For the last few weeks, we’ve been able to enjoy quality soccer in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. According to Beau Dure’s latest book, we owe the year 2012 a lot of credit for the opportunity. The author of 2012: The Year That Saved Women’s Soccer, Dure explained to BGN, “2012 was an important bridge year that kept players and organizations involved at a professional level.”
Women’s Professional Soccer, also known as WPS, suspended their operations in January of that year. “The last time a professional league had stopped play, in 2003, pro soccer was dormant for five years,” Dure said. “This time, we only went one season without a full-fledged professional league, and we had professional or nearly professional teams playing in the interim.”
With WPS folding, clubs and players had to navigate an uncertain landscape in women’s soccer in the United States. “Boston (Breakers) and Western New York (Flash) decided to carry on. Chicago, which had dropped from WPS to the amateur WPSL, agreed to join them,” he explained. “A team formed in New York as an outgrowth of a strong youth club that already had one WPSL team. Chesapeake, FC Indiana and the New England Mutiny moved up from the WPSL, and another team formed in Philadelphia.”
“That was an eight-team league — WPSL Elite — with some pro teams and some amateur. With WPS gone, a lot of good players joined teams in WPSL Elite or the other amateur league, the W-League. The national team players could only commit to 3-4 games, but several of them played as well.”
For the book, he interviewed former and current USWNT players like Heather O’Reilly, Lynn Williams, Allie Long, and McCall Zerboni. Dure said, “McCall Zerboni told me she might not have stayed in the game if not for 2012, and she’s an NWSL star who finally got her first national team cap.”
“Lynn Williams is one of the most dangerous scorers in the NWSL. Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Lindsey Horan, and Megan Rapinoe all played a few club games that summer.”
With soccer work published by USA Today, ESPN, Fox Soccer, and more over the last couple of decades, Beau has a good grasp on soccer here in the United States for men and women. In November 2019, he released a book titled Why the U.S. Men Will Never Win the World Cup: A Historical and Cultural Reality Check. If he were in charge of turning around the USMNT structure, what are some of the major changes he would make? “I would push all the competing youth and adult organizations into one coherent system,” Beau answered. “I’d make talent identification a matter of scouts traveling to see players, not players traveling to see scouts. They still wouldn’t win, but they’d do better more consistently.”
The book on the 2012 women’s soccer season won’t be his last either. “I’m going to have one more soccer book, and it will be on youth soccer. It may be satirical. Youth soccer is a tangled mess of egos and parents who are in it for the wrong reasons,” he said.