Los Angeles Soccer: Paul Haley
The Bay Area-based group that will field professional women's teams in Orange County and the Bay Area next year, with plans to place an O.C. club in Women's Professional Soccer in 2012, hopes to have a greater impact than just competing for championships.
They'd like to help transform women's pro soccer in America.
That's part of what's behind the venture announced Monday, to compete next season in the Women's Premier Soccer League. The OC Sol and Bay Area Sol would be the first fully professional clubs in the WPSL, one of two national semiprofessional women's leagues in the U.S., and their ownership group envisions a stronger connection among the leagues and WPS.
That could have a profound impact on the future of pro soccer in this country.
“I do [believe WPS is viable], but I subscribe to the view that there should be layers of professionalism -- and of semiprofessionalism, if you wish ...,” said Paul Haley, a Bay Area business consultant and the face of Soccer Partners LLC, the Walnut Creek-based group behind the new Sol enterprise. “We're motivated to see more than one league or division for professionals to play in.”
The group, which includes former L.A. Sol head coach Abner Rogers, will announce Monday the formation of professional teams to play in Orange County and the Bay Area in the Women's Premier Soccer League, one of two national semiprofessional second-division leagues, according to two soccer sources.
A league official said the announcement would be made Monday morning, and Rogers confirmed the plans and said the group's aim remains returning the WPS to Southern California in 2012. The group is headed by Bay Area businessmen Paul Haley and Scott Alford.
The teams will share a nickname -- the OC Sol and the Bay Area Sol -- and Rogers will be the Orange County team's head coach and technical director for both teams. Terry Foley, who was general manager and director of player personnel for the WPS's Philadelphia Independence last summer, will be the GM and head coach of the Bay Area team.
There were 52 teams playing in 10 regional divisions in the 12-year-old WPSL last spring and summer. Included were four Los Angeles-area clubs -- South Bay-based Ajax America, Pasadena-based LAFC Chelsea, Claremont Stars and Santa Clarita-based PSSCV Rooks. Ajax advanced to the league final four.
Two teams were based in the Bay Area: North Bay FC Wave, based in San Anselmo, and San Francisco Nighthawks. Several more teams play in Sacramento, Clovis and San Diego.
Most teams in the WPSL are amateur, but Rogers confirmed that players for the new Orange County and Bay Area teams would be paid.