American soccer writing, history & data.
The United States Interregional Soccer League held its annual general meeting during the 1994 season Sizzlin' Nine weekend. The organization voted on taking up a new name and setup beginning with the 1994-95 indoor season. The organization would be four separate leagues aligned under the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues umbrella. The leagues would be a professional men's league, an amateur men's league, a women's league, and an indoor league.
USSF president Alan Rothenberg and USSF/World Cup USA/MLS representative Sunil Gulati were in Greensboro, N.C. for the USISL AGM. Both were on hand to affirm the establishment of a working relationship between USISL and MLS in 1995. The USISL was the only professional league to support Rothenberg in his re-election bid. All five of the USISL's votes (6% of the total vote) went to Rothenberg.
During the winter meetings in mid-November in Dallas, the USISL's new corporate name was officially approved itself and split the men's league into professional and amateur leagues. The United States International Soccer League would be known as the "Pro League". The change from "Interregional" to "Internationa" reflected the addition of the Montreal Ramblers franchise. The United States Interregional Soccer League would be known as the "Premier League" and contain all the amateur teams which would compete on a non-professional basis. The United States Women's Interregional Soccer League would be known as the "W League". And the indoor league would be the United States Indoor Soccer League. Membership also approved the formation of USISL Properties for the coming year. The USISL would move closer to a league-wide merchandising plan for team souvenirs and apparel.
After 1994's pilot program of exhibition games, the USISL established the USWISL as a formal women's league starting with the 1995 season. Cincinnati was chosen to host the USWISL national championship tournament on August 10 through August 13. The league and tournament was sponsored by Nike and was branded as the Nike W-League. Steve Valdespino was president of the new league.
A disagreement between the USWISL and the NCAA prevented current and former collegiate players to be paid in the 1995 season. While players were not paid uniforms and all equipment were provided. Teams paid for all travel and hotel costs for away games.
The inaugural 1995 USWISL season included 17 teams split into three divisions. Two Central Division teams, the Tulsa Roughnecks and Wichita Lady Blues, withdrew before playing any games. The Nike W-League Championships included six teams. The Southern California Nitemares qualified as the Western Division winner. Eastern Division winner, Long Island Lady Riders, and runners-up, Pennsylvania Freedom, qualified. The Rockford 'Dactyls and Texas Lightning, Central Division winners and runners-up respectively, also qualified. Finally, the Cincinnati Leopards received an automatic bid as the hosts.
The teams were split up into two groups of three teams each. All matches were played at Deer Park High School in Cincinnati. The two top teams out of group play, Long Island and Southern California, qualified for the final. On August 13, 1995 the Long Island Lady Riders beat the Southern California Nitemares 2-0 to win the first W League title. Long Island players took home a haul of 1995 USWISL awards. Kim Wyant was named tournament MVP and Nike W League Goalie of the Year. Gina Vassallo-Tucker was named the tournament's offensive MVP. Kim Conway was named the most valuable defender and Peter Collins, Jr. was named Nike W League Coach of the Year.
The Sacramento Storm and Long Island Lady Riders qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur Cup Final Four held July 14 through July 16 at Kuntz Stadium in Indianapolis. On July 14 Long Island beat the Orlando Lions and Sacramento beat J.B. Marine of St. Louis in the semifinals. On July 16 Sacramento beat Long Island 4-1 to win the 1995 U.S. Women's Amateur Cup for the second straight year.
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