The Philadelphia Independence played their second game of the 2011 season which ended in a 2-1 defeat to magicJack on Sunday, May 1. The Indies went up early on a goal by Tina DiMartino in the 8th minute. Unfortunately, this was followed up by the goal by magicJack’s Abby Wambach later in the first half. Philadelphia defender Nikki Krzyski was called for a handball. Nicole Barnhat then saved the resulting penalty kick taken by Wambach. Second half sub Lisa DaVanna scored the game winner for magicJack in the 66th minute. The Independence are now 0-1-1 on the season.
The game was played at FAU Stadium in Florida in front of a paid attendance of 1,008. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the crowd appeared to be no more than half the 1,224 who attended the magicJack season opener. This facility has a capacity of 1,500, well short of the WPS league minimum of 5,000. According to the same source, requests by the media to speak to magicJack personnel involved in the win, including Wambach, DeVanna and head coach Mike Lyons, were denied by the team’s owner, Dan Borislow, who violated league policy in preventing postgame interviews. “It is league policy that any request to speak to players after a game be met by the team,” said WPS spokeswoman Crystal Fukumoto.
The gagging of magicJack’s players and coaches by their owner is an outrageous and troubling development for a team and league that are struggling for survival and need all the exposure and good will they can muster. In his short tenure as owner of the former Washington Freedom, Borislow has already developed an extremely contentious relationship with WPS over game day costs and other issues. A quick look at the WPS website shows that the team is still referred to the Washington Freedom in some places and most of the magicJack’s page is described as “coming soon.” Borislow has yet to develop any meaningful branding or promotion for the team in Florida
It appears the squad may be permanently relocated, despite early talk of the team continuing to play some games in Maryland. No official 2011 schedule is provided on the WPS website. It’s hard to imagine this being a workable situation for fans looking to schedule their attendance or purchase tickets. magicJack seems to be cutting all ties with the Washington Freedom, one of the best known and established women’s soccer brands and their fan base. It is a sign of how desperate WPS must be to be in a relationship with such a character as Borislow, who appears to be insisting on cut backs to WPS’ modest game day requirements that would come at the expense of producing a professional looking product. While complaining about expenses Borislow is doing little that would help to generate revenue, such as marketing or promotion, or letting the team speak to the press. I would like to see WPS survive, but I don’t think it will get much further with owners like this.
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