Now that the WPS has folded (as most everyone who follows women’s soccer expected), the next question for those of us who follow Sky Blue is, what will become of the New Jersey club?
There are options for Sky Blue. The new WPSL Elite league already has three of the former WPS teams playing in the league. The Chicago Red Stars played in the WPS for two years (from 2009 to 2010), the Western New York Flash played one year in the WPS (2011 and won the 2011 Championship), and the Boston Breakers played in the WPS all three years it existed. These three teams have found a home in the Elite league. Not to mention, the New York Fury is filled on its roster with WPS players from Sky Blue, the Atlanta Beat, the Philly Independence, and even the FC Gold Pride, WPS Champions in 2010. The Fury, with a full WPS coaching staff, find themselves atop the Elite league after the first two weeks of play.
As the Elite league expands in 2013 with teams on the West Coast, there is no reason the New Jersey club couldn’t join the mix in what is now the only professional women’s league in the United States.
A less than positive option for Sky Blue would be to return to an all amateur team and play in the USL W-League. Sky Blue started out as the Jersey Sky Blue in the W-League before moving up and becoming a professional team in Women’s Professional Soccer. It would be a step backward for the club, but one that would keep the team alive along with its soccer school and select teams for youth.
Right now, beyond those two options, there is really nothing to do but shut the team down for good just as the WPS has shut down. It is my sincere hope that Sky Blue moves forward as a professional team, as the other WPS teams have done, and enters the WPSL Elite league. While those of us in Northern New Jersey have a New York club to root for, it would really be nice to have a New Jersey club still playing on the professional level.
So Sky Blue, what will it be? Professional soccer, amateur soccer, or the end? Many of us are rooting for the first option.