WPS 'Permanently Suspends' Operations, Dissolves League

WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - JULY 06: Hope Solo, goalkeeper of USA reacts during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 Group C match between Sweden and USA at Wolfsburg Arena on July 6, 2011 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

WPS announces a permanent end to its league via Facebook, opens the door for other leagues.

The other shoe dropped. About five months after canceling the 2012 season, WPS did what most saw as inevitable and "permanently suspended" operations and dissolved the league. The league released that information on its Facebook page, which was almost immediately followed by a story about coming to a settlement with embattled magicJack owner Dan Borislow.

"We are proud of what WPS has accomplished, having attracted the highest quality players in the world to play in the best women’s league, as well as the progress women’s soccer has enjoyed over the past three years," WPS CEO Thomas Hofstetter said in a statement. "We are extremely grateful to our sponsors, the talented players and dedicated fans that made this league so special. They, along with our teams, have invested an incredible amount of resources for the benefit of the women who played in WPS and the young players who aspire to play professionally someday."

WPS played three seasons after rising out of the ashes of the WUSA, which folded in 2003. The WPS never proved stable, just like its predecessor, as new teams came and went after each season. St. Louis Athletica was even forced to fold in the middle of the 2010 season. The league was down to five teams, after kicking out Borislow's magicJack, prior to suspending operations in 2012.

The decision to dissolve leaves women's professional soccer (no caps) in limbo. The WPSL and W-League, the two currently operation semi-professional second-division leagues, have both announced plans to launch higher-level divisions. The WPSL Elite Division is already operational with several former WPS teams joining this year, while the W-Pro League is currently advertiser for expansion opportunities with an eye toward launching in 2013. Several teams in both leagues already are affiliated with MLS teams, including the Colorado Rapids, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and D.C. United. United States women's national team players are also dotting those rosters, including the likes of Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.

What those would look like is currently unknown, but it should at least insure that there will be some level of professional women's soccer played in North America. Whether or not those leagues will pay players enough to be fully professional is, of course, an open question.

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