By Phillip Brents
San Diego, Calif. Remember the WUSA? One
of its founding players, Tiffeny Milbrett, returned to a familiar stomping
ground USDs Torero Stadium on June 2 when her current
team, the high-powered Vancouver Whitecaps, engaged the San Diego Gauchos
womens team in a key Western Conference W-League match.
Milbrett, a U.S. womens national
team legend who earned honors as the WUSAs Most Valuable Player and
Offensive Player of the Year in 2001 for the New York Power, drew an assist
in the Caps 5-0 win in front of a record Gauchose home crowd of 713
For those unfamiliar with the WUSA,
it stands for Womens United Soccer Association. The WUSA grew out of
the triumph by the United States at the 1999 Womens World Cup and operated
for three seasons 2001, 2002 and 2003 before sinking in a sea
of red ink. The W-League, which began operations in 1995 as a grassroots
national training ground for women, has since inherited the WUSAs former
standing as the top womens professional soccer league in North
The W-League obviously has kicked
it up a level since the WUSAs demise. Its goal, however, remains the
same: provide an appropriate venue to further develop the skill level of
players and supply talent at the international level.
Milbrett, who had a goal and assist
in a 3-2 victory at Seattle on May 27, is joined on the Whitecaps roster
by Canadian superstar Christine Sinclair, along with 11 members of the Canadian
Sinclair and Kara Lang led Vancouver
with two goals each against the Gauchos while Milbrett set up Martina
Frankos goal in the 40th minute. Lang gave the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead
with goals in the 23rd and 38th minutes. Sinclair finished scoring in the
game with goals in the 48th and 70th minutes. Lang assisted Sinclairs
first goal while Ciara McCormack drew the assist on the games final
The Gauchos came close to breaking
up the Whitecaps shutout in the 84th minute but the breakaway shot
sailed just inches wide.
The win boosted the
Whitecaps record to 4-0-0 and into first place overall among the
W-Leagues 37 teams (along with a 15-game regular season winning streak).
Sinclair (four goals) and Milbrett (three goals, two assists) share the scoring
lead for Vancouver, which will host this years W-League championship
playoff tournament later this summer.
The Gauchos women entered the June 2 game
0-3-1 following a four-game Colorado road trip to kick off the season. The
Gauchos women were missing 10 key players on the road swing, including more
than a half-dozen starters. The local side drew 2-2 against the Real Colorado
Cougars while suffering 4-1 and 5-1 defeats against Mile High Edge (and former
WUSA player Katie Antongivanni) and dropping a 3-2 contest against the Fort
Kara Kaberllis (University of Wisconsin)
leads the Gauchos women in scoring with three goals while Amy Epsten (USD)
has two goals and one assist.
Despite the loss, the Gauchos
womens team is vastly improved from its inaugural 0-14 season when
it fielded a lineup primarily comprised of junior college and high school
The Whitecaps, who recorded
a 21-8 edge in shots in the June 2 contest, defeated the Gauchos, 11-0, last
year as a measuring stick. The Gauchos have already scored six goals this
season while allowing 19 in five games. The Gauchos were outscored 44-2 in
their first 10 games last year.
The W-League gives the nations
best college players the opportunity to play alongside established national
and international players while maintaining their college eligibility. The
Gauchos appear ready to take the next step forward based on a number of
impressive player signings.