The mostly amateur Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) has expanded into the professional women’s soccer realm. Former WPS teams like the Chicago Red Stars, last year’s WPS champions the Western NY Flash, and Boston Breakers have moved to this new pro league. Missing in the new league is Sky Blue FC.
The league has been able to do what WPS never was. There are eight teams in multiple time zones, the requirement the US Soccer Federation requires to sanction a Division 1 league, and another 3-5 teams are ready to join on the west coast in 2013. Six of the teams, including the former WPS teams, will be fully professional teams, while two of them will be a combination of pro and amateur players. The pro teams are Boston, Western NY, Chicago, the New England Mutiny, FC Indiana, and ASA Chesapeake Charge. Added to those fully professional teams are two pro-am teams with a mixture of pro players and amateurs, Aztec MA and The Philadelphia Fever. The good news for Southern Jersey soccer fans is the Fever will play half of its home games in Washington Township and half in Philadelphia.
Those of us who live in Central and Northern New Jersey who have loved and followed Sky Blue FC will not be so lucky as the club has decided to stay on the sidelines and not enter the new league. They will be playing some exhibition games this month in Japan, but that doesn’t really mean much if you want to go see them live, unless of course you can afford to fly overseas.
There is no telling what will happen with the WPS as it tries to rebuild and restart in 2013, but there is a new option now, and this Elite league in the WPSL is, for now, the topU.S.women’s league. WPSL commissioner Jerry Zanelli has laid out the operating budgets for these teams, “The operating budgets will be somewhere around $200,000-$300,000. However, there will not be a salary cap. Teams will be responsible for finding and paying their own players.” Zanelli expects many of the WPS players to be on these teams. Bostonhas already announced it is retaining three of its WPS players, Katie Schoepfer, Cat Whitehill and Courtney Jones
When 2013 rolls around there is no doubt there will be some very difficult decisions to be made for WPS teams. Should they restart a failing league, or continue on with a growing successful league? When that decision is finalized, my hope is Sky Blue will be playing in whichever league succeeds.