The Boston Breakers will take the field this season, playing in the new Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) Elite League. The new division will feature between eight teams - the Breakers, the 2011 WPS champions Western New York Flash, Chicago Red Stars, FC Indiana, ASA Chesapeake Charge, Aztec MA, New England Mutiny, and Philadelphia Fever.
“The WPSL recognizes the importance of a professional women’s soccer league in America,” WPSL Commissioner Jerry Zanelli said. “And that it is critical to provide a showcase for these top women players, and to inspire young athletes. We have put together a plan that will allow WPS teams individually to join the WPSL in the Elite League. Officially, they will not be professional teams, but would allow our top professional players to play in a highly competitive league. The WPSL has many pro-level players and we have been exploring the idea of offering a pro-am division. The timing is right for us to step in and help women’s soccer in the USA. No matter what eventually happens with the WPS, forcing these players to sit out a year would be a mistake.”
The league will be based in the East Coast and Midwest. The move will allow professional female soccer players from the WPS teams to remain in top form as the WPS moves toward resuming play in 2013.
"We are delighted that Jerry and the WPSL and current teams were able to accommodate both our desire to keep our team together and play in 2012 along with the Western New York Flash and that teams were able to so quickly step up and commit to an elite league,” Boston Breakers Governor Michael Stoller said. “We continue to work hard toward a relaunch of the WPS in 2013.”
“Our main purpose was to find ways to continue to have the highest possible level of soccer for women in the United States,” Zanelli continued, “and to help prepare for the return of professional women’s soccer in some form in 2013. We also wanted to make it financially viable for present WPSL teams to join the Elite League and raise their level of play.”
Zanelli clarified that this was not a case of the WPS joining the WPSL; rather it will be these individual teams joining with WPSL teams to form a competitive league for 2012. The new Elite League would have no restrictions on the types of players each team could roster; a team could be all professional players or could have a mix of professional and amateur players. Currently two WPSL teams, the Orange County Waves and Bay Area Breeze, include both professional and amateur players.
“After the suspension of WPS was announced, we received overwhelming support from our fan base and sponsors,” Boston Breakers Associate General Manager Lee Billiard said. “Internally, it was clear for us to keep the Boston Breakers in the community and to provide an avenue for players to train and play at a competitive level. We are delighted with the outcome and happy to announce the Boston Breakers will be playing again in 2012 and stepping up our community outreach programs. I would like to thank everyone for their support, and we hope it continues during this 2012 season and future years.”
The WPSL is organized with regional divisions, with regional championships leading to a final four playoff for the league championships. In 2011 Orange County Waves and Chicago Red Stars competed in the WPSL Championship, with Waves winning 2-1. The new Elite League will determine it’s champion and the championship weekend at a later date.
“We have said all along that we will do anything to help improve women’s soccer in U.S.” said Zanelli. “This is a step in keeping that process going.”
The 2012 Elite League season is scheduled to begin in early May and run through August. You can purchase tickets by calling 781-619-9339.