Members of America's Olympic gold medal-winning women's football team learned on Tuesday what clubs they would be joining in the new Women's Professional Soccer league.
At a ceremony hosted by National Basketball Association All-Star and WPS part-owner Steve Nash, seven teams received three players apiece from the USA national team.
"Today has been a truly exciting and important day for the league and for the entire sport of women's soccer," said Nash, who is also among a group financially supporting the bid of the Vancouver Whitecaps, a United Soccer League First Division side, in its bid to join the MLS.
"The close games during the Olympics were a fantastic showcase of how the women's level of competition continues to grow globally. And here in the United States, we're lucky to have such talented players to call our own. As a soccer fanatic and father of twin girls, I personally feel fortunate to be here at the ground level, playing a role in launching the league that will set the standard for women's play around the world."
The WPS Board of Governors consulted on Sunday and Monday with players and league officials to determine the best dispersal for all parties. Goalkeeper Hope Solo went to the St. Louis club, where she will be joined by Lori Chalupny and defender Tina Ellertson.
Ultra-talented Abby Wambach, who missed the Olympics after breaking her leg in the team's final friendly against Brazil, expects to be ready to play for the Washington Freedom. She will be joined by defenders Ali Krieger and Cat Whitehill.
League commissioner Tonya Antonucci explained why she felt the allocation process was the right course of action for the WPS. "The allocation process was developed to give players the chance to provide their input on where they wanted to play, allow for dialogue between league and teams about marketing potential and to give the best opportunity for a level playing field among teams come April 2009 and the start of the WPS season," she said.
The San Francisco Bay Area franchise claimed goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, defender Rachel Buehler and midfielder Leslie Osborne, while midfielders Carli Lloyd and Lindsay Tarpley will join defender Kate Markgraf with the Chicago Red Stars.
Los Angeles received midfielders Shannon Boxx and Aly Wagner along with defender Stephanie Cox, and Sky Blue FC obtained forward Natasha Kai, midfielder Heather O'Reilly and co-captain Christie Rampone.