A tumultuous year in U.S. women's soccer will apparently end on a down note. The Chicago Red Stars announced they will suspend operations for the 2011 season, leaving the WPS with six teams.
The Red Stars had been given until Wednesday to come up with the necessary capital to insure they could complete the season, but called off the search when it became apparent they wouldn't meet the deadline.
"This has been a very difficult and complex decision," Red Stars Part-Owner and Governor Arnim Whisler said in a statement. "We love this team, our players, staff and fans. Everything was trending well for our breakthrough 2011 season, but the abrupt loss of the Bay Area team scared away some of our planned investors, and we simply could not recover in time."
This decision leaves the WPS with six teams, all along the Eastern seaboard and an unclear future. The hope is the 2011 Women's World Cup will provide enough of a boost to make it feasible for expansion. The Red Stars, for instance, are still maintaining operations aside from competing in WPS and are planning to return. There are also rumors a team based in Southern California could join the league in 2012.
The WPS, for its part, seems to have been well prepared for this possibility.
"The league has been working closely with Chicago throughout the past month and preparations for a six-team league for next year have already been underway, so this will not cause any operational disruptions," said WPS CEO, Anne-Marie Eileraas. "We hope that Chicago is able to use the time over the next year to raise the necessary capital to return in 2012."