So we (fans of women's soccer) cheered when the Philadelphia and Atlanta teams joined the WPS this season. We were dismayed when the LA Sol folded wondering how the top team (arguably) in the league featuring Marta and other key players could not be sustainable in a city like LA. But we kept our faith in the WPS and blamed the economy and a myriad of other cultural factors all the while sporting wary smiles.
But now those smiles are turned upside down! Because WPS announced today that St. Louis Athletica is folding--immediately. As in right now. As in no games this weekend for Athletica players. The rest of the season's schedule is being adjusted and Athletica players are free agents as of June 1. So Hope Solo, Shannon Boxx, and Lori Chalupny, all key players from the US National Team, are now on the job market.
What happened? A funding crisis is what is being given as the reason. One would think given the current economic situation the whole country finds itself in, largely a result of failing to look at things closely and putting too much faith where it shouldn't have been placed (that's the my liberal studies explanation of the crisis) that WPS would be careful about who it lets own franchises. Again, I don't know anything about the ownership group except that they also own a men's team in St. Louis. But these things don't just happen. Someone, somewhere must have had a clue. If it was someone within WPS, that's unfortunate. But it's equally unfortunate if someone in WPS didn't know.
It's a huge blow for fans, players, and WPS's reputation. I hope someone does something soon to turn our frowns upside down.