Julie Foudy to consult for NY-NJ soccer team, husband to coach

Updated: March 4, 2008, 6:45 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. -- Former U.S. women's soccer star Julie Foudy is going to serve as a consultant of the New York-New Jersey franchise when the Women's Professional Soccer league debuts in 2009.

Foudy laughed when asked if her husband, Ian Sawyers, who will be the coach and general manager, might be able to lure her out of retirement and play in the seven-team league.

"My standard answer is: What are you, nuts?" Foudy said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. "That's not when my husband asks. That's when anybody asks. I am not coming out of retirement. I am loving the mother role and my other work (ESPN), so no. I'll be the water girl on the sideline."

Foudy, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Brandi Chastain and Joy Fawcett made up the five-player core that led the U.S. team to two World Cup wins and two Olympic gold medals from 1991 to 2004.

Foudy, who plans to move to New Jersey, said her role will be more ambassadorial, although she will offer advice to her husband if asked.

Sawyers, who was traveling to Portugal on Tuesday to the Algarve Cup, was not immediately available for comment.

"He is so excited, he just absolutely loved his experience with the last league," Foudy said. "He had been paying close attention to the start of the new league, and with the dual role of coach and general manager, he thought it was a great opportunity," Foudy said.

Sky Blue Soccer, which owns the as yet-unnamed New York-New Jersey team, will officially designate Sawyers the coach and general manager on Wednesday, said co-owner Thomas Hofstetter.

"He was on the short list from the beginning," Hofstetter said in a telephone interview.

Sawyers guided Stanford to a 50-8-4 record and one Final Four appearance in three seasons (1993-95). The Englishman went on to coach professionally in the Women's United Soccer Association for three years, winning the inaugural championship with the San Jose CyberRays in 2001.

Since 2005, Sawyers has helped run Foudy's sports leadership academy and foundation.

"We were looking for someone who was more than a coach, someone who was also a good businessman," Hofstetter said. "Not only did he give the right answers to the questions, the questions he asked showed he was a good businessman."

Hofstetter said the new franchise is budgeting about $2 million annually and all the new owners have enough money set aside for several seasons.

"We have to get this right this time," said Hofstetter, who runs a management consulting company. "If it (women's professional soccer) fails, no one will ever touch it again."

Foudy said the WUSA spent way too much to start.

"We're not going to put ourselves at a disadvantage like before, where you spend a lot that first year and you spend the next two digging out of it," she said.

The new franchise will play its home games at Yurcak Field, a soccer-lacrosse stadium on the Rutgers campus that can seat 5,000 with other areas for several thousand more to stand.

"I don't want to play in a stadium that we can't fill," Hofstetter said. "It will be a great atmosphere."

Former Rutgers player Denise Reddy will serve as an assistant coach under Sawyers.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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