The United Soccer Leagues announced at the recent NSCAA Convention that the Washington Freedom Soccer Club, which evolved from the Women's United Soccer Association's Washington Freedom will participate in the 2006 W-League season as an Associate Member of the league.
"We are excited about this announcement," said USL vice president Tim Holt. "The Freedom SC staff and players were leaders in the WUSA and we hope that their participation as an associate member of the W-League this upcoming season will lead to full membership in the future."
The Freedom SC will play a 14-game W-League schedule, seven home and seven away, against eight W-League teams. As an associate member of the league, the matches will not count toward the standings and the Freedom SC will not be eligible for the postseason.
"As part of our mission to develop players and coaches through our unique club concept and entertain our loyal fans, playing in the W-League is an ideal addition for our organization at this time," said Washington Freedom head coach and director Jim Gabarra. "As the top women's league in North America, the W-League will provide high-quality opposition for our fans to enjoy this summer."
With the coaches and many of its players intact from the 2003 WUSA champion team, the Freedom SC has developed a comprehensive club that offers a wide range of programs and services to the female player and fans of women's soccer.
In anticipation that women's professional soccer will return when the WUSA re-launches in the future, the Freedom SC has continued to play an exhibition schedule since the WUSA ceased operations in the fall of 2003, facing the New Jersey Wildcats, Hampton Roads Piranhas, Northern Virginia Majestics and Vancouver Whitecaps over the past two years. Once the WUSA returns, the Freedom intends to be part of the re-launch and still field a Reserve Team in the W-League, giving more women the opportunity to play all the way to the professional ranks.
In 2006, the Freedom will face the New York Magic, Northern Virginia Majestics, South Jersey Banshees, 2005 finalist Ottawa Fury, two-time champion Long Island Lady Riders, 2003 champion Hampton Roads Piranhas and current defending champion New Jersey Wildcats.
34 PDL players taken in MLS SuperDraft
United Soccer Leagues' Premier Development League saw 34 former players selected in the 48-player Major League Soccer 2006 SuperDraft Friday afternoon, including a shocking combined total of 18 from the Chicago Fire Premier, Boulder Rapids Reserve and Orange County Blue Star.
The First Round saw a run on Blue Star players as Sacha Kljestan, Kei Kamara and Calen Carr went fifth, ninth and 10th respectively to Chivas USA, the Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire. A fourth Orange County player, Tyson Wahl, completed the Blue Star contingent in the Second Round, going 19th to the Kansas City Wizards.
The foursome helped lead Orange County to the Western Conference championship in 2005. A late addition to the squad, Kljestan tallied a goal and assist in two games but was more instrumental in the playoffs with three tallies. Kamara, Carr and Wahl, all in their second seasons with the team, were also pivotal in the team's success with All-Conference selection Kamara finishing ranked 10th in the league in points (27) and seventh in goals (12).
Yankey receiving British honor
Former New Jersey Wildcats forward Rachel Yankey is receiving one of Britain's highest honors. The English international was named to the New Year's list in the United Kingdom to become a Member of the British Empire, commonly referred to as an MBE.
Yankey, currently leading Arsenal to a potential double as league and league cup champions after guiding the Wildcats to the 2005 title, is being recognized for her 'services to sport' for her role in advancing women's soccer and for her work in the community coaching children. The prestigious award will be made by the Queen later this year at Buckingham Palace.
Two-Time Goalkeeper of the Year back with Battery
The Charleston Battery has signed goalkeeper Dusty Hudock for the 2006 and 2007 USL First Division seasons. Hudock returns to Charleston after spending the 2005 campaign with the Rochester Raging Rhinos. Hudock played six seasons for the Charleston Battery (1999-2004) and was a member of Charleston's 2003 USL First Division Championship winning team.
Hudock has twice been named USL First Division Goalkeeper of the Year (1997 & 2002). Hudock, 33, is the all-time leading goalkeeper for the Charleston Battery with 97 wins and a GAA of 1.07. He has recorded 62 shutouts and started 177 games, both all-time Battery goalkeeper records. His 177 games started ranks second all-time for the Battery. Hudock's individual honors include: Charleston Battery MVP (2002, 2003, 2004), Charleston Battery Defender of the Year (2001, 2002), and USL First Division Goalkeeper of the Year (1997, 2002).
Manny Lagos returns to Minnesota
The Minnesota Thunder announced the hiring of Minnesota native Manuel (Manny) Lagos as its Director of Soccer Operations. A former Thunder and MLS standout, Lagos will bring experience and knowledge based on a career playing at the highest levels both in the US and internationally.
In addition to front office duties, the former US Olympian and three-time MLS Cup Champion, will be overseeing several new youth training programs under the Thunder umbrella and will be an integral part of the Thunder's summer soccer camp coaching staff. Lagos, a midfielder, retired from playing in 2005 after a 14-year professional soccer career. Lagos played six seasons with the Thunder and was USL Player of the Year in 1994. In 10 seasons in MLS, Lagos won 3 MLS Cups and was an MLS All Star.
Miami announces coaches and venue
Miami FC announced that Chiquinho de Assis has been named the new franchise's head coach and that former Columbian international standout Luis Carlos Perea has been named assistant coach. The team also announced Brazilian World Cup goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel will also aid the team as an advisor and that Tropical Park Stadium will be their home venue.
Chiquinho de Assis is known in the world of soccer as a successful youth and professional head coach in Brazil with an uncanny ability to discover young talents who have gone on to become international soccer stars. Examples include world-renowned players such as: Dida, starting goalkeeper for the Brazilian national team and AC Milan (Italian League Serie A); Dudu, midfielder for the Brazilian national team and CSKA Moscow (Russian First Division); and Adailton, defender for Rennes (French First Division) and captain of the 2003 Brazilian Youth World Champions.
For the past seven years de Assis has spent the majority of his time as Head Coach of the youth soccer program of Vitoria da Bahia, one of the oldest sports clubs in Brazil. Vitoria is especially well-respected for its youth player development programs. From 1998 trough 2005, de Assis led Vitoria to three Philips Cup Championships, and won the Professional Bahia Cup twice with an Under-20 team. He also conquered titles like the U.S. Cup 1998 held in Minneapolis and the 1999 Milk Cup Tournament in the Netherlands.