WPS: "Our fans are idiots"

Your inaugural WPS All-Star Team:

Karina LeBlanc GK - Los Angeles Sol, Canada
Tina Ellertson D - Saint Louis Athletica, United States
Amy LePeilbet D - Boston Breakers, United States
Alex Scott D - Boston Breakers, England
Camille Abily M - Los Angeles Sol, France
Sonia Bompastor M - Washington Freedom, France
Shannon Boxx M - Los Angeles Sol, United States
Lori Chalupny M - Saint Louis Athletica, United States
Kelly Smith M - Boston Breakers, England
Eniola Aluko F - Saint Louis Athletica, England
Marta F - Los Angeles Sol, Brazil

The first order of comedy, of course, is that half of this team won't be available for the All-Star game itself, or for the WPS championship, thanks to the UEFA Women's Championship. Oops.

But what I got a kick out of was the huge disconnect between the four electorates. If you're like me, you got a good cackle at the gap between the announced team and the fan leaders. From the website:

1.) Marta & Amy LePeilbet (tie)
3.) Eniola Aluko & Lori Chalupny (tie)

(I wonder if they threw out Kelly Lindsey's vote.)

1.) Marta
2.) Camille Abily
3.) Sonia Bompastor

1.) Amy LePeilbet
2.) Marta
3.) Sonia Bompastor

1.) Hope Solo
2.) Lori Chalupny
3.) Shannon Boxx

I may be reading a little too much into this, but here's what I read between the lines.

From the fans to WPS: "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Why isn't Mia on the ballot?"
From the media, players and coaches to the fans: "This isn't American Idol, you pinheaded marks."

From the media: "The American game has stagnated, and is sorely lacking in the kind of flair and skill necessary to produce either an entertaining product or a truly great team."
From the players and coaches to the media: "Ever hear of defense, you effete, short-sighted, ignorant snobs?"

From the players: "We respect tough, fiery competitors, because we're the ones out there week in and week out striving for glory."
From the media and coaches to the players: "Oh, boo hoo, Marta makes more than you. If you don't like it, try preventing her from scoring at will, you jealous whiners."

I actually like the First XI picked, certainly much more than I thought I would. I still think the fan vote should count for -25%, instead of 25%, though.

However, while the fans should be ignored, they unfortunately cannot be. It has to be a little alarming that Marta, the best and highest-profile player in the league, was comparatively rejected by the fans. She was the fourth highest vote-getter among the fans, granted. But since she should have been as close to a unanimous pick as possible, the fact that she's less popular among the lumpenproletariat than the infinitely less flashy Chalupny and Boxx has a lot of implications.

For one thing - U-S-A! U-S-A! The fan base is still partying like it's 1999. They want American players. Not only does this mean WPS will have to work hard to get its international players fan support, but it makes WPS cruelly dependent on the US National Team's performances. So whenever the USWNT gets it handed to them by Brazil or Germany, that's going to have a terrible knock-on at the club level. MLS is also dependent on the USMNT, but on the club level fans will turn out to see Blanco, Angel, and English players like Terry Cooke and Kyle Patterson. Bompastor and Abily are fantastic, but I don't know how WPS sells French players.

It also implies that, unless someone educates the fans, they would rather see substandard US players than international stars. WPS will spend accordingly, international players will flee to Europe, and the quality of WPS will suffer. WPS doesn't have to be the unquestioned best women's league in the world to survive - for one thing, that didn't help WUSA - but US players are by and large better off playing with and against the best international players. If they don't, down the road the USWNT suffers, which affects WPS, which...and so on in the downward spiral.

Fortunately, all the Euros will be away for the All-Star Game. U-S-A! U-S-A! Wow...maybe scheduling the All-Star Game and the championship to conflict with the Women's Euro was deliberate.

Let's hope Abner Rogers and the league sticks by its guns, and tells the Athletica home crowd that their hometown keeper will come in at halftime at the earliest.