By Paul Martinez
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.