WPS reports disrupt WWC qualifying

As the U.S. marches toward another Women's World Cup appearance and Canada and Mexico seek to join the Americans, what's going on in Cancun -- site of CONCACAF's ongoing qualifying tournament -- isn't the only thing on players' minds.

All of the U.S. players, several of the Canadians and a couple of the Mexicans are keeping an eye on what's going on with Women's Professional Soccer. Champion FC Gold Pride and the Washington Freedom, a Women's United Soccer Association survivor that is the only team to reach the WPS playoffs in both seasons, are desperately seeking investment to stay alive.

A report over the weekend that both teams would fold Monday was premature, but the possibility they'll become the third and fourth teams in the second pro U.S. league to disband isn't remote by any means. Gold Pride GM Ilisa Kessler on Monday told the San Jose Mercury News that “it's do-or-die week for us.” Freedom president Mark Washo was quoted in The Washington Post: “We're approaching the 90th [minute], hoping for extra time.”

The deadline for teams to post a bond, believed to be in the neighborhood of $2 million, to ensure their participation for 2011 is Nov. 15. The loss of Gold Pride, which features Brazilian superstar Marta and U.S. women's national team star Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach/South Torrance HS), and the Freedom, for which Hermosa Beach's Abby Wambach stars, would leave WPS with five clubs plus the Western New York side that is slated to join next year as an expansion club. It also could be the end of the nascent league.

The L.A. Sol, which won the regular-season title and played in the championship game in the inaugural 2009 season, folded last January. Saint Louis Athletica's demise came seven games into this season. Boxx was with both clubs when they folded.

Gold Pride, based in Hayward in the Bay Area, went 16-3-5 and pounded the Philadelphia Independence, 4-0, in the Sept. 26 championship game. The club's roster also featured Canadian star Christine Sinclair, former U.S. star forward Tiffeny Milbrett and five players with local connections: Boxx, WPS Rookie of the Year Ali Riley (Pacific Palisades/Harvard-Westlake School), defender Kandace Wilson (Los Angeles/Walnut HS and Cal State Fullerton), forward Kiki Bosio (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita Catholic HS and Capistrano Valley HS) and former USC standout Rosie Tantillo.

Washington's roster featured U.S. national-teamers Catherine Whitehill and Becky Sauerbrunn; midfielder Beverly Goebel (Moreno Valley/Moreno Valley HS) also played for the Freedom last season.