The oldest brand in North American women’s professional soccer is no more. The NWSL folded the Boston Breakers franchise on Thursday, a little more than a week after a deal fell through at the 11th hour that would have transferred ownership to a local ownership group. Players and staff were notified via email on Thursday. The league will operate with nine teams in 2018. An announcement is expected Friday.
The Breakers were founded in 2000 as part of WUSA which launched on the wings of the epic 1999 World Cup in the United States. When WPS sprang to life in 2009 that league put a franchise in Boston which rebooted the Breakers brand. The club has fielded a team every year since including 2012 when they dropped down to WPS Elite in the bridge season between WPS and NWSL.
Word of financial issues in Boston surfaced late last year via reporting by Richard Farley of FourFourTwo. The league remained quiet on the issue, and at last week’s draft NWSL Managing Director of Operations, Amanda Duffy said the club’s operations were “business as usual” and that the league was working with ownership on a path forward for 2018. In reality, the sale was already dead by that point and last-ditch efforts to save the club over the last week were not successful.
The Breakers are the second NWSL team to fold this offseason. FC Kansas City’s franchise was returned to the league who in turn gave a new franchise to Dell Loy Hanson. FC Kansas City’s player contracts, draft picks, and international roster slots were then transferred to Hanson’s Utah Royals FC.
The elimination of the Breakers means the schedule will return to a 2014-2015 feel when an odd number of teams meant one team was forced to sit out every weekend. The residual impact will be a slew of additional midweek games. In 2017, each team had one home and one away match scheduled midweek.
There was no official word on how the current Breakers roster would be redistributed to the remaining nine NWSL clubs.
Kieran Theivam contributed to this report.