TAMPA, Fla. – United Soccer Leagues announced Monday that with the upcoming launch of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), it will be conducting the inaugural USL W-League Combine in Tampa September 4-7 of 2008. The combine will feature 128 elite players showcasing their talent for WPS and other professional scouts and coaches.
The combine will consist of invited elite W-League players as well as those selected from an open application process. The deadline for players submitting an Open Application is August 6. It will be held at the Ed Radice Sports Complex, home to the W-League Tampa Bay Hellenic and the USL Super Y-League North American Finals.
The USL W-League Combine will cap what will be an important five-week span in North American women’s soccer beginning with the W-League Championship tournament in Virginia Beach, Virginia July 31 to August 2. The rest of August will feature the US and Canadian women’s national teams vying for Olympic glory in China from August 6-21.
“The USL W-League Combine will be an excellent follow-up to the W-League Championship and Olympics in the process of identifying players for Women’s Professional Soccer, giving the new league an opportunity to scout the players they will need to solidify their rosters beyond the renowned international stars that will be signed,” said W-League Director of Operations Melanie Fitzgerald. “As the first elite women’s soccer league, the W-League has been a leader in the women’s game on and off the field since 1995 and we are thrilled to be adding this event to aid players in pursuing professional careers.”
With many current and former internationals, as well as collegiate standouts, it is expected that numerous players drafted and signed by WPS will hail from the W-League. Historically, the same occurred with the launch of the Women’s United Soccer Association in 2001. A total of 92 current and former W-League players were allocated or drafted by the WUSA leading up to the first of its three seasons.
Numerous W-League players went on to find success in the WUSA, including several that also found a spot with the US National Team. Headed to the Olympics in August are two such players in Shannon Boxx and Angela Hucles. Boxx, a member of the Boston Renegades, was drafted by San Diego and would later debut for the US in 2003. A former Hampton Roads Piranha, Hucles was drafted by Boston and would go on to join the US squad in 2002.
“The W-League has successfully harvested many of the nation’s best female soccer talent for years, growing the sport and priming these athletes for professional stardom,” said Tonya Antonucci, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) commissioner. “We applaud their accomplishments as we work in close partnership with the league in identifying and showcasing W-League talent to further raise the profile of women’s soccer culminating in the launch of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) in 2009.”
About Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS)
The mission of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) is to be the premier women’s soccer league in the world and the global standard by which women’s professional sports are measured. Play kicks off in the spring of 2009, with WPS teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. The league will expand to eight teams by 2010 with the inclusion of Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.womensprosoccer.com.
About USL W-League
Exceptional competitive women’s soccer lives in the USL W-League, USL’s highest level of women’s soccer in the US and Canada. The top women’s players throughout the world compete in the USL W-League through the summer months. In addition to the league featuring international and former professional stars, elite collegiate players have the opportunity to also compete in the league while maintaining their collegiate eligibility. The league is recognized throughout the world for providing elite competition for women’s players, while providing affordable family entertainment to many fans in each of the team locations.