Portland Women's Soccer: Piecing Together the Details

Christine Sinclair, another University of Portland product and Portland Women's Soccer hopeful - Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Details about the new professional women's soccer league, which for so long were so hard to come by, are finally starting to pour in.

On Thursday the US Soccer Federation announced that Cheryl Bailey, who served as USWNT general manager for five years, will be the league's executive director.

And on Wednesday evening Merritt Paulson dropped a new trove of details during the halftime of the USWNT friendly against Ireland, adding to the scattered bits of information we've picked up about the league and the team since August. The full transcript of Merritt Paulson's remarks can be found at the women's soccer blog, The Equalizer, as well as a terrific summary of everything that came out the day before Thanksgiving, when the first concrete details about the league were released.

The Portland Timbers also posted a video interview of Megan Rapinoe, in which she makes a few interesting assumptions about the nature of the league.

So, based on the assumption that all of the above is accurate, what do we know now, and what can we extrapolate from the assumptions we have?

Players

  • Each team will have three US internationals, two Canadian internationals, and one to two Mexican internationals, meaning that, in all likelihood, roughly half of each team's starting lineup will be internationals.
  • International player placement will be decided by the three national teams, with input from the individual clubs and the players themselves. From that knowledge we can speculate that, with respect to the international players, the national teams will preside over inter-squad transfers, with the highest priority placed on national team development.
  • Each team's remaining members will be funded by the individual clubs. But with so much of the revenue presumably being funneled back to USSF, CSA, and FMF, it is not clear how much of a salary the remaining players will earn.
  • Given the above, non-international players will likely be recruited from the community and among alumni of area colleges and universities, as Rapinoe seemed to suggest in her interview.

Team/League Operations

  • Each team will play 22 matches -- 11 home and away -- which, divided among eight teams, implies an unbalanced schedule, since 22 is not evenly divisible by 7.
  • Paulson didn't want to say it outright on Wednesday night, but the way the league is set up regionally, a likely schedule would have each team play the six teams outside its region three times each, comprising 18 of the 22 games. The remaining four matches would be played against the regional rival. (For the East Coast teams, it isn't entirely clear who the regional rivals would be.)
  • Portland's home matches will take place at either Jeld Wen Field or, occasionally, University of Portland's Merlo Field. How that will work in terms of ticketing is a bit of a mystery, but it would seem that Paulson does not expect to be able to sell more than a couple thousand season tickets -- given that the capacity of Merlo Field is under 5,000.
  • In spite of his conservative expectations, by Paulson's invocation of the Timbers Army with regard to the design of the women's team logo, he has signaled his hopes for the supporters group's strong involvement.

That's what I've got so far. What speculations and extrapolations are y'all making?

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