With the start of the 2009 inaugural season in Women's Professional Soccer, the league has always planned to gradually introduce a few additional clubs every year.
Since both Atlanta and Philadelphia expressed an early interest to kick off in 2010, both teams have spent a great deal of time, money, and energy to secure a place in the upcoming season.
As the first of the two to official join the league, Philadelphia made the big announcement on Monday.
In a fitting location at the historic Franklin Institute in downtown Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Independence signed on as the league's eighth club and revealed its name, colors, and team motto.
When the Independence takes the pitch in 2010, it will steel grey, pearl blue, and blazing yellow kits, are the colors that will be symbolic of the Philadelphia history, culture, and traditions.
To break it all down: the grey pays respect to Philly's industrial and manufacturing roots which have sustained it for such a great deal of time; the blue is reminiscent of the city flag which recognizes the everlasting blue collar tradition, and the yellow pays homage to its 1638 Swedish beginnings.
Independence President and CEO David Halstead believes that "[Monday's] announcement marks the beginning of what will be a permanent and proud presence in Philadelphia professional sports." He says that "through [the club's] play on the field, support of its communities, and commitment to its fans, the Philadelphia Independence will earn the right to be called a model sports organization," and that "such an organization is deserving of the name Independence, and all the history, character, and spirit that goes along with that name."
Matt Driver, a native of Glasgow, Scotland will be the head coach and act as General Manager. Driver played as a former professional in a few different leagues across the globe and has gained experience in coaching on both the men's and women's side of high level soccer.
He began playing professionally in what is now the Coca-Cola League of the English Premier League, then he transferred into the German Bundesliga before finally ending his career in the now defunct American Professional Soccer League.
Some highlights from his coaching career include a position as a former first assistant coach for the New England Revolution in the Major League Soccer where he helped the league's bottom team win a conference championship and appear in the MLS Cup. More recently, he founded the AC Diablos Women in New Jersey where his teams reached the WPSL East Coast Final in back to back seasons with a combined two year record of 16-3-1
Driver has selected the esteemed Staci Wilson as one of the new team's assistant coaches. Wilson's playing career includes a 1996 Olympic Gold Medal,, three NCAA Division-1 Championships, a retired number 27 Tarheel jersey at the University of North Carolina, and a professional career with both the U.S. Women's National team and the Carolina Courage of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA).
After the collapse of WUSA, the Philadelphia Charge franchise folded as well. The old team played its home games at Villanova University, posted 25 wins over its three season and had both Kelly Smith and Heather Mitts of the current Boston Breakers on its roster.
Despite the convenience of once again choosing Villanova as a home field, the newly formed Philadelphia team will most likely use the soccer specific Chester Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. The club's plans to share the venue with the Philadelphia Union (MLS) are not 100 percent set in stone; however, Independence officials assure that the team is not far from securing the stadium.
As Philadelphia looks to give professional women's soccer a second chance, Independence President and CEO David Halstead has recruited some experienced and respected soccer minds in both Matt Driver and Staci Wilson to lead the team. While Halstead is in the process of solidifying a state of the art facility for home games, he at least has the success of the current WPS season to keep optimism high.
The Independence is off to a great start as the eighth team in the WPS and has chosen the motto: "We the People.".
In the words of Head Coach Driver, "the players will proudly wear the name Independence on their jerseys, as together we pledge our commitment to the fans of Philadelphia and to each other as we battle foes and make Philadelphians proud of the talent and toughness of the team. This confidence," he says, "is illustrative of the tradition of Independence."
What are your thoughts on the new WPS team? Like or dislike the name and colors? Share your thoughts below.