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R.I.P. Los Angeles Sol

In what would be a major setback to women's pro soccer efforts in America, the Los Angeles Sol is on the brink of disbanding after negotiations to sell the WPS club collapsed this week, the Insider has learned.

There are plans to shut down the league's highest-profile team and disperse the players to the other eight clubs next week. Players were told of the team's demise Wednesday. Brazilian superstar Marta would be sold to the highest bidder within the league, sources told me today. Amway, which has a marketing deal with Marta and was the Sol's jersey sponsor, would move with her to the new club.

The Sol has been steadily disintegrating this winter. Anschutz Entertainment Group and a secondary investor put the club on the market after just one year. The league announced recently that a deal for new ownership was close to being finalized and the club would remain in the Los Angeles area. However, sources told the Insider at the time that, even if the sale were completed, the Sol would probably no longer play at AEG-operated Home Depot Center and consider moving to Cal State Fullerton.

Star forward Camille Abily was traded, midfielder Aly Wagner retired after being told she wasn't in the club's plans, and Coach Abner Rogers was let go in late December. (Rogers' dismissal was not announced until after the WPS college draft in mid-January.)

Launched last year as a financially responsible alternative to the failed WUSA, WPS enjoyed a promising first season with seven teams and respectable attendance for a start-up league with modest operating budgets and payrolls.

Expansion teams in Philadelphia and Atlanta are set to begin play this year. With Los Angeles going under, the returning clubs are Boston, Sky Blue (New Jersey), Washington, Chicago, St. Louis and Gold Pride (Bay Area). The 2010 season is scheduled to kick off April 10.

With Marta, the four-time FIFA player of the year, the Sol led the league in attendance and finished first in the regular season before losing to fourth-place Sky Blue in the championship game.

[UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has additional details.]

By Steve Goff  |  January 28, 2010; 2:05 PM ET
Categories:  Women  
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Marta would do well in Germantown. There's even a little Brazilian coffee house (near the Amish market) to make her feel at home.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 28, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I'd LOVE to see Marta wearing the Freedom's colors. Could you imagine her AND Abby Wambach up top? That would be sick!

Posted by: stwasm | January 28, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Holy Cow! Not a good sign for the rest of the league, I fear.

Posted by: Tony-Tony-Tony | January 28, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

This sounds familiar...

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | January 28, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Reignking | January 28, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

With the Sol collapsing, WPS is going superonva?

Posted by: Reignking | January 28, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

L.A. did very well last year with a roster that seemed "loaded" with high priced players (hmm, where have we seen that before?) I mean a team with Marta, Abily, Boxx, Wagner and whomever had to carry a very high salary or "personal services" cost. My guess is that despite good attendance, the overhead on the Sol dwarfed the rest of WPS combined. If that's the reason for L.A.'s demise, then good riddance.

Posted by: griffin1108 | January 28, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

The product is just wrong.

When a bunch of BU-15's could beat any of the teams, it's just to slow.

People want a fast paced skilled game

Women's soccer is skilled, but as slow as baseball

Posted by: lessgovernmentnow | January 28, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Well that sucks for the recently drafted. Any chance Freedom can get Casey Nogueira?

Posted by: KG118 | January 28, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

A lot of us could see this coming since the league was announced. I'm not trying to hate on woman's soccer, but the market for woman's pro sports in this country is very weak. I can't see this league lasting beyond the 3 years I initially predicted.

Posted by: CACuzcatlan | January 28, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I am still going to support the Beat, since it is the only professional soccer in Atlanta, and Atlanta needs to show that it wants soccer...

Posted by: Reignking | January 28, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Not to pile on, but this is not a surprise. It's only a matter of time before this league folds. Outside of the Olympics, people as a whole (outside of those with girls that play youth sports) want to pay to watch women's professional athletics -- Fact.

Posted by: sdb11281usa | January 28, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I blame this on the elimination of skorts this year.

Posted by: Reignking | January 28, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to see Marta come to the Freedom!
Bummer for the league.

Posted by: DadRyan | January 28, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Were those skorts even available anywhere? I know cycling chicks that would love them things!

Posted by: DadRyan | January 28, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Lots of negativity regarding the women's game here today all of it unjustified. Many people actually like the women's game because its more technical, less physical (for the most part) and generally pleasant to watch. Yes, its slower paced but that in itself does not make the game inferior.

You guys need to get over your bias because the game is not going away and the U.S. will continue to be a magnet for the women's game due to the popularity of the sport at the youth, club and collegiate level. There is a market for women's soccer - the situation in LA is unfortunate but must be seen in the context of that club and it's ownership situation.

Posted by: sbg1 | January 28, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I am still going to support the Beat, since it is the only professional soccer in Atlanta, and Atlanta needs to show that it wants soccer...

Posted by: Reignking

That's the spirit brother.

Posted by: DadRyan | January 28, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Could they really have survived with Marta getting a $500,000 paycheck? That's a lot for a single player in a new league. That's big money even for the MLS and they've been at it for over a decade now.

Posted by: tundey | January 28, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

@sbg1: Applauding the demise of a team that attempted to "break the bank" with its roster isn't "hating." We had 2 season tickets to the Freedom last year and enjoyed most of the games (if not some of Gabarra's tactics). The Sol tried to buy a championship and went bust trying and failing. The WPS will make it, in a USL/NASL type of way by sticking to the business model -- not trying to go the WUSA route because we know how that one turned out.

Posted by: griffin1108 | January 28, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Nothing negative about the women's game at all.

It's always unfortunate when a sports team dies.

I've just never been sold that there was a long-term market for the product - but hopefully the Sol was atypical of WPS and a message on how quickly things could get top heavy

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | January 28, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Damn. The Sol player I'd most like to see with the Freedom is not Marta but Abily and she's already gone. Good pickups for us now would be Bock, Miyama or DiMartino.

Marta's the best player but I don't care if she stays or goes. It stuck in my craw that she forced the league to squander a roster spot on her Swedish friend, and $500,000 is a ridiculous salary. If the money is the driver, and she can make more in Sweden, go for it. No sense retaining Marta and killing the league at the same time.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 28, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the league should undo the Abily transaction.

Posted by: OWNTF | January 28, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Very, very sad news. Despite the fact that I hate the Sol. Hope it's not the beginning of the end of the league. That would really be devastating. If the Freedom get a player, Boxxy would be a great asset.

Posted by: Janescomment | January 28, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

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