Tina Ellertson is ecstatic.
The former U.S. Women’s National Team player from Vancouver is thrilled by the prospect of playing professional soccer again — and by the possibility of playing close to home.
U.S. Soccer announced on Wednesday that Portland and Seattle will be two of eight teams in a new women’s professional soccer league that will begin play in 2013. The unnamed league will be funded in part by the soccer federations in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“I’m so excited. I’m excited. I can’t say that enough,” said Ellertson, a 2000 graduate of Hudson’s Bay High School. “I’m ecstatic to have a Portland team, too.”
In announcing the new league, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said that the new league would launch in early to mid-April of 2013.
Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson and his family will be investors the Portland franchise, making Portland the only MLS franchise with ties to the new women’s league.
“We are pleased to partner with U.S. Soccer to bring a new women’s professional team to Portland and to do our part to make a top-flight women’s league possible in our country,” Paulson said. “The Timbers are, and always will be, steadfastly committed to growing the sport of soccer in our region at all levels, and championing a new women’s league and operating a team here in Soccer City, USA, will be an important part of that growth.”
Ellertson said she is optimistic this league can have staying power.
This will be the third attempt to make a national pro women’s soccer league work. The Women’s United Soccer Association played from 2001 to 2003 and Women’s Professional Soccer played from 2009-2011.
Ellertson, who played in WPS, said she believes that the involvement of national soccer federations and an emphasis on sustainability will give the new league time to establish itself. A lasting place for women to play soccer beyond college has been a dream for Ellertson and her peers.
“I really want this league to be around for my daughters,” Ellertson said.
As introduced Wednesday, U.S. Soccer will fund the salaries of up to 24 American players, the CSA up to 16 Canadian players and the Mexican federation a minimum of 12 Mexican player. The U.S. Soccer Federation will also pay league administrative costs.
In addition to Portland and Seattle, the league in 2013 will have teams in Boston, New Jersey, Western New York, Washington D.C, Chicago and Kansas City.
Paulson said that more details about the league and the Portland franchise will be coming soon, “including team name, logo and uniforms; schedule and ticket information; and a host of prominent roster announcements.”
When the WPS folded in March, Ellertson turned her attention to coaching. She gained her national A coaching license — which allows her to coach soccer at the highest level in the United States. In June, she was an assistant coach at a U.S. Soccer Federation girls under-15 national camp. She also coaches for Salmon Creek Soccer Club, where her father, Joe Frimpong, is the coaching director.
She said she is excited about her future coaching the game, but even more excited by the prospect of playing high-level soccer again and using the knowledge she gained while working toward her A coaching certification.
Ellertson said she and her peers will be ready to go as soon as a schedule is announced.
“What I learned from WPS is to keep an open mind and be ready to go whenever and wherever need be,” she said.