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W-League loses more teams

By Chris Hofley, Ottawa Sun

The Ottawa Fury and London Gryphons battle during W-League at Algonquin College Saturday,June 28, 2014. Both teams have dropped out of the league. (Chris Hofley/Ottawa Sun)

And then there were two.
As first reported by the Sun Dec. 19, women’s soccer in Canada has suffered a blow with the W-League confirming Tuesday that the Toronto Lady Lynx and London Gryphons would not field teams for the 2015 season.

But it gets worse.

The league alignment released by the league reveals that Kitchener-Waterloo United has also pulled out for the upcoming season, though the press release makes no mention of the exodus other than the four team names being absent from the list. Low attendance and the cost of operating the clubs is believed to have the overriding factors in most situations.

The pro-am W-League, the top level of women’s soccer in the country, has gone from six Canadian clubs to two in one off-season. Ottawa Fury FC had previously announced it would not field a women’s team this year. The losses combined don’t make for great optics with the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup coming to Canada this summer.

The summer W-League draws some of the best NCAA talent in the game during the college off-season as well as a number of skilled internationals.

With so many teams dropping out, the W-League was forced to re-shuffle the divisions and the remaining Canadian clubs, the Laval Comets and Quebec Dynamo, will play in the Northeastern Division along with Long Island, New Jersey, New York and North Jersey. The Southeastern and Western conferences are made up of six American clubs each.

It may not be all doom and gloom for women’s soccer north of the border; third division League 1 Ontario, which semi-pro men’s program is heading into its second season in 2015, recently announced it was starting a women’s league with a minimum six teams this coming season. But unless that program runs as a summer league, they won’t be able to draw from the best talent the country has to offer.

The United Soccer Leagues provided a short statement regarding the loss of the four Canadian clubs.

“It is unfortunate that the Ontario-based W-League teams will not be participating in our 2015 season,” read the statement attributed to USL President Tim Holt. “All three have been solid members of the league over time and used their W-League platforms to develop players for professional soccer and the National Team.-‹

Neither the Gryphons or Lady Lynx responded to the Sun’s request for comment in the weeks leading up to the league’s official alignment announcement.

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