'Tis the season to be folding clubs in Los Angeles, it seems, as The Equalizer reported on Wednesday that the LA Blues, defending W-League champions, are no longer in business. The team, owned by Ali Mansouri, who also owns the OC Blues in USL PRO, reportedly could not justify the finances of running the women's club, and now wants to devote all his resources to helping the men's team succeed.
Of course, the irony is that the women's team, first as the Pali Blues from 2008-13 and then as the LA Blues after absorbing local competitor LA Strikers this year, has been wildly successful on the field, winning four W-League titles in seven seasons, and fielding a number of stars before they became full pros (a large portion of W-League teams use college players in the offseason, similar to the USL PDL for men). As The Equalizer's article notes, "The list of players includes Alex Morgan, Lauren Holiday, Tobin Heath, Kelley O'Hara, Whitney Engen, Christen Press, Mele French, Liz Bogus, Amy LePeilbet, Ali Riley, Ashlyn Harris and Karen Bardsley."
In contrast, the OC Blues have not gotten close to a title in their four years of existence, and have missed the USL PRO playoffs twice altogether, including this season.
Obviously, if it wasn't working out and the owners weren't willing to continue the project, there isn't a great deal that can be done, save for finding a new owner. But it must be concerning that a region that develops so many good soccer players (male and female alike) not only cannot bring a pro team into the current first division, but also cannot maintain a second-division team in the area either, especially one as successful as the Blues.
Hopefully the void without women's soccer is a temporary one, but we'll obviously have to wait and see. At the very least, let's hope there aren't any more team closures in this area.
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