The Long Island Women’s Rough Riders Transition to the UWS League
The Long Island Women’s Rough Riders have spent the majority of their existence competing in the USL W-League. This league was overseen by the United Soccer League operations, which also manages the men’s United Soccer League as well as the Premier Developmental League. The USL W-League offered an opportunity to former international players as well as collegiate players to compete against other high quality opponents. After almost twenty years of the league’s establishment, it was confirmed in late November 2015, that the USL W-League was folding prior to the 2016 season.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a few clubs and leaders in the American soccer community, a new opportunity was created to ensure further success for elite women’s players on the rise. The Long Island Rough Riders are one of the eight teams that recently joined United Women’s Soccer League or UWS. One of the primary purposes of this newly established league is to hopefully expand the development of the women’s game for both collegiate and post-collegiate soccer players. The league’s inaugural season will kick off in 2016 and there are now eleven teams in two conferences that will be embarking on a new journey.
Flavio Ferri, Assistant Coach of the Long Island Women’s Rough Riders stated the following when asked about the transition from the USL W-League to the United Women’s Soccer League for the 2016 season:
Q: What expectations does the team have for the upcoming season?
A: “It is a bit difficult this year, as it is a brand new league. Several teams, ourselves included, have migrated over from the previous league. There are some teams that have joined the league that we are not as familiar with therefore the level of competition will be a bit difficult to gage. However, we get the opportunity to play each team twice and we will get a better idea as the season goes along. We always go in to every season with the goal of making playoffs. This year is no different, we are playing to make the playoffs. We have a good nucleus returning and we are really going to try to push and get to the playoffs.”
Q: What do you think the biggest difference will be in playing in this league as opposed to the USL W-League?
A: “I think that the biggest difference will take place primarily off field because it is a brand new league and league operations are different. It will take some time to get accustomed to all of the off field operations. As far as on the field, we aren’t going to do anything differently as we are going to go about our business like we always have.”
Q: What are some of the short term and long term goals of the team with the transition of playing in a new league?
A: “When looking at our short term goals, we will strive to retain as many players as possible while adding in new players. Going in to a new league, this could be challenging. In the previous seasons, the league was established for close to twenty years and there was an established understanding of the caliber of the league. As far as long term goals, we want to be situated as a league as well as us as a team, as the second tier of women’s soccer in the country. With the current women’s professional league, we want to position ourselves as a feeder system, where players have the opportunities to come to us in order to hopefully end up there.”
Q: Do you think that this league will help girls’ soccer grow on Long Island?
A: “We are hopeful. On the men’s side it took years and years. There seems to be now a clear structure for the men’s adult soccer as there is the MLS, NASL, USL Pro and the PDL. I think this is still lacking on the women’s side. The current women’s professional league needs time to establish itself, just like the MLS did as it took them years to get to where they are today. In order for this league to be successful, there has to be leagues underneath to feed into it. We are hoping to be a part of this so that there would be a clear pathway and structure for girls growing up on Long Island that want to continue playing at the highest level and to have a clear understanding of how to get there.”
“We always go in to every season with the goal of making playoffs and this season is no different, we are playing to make the playoffs.” – Flavio Ferri, Assistant Coach of the Long Island Women’s Rough Riders
On Saturday, May 14th, 2016, the Long Island Women’s Rough Riders will open up their season in the United Women’s Soccer League against the New Jersey Copa FC. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 pm. This match is the first of the doubleheader that will be taking place at the CY Donnely Stadium, as the Men’s Long Island Rough Riders will take on the Western Mass Pioneers at 7:00 pm.