench (for the U.S.), she pumped in 12 goals. That was all off the bench! I’m really proud of Syd as a player. She’s handled herself very well on and off the field. And, she’s entertaining.”

On teammate Heather Mitts:

“Heather Mitts is somebody who is just the perfect teammate. She’s always going to be fit. She’s always going to be ready to go. She provides so much to the team environment.”

Her opinion on players for Mexico and Canada in the NWSL:

“It’s an interesting dynamic. I can’t even guess how many games I’ve played against (Rhian) Wilkinson (one of Boston’s players from Canada) on the National Team. I’m excited to have her on my side this time.”

Women’s soccer is cranking up this week. WPSL Elite and USL W-League open their seasons and the U-17 CONCACAF Women’s Championship is being played. The WSPL season opener will feature the Boston Breakers visiting ASA Chesapeake Charge on Thursday, May 10th. This Friday, the USL W-League will kick off as VSI Tampa Flames take on the Charlotte Lady Eagles in Charlotte, N.C. Then on May 7th the national teams in the U-17 CONCACAF tournament will play their final group games and on May 12th a champion will be crowned.

Tonight’s chat is a smorgasbord; try a little bit of this and a little bit of that. From the U-17 CONCACAF tournament to the start of the WPSL and USL W-League seasons, there is plenty here to satisfy even the hungriest women’s soccer fan.

Q1: U-17 CONCACAF Women’s Championship

  • The US has dominated play in their group thus far, is there a team that could knock them off?
  • Canada has dominated play in their group, should we expect a Canada vs. US final?
  •  Who could be the underdog in the playoff? Why?

Q2: WPSL Elite Opening Week & Season

  • Will you be following the opening week and season?
  • How will you be joining the action (going to games, following online, etc)?
  • Have you chosen a team to cheer for? What team? Why them?

Q3: USL W-League Opening Week & Season

  • Will you be following the opening week and season?
  • How will you be joining the action (going to games, following online, etc)?
  • Have you chosen a team to cheer for? What team? Why them?

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.

On my last day at the 65th NSCAA Convention, I’m saying farewell but I’m leaving inspired. The last day turned out to be the busiest, and to have a little international flavor to it. It started with an awards breakfast for women’s soccer, next was a session on social media for college coaches, followed by a lecture on player development in Mexico. This was all before lunch time. The second half of the day  kicked off with the NSCAA All-America Luncheon, then a lecture on Japanese youth development, and ended with a session on Australian women’s soccer. Here is my recap of my last (and busiest) day at the NSCAA Convention.

I woke up bright and early to take in the women’s soccer breakfast in honor Sue Ryan, winner of the 2011 NSCAA Women’s Committee Award of Excellence. There was a healthy dose of laughs from every speaker that kept the mood light and entertaining. The comedic line-up featured Amanda Vandorvort (Co-Chair, NSCAA Women’s Committee), Paul Payne (NSCAA President), Alejandra Miller (Adidas Representative), Joe Cummings (NSCAA CEO & Executive Director), Tom Sermanni (Australian Women’s National Coach), John Daly (College of William & Mary Women’s Coach), and the woman of the hour– Sue Ryan (Stony Brook University Women’s Coach). Let’s just say Sue may have a second career in stand-up comedy. Although the laughs seemed to be non-stop, Sue’s acceptance speech truly hit home for me.

After the light hearted breakfast, I was pulled back into reality by a session on social media for college coaches. This lecture was presented by Janet Judge (Sports Law Associates LLC) where she brought light to the seriousness of how social media could be used to the detriment of a university and the athletic program. Coaches in attendance got the do’s and don’ts on the use of social media and also the ins and outs of social media for their student athletes.

Next was the lecture on player development in Mexico. The lecture was presented by Jose Enrique Vaca Pacheco (General Coordinator) and Juan Carlos Ortega Orozco (Technical and Tactical Coordinator). This was very interesting- the national program’s mission is more than just sports related. It aims to help improve the lives of their players and social concerns of the country. This seems like a daunting task but the governing soccer body is making great leaps to achieve these goals. It was uplifting to see what impact the game can have on a life and a country.

After leaving this great session, I made my way to the NSCAA 2012 All-America Luncheon which was packed. The mood of this reception was fun as Joe Cummings continued his comedic routine from the morning and was followed by Sunil Gulati (US Soccer President). The main event was Taylor Twellmen whose story is nothing short of inspirational. If you are not aware of Taylor’s story, please take a look here –  ThinkTaylor.

That may already seem like a full, exhausting day, but I was energized and excited for the next session. Tom Boyer (Director of Tom Boyer Academy) presented on the development of the Japanese youth system. If you watched the Japanese Women’s National Team win the 2011 Women’s World Cup, you saw the outcome of the system that set the team up for success.  Soccer has clearly become a way of life in Japan. The development consists of using pop-culture to reach young athletes through TV segments, cartoons, and comics to teach them technical skills. The technical skills are reenforced through camps and soccer-specific schools.

The last event of my 2012 NSCAA convention was a session on the changing philosophy and perception of the Australian Women’s National Team. Tom Sermanni, the coach of the Women’s National Team, gave a first-hand account on why a change was needed and how he made it happen. Known for being a strong physical team and playing “not to lose,” Sermanni focused on becoming a positive possession team and going after the win. After watching his team play in the Word Cup last year, the connection and progression is clear.

I plan to close my convention with a big THANK YOU to everyone at the NSCAA– not only for their hard work putting on this event, but more importantly for what they do every day of every year to drive forward a game I love. Looking forward to seeing everyone next year!

A sport’s off-season wouldn’t be complete without discussions about free agency and signings. And there may be plenty of talk– 84% of the leagues players from last season are free agents (110 out of 131 rostered players, including all magicJack players).

As a fan, this is one of the best and disconcerting times as we see some of our favorite players on the team stay and others leave. We also see new additions added to the team, wonder how they will fit in, and what their impact will be on next year. It is a time when the fan may be the GM for their WPS team– hypothetically, speaking of course! We may build our dream team, letting our creative minds loose.

The chat will look for you to jump into your fantasy GM shoes and build your team.

List of free agents by team roster (click link to view team roster):

Atlanta Beat

Boston Breakers

Philadelphia Independence

Sky Blue FC

Western New York Flash

Q1: You’re the GM (choose your favorite team)

  • What players from last season would you look to re-sign? Why?
  • What free agents from other teams would you look to sign? Why?
  • What are your goals for the team this season? How do your signings reflect that goal?

Q2: The International Players

  • What internationals currently not playing in WPS would you like to see sign with a team? Was there a player you were impressed with from the 2011 WWC?
  • What are some of the obstacles for internationals playing for WPS?
  • What are some of the benefits of having an international player on your team?

Q3: Free Agents

  • Who are the top free agents available?
  • Is there a free agent player that the league needs to keep? Why?

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.

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