By Paul Martinez
Boca Raton, Fla. (October 28, 2011) The
storied women's soccer franchise once known as the Washington Freedom was
humanely put down by the WPS league office October 25.
From the start of the season, disputes
escalated between the league and the team's outspoken owner over seemingly
minor points like stadium seating capacity, lack of sponsors' signage, and
lack of website and marketing. The owner was notoriously hard on his players,
precipitating a formal complaint by the player's union.
Despite having to labor under the
name of a ludicrous infomercial product, they performed well in 2011, finishing
third on the strengths of US National Team members Abby Wambach, Hope Solo,
Lindsay Tarpley and Megan Rapinoe. But the financial and philosophical rift
between the league and Magic Jack owner Dan Borislow turned irreconciliable
in August when he sued the league.
Though the court action was quickly
dropped, the underlying personality conflict remained and he league pulled
the franchise's license at the end of the season, stating that Borislow abused
his players and failed to make financial commitments.
It made for a sad finale for one
of the most storied franchises in women's soccer. One of the original WUSA
squads, it won the terminal Founder's Cup in 2003 with Mia Hamm. After that
league folded, the franchise survived, playing a couple years as an informal
squad. In 2006, the team joined and played the next three years in the USL
With the formation of the WPS, the
Freedom became one of the founding members, but the original owners put the
team on the market at the end of 2009, citing financial need. Dan Borislow
took over, moving the team to Boca Raton and renaming it after his company's
flagship product. But the contentious owner and the league never saw eye
to eye and saw it better to move on, with or without Borislow's financial
The league faces 2012 with five members,
only one of which began the league at its 2009 launch. The Boston Breakers
are in search of a serious financial infusion. WPS requires teams to have
a $2.5 million budget. If the Boston Breakers fold as many think, the last
of the original WUSA franchises will be gone. Worse, the league will be down
to four franchises, though a Connecticut team is rumored to be joining.