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Soccer Notebook

Joseph remains a priority

By Frank Dell’Apa
November 29, 2011
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The Revolution are still working on the ground floor of a rebuilding project. But there are indications the foundation of next season’s team will be familiar.

Captain Shalrie Joseph will be without a contract next month, but the Revolution have made signing him a priority. And, the fact the Revolution protected Joseph in the recent expansion draft is a sign the team wants him to return.

In 2008, Joseph signed a four-year contract at the league’s maximum salary, worth $500,000 last season, according to the MLS Players Union. The Revolution will have to offer Joseph a minimum 5 percent raise, or offer to pay him as a designated player, or else risk exposing him to the re-entry draft Monday.

“We have indicated we want him back and we are working to get that done,’’ team president Brian Bilello said yesterday. “Shalrie is an important player and we want him back, but until a contract is signed . . . he’s a great player on any team in this league but he is a special player for us. He has played his whole pro career here.’’

The Revolution lost defender Cory Gibbs (Chicago) to the re-entry draft last year.

WPS future in doubt

New investors have placed the Boston Breakers in position to compete for a fourth season in Women’s Professional Soccer. Now, though, there are questions about the league continuing.

The US Soccer Federation has withdrawn its sanction of WPS, setting a deadline of next week for the league to replace the magicJack franchise of Boca Raton, Fla.

First Division professional leagues are required to have at least eight teams and operate in three time zones, but the WPS received a waiver for a seven-team setup in 2009 and ’10 and a six-team setup last season. The league champions (Los Angeles Sol and Gold Pride) folded after both of the first two WPS seasons, partly because of the cost of travel from the West Coast.

MagicJack had a stormy season in its first year, recovering to finish in third place and reach the semifinals in the playoffs. Team owner/coach Dan Borislaw violated league rules by not displaying advertising boards, not having a website, and failing to videotape games.

Borislaw clashed with administrators soon after taking control of the Washington Freedom franchise and moving the team to South Florida without league permission. Borislaw fired coach Mike Lyons early in the season, then the team was guided by a “committee’’ headed by Christie Rampone, then coached by Borislaw after Rampone and several teammates left for Women’s World Cup preparations. Forward Abby Wambach took over as player-coach for the final part of the season.

On Oct. 27, the WPS announced the termination of the magicJack franchise, mistakenly having been assured a replacement had been lined up in Connecticut.

Last week, the USSF announced the sanctioning of the league would be removed unless a sixth team could be found.

“Two weeks ago I was very optimistic and excited,’’ said Breakers midfielder Leslie Osborne, who had been involved with recruiting investors. “I didn’t think the [USSF] would do this, just because in years past we hadn’t qualified as Division 1 status. I understand their point about elite professional status. But I’m discouraged because they know better than anybody how hard it is to get a pro league going. The MLS needed eight years to become steady and stable.’’

The WPS has maintained a low-budget operation in an attempt to avoid the spending mistakes of the WUSA, which folded in 2003.

The high-profile run of the US to the finals of the Women’s World Cup, plus the projected success of the national team in next year’s Olympics, were expected to boost the WPS. But there is a double-edged sword aspect to the tournaments, since they require the top players to miss league matches.

“I think we should take advantage of it,’’ Osborne said. “And we can take a break during the Olympics. But if we take a break for a year it is going to be hard to come back the following year.

“Even though national team players were not involved with their teams all year, just having them on the rosters was huge media-wise. The league got a lot of exposure from those players being in the World Cup.’’

The WPS could function as a Second Division league, but still would need USSF sanctioning to do so.

“This is very close to my heart because I was at Santa Clara when the [WUSA] folded so I didn’t get to play in that league,’’ Osborne said. “There are thousands of girls who want to play college soccer and be a professional athlete after college, playing pro soccer. We need this league for a lot of reasons. We talk about female role models and a professional league has them.

“The national team gets most of its players from the league. And a lot of countries are catching up to the US, and a lot of teams are going to catch up and surpass us if we don’t have a league. We need to build off the momentum of the World Cup and Olympics. I think both parties know it can get better and will get better if we have more time.’’

The Connecticut franchise is set for 2013 and the league is hoping to announce the entry of three West Coast teams.

The Breakers lost their main investors and coach Tony DiCicco after last season. But the organization has been revived by local investors, recently announcing the re-signing of Osborne, England national team players Alex Scott and Kelly Smith, and several others.

Coach’s wife attacked

Silvia Martinez de Tabarez, wife of Uruguay national team coach Oscar Washington Tabarez, was hospitalized after being attacked in Montevideo Saturday afternoon.

Martinez, 61, sustained burns over 25 percent of her body after two persons poured a flammable liquid on her at the front door of the family home.

According to the newspaper El Pais, the incident could be related to a maid who was jailed after being convicted of stealing from the Tabarez bank account.

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com.

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