November 16, 2010

WPS Survives, Gold Pride Doesn't

Women's Professional Soccer has announced that it will continue into 2011 with at least six teams. The league will include Boston, Sky Blue FC, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, and the new Western New York (Buffalo/Rochester) franchise. FC Gold Pride, however, became the third of the original seven to fold. The Chicago Red Stars remain a question mark for the 2011 season, as additional investment is sought with a deadline of December 15 being set.

If we were using Queen songs to describe Gold Pride's last three months, they have gone from "We Are the Champions" to "Another One Bites the Dust" in a remarkably short period of time. The current owners, the NeSmith family, have been seeking additional investors/owners for some time, but could not attract enough interest to keep the franchise alive for 2011 in spite of all efforts.

FC Gold Pride won both the regular season title and the playoff championship last season. It marks the second straight year that the regular season champions have not returned the following year. The Los Angeles Sol won the 2009 regular season title before folding in January, 2010. A third original team, Saint Louis Athletica, folded in May, 2010 during the middle of the season.

So at this point, the league's three western-most franchises have folded, with the next farthest west, Chicago, in limbo. Both Red Star and league officials are optimistic that additional investors can be found to save the Chicago franchise for 2011. Should they not survive, WPS would be confined to the eastern time zone.

All Gold Pride players will become free agents, with the free agent period starting tomorrow. Judging from the expansion draft protected list released in October, FC Gold Pride had 11 players under contract for the 2011 season. They include FIFA Player of the Year Marta and WPS Rookie of the Year Ali Riley. Additionally, Kiki Bosio, Carrie Dew, Becky Edwards, Kristen Graczyk, Tiffeny Milbrett, Kandace Wilson, Brittany Cameron, Rosie Tantillo, and Kimberly Yokers appear to have been under contract at that time.

More information is expected tomorrow.