WUSA: Where will Akers land?

Michelle Akers' early WUSA contributions have been restricted to spokeswoman service because of injury. Where the 35-year-old star will land once healthy has yet to be determined. Also, attendance and TV rating updates: BY DEAN CAPARAZ WHITHER MICHELLE?: Despite what her first column says on WUSA.com, Michelle Akers is not the property of the Carolina Courage. In fact, the founding player does not belong to any team. If a healthy Akers plays in the WUSA next season the league will have to figure out a way to allocate her. "It could be a draft pick situation or whatever," WUSA chief operations officer Tony DiCicco said. "Michelle belongs to the league right now." The league originally allocated Akers to Orlando, which became Carolina. When the league realized that Akers would miss this season with an injured shoulder, it allocated founding player Carla Overbeck, who was going to skip the season to have another child, to the club in place of Akers. Overbeck has started both Carolina games. "Carla belonged to the league and was going to be a spokesperson for the league," DiCicco said. "Now Michelle is handling that. She's been to clinics, she's doing some TV, and she's been to a couple of [team's] inaugural [home] games. She's an awesome spokeswoman for women's athletics and for the WUSA. "But no team has rights to her now." Carolina wants to get those rights back. "We are going to make every argument that she should play here," said Courage president and general manager Jerome Ramsey. "That'll be an arm wrestling match here with the Courage and the folks at the league. Any team would covet the opportunity to have Michelle play with them. We have to see." NO SELLOUT FOR MIA: Carolina has hosted two games so far but has not sold out either one at North Carolina's Fetzer Field, a field that many consider the mecca of women's soccer. Fetzer has some seats with obstructed views, but most (6,523 of 7,400) have unobstructed views. How could the Courage not sell out the April 28 match vs. Washington, which featured the homecoming of North Carolina alumna Mia Hamm? Hamm earned the league's player of the week award for leading the Freedom to a come-from-behind win over the Courage. Carolina's Ramsey blames, in part, the noon start time. Overall, six league matches start at noon this season so they can fit into TNT's national broadcast window. "We knew that the noon start time is a tough time," Ramsey said. "Noon on Saturday, that's when the kids play. So to have a near capacity crowd [6,012] there, we were pleased, not ecstatic. The league will see that, during the youth soccer season, unless you can coordinate in advance with leagues and schedule around their games, that will be tough on attendance." It didn't help Carolina that, the day before the Washington game, two local TV stations reported the match was sold out. The Courage drew 6,134 for its home opener against Boston. It won't meet the league's expected average of 7,500 because Fetzer Field's capacity is only 7,400. The league's average attendance after eight games is 12,646. TNT RATING: The Washington-Carolina game drew a 0.3 rating on TNT, which represents 247,000 households. The WUSA averages a 0.4 rating on TNT in the first three weeks of the season. MORE ON CROWDS: Disappointing attendances for home openers in Week 3: 7,312 for New York-San Diego and 10,010 for Bay Area-Boston. Although the CyberRays exceeded the 7,500 mark, the club should do much better in a strong women's soccer market like the San Francisco Bay Area. ... San Diego has sold out its May 5 home match vs. Washington. The Spirit's capacity of 6,155 is also below the league's expected average. ALL-STAR GAME: There may be some sort of all-star game this season. The match may be played as a double-header with the Aug. 25 WUSA Championship Classic or as a separate event. (Dean Caparaz is an Associate Editor at Soccer America.)
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