Sol Players Officially Dispersed to WPS Clubs

Torrance’s Shannon Boxx went to St. Louis Athletica with the first pick, as many expected.

Now the Sol is truly no more.

Here’s the result of the full draft that was held this morning:

Round 1
1. Shannon Boxx, M – Saint Louis Athletica *
2. Karina LeBlanc, GK – Philadelphia Independence
3. Marta, F – FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)
4. Casey Nogueira, F – Chicago Red Stars
5. Stephanie Cox, D – Boston Breakers
6. Nikki Washington, M – Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
7. Brittany Bock, D – Washington Freedom
8. Aya Miyama, M – Saint Louis Athletica

Round 2
9. Manya Makoski, M – Atlanta Beat
10. Faith Ikidi, D/F – Washington Freedom
11. Kiersten Dallstream, F – Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
12. Michelle Enyeart, F – Boston Breakers
13. Kiki Bosio, F – FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) ^
14. Tina DiMartino, M – Saint Louis Athletica #
15. Estelle Johnson, D – Philadelphia Independence
16. Pavlina Scasna, F – Atlanta Beat

Round 3
17. Pass – Atlanta Beat
18. Pass – Philadelphia Independence
19. Lindsay Browne, F – FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)
20. Pass – Chicago Red Stars
21. Pass – Boston Breakers
22. Pass – Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)
23. Pass – Washington Freedom
24. Catherine Sorenson, M – Saint Louis Athletica

* via trade with Atlanta Beat (trade prior to draft)
^ via trade with Chicago Red Stars (Chicago receives FC Gold Pride’s 2nd Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)
# via trade with Chicago Red Stars (Chicago receives Saint Louis Athletica’s 2nd Round pick in 2011 WPS Draft)

Also: Goalkeeper Mary Casey, GK, is now a free agent; midfielder Julie Rydahl Bukh’s WPS rights have been released.

The second WPS season begins April 10.

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Thursday Kicks: Sol, Beckham’s Academy & More

Three in the morning:

*A three-round WPS dispersal draft for the 20 players from the defunct Sol begins at 10 a.m. today. St. Louis has the first pick: Marta or Torrance’s Shannon Boxx?

*The disintegration of the Carson-based David Beckham Academy is apparently all but complete (and yes, I’m aware the link to the local academy redirects to Beckham’s defunct London branch, which merely underlines the point): Stephen Myles, 48, the academy’s director of competition the last two years has joined the New England Revolution as assistant coach.

He also spent the last two seasons coaching the LA Galaxy’s Under-16 team and was at Sheffied United for nine years before relocating to the U.S.

Kenny Arena – the son of Galaxy coach Bruce Arena – is now head coach of the U-16 team, BTW.

*Finally, the USWNT is wrapping up its three-week camp at Home Depot Center ahead of the Algarve Cup.

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Weekend Rewind: Becks, Donovan & More

i-a8f46417b21930559420f24abc5eb034-beckshead.jpgDoh! It was that sort of day for AC Milan and David Beckham today against struggling Livorno. The two teams drew 1-1 (AP Photo).

More here.

Roma took advantage of Milan’s dropped points , by pulling into a tie for second in Serie A.

Also this weekend:

*The Galaxy’s second on-loan star, Landon Donovan, helped Everton narrowly beat Wigan Athletic 0-1 on Saturday. BTW, check out the nice little chalkboard device you can use to break down Donovan’s or anyone other players’ performance at The Guardian. Donovan was subbed yet again, but again showed some good touches, especially in the first half.

Next: the Merseyside derby against Liverpool live at 4:45 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2.

*Spoiler alert! Fox Soccer Channel will air the CONCACAF U-20 final at 2 p.m. today on a delayed basis. If you want to know what happened click here.

*Finally, while (former?) Sol GM Charlie Naimo didn’t return a call seeking comment about the team’s demise Friday, he did send some e-mailed comments via the WPS office:

“Yesterday was a sad day for the franchise, staff, players and fans. Until I see our players on other rosters I will continue to work for the organization. This is a very special group of players that we assembled and it’s very tough for me to see this team dispersed next week.

“In just one year, we built a great brand in women’s soccer and in the Los Angeles area. It takes time to build up a following in any sport and over the season, we developed a terrific and loyal fan base.

“It was a special first season, winning the regular season title like we did and playing the kind of soccer that no one thought would be possible in just the first few weeks of a new league and a new team. I’m hopeful that the team can return for LA fans in the not-so-distant future.

“It was hugely disappointing that our efforts to find a new ownership group came up short. We felt like things were really looking good until the latest stages of the transaction. Those conversations in and of themselves, leave me optimistic for the future of WPS in Los Angeles.

“We proved in 2009 that it’s a viable market, we just need to locate the right ownership group that is interested in being with the team for the long-term.

“WPS has so many incredible things going for it in 2010, including the quality of the players assembled from around the world and the U.S., stadium upgrades, two new franchises and some changes to its regular season. I’m only sorry that the Sol won’t be part of that in 2010.”

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WPS Commish Reacts to LA Sol’s Demise

If you haven’t heard today’s news, click here.

And yes, the sun has indeed set on the Sol despite a press release from the Women’s Premier Soccer League that just arrived in my inbox that insists:

“Yet, it still may not be too late to save the franchise. If another investor group jumped into the fray within the next week, scheduling for the Sol for the upcoming season could be easily worked out in time.”

No, it can’t, said Women’s Professional Soccer Commissioner Tonya Antonucci who spoke this afternoon to 100 Percent Soccer:

“We had a buyer for the L.A. Sol which regrettably fell through in the 11th hour. Not only did (the sale) fall through, it’s right up against the steps we need to take to get on with business for 2010.”

She said that Anschutz Entertainment Group had pledged to get the franchise started, but had never intended to stay for the long-term.

Antonucci said this is not the first step in the eventual folding of the league, as some observers believe:

“Regrettably, it hurts to lose a major media market in our early growth stage. But we don’t believe, nor do we believe fans believe, this is a statement on the viability of Women’s Professional Soccer. … Ticket sales have surpassed where they were last year (elsewhere), sponsorship sales are beyond where they were last year. It’s not as if expectations are out of the ordinary. We’re surviving, we see an uptick. This is a setback we’re going to get past.

“We have eight strong, committed ownership groups in eight markets. If anything they’ve gotten more united in the course of this process.”

On whether the WPS hopes to return to Southern California:

“We’ll keep the brand. … This now becomes an (expansion) priority for us. We think it’s a very viable market.”

Antonucci said a WPS team could return to L.A. as soon as 2011.

Antonucci said players such as Marta, Torrance’s Shannon Boxx and Aya Miyama have guaranteed contracts and will be picked up by other teams:

“What’s actually going to happen is that the other eight teams are going to get stronger.”

It’s unclear whether Sol sponsor Amway will remain a partner in WPS, although because the company also has a personal endorsement deal with Marta, Antonucci said she believes the company may wait to see which club picks up Marta’s playing rights.

Sol GM Charlie Naimo did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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WPS: LA Sol to Fold

Women’s Professional Soccer will officially announce on Friday announced today the termination of the franchise following the league’s inaugural season and the dispersal of the team’s 19 players, including Brazilian star Marta, via a draft Thursday to other teams.

The league operated the Sol for the last couple of months after one of its two original ownership groups pulled out in mid-year, leaving Galaxy owners Anschutz Entertainment Group in charge of the team until the end of last season until they, too, pulled out. The Sol lost as much as $2 million last year, despite leading the league in attendance, WPS officials said.

The league had attempted to sell the team, which last year won the regular season title before losing in the championship game at Home Depot Center, but those negotiations to an “investment group” fell through, officials said.

The Sol had suspended season ticket sales while it was operated by the league.

Coach Abner Rogers was fired via e-mail two days before Christmas and General Manager Charlie Naimo took over in that post.

In an interview last week with 100 Percent Soccer Naimo sounded optimistic the Sol would continue operating, although he didn’t directly answer the question of how close the franchise came to shutting down.

“Sometimes with new ownership comes new direction and we’re just looking to move forward,” he said. “We’re hoping in the next week or so (the sale) will become official. We want to get the right message out to the fans and get them back on board. We’ve been working hard to make sure we can come back and be bigger and better than last year.

“I don’t want to comment on any of the budget stuff,” Naimo added. “We’re confident we’re going to make up for lost time.”

The team participated in the recent WPS draft and was lining up some European stars to play for the franchise, although oft-injured national team veteran Aly Wagner had announced her retirement.

While the Sol’s demise appears to echo the end of the now defunct WUSA, league officials observe this season will see two new expansion teams (the Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat, which will have a new stadium built specifically for the team), a longer regular season with more home games for each team, increased sponsorship and a reformatted All-Star Game that will take place in mid-season rather than at the end of it.

Still, the end of a franchise in one of the nation’s two largest media markets is not going to enhance the credibility of supposed national women’s soccer league.

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Sol Unveil New Strip for 2010

As did the other Women’s Professional Soccer teams Friday in Philadelphia.

i-76925ff071911d44891a340059f72574-2010solkit0002.jpgSol players Manya Makoski (wearing the home kit) and draft pick Casey Nogueira (the away version) at the unveiling of the newly redesigned Puma Sol uniforms.

From the Puma press release:

Fusing performance with fashion, the new 2010 PUMA WPS uniforms take inspiration from our primal instinct of Fight. Designed to give the players the courage to be awesome and bold, PUMA’s new offerings, from the Power collection, provide both technological features, benefits and fashion sense, keeping the women stylish, bright and ready to do battle during the 2010 season.

Each uniform was engineered with a feminine body fit to allow for maximum performance and speed. The overall cut of each piece contours a woman’s shape and also features a star-shaped neckline as a unique design feature.

The “Power” theme comes to life with the cut lines within the uniform to accentuate the strength and power of a player.

Each uniform is made with 100% polyester microfiber and includes the PUMA Ultimate Sport Performance (USP) technical treatment making uniforms moisture wicking, breathable and made of authentic performance fabric to ensure players are dry and comfortable during play.

More here:

If you missed Friday’s post about the drama going on at Sol, BTW, click here.

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Rogers Out as Sol Coach, Team Being Sold

i-ec6c708b7de88a7fc2d60b7e2d548df3-AbnerRsol.jpgAbner Rogers won’t be coaching Sol star Marta, left, any longer.

Sol Coach Abner Rogers, a notable absentee at the L.A. Sol’s table at the Women’s Professional Soccer draft today in Philadelphia, left the team Dec. 23, 100 Percent Soccer has learned.

The move was part of an organizational shake-up related to its pending sale to a new ownership group.

“Right now the team is in transition over to a new ownership group and Abner is no longer with the organization,” confirmed Robert Penner, spokesman with Women’s Professional Soccer.

Penner said the sale of the team, which is currently operating under the custody of the league, will likely be finalized within the next week or two. He gave no further details.

Anschutz Entertainment group, which had a 50 percent share in the team that played at AEG-owned Home Depot Center, has been in discussions “for months” with an unidentified party to sell its stake, Penner confirmed. However, the team will play at the Carson stadium this season.

The news was not unexpected. One Hundred Percent Soccer broke the news in October that the Sol lost $2 million last year.

General Manager Charlie Naimo has taken over coaching duties from Rogers, who was named WPS Coach of the Year after leading the Sol to the inaugural regular season title with a dominating 12-3-5 record.

Rogers did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Naimo is himself an accomplished coach whose greatest success came with the W-League New Jersey Wildcats. He took over the struggling team in 2004 and in three years led it to two W-League regular season titles and the W-League championship in 2005.

He was named W-League Coach of the Year in 2006, after first winning the honor with the Central Jersey Splash in 1999.

Naimo also led the W-League Pali Blues, based in Pacific Palisades, to consecutive league championships in 2008 and 2009.

Naimo did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

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Friday Football: Donovan, WPS Draft & More

It’s been a busy couple of days for soccer news and there’s no let-up in sight.

Let’s catch up a bit:

*Galaxy playmaker Landon Donovan told AP that Everton fans chanted “U-S-A, U-S-A” every time he took a corner kick in his debut at Arsenal last weekend.

“It was awesome,” he said. “From Day 1 everyone has been very welcoming.”

Donovan could make his home debut at Goodison Park against Manchester City on the weekend. The game airs live on Fox Soccer Channel at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

*The third 3rd Annual Mia Hamm & Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge benefiting Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and The Mia Hamm Foundation kicks off at 3 p.m. Saturday at Home Depot Center. Tickets are $20. Celebrities scheduled to play include Galaxy striker Edson Buddle, James Kyson Lee and Jimmy Jean Louis of “Heroes,” Lakers guard Jordan Farmar as well as USWNT greats Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett.

*Former Chivas USA Coach Preki and former U.S. international Thomas Dooley were
elected Thursday to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Dooley was selected on 83 of the 117 ballots cast in his final year of eligibility. Preki was
on 80 ballots (68.4 percent), just over the 66.7 percent required for election. Earnie Stewart (58.1), Shannon MacMillan (54.7) and Joe-Max Moore (52.1) were next on the list.

*Cal South has announced the sixth Soccer Nation Expo, touted as the largest free family soccer exposition in the nation, will return to the L.A. Convention Center Feb. 13-14. For full details, click here.

*The Women’s Professional Soccer draft is under way today. The expansion Atlanta Beat took midfielder Tobin Heath (North Carolina) with the first pick.

The Sol’s picks were:

*No. 5 overall midfielder Nikki Washington of North Carolina. Tweeted Sol GM Charlie Naimo: “The best outside MF in the US to whip crosses into Marta.”

*Forward Casey Nogueira (North Carolina) was taken with the 8th overall pick.

*Forward Kiersten Dallstream (Washington State) was picked ninth overall.

*Forward Michelle Enyeart (Portland) was taken with the 14th overall pick (3rd pick of the 2nd round).

*Forward Kiki Bosio (Santa Clara) went 22nd overall (2nd pick of the 3rd round).

*The 25th pick overall was used on Kansas defender Estelle Johnson.

*Goalkeeper Mary Casey (Maryland) went 38th overall.

*Clemson’s Lindsay Browne (midfielder-forward) was taken with the 47th overall pick in the fifth round.

Also:

*Ten of the 11 WPS First Round Draft picks played in the W-League, the first five all from Pali Blues.

*UCLA Olympian Lauren Cheney was the second overall pick by the Boston Breakers.

*North Carolina defender Whitney Engen of Rolling Hills Estates was taken fourth overall by the Chicago Red Stars.

*Kristina Larsen of UCLA went to St. Louis Athletica with the 17th pick.

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Sol Trade French Striker Abily, WPS Second-Leading Scorer

i-56835baf825b6608c7395b5b7380529a-abily.jpgCamille Abily will shine for the Sol no more.

Camille Abily and the 20th overall draft pick was traded to FC Gold Pride today in exchange for the Pride’s top draft pick of 2009, Tina DiMartino (third overall), the 14th overall selection in the 2010 draft and the rights to one of the Pride’s 2009 International Discovery Players.

On the face of it, the move appears to be a curious one for the Sol.

Abily, a French international, scored eight goals in 18 games, tying her with goal-machine Abby Wambach for second in the league, and was named to the WPS All-Star team. She was widely considered an integral part of the league’s best attacking team.

“She has tremendous instinct on the field, her vision and decision making skills are right on point,” said FC Gold Pride Head Coach Albertin Montoya. “Based on her performance in 2009, I’m sure everyone is aware of what she can do on the field. Abily is a very dynamic player.”

UCLA product Martino, 23, is an attacking midfielder and accomplished U.S. youth international who made her full national team debut in January 2008.

I’m trying to get a comment from Sol GM Charlie Naimo. Stay tuned.

Updated 11:50 p.m. Thursday:
Naimo is apparently too busy tweeting to return my calls.

But he is responding to fans questioning the trade:

*”we’ll have an exciting team with a lot of depth. Marta, Aya, Boxxy, Karina plus 3 new world class european players.”

*”have faith, we have 3 new European players to play with Aya and Marta PLUS Dimartin and 4 of the 1st 14 picks. alot of depth 2010.”

*”I know its a big move.”

More brewing at the Sol. Stay tuned.

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Sol’s Marta Named FIFA World Player of Year (Again)

i-88f5da16c1623e4172fa1c52edb2125f-marta messi.jpg AP Photo

It’s the fourth straight award for the Brazilian.

Domestically Marta led Women’s Professional Soccer in scoring with 10 goals and 3 assists during the year, was named league MVP and led the Los Angeles Sol to the regular season title and a spot in the title game.

FIFA announced the two winners – that’s Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, above, with the men’s award – today at the annual gala in Zurich, Switzerland

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