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Curtains for WPS after Borislow lawsuit

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

Boca Raton (May 18, 2012) – It's happened again. After three seasons, a top tier women's soccer league in the United States has given up the ghost, unable to continue after the twin blows of a bad economy and a rogue owner.

     The failure continues what is becoming a pattern: three-years-and-out for top level women's soccer in the United States. Previously, the Women's United Soccer Association played just three seasons, from 2001-2003. And once again, a league folds immediately before a major tournament, leaving national team players without the opportunity to tune up. WUSA folded before the 2003 Women's World Cup, and WPS bows out before the 2012 Olympics.

     The league had been in financial difficulty from the beginning, despite policies designed to prevent the wasteful spending that had killed the first league. Though WUSA had received league-wide support from major corporate sponsors such as Hyundai and McDonalds, WPS had to rely on regional sponsors, either unable to provide enough support - or as in the case of magicJack (sic) owner Dan Borislow, demanding too much control in exchange for support.

     Following the first season, finalist Los Angeles Sol folded, and though two East Coast teams entered, the WPS was left with essentially regional status. Fans were left with serious doubts about continuity after the mid-season demise of St. Louis Athletica in 2011.

    Lacking nationwide clout, and with more teams bowing out for 2012 leaving six in the league, the WPS asked the US Soccer Federation for a league size waiver, in order to maintain the league's top-tier status and enable it to go after investors. Unfortunately, one of the investors entering the league was majicJack owner Dan Borislow. Having purchased the storied but troubled Washington Freedom franchise, changing the name to magicJack, and moving it to Boca Raton, he tried to mold the league in his own image.

     The league and owner spent more time in court than on the field, draining resources that should have gone to supporting the league. In the end the league did not have the resiliency to survive that. Furthermore, only four teams (including magicJack) were actually ready to play in 2012.

     Since the announcement that the season would be suspended back in January, plans had been afoot for the viable WPS teams to save their seasons, even if it meant playing in the WPSL pro-am league. The Boston Breakers, Western New York Flash, and Chicago Red Stars join WPSL Chesapeake, Indiana, New England, New York Fury and Philadelphia for the 2012 season.

     magicJack was not invited, despite possessing Abby Wambach, the leading goalscorer in the country.

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