During the 2012 London Olympics earlier this year, there was a press release claiming a new women's professional soccer league was coming soon to North America. Since then, precious few details have emerged regarding said league, leaving some people to wonder if it was all just a dream. With the U.S. Women's National Team winning the gold medal at the Olympics and being the runners-up last year at the World Cup, and with the Canadian Women's National Team winning the bronze medal at the Olympics, it seems clear that a professional league needs to be established to maintain that high quality at a national level.
Last week, Charles Boehm reported that based on his sources the new league was set to have eight teams, located in Boston, Chicago, (upstate) New York, New Jersey, Kansas City, Washington D.C., Portland, and Seattle.
At the time, I thought it was rather conspicuous that the proposed league would have teams on the West Coast but would not have any teams in the state of California, a state that is a veritable factory for men's and women's soccer talent. As the last pro league, Women's Professional Soccer, attempted to consolidate to remain in existence, they folded all of the clubs West of Georgia, but that effort did not make enough difference to keep WPS alive. Although I would not have been happy with a league that excluded the entire West Coast, I figured the decision to stay out of California was chalked up to a lack of investment.
The plot has thickened, however. Jeff Kassouf has reported in an article on The Equalizer today that in fact there was a joint bid by the Pali Blues and LA Strikers, USL W-League members and competitors, but that their proposal for a pro team in Los Angeles has been rejected in the plans for the new league.
In addition, the Strikers' twitter account has been adamant that the rejection was solely due to geographical reasons (as in, the league doesn't want to go to the Southwest) than for financial concerns:
@jeffkassouf Our information is that SoCal has been left out of the new Pro League - Not a good start for women pro soccer in US.— LA Strikers FC (@LAStrikersFC) November 18, 2012
Established LA ownership excluded for geography equalizersoccer.com/2012/11/20/no-…!!!Could have really been sweet!Everything was in place!— LA Strikers FC (@LAStrikersFC) November 20, 2012
@jeffkassouf Great article - totally true - totally sad.Our package was the best and we were really ready to pack the stadium!— LA Strikers FC (@LAStrikersFC) November 20, 2012
@becca4kicks @coachdaugherty @wsn247 Believe me - lack of resources had nothing to do with LA being excluded from the new league!— LA Strikers FC (@LAStrikersFC) November 20, 2012
@wsn247 @lastrikersfc It had to be geography - we had the mgt., coaching, players, stadium, finances, and experience - Portland v. LA - sad— LA Strikers FC (@LAStrikersFC) November 20, 2012
So, Southern California women's soccer fans, you can't say that nobody tried to bring a pro team to the area for this new league. It appears the league has a way to go in planning, and certainly, they could change their minds, or a team could come to this area down the line. For a women's pro league to work, the plans need to be meticulous to ensure the best possible chance for having a sustainable league that exists (and indeed, thrives) for decades to come. But this can't be a good start for those of us wanting to see that SoCal flair in the new league.
Still, don't forget about the LA Strikers. They will be back in 2013, and they need your support!
What do you think? Leave a comment below!