Five days have passed since the shocking announcement that Women's Professional Soccer had decided to close up the shop of the Los Angeles Sol after only one season, due to AEG's failure to commit to the long-term success of the team.
Feeling a wee bit like Kübler-Ross, I've experienced each of the five stages of grief. Though clearly not to the level of the players themselves, who have to pull up their stakes and call a new place their home, I too have wrestled with my share of shock, denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance as a result of the league's loss. Such is life in the business of sports, but as a fan of the league it doesn't make it any easier to accept.
As a passionate lover of the sport and a true believer in the success of the WPS, I've found myself looking for a silver lining. As the Beatles sing in their song, All Things Must Pass , I too was looking for a way to come to grips with the failure of the Sol's ownership.
"Sunrise doesn't last all morning
A cloudburst doesn't last all day
Seems my love is up
And has left you with no warning
But it's not always going
To be this grey"
So, while fighting the urge to kick AEG in their figurative groin or starting to gather names for a boycott of the numerous places that AEG has their greedy little mitts, I decided to connect with my peeps at the Boston Breakers and grieve, grow, and heal together while mourning the loss of one of the league's children.
I connected with a trio from my ever growing Rolodex of people associated with the Breakers, as I hoped to engage in my real life game of "Misery Loves Company." After spending some time speaking to midfielder, Maggie Tomecka, communications director Erica Hunt, and coach Tony DiCicco, my half empty cup suddenly transformed to a glass that was full to overflowing.
Though obviously not overjoyed by the loss of the leagues's marquis team, Tomecka, DiCicco and Hunt were quick to remind me that "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it," as they each had spun the news in a very positive and optimistic way that left me feeling a whole lot better.
"When I heard the news", explained Tomecka, "I felt grateful to be part of an organization like the Boston Breakers. The Breakers management and staff have worked so hard to keep our team successful, and I am thankful for that."
Tomecka, a graduate of UNC who appeared in eleven games for the Breakers last season, explained that the loss of the Sol is clearly not a foreshadowing of an impending failure of the league.
"Despite losing LA, it’s important to remember the league is still growing with eight teams in 2010, one more than last year," she added. "I don’t think this has anything to do with how the league itself is doing."
"That is the difference between the former WUSA and the new WPS. In the WPS, each team is an individual franchise, so if one team cannot make ends meet, it won’t
affect the success of the league."
Hunt, who is responsible for responsible for the team's media relations, public relations, and new media initiatives, stated a similar sentiment,
"Obviously it is unfortunately to lose a team after one year, but we (and the league) are very optimistic for 2010. WPS still has more teams than in its Inaugural Season. This will allow us to have a more balanced schedule over the course of the regular season. We don’t need bye weekends and hopefully no more Wednesday games in Boston."
The graduate from Endicott college and former account executive for the Breakers, was quick to remind Boston fans that despite the loss of their cross-country rival, there is lots to look forward to if you're a Breaker fan.
"We look forward to the dispersal draft next week and some of the new talent we can add to an already exciting roster for this season, which will include the addition of Leslie Osborne, Lauren Cheney, Alyssa Naeher, Tiffany Weimer."
She added, "Our team is looking forward to playing Philadelphia and Atlanta, and more specifically playing in Atlanta at the new stadium, which is the first ever to be build specifically for a WPS team."
Like any good manager of people, Coach DiCicco had communicated the events to his team via an email, which assured the players about the continued strength of the league.
"It might be initially hard to survive this but if you look at things realistically, we have one more team than we did last year, explained DiCicco. "No, we don't want to lose anyone, but the fact that the league can deal with that and move forward is a positive."
DiCicco added that from a scheduling standpoint it is actually better to have eight teams as opposed to nine.
"From a technical point the schedule is better. There are no byes, we play every weekend. There are going to be a lot of positives. And I fully expect to see the team back in the league in the future."
For the present moment, the league and it's eight remaining teams will participate in the Dispersal Draft of the Sol's players, which will take place on Thursday afternoon. With top players including veterans of last year's inaugural season, Marta, Shannon Boxx, Brittany Bock and Karina LeBlanc, as well as, recent draft picks, including Nikki Washington, Casey Nogueria and Kirsten Dallstream all looking to find a new home, the remaining teams are licking their collective chops in anticipation of adding to their already talented rosters.
"Marta is an expensive player," fantasized Tomecka. "It will be interesting to see where she ends up. LA has so many great players it’s hard to say who would be my top choice."
"Shannon Boxx is one of the best players in the world right now. She will be an
incredible addition wherever she ends up. I would also love to pick up a few
more UNC girls", added the former Tar Heel.
She continued, "The quality of play will continue to be great. There are so many excellent college players joining the league, and with each team picking up a few LA players, the level can really only get better."
Todd Civin is a freelance writer who writes for Bleacher Report, Sports, Then and Now, and Seamheads. He also shares his top stories on his blog The 'xoxo' of Sports. He is a supporter of Team Hoyt, the father/son marathon and triathlon team of Dick and Rick Hoyt. He encourages you to support their movement of "Yes, I Can" by visiting their Web site at www.teamhoyt.com