Los Angeles Soccer: W-League
Orange County Blue Star made its move in the Premier Development League's Southwest Division playoff race, and Ventura County Fusion swept its matches in Utah to surge atop the standings, but it's the Fresno Fuego who remain in control.
Two postseason berths await a quartet of contenders, and Blue Star (7-3-1) appears likeliest to challenge the Fusion (8-0-4) and Fuego (7-0-3) for after routing the Southern California Seahorses (7-3-2) for their fifth straight win.
Fernando Monge scored twice from feeds by UCLA teammate Chandler Hoffman, who has 12 goals and six assists, in the 4-1 victory in La Mirada. O.C. is fourth, one point behind the Seahorses, but have a game in hand and head north this weekend for the first of two meetings with Fresno in its final five regular-season matches.
The Fusion, who won the PDL title in 2009 and the Southwest Division last year, are four points ahead of Fresno after toppling BYU and Ogden. Fresno would capture the division if it wins the rest of its games.
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With Hollywood United departing for a rival league, the Ventura County Fusion might have figured they were in a two-team battle for the Premier Development League's Southwest Division title this year.
They would have been correct.
Only the other team isn't Orange County Blue Star.
The Fusion made that clear Friday night with a 7-2 pasting at Ventura College, running their record to 4-0-1. That's only worth second place -- Fresno Fuego, apparently their chief competition, is a point better, at 4-0-2.
The teams drew, 0-0, May 1 in Ventura and meet again June 11 in Fresno.
They're in another battle this week, for the division's berth in the U.S. Open Cup. Fresno won all four of its qualifying matches, and the Fusion is 3-0-0 heading into Saturday's PDL match against the Southern California Seahorses at La Mirada High School. Ventura County will advance if it wins by two or more goals or by one goal while scoring at least three. A 2-1 win forces a coin flip, a 1-0 win, draw or loss sends Fresno through.
Thousand Oaks' Danny Barrerra (Westlake HS/UC Santa Barbara) played the key role against Blue Star, setting up two goals -- his league-best fifth and sixth assists -- and scoring the finale.
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.”