By Daniel Squizzato Some Canadian Soccer Guys
Is the end of WPS the end of the women’s pro game in North America?
While the news that WPS has officially folded shouldn’t come as an overwhelming surprise to anyone (considering that the five-team league suspended operations for 2012 several months ago, amidst a legal battle with a former owner), it doesn’t make the development any less unfortunate.
It is the end for Women’s Professional Soccer and some might even believe — given the dissolution of the similarly high-hoped W-USA after three seasons, back in 2003 — the end of women’s professional soccer in northern North America altogether. It’s been a very long 13 years since Brandi Chastain’s sports-bra moment, after all.
So, why did this happen? And, more importantly from our perspective, what does it mean for the Canadian women’s national team?
For the immediate future, it doesn’t have much impact on Big Red’s preparations for this summer’s Olympics. With WPS’s 2012 season already nixed, the members of Canada’s WPS contingent had already found new clubs or were taking part in the national team’s extended training camp in Vancouver.
Vancouver, in fact, has been a major destination for members of the Canadian women’s national team; the Whitecaps women’s team boasts seven current senior national-team members, and a number of Canadian youngsters likely to make the jump in the years ahead.
The Whitecaps play in the USL’s W-League, along with teams in seven other Canadian cities: Victoria, Ottawa, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Laval and Quebec City. Two of those — Victoria and Toronto — are affiliated with men’s clubs in the USL’s PDL. The W-League, like the PDL, is a development league. In other words, the W-League isn’t a substitute for WPS, as it isn’t professional.
But it is a league that gives young players the chance to play along more experienced ones, while maintaining their collegiate eligibility (still a very important element of the northern North American soccer pyramid).
None of that answers the question of what the long-term future holds for standout Canadians who’d been in WPS for several years — such as Christine Sinclair and Karina LeBlanc — or the countless other female players hoping to make (somewhat of) a living through the game. Some members of the Canadian team ply their trade in Scandinavian leagues, which seem to enjoy a decent amount of stability and support. But what about the opportunities on this continent? What about players who can’t commit to going overseas?
Those, unfortunately, are not answers that anyone has at this point.