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WPS retains top tier status, despite deficiencies

wps soccer martinez photosport
Natasha Kai of Sky Blue FC and the Aly Wagner of the Los Angeles Sol

Paul Martinez / PHOTOSPORT

By Paul Martinez
Staff Writer

Chicago (December 13, 2011) – Short three teams, and with the rest all located on the east coast, US Soccer nevertheless renewed Women's Professional Soccer's top tier status for another year.

     The three-year-old league can still be considered in its startup phase, since only one of the remaining teams (Boston) is a founding member. The league shed the other, Magicjack, in October following a running feud with its owner Dan Borislow.

     And with Boston in trouble, WPS could soon find itself in an untenable position.

     US Soccer requires a number of things for a league to be sanctioned with Division 1 status, one of which is an eight-team minimum. In granting the exemption, US Soccer wants six teams for 2013 and all eight for 2014.

     Additionally, there are certain financial committments, to be provided both on a league-wide level, and from individual teams. These are designed to guaranty player's salaries and ensure obligations to suppliers, as well as preventing embarrassing midseason team foldings, which draw negative press and inconvenience the rest of the teams.

     "After thorough discussions, our Board of Directors approved sanctioning WPS as a Division I league, subject to the league meeting certain conditions," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. "WPS has agreed to these requirements. At all levels of professional soccer in the United States, our goal is to ensure the long-term sustainability of each league. WPS is optimistic about their ability to continue to grow in the next two years, and we believe these conditions will help the league accomplish those goals."

     The WPS is slated to field five teams for 2012: Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Independence, Sky Blue FC and Western New York Flash.

     With the WPS retreating to the east coast, there are yet two other women's soccer leagues, both with a national presence: the USL W- League and the WPSL.

     Though neither can be considered for Division 1 status due to the requirement of a 5,000 seat stadium, perhaps that may change if WPS ends up suspending action.

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