Before there was WUSA or WPS or the NWSL, there was the W-League, which the USL launched in 1995. At its height in 2008, the women's national amateur league had 48 teams. Seventeen of the 23 players
on the U.S. World Cup championship team played in the W-League. But down to 18 teams in 2015, the W-League won't return next summer.
The USL announced on Friday it will cease operations
ahead of the 2016 season. Forty-three players selected by the United States, Canada and Mexico for the 2015 Women’s World Cup had previously played in the W-League.
In a statement,
the USL has not ruled out the possibility that the women's league could be reintroduced in the future and said it remains committed to the promotion of women’s soccer through its partner, the
Super Y League, to develop the next generation of world-class female soccer players in the U12 to U18 age groups. As the USL became more heavily involved in the operation of a pro league, partnering
with MLS, it became clear the W-League's days were numbered.
By 2015, many of the top U.S. teams, including the Southern California-based Blues, had folded. All but two Canadian teams,
based in Quebec, also left. The Blues folded as their ownership decided to concentrate on their men's pro venture with the Orange County Blues.
The rival WPSL still exists with many more
teams, while U.S. Soccer has talked about launching a summer college circuit for women.