Los Angeles Soccer: Shannon Brooks
May, 18, 2012
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
This is an exciting time for the Women's Premier Soccer League, just not on this coast.
With Women's Professional Soccer officially dead, as of Friday morning, the 15-year-old semipro/amateur outfit is stepping into the void and embracing, in small steps, full professionalism. The WPSL Elite, an eight-team league that includes three former WPS teams (defending champion Western New York Flash, Boston Breakers and Chicago Red Stars), is the big focus for the league in 2012, with plans to form a division on the West Coast next year.
That leaves this year in a bit of flux, especially with reigning WPSL champ Orange County Waves dropping out after losing their money source. The Pacific-South Division is down to four teams, and they'll play a modest schedule -- six league games, a few crossovers against Northern California clubs, plus whatever friendlies they can scrounge up -- well out of the usual WPSL limelight, as it were.
“We have gone through a major upheaval, and a lot of our regions have shifted around,” league commissioner Jerry Zanelli, who also runs Sacramento-based powerhouse California Storm, told ESPN Los Angeles in an email. “We are having teams in the Pacific Division step out for a year to re-tool to enter the WPSL Western Elite Division next year.”
Only Rolling Hills' Ajax America, Los Alamitos-based L.A. Vikings and the San Diego SeaLions return to the Pacific-South, with Long Beach's Beach Futbol Club joining in. Gone, too, are the Claremont Stars and Pasadena-based LAFC.
The Waves are the big loss. They had a mix of WPS veterans and top amateurs, posted a 14-1-3 record and pulled out the championship game against Chicago on an overtime goal from Tanya Taylor (Buena Park/Sunny Hills HS and UC Irvine).
“The CEO decided not to do the Waves, to just concentrate on [sister club Bay Area] Breeze,” said Waves head coach/GM Abner Rogers, who guided the L.A. Sol to the regular-season title in the inaugural 2009 WPS campaign. “He informed us in December and said he'd help us as much as he could, but there's no financial backing.”
The Waves approached youth clubs in the region about sponsorship -- Rogers directs powerhouse Laguna Hills Eclipse -- but was unable to acquire what was needed to continue on. There is hope of a return next year to play in the Western Elite Division, but no telling if it's doable.
Pacific-South play kicks off Friday night at Long Beach State, with Beach FC taking on the L.A. Vikings.
A look at the three local teams: