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Hamm is assigned to play in Washington as first 24 allocations are announced.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

Mia Hamm
Mia Hamm, the most well-known women's player in the world and the all-time leading scorer with 118 goals, will play for the WUSA's Washington franchise.
Photo by J. Brett Whitesell / ISI
Nineteen of the 24 players assigned today comprise all but one of the 20 members of the United States national team that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup championship. Only defender Carla Overbeck, the U.S. captain who is under contract to the WUSA, was not allocated. She was recently diagnosed with Graves Disease and her playing status is uncertain.

When the league kicks off play next April, Mia Hamm will play for the Washington, D.C., franchise, Brandi Chastain will play in the San Francisco Bay area, Kristine Lilly will be in Boston, Tiffeny Milbrett will play in the New York area, Michelle Akers will play in Orlando, Lorrie Fair in Philadelphia, Briana Scurry in Atlanta and Julie Foudy in San Diego.

In addition to players from the World Cup team, five other players were added to make an even three assignments to each founding market: striker Mandy Clemens, midfielder Nikki Serlenga, defender Michelle French and goalkeepers LaKeysia Beene and Siri Mullinix.

"In determining the initial allocation of players, the WUSA Board of Governors looked in most cases to assign the players to markets where they were already well-known, either as hometown heroes or through their collegiate playing careers," said WUSA founder and chairman John S. Hendricks. "As a result, each of the eight initial WUSA markets are assured of having three outstanding athletes as their foundation players."

The assigned players addressed the media through a series of conference calls.

"I'm excited to play in the Washington D.C. area because it has such a wonderful soccer tradition and it will be nice to be back in the community where I spent my high school years," said Hamm, the most recognizable of the U.S. players.

"Playing in my hometown of Orlando is a dream come true," Akers said. "The Orlando community has been a cherished part of my life, from my collegiate days at the University of Central Florida through my career as a member of the U.S. national team."

There will be several future allocation drafts. Acting WUSA commissioner Tony DiCicco, the coach of the U.S. World Cup titlist, said he hoped the league could assign its 16 top foreign signings, two to a team, perhaps by July 1, but certainly before the Summer Olympics in September.

"We would then create a list of other available players and circulate that list to all teams," DiCicco said. "Then once coaches and general managers are hired for all eight teams, an initial draft would be held. We would hope this happens in October. Then we will hold a scouting combine in December and have an additional draft."

The league intends each team to have a 26-player roster when it goes to training camp, eventually reduced to a final roster of 20.

The WUSA ownership structure is single-entity like Major League Soccer, so the league will negotiate all player agreements and will own all contracts. Each team will have an initial $800,000 salary budget, or an average of $40,000 per player

MLS withdrew its competing bid to the United States Soccer Federation for a Division I women’s league after reaching a cooperation agreement with the WUSA in the areas of marketing, scheduling, promotion and stadium development.

"As we have seen from other sports, having two leagues probably is not what is best for the game and its growth," Overbeck said. `"We as players are ecstatic about the agreement."

The allocations to metropolitan areas:

Atlanta -- goalkeeper Briana Scurry, forward Cindy Parlow, midfielder Nikki Serlenga.

Boston -- midfielder Kristine Lilly, defender Kate Sobrero, goalkeeper Tracy Ducar.

New York -- forward Tiffeny Milbrett, defender Sara Whalen, defender Christie Pearce.

Orlando -- midfielder Michelle Akers, forward Danielle Fotopoulos, midfielder Tiffany Roberts.

Philadelphia -- defender Lorrie Fair, goalkeeper Saskia Webber, forward Mandy Clemens.

San Diego -- midfielder Julie Foudy, defender Joy Fawcett, midfielder Shannon MacMillan.

San Francisco -- defender Brandi Chastain, midfielder Tisha Venturini, goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene.

Washington, D.C. -- forward Mia Hamm, goalkeeper Siri Mullinix, defender Michelle French.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman's can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com.

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