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R.I.P. St. Louis Athletica

Four months after the Los Angeles Sol folded, Women's Professional Soccer has lost St. Louis Athletica.

The second-year league announced Thursday that Athletica is shutting down six games into the season because of a "funding crisis." The league covered the past two team payrolls. St. Louis had been scheduled to play at Atlanta this weekend.

All players, including Hope Solo, Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny from the U.S. national team, will become free agents on Tuesday. (Boxx arrived in St. Louis after the Sol's demise.) The league is in the process of revising the schedule. All results involving St. Louis matches will stand.

Let the league's damage control begin.....

"This is a setback, but it's one individual franchise and the loss of a team is an unfortunate reality of pro sports," Commissioner Tonya Antonucci said in a written statement. "We'll continue to have great games and an exciting season for our fans. The solid foundation that we built in 2009 is there. We have the same number of teams that we had last year during a successful first season. We'll get through this stronger and keep moving the league and business forward."

Details from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

By Steve Goff  |  May 27, 2010; 6:15 PM ET
Categories:  Women  | Tags: Hope Solo, St. Louis Athletica, WPS  
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Comments

It goes without saying that this is bad for the league. Is the league anywhere close to operating in the black over the course of a season?

Posted by: DCU_Rick | May 27, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

If it goes without saying, don't say it.

Posted by: very_clever_username | May 27, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't think they planned to make money in this year at all. The problem in St. Louis seems to be that the owner decided he really wanted an mens team and so started a NASL team and spent a lot of money he didn't have on high-priced talent. The "investors" from England he signed up didn't come up with the cash, and they decided the mens team was worth saving and the Athletica wasn't. The real future of the league will be determined by the rest of the owners. If they have been realistic about the costs and planned for the long haul (as the Sol and Athletica owners clearly did not,) the league may survive. I really hope it does.

Posted by: mskenny1 | May 27, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

For being such a "soccer mecca," how is it that pro teams can't survive in St. Louis?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | May 27, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

You left Tarpley off the US Nats list, though I know she's hurt, as well as Tina DiMartino, Ellertson and Kendall Fletcher.

Other great prospects:

English internationals Aluko (F) and Asanta (D)

Aya Miyama!!! With Miyama plus Sawa -- We can call the Plex "The House of The Rising Sun"

Kind of weird though. What happens to roster size? It would really suck for the tail end of the Freedom bench to be displaced at this point in the season.

Posted by: OWNTF | May 27, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

@mskenny1 -- True. St. Louis United, in a blinding focus on the 20th and final MLS franchise, threw Athletica under the Metrobus. Or, in this case, a special-ed shortbus.

Posted by: bs2004 | May 27, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I really enjoy watching the WPS. It is great for women's soccer. I hope that the league can gain some positive traction.

Posted by: ProfBrian | May 27, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Man, I was looking forward to seeing Solo and already had a couple of buddies by tickets for this weekend...

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | May 27, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many times this would have happened in MLS if it hadn't been for single entity.

Posted by: MrTuktoyaktuk | May 27, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

But, no sooner could I hit "submit" than I had a call from the Beat saying they've already gotten a game against the Tampa W-League team. And for all you Atlanta folk, $5 walk up tickets and $5 coupons to use on concessions or merch or whatnot, so yall come on out.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | May 27, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

isn't that quote from the league just about the same one they rolled out when the Sol folded?

Posted by: nairbsod | May 27, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

"I would have saved that franchise" -- Briana Scurry.

Posted by: dccal | May 27, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Women's pro soccer is never going to make it in the US unless the players want to play for per diem and win bonuses. It's a niche-within-a-niche porduct whose only value or appeal is to serve the political correctness imperatives of the USSF.

Why do you think that Mia Hamm is still the face of US soccer in this country and not Landon Donavan?

Posted by: mightymax | May 27, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Mid-season supplemental draft?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 27, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Sad day for the sport. Especially during when soccer is a focus this year with the world cup.

Posted by: mmsq | May 27, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Athletica; long live the Freedom

Posted by: Jedi65 | May 27, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

As trollish as mighty max is, there may be something to that.
Could women's pro soccer find a way like niche action sports have?
I mean no disrespect when I say this, but maybe video games, tween fashions, signature shoes, etc. are the key to financial leverage in women's soccer in the US?

As a parent of a very young girl that I hope finds some love for the beautiful game, I have no trouble telling you that if they marketed THIS STUFF toward my daughter I'd have less of a problem with it than BRATZ and Barbies.

Just a random thought of the moment.

@jacob, if I could go to Freedom games for $5 I'd go to every single one I could.

Posted by: DadRyan | May 27, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

We were going to a game there next month. Guess we can get our money back?

Posted by: VirginiaFan | May 27, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I think Ali Krieger is pretty smart.

Posted by: OWNTF | May 27, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Aya Miyama!!! With Miyama plus Sawa -- We can call the Plex "The House of The Rising Sun"

Posted by: OWNTF | May 27, 2010 6:57 PM
_________________________________________

Think again. In the traditional ballad (recorded by the Weavers, Dylan, the Animals, Odetta, and countless others), the House of the Rising Sun is a house of ill repute.

Posted by: universityandpark | May 27, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

For being such a "soccer mecca," how is it that pro teams can't survive in St. Louis?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | May 27, 2010 6:49 PM
__________________________________________

Soccer in St. Louis, as in a lot of Rust Belt cities, historically has been fairly insular, revolving around local high schools and colleges and amateur leagues. Even when they were thrust into the international arena, as they were for a couple of weeks in 1950, they quickly returned to their old stomping grounds.

Posted by: universityandpark | May 27, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

isn't that quote from the league just about the same one they rolled out when the Sol folded?

Posted by: nairbsod | May 27, 2010 8:31 PM
_________________________________________

Pretty much. At that time, Antonucci hinted that she expected WPS to follow the model of the second and third tiers in men's soccer, in which every year a couple of teams would drop out, to be replaced by teams from other cities. Have there many years in recent memory in which USL-1 (or USL/NASL, in the current incarnation) and USL-2 remained intact from one year to the next?

Posted by: universityandpark | May 27, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

The WNBA only survives because it's subsidized by the NBA.

Is it really a shock that Women's Pro Soccer will be a VERY hard struggle to survive here?

Posted by: alecw81 | May 27, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

@mskenny1 -- True. St. Louis United, in a blinding focus on the 20th and final MLS franchise, threw Athletica under the Metrobus. Or, in this case, a special-ed shortbus.

Posted by: bs2004 | May 27, 2010 7:05 PM
________________________________________

This behavior is especially perplexing, given that the odds of St. Louis grabbing that coveted 20th berth have been pretty slim for quite some time. They have repeatedly been passed over in favor of Seattle, Philly, Vancouver, etc.

Posted by: universityandpark | May 27, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

This is a very sad day for American soccer. I really hope that the WPS can survive. There are so many girls playing the sport. It would be nice if they had a league in this country to aspire to. Hang in there WPS and go Freedom!

Posted by: croftonpost | May 27, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

I dont own an USMNT jersey. Is it OK to wear my DC United jersey to the US/Turkey match? Or will I get heckled?...

Posted by: AnthonyTheGreat | May 28, 2010 12:22 AM | Report abuse

The league needs a boost from the women's World Cup, and that is far from guaranteed. I also have to feel sorry for Shannon Boxx, she has to be feeling a little superstitious.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | May 28, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Why do you think that Mia Hamm is still the face of US soccer in this country and not Landon Donavan?

Posted by: mightymax

==============

She's got better legs.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | May 28, 2010 4:32 AM | Report abuse

And better hair, and we all know soccer stardom is all about the hair. Just ask Alexi Lalas.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | May 28, 2010 5:58 AM | Report abuse

@Anthony: There might be some heckling, but if I see someone in a DCU jersey I'll say hi. I'd just wear something red, white, and blue (or just red and match Sam's Army). Fortunately, cheap apparel that is over-the-top American is all over the place in this city.

Posted by: Mongoose714 | May 28, 2010 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Goff,

Heard anything about DC going after Sebastian Battaglia?

Posted by: strago | May 28, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

From what I understand -- and I REALLY hope this is the case -- Athletica's demise was more a mismanagement issue than it was the league, itself. Still, it really is a sad day and I pray not an omen for the league's future.

Mid-season supplemental draft?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 27, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse


There won't be one. Teams will be free to sign any of the available Athletica players.

Posted by: stwasm | May 28, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

This is a very sad day for American soccer. I really hope that the WPS can survive. There are so many girls playing the sport. It would be nice if they had a league in this country to aspire to. Hang in there WPS and go Freedom!

Posted by: croftonpost | May 27, 2010 11:46 PM
-------------------------------------------
This is a sad day for WOMANS American soccer. The loss of a St. louis WPS team, albeit bad for the womans pro game, has zero effect on the mens pro landscape even at the USL-1 or USL-2 level. I hope the league stays a float. I think it has been great for the USWNT. Just look at the 4-0 blow out of WC holders and #2 ranked Germany last week. Having all the USWNT regulars playing ang training at a high level year round has really pushed the US team back to the top globaly. That would be the real problem if the league folded would be the effect on the womans national team.
So...bad for Womans soccer, pro and national team, not so much a national crisis for mens pro soccer...at all...in any way...and anyone that thinks otherwise is, well, a bit wrong.

Posted by: jjfooty | May 28, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if Gabarra will try to get Aluko or Tarpley since De Vanna will now be out for a while.

Posted by: KG118 | May 28, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

any team that adds chalupny, boxx, tarp, dimartino, or solo instantly becomes a better team (even if they have to wait for tarp's return). kind of makes me wonder why they weren't tearing up the league in the first place, with that kind of talent.

Posted by: troy6 | May 28, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

@troy6, I think there may be salary cap issues, but I'm not sure about that.

It seems the teams with the stupidest names have folded first. Bad news for New Jersey.

Posted by: OWNTF | May 28, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"I would have saved that franchise" -- Briana Scurry.

Posted by: dccal
------------------------------------------
dccal, you are one, devilish genius. Sickly played.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 28, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

A.C. St Louis is in serious trouble, as well... Another "Cooper" project.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 28, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

So...bad for Womans soccer, pro and national team, not so much a national crisis for mens pro soccer...at all...in any way...and anyone that thinks otherwise is, well, a bit wrong.

Posted by: jjfooty | May 28, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

======================================

Why on Earth did you go there? There was absolutely zero reason to post this other than to be a jerk. Worst post on SI I have possibly ever seen.

Posted by: Gambrills4 | May 28, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Hope Solo call me you can stay with me until you find a new club.

Posted by: csd1 | May 28, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

This is a sad day for WOMANS American soccer. The loss of a St. louis WPS team, albeit bad for the womans pro game, has zero effect on the mens pro landscape even at the USL-1 or USL-2 level. I hope the league stays a float. I think it has been great for the USWNT. Just look at the 4-0 blow out of WC holders and #2 ranked Germany last week. Having all the USWNT regulars playing ang training at a high level year round has really pushed the US team back to the top globaly. That would be the real problem if the league folded would be the effect on the womans national team.
So...bad for Womans soccer, pro and national team, not so much a national crisis for mens pro soccer...at all...in any way...and anyone that thinks otherwise is, well, a bit wrong.

Posted by: jjfooty | May 28, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

------------------------------------------

Was it really necessary to point out that it is only bad for the women's game? "American soccer" in a general sense infers both the men and women as the USSF includes both so you are the one who is wrong. However, it should never have been said. It was totally inappropriate and unnecessary to bring up.

Posted by: blackandred777 | May 28, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Worst post on SI I have possibly ever seen.

Posted by: Gambrills4
-------------------------------------------
You must have missed a lot of my posts...

Posted by: yankiboy | May 28, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Can DCU sign Hope Solo? Thank you!

Posted by: vmrg1974 | May 28, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"This is a sad day for WOMANS American soccer. The loss of a St. louis WPS team, albeit bad for the womans pro game, has zero effect on the mens pro landscape even at the USL-1 or USL-2 level."
-jjfooty
-------------------------------------------
JJ, Bro, not trying to "pile on"--really, I'm not. But you do realize that Jeff Cooper current is the dominant force in the USSF D2 club, AC St. Louis, right?

If AC St. Louis doesn't manage to survive this season or if it folds after this season--that fact will have a DIRECT impact on the second division lanscape.

With the whole NASL/USL/USSF D2 mess, it could even potentially affect the USL2. Here's how: Cooper was at the vanguard of the NASL revolution, even acting as Interim Commisioner (please hold your laughter).

If the NASL and USL still can't come together and both need 7 clubs in order to be the offically USSF santioned second division league (because the USSF already has stated that they don't want to be in the business of running a league) then you will have to wonder if the USL will try and pressure the Charleston Battery to move back up to get them to the required number for "sanctioning". If the NASL folds then maybe a club like Baltimore asks back into the USL2 (if Baltimore can remedy it's own serious financial issues).

In short: It's a numbers game. Jeff "I got it all covered and a lot of great ideas to sell the sport and run a successful soccer franchise" Cooper was the driving force behind both the WPS & the Second division club.

By making the choice to take Athletica off the life support machines so that he can use those resources to try and generate more for the life support apparatus that AC St. Louis needs, the men's landscape has already been affected.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 28, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Can DCU sign Hope Solo? Thank you!

Posted by: vmrg1974
------------------------------------------
That took a lot longer than I thought that it would...

Posted by: yankiboy | May 28, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"I would have saved that franchise" -- Briana Scurry.

Posted by: dccal | May 27, 2010 8:31 PM
________________________________________

Actually, this is a riff on a quote that came not from Scurry, but from Hope Solo, one of the victims of this mess, which makes it especially ironic.

Posted by: universityandpark | May 28, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

About a week ago I posted a link to an article about the brewing fiasco in St. Louis. It contained this tidbit:

"AC is one of two men’s franchises in the USSF Division 2 Pro League that sources say are having serious financial difficulties. The other is Crystal Palace Baltimore."

http://www.globe-democrat.com/news/2010/may/21/st-louis-pro-soccer-teams-facing-serious-financial/

Posted by: universityandpark | May 28, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Sad to see the St. Louis Athletica fold. Glad that we have such a wonderful WPS team here- DC's winning soccer team THE FREEDOM!!

Posted by: lsf07 | May 28, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

We just need to clone Maureen Hendricks and get rid of these deadbeat owners, that's all.

Posted by: universityandpark | May 28, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

It's a sad day for me personally as a serious soccer fan / supporter. That said, as a political conservative, I do NOT support the notion that any taxpayer money should be spent to support these ventures - including those usual icons "the arts". It is up to the people who enjoy / use things to support those things. Again, I feel a loss, but refuse to place the burden on others. Good luck to the players!

Posted by: HonestJohn501 | May 30, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

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