Women’s Professional Soccer gets its first major blow with the loss of the Los Angeles Sol. WPS acquired the Sol after AEG relinquished ownership, but negations with new owners were unsuccessful. The 19 players on the Sol roster will be allocated to the remaining 8 teams in a dispersal draft that will be taking place on February 4th.
L.A., which was the 2009 regular season champions, had some of the best talent in the league including Brazilian superstar Marta, US National Team midfielder Shannon Boxx, and Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. The team had such a diverse group of players from around the globe that several players who roomed together during the preseason dubbed their residence the “International House.” The roster read like a UN conference: France, China, Japan, Brazil, Sweden, British Colombia, the United States. The Sol was the quintessential definition of sports as an international language. It was by far the most talented team in WPS in 2009. I was fortunate enough to have watched this team play live and it was some of the best soccer I have seen.
Every new league goes through the growing pains of expansion and contraction, but to see such a dynamic team dissolve so quickly is truly unfortunate. The loss of LA sets an ominous tone for the future of WPS. Any franchise has the possibility of folding. It doesn’t matter how talented the team or what superstars grace the lineup.
The silver lining is that there will be two new franchises in 2010, the Philadelphia Independence and the Atlanta Beat. The latter is in the midst of building the first women’s soccer-specific stadium which is slated to open on May 9th. That itself shows dedication to its franchise and the league.
I vividly remember travelling to my first WPS game, Sky Blue FC’s home opener against the Los Angeles Sol. I was driving down Interstate-95. It was a little chilly, but mostly sunny. With my ipod blasting, I distinctly remember thinking how fortunate I was to be able to see Women’s Professional Soccer. Five years ago I never thought I would ever be travelling to Bridgewater, New Jersey to see women play soccer on a rectangulated baseball field. But there I was, driving down the highway with my windows rolled up trying to quell the pungent sewage stench from seeping in my car. It really makes you appreciate the league and its players. Don’t take WPS or any of its teams for granted. If you haven’t seen these women play, take a day and see a match. It is truly inspiring.
Enough sentiment. Here’s the dispersal draft order:
Round 11. Atlanta Beat2. Philadelphia Independence3. FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)4. Chicago Red Stars5. Boston Breakers6. Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)7. Washington Freedom8. Saint Louis Athletica
Round 29. Saint Louis Athletica10. Washington Freedom11. Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)12. Boston Breakers13. Chicago Red Stars14. FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)15. Philadelphia Independence16. Atlanta Beat
Round 317. Atlanta Beat18. Philadelphia Independence19. FC Gold Pride (Bay Area)20. Chicago Red Stars21. Boston Breakers22. Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY)23. Washington Freedom24. Saint Louis Athletica