The Society for American Soccer History sat down for a book talk with longtime soccer journalist Beau Dure in our First Friday SASH Session for August. Dure has covered the men’s and women’s game in the United States for more than two decades, with his work featured at USA TODAY, The Guardian, ESPN, FourFourTwo, Soccer America, Fox Soccer, and other media outlets.

Dure has also written five books on American soccer. Sitting down with Society secretary and session moderator Zach Bigalke via Zoom, Dure focused on his latest work, 2012: The Year that Saved Women’s Soccer. Produced during the pandemic, 2012 is a chronicle and an oral history of the efforts to preserve opportunities for women to compete on the pitch in the year following the collapse of Women’s Professional Soccer and preceding the launch of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Starting at 2:15, Dure walked the audience through the longer history of professional women’s soccer leagues in the United States. Key to understanding the significance of the 2012 season, Dure argued at 6:20, is the lost generation of talent that was left without playing opportunities after the demise of the Women’s United Soccer Association in 2003. When the WUSA folded, it stranded more than 100 athletes who had departed the game by the time the WPS launched in 2009.

From there Dure broke down the conditions that led to the eventual dissolution of the WPS after the 2011 season, and the significant impact the league’s failure might have had on another generation of American talent. Decisive action allowed the quick formation of the WPSL Elite, which provided a temporary home for three clubs from WPS along with a step up in competition for three extant WPSL squads.

Combined with the W-League, Dure contends in his book that the formation of the WPSL Elite provided a bridge that allowed many players to continue playing at a high level of competition while also keeping the sport relevant in an Olympic year.

Beginning at 25:43, Bigalke and Dure discuss several aspects of the publication process for 2012, which Dure released as a self-published title after the project materialized rapidly over the first few months of the pandemic. Questions from the audience begin at 36:10.

The Society looks forward to providing more opportunities to speak with authors about their work as we plan more Book Talk sessions for the future.

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