OSA Seattle (WPSL)
Soccer in the US, whether men’s or women’s, is made up by a variety of clubs in so many different leagues that it can make the head spin. While we had previously covered OSA Seattle’s NPSL side, we remembered that their WPSL squad was built a little different than others. From teaming up with local development academies in order to fill out their roster and provide top-level soccer to locals to providing an exchange program to Italian internationals, club President Giuseppe Pezzano of OSA Seattle shows the world that there is more than just one way to build an organization.
When OSA Seattle was first set-up in 2013 your women's side were instantly successful and won their conference. Now that the rest of the Pacific Northwest is starting to catch up and several new teams are joining WPSL and the NWPL, have you noticed any impact on the talent and competitiveness?
This is a team that we couldn’t put together again because women’s soccer in Italy has exploded. Our 2013 team was a very strong team made up of talented players, some of whom played on the Italian World Cup team (Guagni and Giacinti).
The WPSL has added so many new teams in our area that the level of the conference has diminished, because the player pool is so even more divided between the teams. For players to have a chance to improve, they have to play at a high level, against other strong players, but the way our conference is now there just isn’t enough of that consistent talent. This was one of the main reasons I choose to merge and partner with Crossfire Premier, to give opportunities to their young talented academy players to play in an adult league and improve.
In the USA both men’s and women’s leagues have other business priority, and they lose the ability and focus to really help the development. I am hopeful that things will eventually change and begin to mirror how soccer is run throughout the rest of the world.
Some clubs are directly connected to youth programs, providing an adult end to a development funnel, while some clubs don't have access to players like that and are made up mostly of college women from around the region. Which type are you and do you see a difference in the long-term ability to remain in business?
We do not have a youth program of our own, but have partnered with Crossfire Premier, which has a very strong program, giving us access to players, and giving players opportunities to develop. We also have great connections in Italy and always try to bring some players over to give an on the pitch exchange experience where everyone is learning from each other.
Women's soccer has lacked a sense of stability; leagues come and go. Why have you stuck with the WPSL when the UWS, UPSL Women's League, or even the regional NWPL are options?
We are always looking at the competitive national league landscape to see what's available. The pro league has only 9 teams and a franchise already in the Seattle area, so it’s not an option. The WPSL is just one step below the pro league and it has a lot of teams nationally, so it has been the best option for us so far. The other leagues are regional, so I am not interested.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the pyramid, which makes things confusing for players as these leagues are not necessarily good for their development, and fans as they continue to be confused about the proper pyramid structure.
Soccer is not an American made sport like football or baseball there’s an already established structure that should be followed with the other soccer federation.
The men have access to the US Open Cup and National Amateur Cup, do you think it’s time for Women's soccer to have an Open Cup as well? If it existed, would OSA Seattle pursue it? What obstacles would the concept of a women's open cup have to overcome?
Yes, I think it would be a good thing to have more games and tournaments and I’d be interested in pursuing it, however, in the past when I proposed more games or tournament ideas to the other local teams, they all declined. Some didn't want to spend the money; another excuse was that adding more games was too complex to work into the schedule. I don’t agree with this mentality, but I have to accept it. (This year with 9 clubs in the conference we play only 8 games)
How important is drawing support? Did the recent World Cup bring anybody out; did you see any interested fans or players from other OSA squads come to the women's matches this year?
Unfortunately, we didn’t see fan base increase but we have seen a lot of interest for my consulting services and the OSA organization as it was integral in the explosion that Italian women’s soccer has seen.
What's the most important aspect to operating a women's team?
Passion and love for this beautiful sport. Soccer is soccer, there’s no women’s or men’s soccer, it’s all soccer!
The OSA XF squad competes in the WPSL, head here for more information.