The old leagues are not dead. Long live the new league — and the old ones.
The USL’s W-League has survived to its 19th season. Heading to last season, the league lost no teams and added three. Of those three teams, two have rebranded (Central SC Cobras –> Carolina Elite Cobras; VSI Tampa Flames –> VSI Tampa Bay FC).
This season, several teams have gone:
– FC JAX Destroyers, the third new team from last season, fared poorly in their debut and shut down along with their men’s team of two seasons. Little official word except for a comment on Facebook (see response to Ian Garrett):
– The New Jersey Rangers club was folded into Luso Soccer Academy, sans the overmatched W-League team, which won four games in its 2010 debut and only once since then.
– The Northern Virginia Majestics have wrapped up a 14-year run (at least for now) by throwing their efforts into the Washington Spirit’s operations. The club will still have youth operations reaching up through the Super-Y League.
– The Rochester Ravens, another long-standing team, also decided not to compete with the Western New York Flash now firmly established in the market.
– The most surprising news came from Canada, where the Vancouver Whitecaps had demonstrated that they weren’t interested in going to a top-flight league despite a long line of Canadian national team players on the all-time roster. But did anyone expect that they would drop from the W-League to the PCSL?
– The Victoria Highlanders, a longtime PCSL team that spent a couple of years in the W-League, also dropped back to the PCSL and will play under the unwieldy name Peninsula Co-Op Highlanders.
Then there’s one change: D.C. United Women are now the Washington Spirit. With the top squad in the NWSL, the W-League team will be the reserves.
The Spirit reserves are amateur, but the W-League has at least one pro team this season: The Bay Area Breeze have moved over from the WPSL.
Three teams renamed – Hamilton (now K-W United FC) and the aforementioned Carolina and Tampa Bay changes. Also, New York Magic added “-FA Euro” to the name
So the league has gone through yet another pro league’s launch with a few changes but not a complete overhaul. As the song says, steady as she goes.
The WPSL is larger and looser by design. Last year, the league put together an Elite league, providing a helpful bridge from WPS to the NWSL. WPS clubs Western New York, Boston and Chicago were able to stay on the field while giving a lot of players a chance to stay in the game, and the Long Island Fury’s New York offshoot put together another strong pro team under Paul Riley’s guidance.
Now Western New York, Boston and Chicago are back in the fully pro ranks with the NWSL. The New York Fury are gone, though the Long Island Fury remain in the WPSL. The New England Mutiny return home to regular WPSL play. So will the Philadelphia Fever and ASA Chesapeake Charge, two teams that played in the Elite last season. We’ll come back to the eighth team, FC Indiana.
Change is constant in the WPSL. Check David Litterer’s archive, and you’ll see 15-20 teams moving in and out of the league each of the past few years.
(For the current version of the NWSL, W-League and WPSL, check out this map from Laura Taylor:
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The Houston site lists three of its games with a WPSL Elite logo — two vs. FC Indiana, one vs. San Diego. But the San Diego site lists the Houston game as “Inter League Exhibition.”
Then consider FC Indiana, which fielded a lot of Haitian national team players and picked up five points in 14 WPSL Elite games last year? We know they’ll field a team in WLS (Women’s League Soccer), which is moving indoors.
As for the summer — they’re playing the WPSL’s Houston Aces twice in May. The Houston Aces site lists the opponent as “FC Indiana (Haiti WNT).”
On FC Indiana’s Facebook page, they say they’re chasing another league title, and they say they’re playing WPSL. But their games aren’t listed on the WPSL site, and they’re not mentioned in the standings.
And remember the L.A. Vikings, which put together big exhibitions with impressive rosters? Web pages are gone, Twitter hasn’t updated since November, Facebook has gone even longer.
The Pacific South and South Atlantic look strong. The Pac South has three perennial powers, one of whom (San Diego) just added a top-level WPS player (Nikki Krzysik). The South Atlantic has two former WPSL Elite teams (ASA Chesapeake Charge, Philadelphia Fever) and the ambitious ACF Torino USA (formerly Maryland Capitols FC).
As best as I can tell, here’s the list of who’s in and who’s out:
ASA Chesapeake Charge (from WPSL Elite)
Philadelphia Fever (from WPSL Elite)
New England Mutiny (from WPSL Elite)
Boston Breakers College Academy
Des Moines Menace (from WLS)
AC Seattle (mostly Italian)
Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club Diamonds
A second California Storm team (now Storm Elk Grove and Storm Sacramento)
Los Angeles Premier FC
Tucson Soccer Academy
Fire and Ice Soccer Club
Kansas City Shock
Empire Revs WNY
Yankee Lady FC
FC Lehigh Valley United Lady Sonic
New Jersey Blaze (returning from hiatus)
Lions Swarm (Southern Maryland)
FC Surge (South Florida)
Alabama FC (Birmingham)
Bay Area Breeze (now pro team in W-League)
Los Angeles Vikings (see above)
Portland Rain (Portland Timbers now backing NWSL’s Portland Thorns)
FC Dallas (MLS team out)
New England Mutiny Reserves (parent team is in)
Phoenix U23 (parent team remains)
Mississippi Fuego FC U23 (parent team remains)
Tampa Bay Hellenic
West Texas Pride FC
FC Milwaukee Nationals
Ohio Premier Women’s SC
Salt Lake United –> Real Salt Lake Women (MLS affiliate)
FC St. George –> St. George United
Aztec MA –> Boston Aztec
Maryland Capitols FC –> ACF Torino USA
Penn Legacy Inferno –> Lancaster Inferno
Long Island Fury (New England –> Tri-State)
New York Athletic Club (Mid Atlantic –> Tri-State)
FC Bucks (South Atlantic –> Tri-State)
Buxmont Torch (South Atlantic –> Tri-State)
All told: Last season, the WPSL had 73 teams, including eight in the Elite League. This year, it’s 70.
Corrections, updates, explanations welcome.