The Sol Is Dead, Long Live The Independence

First, the bad news: the Los Angeles Sol, the team with far and away the best regular season record and the playoff runner-up of Women’s Professional Soccer’s 2009 inaugural season, has folded.

Next, the so-so news: this bad news for L.A. might not be as bad as it looks at first glance for WPS as a whole. Basically, the Sol’s demise came as result of the club’s uniquely bizarre ownership situation, and everyone knew from get-go that this end was always a possibility for the L.A. franchise.

Philadelphia Independence logo

LA's loss, Philly's gain

AEG, the ownership group of the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, got the Los Angeles Sol up and running last year. However, AEG made it very clear from the start that getting the club up and running was all it would do. AEG’s involvement was to last for just one year, and after that it would sell the team to a local ownership group and be done. When the sale fell through last week so close to the start of the 2010 preseason March 1, the team had to be folded.

If an established club that predated WPS like the Boston Breakers or Washington Freedom folded, or if one of the other teams saw its owners unexpectedly bail, it would have been a disaster for the league. That isn’t what happened, though. Instead, L.A.’s owners bailed exactly when they said they would bail right from the start. This is definitely a hit to the league, but certainly not an unexpected nor catastrophic one. Even with the Sol’s demise, the 2010 edition of WPS will actually have one more team that it did in the inaugural 2009 season. A dispersal draft of the Sol’s players was held yesterday.

Which brings me to the good news: we got their goalie — 2009 WPS All-Star and Canadian National Team member Karina LeBlanc, as well as the 25th overall pick from the 2010 WPS College Draft (also a defender). Suddenly, an already strong-looking Philadelphia defense looks even stronger than it already did. Going to southeastern Pennsylvania actually works out to be a pretty convenient job move for LeBlanc, who is also an assistant coach at Rutgers University. It should also make things interesting when the Independence plays its first-ever preseason exhibition match against Rutgers March 7.

One the whole, 2010 is looking to be an incredible year for soccer fans around here, as long as Women’s Professional Soccer survives and Major League Soccer’s owners and players get their collective heads out of their butts and get a new collective bargaining agreement in place. Both the Independence of WPS and the Philadelphia Union of MLS look like they’ll be a lot better than typical expansion teams, provided they get a chance to actually take the field. Until those issues are resolved, that’s what worries me.

By the way, if you’re wondering why the heck you should care about the the future of professional women’s soccer, read this, and this one, too.

Update (2/9/10): It looks as though WPS is continuing to work on getting a permanent ownership group for a Los Angeles franchise, and that it has every intention of getting a team back in L.A. in 2011.

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One Response to “The Sol Is Dead, Long Live The Independence”

  1. Adam Soucie Says:

    Thanks for the link!

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