[WPS] Women's Professional Soccer lost it fourth franchise in the last 11 months when the Chicago Red Stars, second in the league in average attendance in 2010, announced they are suspending operations, a casualty of the decision of champion FC Gold Pride to fold.
"This has been a very difficult and complex decision," Red Stars part-owner and governor Arnim Whisler said in a statement. "We love this team, our players, staff and fans. Everything was trending well for our breakthrough 2011 season, but the abrupt loss of the Bay Area team scared away some of our planned investors, and we simply could not recover in time."
The WPS had given the Red Stars until Dec. 15 to commit to the 2011 season. It will operate with six teams and play an 18-game schedule.
The Red Stars played their two seasons at Toyota Park, home of MLS's Chicago Fire, and drew 4,025 fans a game in 2010, putting them second in the league in attendance. They failed to make the playoffs either year.
Before FC Gold Pride, the Los Angeles Sol folded before the 2010 season started and St. Louis Athletica went under in mid-season.
Only three original teams -- New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC, Boston and Washington -- remain, and the Washington almost folded.
The Freedom may have a new name and (part-time) home in 2011. The new owner is Dan Borislow of magicJack fame.