Progressive expansion.

All things the U.S. Soccer Federation was promised in a restructured business and marketing plan set forth by Women's Professional Soccer. These provisions resulted in the five-team league's being granted another year of top-flight status after weeklong discussions in Chicago.

Last night, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said the federation is satisfied with the business plan and hopes it will help expand the 3-year-old outfit into different markets over the next few years.

"All we really want to see is that there is progress going forward," Gulati said yesterday. "The league made a decision with a specific team in mind that they will soon have six . . . We are confident they will meet their goals. Stable ownership and growth into different markets will go a long way to showing us that this is going to work."

For now, the league will resume with five teams with a contingency for a sixth, though having six franchises for 2012 was no longer a requisite for sanctioning.

Clubs already are holding open tryouts, and the WPS draft is scheduled for Jan. 13 in Kansas City. While WPS commissioner Jennifer O'Sullivan wouldn't specify which markets that are close to joining, she said additional East Coast teams could be fortcoming, along with a team in the Midwest and from the West Coast. David Halstead, Philadelphia Independence owner and chairman of the league's expansion committee, told the Daily News last week that new clubs could be in Michigan, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, the latter of which could mean a return of the Sol, which folded after winning the inaugural WPS title in 2009.

And while history will show that previous attempts at starting a women's league came out of the fever pitch of successful Women's World Cup (WUSA) and Olympic campaigns (WPS), Gulati noted that's not where the focus should lie.

"I'm not sure we should put specific instances in regarding a buzz. You see that notoriety and publicity spike, but it's only short-term," Gulati said. "How that translates into a long term, I'm not so sure. Having new teams is a plus for the league, and I think we have talked about grass-roots support for the game - that is truly what will help this league going forward."