Two years of Women's Professional Soccer are in the books. As was the case for last year's off season, the 2010-11 off season will leave no time for rest for any of the clubs. Last year, it was the expansion of the Atlanta Beat and Philadelphia Independence (as well as the eventual folding of the Los Angeles Sol) that kept the league busy. This year, an eighth team is brought into the mix via Western New York's Joe Sahlen.
Sahlen, who currently owns and operates the United Soccer League's W-League champion Buffalo Flash, was approved in a vote by the WPS Board of Governors to own the league's newest franchise, which will begin play in 2011, splitting home games at Rochester Rhinos Stadium -- a 14,000-seat facility -- in Rochester and Niagara Field on the campus of Niagara University in Lewiston.
With the team name and logo to be unveiled soon (it was expected to be on Tuesday, but has since been delayed), the next line of business is picking the players to comprise a team.
Each of the seven current WPS clubs has the ability to protect a number of their players. For Philadelphia and Atlanta's expansion draft last year, each team protected 10 players -- but that list was not made public. This year, for Western New York's draft, the protected lists (which are expected about a week prior to the expansion draft) will be made public.
Here's a mock list of who to expect to stay put for this year's expansion draft using the current rosters.
Atlanta Beat (5-13-6, 7th place -- did not make postseason)
Eniola Aluko, Ramona Bachmann, Lori Chalupny, Tina Ellertson, Tobin Heath, Angie Kerr, Kia McNeill, Johanna Rasmussen, Hope Solo and Mami Yamaguchi.
Boston Breakers (10-8-6, 2nd place -- lost WPS Super Semifinal)
Jordan Angeli, Lauren Cheney, Stephanie Cox, Fabiana, Amy LePeilbet, Kristine Lilly, Alyssa Naeher, Leslie Osborne, Alex Scott and Kelly Smith.
Chicago Red Stars (7-11-6, 6th place -- did not make postseason)
Veronica Boquete, Karen Carney, Marian Dalmy, Whitney Engen, Formiga, Jillian Loyden, Kate Markgraf, Ella Masar, Megan Rapinoe and Natalie Spilger.
FC Gold Pride (16-3-5, 1st place -- won WPS Championship)
Nicole Barnhart, Shannon Boxx, Rachel Buehler, Candace Chapman, Becky Edwards, Marta, Kelley O'Hara, Ali Riley, Christine Sinclair and Kandace Wilson.
Philadelphia Independence (10-10-4, 3rd place -- lost WPS Championship)
Jen Buczkowski, Tina DiMartino, Allison Falk, Val Henderson, Nikki Krzysik, Lori Lindsey, Joanna Lohman, Amy Rodriguez, Lianne Sanderson and Caroline Seger.
Sky Blue FC (7-10-7, 5th place -- did not make postseason)
Yael Averbuch, Karen Bardsley, Keeley Dowling, Tasha Kai, Heather O'Reilly, Christie Rampone, Rosana, Meghan Schnur, Brittany Taylor and Kacey White.
Washington Freedom (8-9-7, 4th place -- lost WPS Playoffs First Round)
Ashlyn Harris, Sarah Huffman, Allie Long, Nikki Marshall, Rebecca Moros, Lene Mykjaland, Becky Sauerbrunn, Lisa de Vanna, Abby Wambach and Cat Whitehill.
After protecting those 70 players, Western New York's franchise still has a number of highly-talented players across the league it can pick up. In addition to the expansion draft, they will be able to fill up their 2011 roster by drafting rookies in the WPS 2011 Amateur Draft, as well as signing the five allotted international players. With that in mind, let's assume they take eight players in the upcoming expansion draft (expected to be in early November). Here's how they will look assuming they take one player from each club, along with a wild card pick.
Western New York Expansion Draftees
Stacy Bishop (M, Atlanta Beat), Ifeoma Dieke (D, Boston Breakers), Casey Nogueira (F, Chicago Red Stars), Carrie Dew (D, FC Gold Pride), Karina LeBlanc (GK, Philadelphia Independence), Kendall Fletcher (D, Sky Blue FC), Brittany Bock (D, Washington Freedom), and as the wild-card eighth selection, Holmfridur Magnusdottir (D/M, Philadelphia Independence).
Keep your eyes peeled for the actual picks. Stay locked on the Bay Area Pro Soccer Examiner page for updates on the WPS this off season as they happen. You can also follow Giovanni Albanese Jr. on Twitter @GAlbaneseJr.