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Beat gets defensive in WPS expansion draft

One of the players chosen by the Atlanta Beat Tuesday in the Women’s Professional Soccer expansion draft is very familiar to local soccer fans.

Sharolta Nonen was among the first six players to fill the Atlanta roster, and one of three defensive players.

Here’s the full list of players chosen both by the Beat and the Philadelphia Independence.

Nonen, who played for the original Beat during its three seasons in the Women’s United Soccer Association, comes back to Atlanta via the Los Angeles Sol, which dominated the WPS regular season but lost in the title game. The former Canadian international played in just two games.

Beat GM Shawn McGee and coach Richard O’Sullivan also took the Sol’s Katie Larkin, a combo defender and midfielder. The first selection in the draft was FC Gold Pride defender Leigh Ann Robinson. Forward Amanda Cinalli of the St. Louis Athletica was picked next, followed by Nonen and defender Sara Larsson, also of St. Louis. The final pick was Sky Blue FC Noelle Keselica.

Both teams will be involved in next week’s international entry draft.

I’m not quite sure why, but not only did WPS not provide live draft updates, but it waited to reveal all the results until two hours after the process was completed.

When the unveiling occurred, at the typically slow Web traffic time of 5 p.m. ET, the site stalled and crashed more than once for me. There may be a very good explanation for doing a draft this way, but it escapes me. For a league needing all the good publicity it can get, having a live draft — albeit an expansion one with very few big names on the board — might have been preferable to what just took place.

That’s not all the WPS has chosen to hold close to the vest. Not even the full list of available players is being disclosed:

“Considering that the seven charter WPS teams were each required to leave at least six of their players unprotected in this draft, there were surprisingly few players taken by the two expansion teams. The Philadelphia Independence snatched up seven players and the Atlanta Beat only burgled six before both teams turned up their noses at the remaining offerings, effectively ending the draft early. For a league purporting to showcase the finest female soccer talent in the world, this was not a sterling endorsement from its newest members.

But it’s hard to judge their behavior without being privy to the list of unprotected players, which the league has chosen to keep shrouded in secrecy. Maybe there were only slim pickings on the list or perhaps both teams are waiting until September 30th, when WPS players who were only given one-year contracts last season will become free agents.”

The bigger challenge, of course, is for the Beat and the WPS to make women’s pro soccer stick this time around. They’re facing a daunting business environment made more difficult by the recession.

Staying in business is job one for WPS. Yet there are women’s sports activists who believe that overtly feminist causes need to be incorporated in how the league, and its teams, market themselves.

Over at Pitch Invasion, I cannot emphasize enough how vigorously I deplore this ideological twaddle.


1 Will Beat’s Swiss sensation yield to WPS overtures? | Atlanta Soccer News { 09.24.09 at 11:47 am }

[…] 10 players on the roster (here are the players chosen in the expansion draft last week) O’Sullivan continues to scour talent to fill out the squad. The W-League is […]

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