WPS Gets Off To Glorious Start, But It's Not All About Marta

29 March 2009

This is tough for me to admit, but when I first heard that the WPS was being created, I was very skeptical about another woman's football league. Sure I understand that the WUSA didn't last due to the quality on the pitch but because of it's pathetic management. It was just hard for me to get behind a product that I had already discarded in my mind as something that wouldn't be around two years from now. I have promptly inserted both feet into my mouth.

The football on offer at the Home Depot Center this evening between the Los Angeles Sol and the Washington Freedom was not your typical woman game. In fact over ninety minutes of football, there wasn't much to complain about. The technical aspect was amazing, the tactical awareness was there, and there were no bad giveaways. A crowd that was bigger than attendances at five MLS games this weekend (I will concede San Jose as they cannot seat 14,832) saw what should be the start of something special.

The one thing that annoyed me throughout this game was all the attention Marta received. Look I understand that she is the initial face of this league. Her accomplishments simply cannot be ignored. It just felt the broadcast at times became an infomercial for Marta the player and not the game on offer. To me that's a major distraction.

When you have twenty-two players on the pitch, taking the majority of your time to hype up the accomplishments of one player makes the other twenty-one look inferior there-by making the product inferior by default. Making excuses for Marta's mistakes while being overly critical of Briana Scurry's mistake in leading to the first goal (for the record I believe that should have been a foul for obstruction, but a ball in the back of the net in the fifth minute of the first game wasn't going to be overturned) was just shocking to my ears.

On the whole Marta was alright, but not overly impressive. Her creativity in setting up the Sol's second late in the match was a thing of beauty. She didn't seem keen on the physicality the Freedom threw her way, and it took her a while to get use to it. I just hope in the future that on games called with the Los Angeles Sol, Marta isn't the focal point of attention.

The WPS is only looking for an average attendance of five thousand a game. With the good football on offer today, it should not be difficult for the league to reach that goal.

A Few Other Observations

  • I was not impressed with how Washington came out. For the better part of the first thirty-five minutes, they simply looked flat and allowed Los Angeles to bully them around the park.
  • It is obvious that the Freedom need someone other than Abby Wambach up front. She is still shaking off the effects of that horrific leg injury during pre-Olympic friendlies and is still at least a step slow.
  • The Sol did well to sit back and make Washington pay on the counter during the second half. However Washington's midfield never seemed to get into the attack.
Did you see the first WPS game? If so, what did you think?

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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