Is There an Upside for WPS Chicago in the Demise of St. Louis Athletica?

John HowellAnalyst IMay 28, 2010

SHENYANG, CHINA - AUGUST 06:  Jorge Barcellos, coach of Brazil looks on during the women's preliminary group F match between Germany and Brazil at Shenyang Stadium on Day -2 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 6, 2008 in Shenyang, China.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Yesterday's shut down of the St. Louis WPS franchise is the low point in the league's short history.

I just published a column expressing my angst about the future of the league, its ability to survive this body blow, and all the resulting disruption to the league's credibility, team chemistry, and fan loyalty (How do you mend a broken heart? Will WPS Survive a Second Breech?).

Assuming the sky doesn't fall, the (Red) Stars still shine, and life goes on, the league and St. Louis' loss could be Chicago's gain.

The Red Stars have been conspicuously silent about any progress in their coaching search as well as any interim coaching appointment.

But then it occurred to me. Perhaps that's why they sacked Emma Hayes when they did. They had inside information that Athletica was going to fold. They knew St. Louis Head Coach Jorge Barcellos would be available. Perhaps that's why there's no announcement about an interim coach. There's no need. Barcellos could be on the Red Stars' sideline by this weekend.

I have no information to confirm this hunch. The Red Stars remain mum on the whole coaching issue. 

But it would make sense. Barcellos would be a good candidate. If Barcellos comes, it is more likely that he will bring his leading players with him, helping Chicago out-do FC Gold Pride in their bonanza of talent salvaged from the dissolution of L.A. Sol.

Now I'm not an ambulance chaser or a grave robber. I take no pleasure in any potential benefit to Chicago from our neighbor's tragic end. I'm deeply dismayed about the failure of the St. Louis club. I'm very sad for all the St. Louis fans. They were among the league's most loyal and most vocal.

But it is what it is. And since it is, it would be nice if Chicago could have Hope Solo in goal, Lindsay Tarpley back again, and one or two other St. Louis headliners.

We'd be willing to welcome former St. Louis fans to Toyota Park any time. And in all seriousness, I'd be more than willing to lend my shoulder for any Athletica fan who wants to cry on it. Most likely I'll be crying too (in between cheers for the new improved Chicago Red Stars).