The league finds itself in the midst of a nasty court battle with one of its former owners and now it is the players who are going to have to pay the price for it all. The league has wisely decided to suspend their operations for at least the 2012 season as they focus on trying to resolve the numerous off-field issues that currently face the league.
Now I am by no means an expert on WPS and if you are interested in getting into all the details of what is going on and how this might just all play out you are better off reading those who know more about it than I do. A good place to start for the basics is ESPN or the Canadian version from the National Post. You can also have a good read from Steven Goff who wonders if this shutdown could be the end of professional soccer attempts in the States. If that was not enough for you how about the whole mess of Abby Wambach throwing her unconditional support behind the owner in question, Dan Borislow.
So what does this all mean for the five existing teams in the league and more importantly the Canadian players on them? Well, the good news for Canadian fans is that Christine Sinclair's Western New York Flash team has already announced that they intend to look in to options of playing in another league for next season. If that does happen at the very least Canada's top player will be afforded the chance to play regular games without having to deal with sorting out a rushed move to a club overseas.
But what about the rest of the Canadians that called WPS home.The following women are all Canadian internationals who played in the WPS last season:
Candace Chapman - Western New York Flash
Karina LeBlanc - MagicJack
Erin McLeod - MagicJack
Kelly Parker - Atlanta Beat
Sophie Schmidt - MagicJack
Lauren Sesselmann - Atlanta Beat
Christine Sinclair - Western New York Flash
So as you can see there is a real core of the Canadian team that played in WPS last season and they will certainly be affected by this announcement. At the very least the three players from the now defunct MagicJack team will be on the look for a new club home if they have not already found one. So even if the Atlanta Beat follow the lead of the Flash and look for a new home in 2012 there will still be a degree of unrest for a couple of Canadian internationals in the coming months. Boston has made similar statements to WNY today so there is a chance that the majority of the five remaining teams could be in different leagues for at least next season. There is no word on any developments yet from the Atlanta Beat so those players will likely have more questions than answers about their future in the short term.
This certainly is not good timing for these players who would ideally be in a stable club setting so that they can play regular minutes and be on top form come the Olympics this summer. Now the suspension of WPS is not the end of the world for these players but it is a blip in the road that Canada did not need in their chase for a medal in London.
On the whole this is a situation that has been coming for a long time as things had gotten very messy with Borislaw and his role in the league. WPS is now paying a major price for trying to cut corners and making deals with individuals who they did not fully understand. It was always going to be very difficult to set up a professional soccer league in North America of the level that WPS wanted to be on. Just look at how many hard years MLS had to struggle through before finding any real level of success and you will understand that this is truly an uphill battle.
Canada's national team will not be the only one hurt by the league shutting down for the season but along with the United States they had the most key players involved in the league. The US though will almost certainly have more time and money available to make sure that all of their key players are looked after. Canada can only hope that their players receive the same kind of support from their clubs and country.
In the end a lot of this story is yet to be told but all we can do for now is hope that in some way or another all of our key Canadian internationals can find club homes for the coming season that will look after them and give them a chance to be on good form coming the Olympics. Would also be great if they could make a decent living doing that but at this stage even a talent like Sinclair is going to face a lot of challenges in getting a good paying job with the women's professional game being so limited.