Women’s Professional Soccer
will officially announce on Friday announced today the termination of the franchise following the league’s inaugural season and the dispersal of the team’s 19 players, including Brazilian star Marta, via a draft Thursday to other teams.
The league operated the Sol for the last couple of months after one of its two original ownership groups pulled out in mid-year, leaving Galaxy owners Anschutz Entertainment Group in charge of the team until the end of last season until they, too, pulled out. The Sol lost as much as $2 million last year, despite leading the league in attendance, WPS officials said.
The league had attempted to sell the team, which last year won the regular season title before losing in the championship game at Home Depot Center, but those negotiations to an “investment group” fell through, officials said.
The Sol had suspended season ticket sales while it was operated by the league.
Coach Abner Rogers was fired via e-mail two days before Christmas and General Manager Charlie Naimo took over in that post.
In an interview last week with 100 Percent Soccer Naimo sounded optimistic the Sol would continue operating, although he didn’t directly answer the question of how close the franchise came to shutting down.
“Sometimes with new ownership comes new direction and we’re just looking to move forward,” he said. “We’re hoping in the next week or so (the sale) will become official. We want to get the right message out to the fans and get them back on board. We’ve been working hard to make sure we can come back and be bigger and better than last year.
“I don’t want to comment on any of the budget stuff,” Naimo added. “We’re confident we’re going to make up for lost time.”
The team participated in the recent WPS draft and was lining up some European stars to play for the franchise, although oft-injured national team veteran Aly Wagner had announced her retirement.
While the Sol’s demise appears to echo the end of the now defunct WUSA, league officials observe this season will see two new expansion teams (the Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat, which will have a new stadium built specifically for the team), a longer regular season with more home games for each team, increased sponsorship and a reformatted All-Star Game that will take place in mid-season rather than at the end of it.
Still, the end of a franchise in one of the nation’s two largest media markets is not going to enhance the credibility of supposed national women’s soccer league.