As the conversation with Shawn McGee, Atlanta Beat GM & COO, continued we turner our attention toward players. I couldn’t help but wonder if after 4 drafts leading up to this season if they were staying in that mode and making preparations for the 2011 draft. After a few laughs McGee said he’s been able to talk to GM friends in MLS that have been in the role for 2-3 years and discuss how much more experience he has in the last few months than they do in the last few years.
All 18 roster spots have been filled with the recent announcement of Shelley Thompson signing as the first German player to join WPS. The Beat continue to hold the rights to international player Therese Sjögran but as she is still under contract we won’t see her prior to 2011.
The draftee’s will come in and compete to pick up the remaining developmental spots prior to the roster cut down date of March 15th. Most of those players funneled in over the weekend and began practicing Monday.
We’ll get one of the first looks at the team in an exhibition match against UNC at Kennesaw State Soccer field, not stadium, on Sunday, March 28th at noon. It should be a good opportunity to see how the team is meshing
During one of those drafts the Atlanta Beat had the opportunity to pick up Marta, the four time and reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. I asked if it was a difficult decision to pass on Marta? McGee said it did take a long time to decide.
“If you state that you’re going to be the best team in the world it’s hard not to say “why don’t we go after the best player in the world?”. We also want to be here for years to come and we had to look at the budgetary side of it, salary cap, and how it would allow us to reach our goals on and off the field. There’s no doubt that she’s the world greatest player currently. We felt she would help from attendance and sponsorship but when you looked at the financials those improvements didn’t justify the decision for [The Atlanta Beat]. Secondly, when we got the offer from St. Louis for Kia McNeill and Angie Woznuk it just made sense for us.”
When asked if he was surprised at the support in the soccer community of that decision to trade vs acquire Marta McGee responded by saying
“I was surprised but at the same time I was appreciative that people looked beyond the Marta factor to say that while the team could be great with Marta we could also be great without Marta.”
One another note we also talked about a former World Great in Michele Akers. After last year’s floods in Georgia we got word that much of Akers Horse Rescue Farm was destroyed. Along with the WPS, the Atlanta Beat is auctioning off local sports/event tickets and sports memorabilia to help raise funds to restore Akers Farm. For more information check out this letter from Shawn. If you would like to help contribute there are still items being auctioned here.
I hate that I had to boil down my conversation with Shawn to two 500 word blog post. I wish everyone could have the opportunity like I did to hear about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. I have a feeling the product they put on the pitch will speak volumes. This is the beginning of a team that is taking steps everyday to become “The Best in the World”. So join me at a game and in the midst of a resurgence.