Bad news today on the women's soccer front, as the W-League announced they will cease operations immediately. In a release on the league's website, they said, ..".after an exhausting effort by both the league and its current team owners, there proved an insufficient number of teams to facilitate play in 2016 at the consistent league standards of quality and competition that has been the W-League's trademark throughout its history."
The W-League, in 2015 in the second tier of the American soccer pyramid, alongside the WPSL and below the NWSL, was a semi-pro league featuring mostly college players that served as a place for young players to continue honing their games in the summer. Many W-League players went on to the first division, and the W-League itself served as an important place for U.S. national team players to get some action, especially in 2012 when there was no fully professional league in the United States and the W-League was a de facto first division in a vacuum.
The W-League had been around since 1995 and the release about the league's demise cited it being "the longest serving professional women's league in North America," a bitter factoid on the day it disappears.
There were numerous local connections to the W-League, most recently the dominance of the Pali Blues, which became the LA Blues after a merger with the LA Strikers ahead of the 2014 season. All told, the Blues won four national titles, including their final season, before they folded late last year.
The W-League's release left open the possibility the league could return at a future date, but given the fact that it was driven to suspend the whole thing and leave a fair number of teams in the lurch (unless, of course, a slew of them were on the verge of folding themselves), it's a pretty depressing day for women's soccer.
The irony is that soccer is healthier than it's ever been in this country, but women's club soccer at all levels continues to face massive hurdles to sustainability. The news of the W-League shuttering adds one more anecdote to that growing pile.
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