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Women's Soccer/Football and WWC 2015

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I've been watching Crystal Dunn all year do the things she did last night, and IMO Washington would be second to last in the NWSL without her carrying them on her back. Being the last cut from the WC roster lit a fire under her big time. While the level of opposition needs to be taken into account when judging a player's performance, at the very least she deserves a start against a stronger opponent. I hope Ellis calls Dunn up for the Brazil games next month and gives her a start in one of them.

 

The Tobin Heath as a CM experiment has been a flop so far. She is just not suited for that position. She was hit or miss in the Costa Rica games, but a big miss last night. She had a miserable first half, but improved dramatically once she was moved back out wide. There are several DM's in NWSL that are just begging for a chance, and yet Ellis continues to avoid calling them up and ramming square pegs in a round hole. If Heath is tried there one more time and still can't pull it off, Ellis should cut her losses and try someone else.

 

I am and will forever be a massive Carli Lloyd fangirl, but she was a bit too selfish in this game. There were some chances by Dunn, Press, and Morgan that would have been goals for sure had Lloyd not gotten in the way. Big Game Carli was not needed this time. In fact, I'd like to see one game without her on the field to see who else can step up. That being said, I do love watching her score goals. As the talking heads said, right now Lloyd is the face of the team, and she's clearly loving being the go to person. After years of watching her be constantly overshadowed by old and new faces alike, it's so satisfying seeing Lloyd finally get the credit she should have gotten long ago.

 

Abby Wambach looks more and more like she's going to join Holiday, Boxx, and Chalupny in retirement after this year. It seems like finally winning the WC killed her motivation. She's accomplished everything she possibly could in the game, and she looks so out of form that it might no longer be possible to get it back. Honestly, it's kind of sad watching her walk around on the field these days. I'd hate to see her legacy be tarnished by continuing to hang on.

 

Special mention to Haiti. The federation was very lucky that they were available on such short notice after Australia pulled out, and even though they were clearly outmatched, credit to them for keeping the scoreline respectable. But their lack of fitness in the last 20 minutes has me worried for them on Sunday. That game could get really ugly.

 

One more thing (said in Uncle voice)- I am so glad the next game is being done by ESPN, because that means no Tony DiCicco. I'm so over him and his bullshit favoritism. He has players he likes, who he'll excuse away any bad mistakes and overly praise every little good thing they do. But I want to know why he dislikes Heath and Krieger so much. Yeah, Heath was bad in the first half, but even when she has great games, he never focuses on her good play and harps on every damn mistake. I realize part of a commentator's job is to point out mistakes, but the other part is pointing out when they do well. And I'm way past over hearing about 99. Yes, the win in 99 was an amazing moment. Part of what kept it so amazing was the failure to win again until this year. The win this year takes some of that away. At least Foudy no longer finds any excuse to bring up 99. I wish she'd stop kissing Abby's ass all the time, but that's my only complaint with her.

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ICYMI, the USWNT cruised through CONCACAF qualifying for the Olympics, without conceding a goal, including a 2-0 victory over Canada in the final. Highlights include Alex Morgan (who appears to be more-or-less fully healthy and, equally important, confident) scoring a goal just 12 seconds into the first match against Costa Rica as well as having a hat trick against Trinidad and Tobago, and Crystal Dunn scoring 5 goals against Puerto Rico.

 

Morgan's 12-Second Goal

 

Puerto Rico Highlights (Dunn's 5 Goals)

 

Additionally, 17-year-old Mallory Pugh, who scored in her first senior USWNT match back in January, against Ireland (YouTube), , has the potential to make the 18-player Olympic roster, after a generally well-praised showing in the tournament, where she played in all five matches, including starts in the final three games.

 

Pugh's inclusion in the CONCACAF qualifying roster was somewhat of a controversial surprise, as veteran Heather O'Reilly was left off. Although, O'Reilly is back on the roster for the upcoming friendly tournament, while newer player Stephanie McCaffrey is not.

 

The need for attacking players is due to the absences of Megan Rapinoe (ACL injury in December, unlikely to be fully 100% in time for the Olympics) plus Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux (both are on maternity leave, should miss the Olympics).

 

* * *

 

On March 3rd, the USWNT begin a juicy stretch of three home games, playing three other top five teams -- England (ranked 5th), France (March 6th, ranked 3rd), and Germany (March 9th, ranked 2nd) -- as part of the new "#SheBelieves Cup" friendly tournament,* which the USA will be hosting, instead of going to the Algarve Cup in Portugal.** The England match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports One, while the France and Germany matches will be available online via ESPN3/WatchESPN.

 

 

 

*This feels like it has the potential to be the spiritual successor to the old Chiquita / Nike U.S. Women's Cup tournaments that the USWNT hosted in the 1990s and early 2000s.

 

**The Algarve Cup is missing a number of normal teams, due to Olympic qualifying tournaments in Asia (for both of the AFC's slots) and Europe (where the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland will be playing for UEFA's last slot). [some early news from the AFC's tournament, which started today: Australia upset Japan 3-1 in their first match of the six-team round robin tournament (The-AFC.com). It's a minor upset, but with the qualifying tournament's format, there is not much room for error.]

 

* * *

 

The youth USWNTs are also busy this month. Most notably, the U-17 WNT will be playing in the CONCACAF regional qualification tournament, which also starts on March 3rd, for this years U-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan. The USA's matches, which begin on March 4th, will be televised on Fox Soccer Plus.

 

One of the stand-out players is the very, very technical 16-year-old Ashley Sanchez, who also plays for the U-20 USWNT, scoring some important goals in their qualification tournament, back in December.

 

Sanchez's game-winner against Trinidad & Tobago (in the semifinal)

 

Sanchez's poached goal against Canada

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In case anyone hasn't been following the goings-on of Asian qualifying, it's been a pretty interesting tournament. Australia is leading the pack after 3 games, with a perfect record thus far. China is right behind with a draw against North Korea as the only blemish on their record. But the biggest surprise has been the poor performances of Japan. A draw against South Korea and losses to Australia and China have put them in a deep hole with almost no chance at qualifying for Rio. It's been sad to see a team that's made 3 straight major tournament finals struggle as badly as they have. There isn't one area that I can point to as the problem, but overall it's just not happening for them.

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An update on Olympic Asian qualifying: Australia and China each qualified for Rio on Monday, with a game to spare, thus eliminating Japan who stumbled in their opening three matches as Elsydeon noted above. This is the first time that Australia has qualified for the Olympics since their federation moved to Asia (in 2006), and the first time that Japan has missed the Olympics since it was expanded to more than eight teams in 2004.

 

Videos from Australia's FA website (should not be geo-blocked, they weren't for me)

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Just finished streaming the USA vs. France #SheBelieves game.  Solo basically kept them in the game the first half.  Without her saves (and some help from the goalposts and crossbar), the US would have been down 0-3 or even 0-4.  France had a great first half, kept a ton of pressure on the US.  If I hadn't already known the US had won, I would have predicted they would.

 

Then, they just went flat at the beginning of the second half and never got back into it.  The US started playing a much tighter, more technical game - I was impressed, even though Julie Foudy said it was boring - and we finally snuck one in at stoppage time.  I really didn't care for how physical the French players got as they got more tired - there was one player with a yellow card that had a really nasty foul right after.  I think a case could have been made for tossing her.

 

Still, a great game.  I continue to be annoyed that we don't get to see live or even tape-delayed broadcasts of this world-championship team on ESPN, but there's plenty of time to show the ninety-zillionth repeat of some inane 30 for 30 show.  Even the final isn't being broadcast.  Grrr.

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The game didn't surprise me at all. That's France's MO: control the midfield, create lots of chances, never score off any of those chances and then lose when their opponent takes their chance. France's downfall has always been their finishing.

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Some quick summary thoughts on the USA's SheBelieves friendlies (England, France, Germany)...

 

Alex Morgan:  Two world-class goals.  Stay healthy, stay healthy.

 

Carli Lloyd:  Definitely an "off" stretch of games, low-lighted by the almost own-goal in the France match.  Not sure if she's the best partner option for Morgan, or if this is just a trough between peaking.

 

Christen Press:  In her only start, had two early chances against Germany, but unable to get off an effective shot on goal.  I don't entirely fault her for taking the time to find a better shot, but some more heads-up play may have found a teammate in a better position.  Unlikely to be a regular starter in the Olympics.

 

Mallory Pugh:  Went essentially the full 90 against France and fed a pin-point accurate pass to Morgan for her stoppage time winner.  Seems to be settling into the senior USWNT quite well, and should most likely make the eighteen of the Olympic roster.  Although, I'm still not convinced that she's a starter over Dunn.

 

Crystal Dunn:  Came off the bench against England and promptly scored a cracker for the game-winner.  Had a cameo sub appearance against France and then started against Germany. If she can continue her form in the NWSL season, she should be a starter at the Olympics.  For one of the Colombia friendlies, I'd like to see her partner centrally with Morgan, plus Brian and Lloyd in the midfield behind them. (So, either a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 with Brian-Lloyd-Dunn midfield, if there is a practical formational difference for this USWNT.)

 

Morgan Brian:  Not her best showing, which is disappointing after just being named the best player in CONCACAF qualifying.  Some poor passing under pressure, with the turn-over that led to Mittag's goal being the most glaring (although she shouldn't shoulder the entire blame for the goal).  Also, her corner kick delivery (targeting, power) could have definitely been better.

 

Lindsey Horan:  Struggled against England, with too many conservative/backward passes, but improved against France.  Mewis' performance against Germany -- highlighted by the goal -- was most likely not enough to warrant a leap-frog over Horan into a starting spot.

 

The Back Line:  Both Sauerbrunn and Johnston made some potentially costly mistakes, but also had some key positive moments.  Looks like O'Hara is preferred over Krieger, primarily for offensive reasons, which I don't completely disagree with, but if seems as if the outside backs were too often caught high up the pitch.  Would like to see the starting back four -- most likely O'Hara/Johnston/Sauerbrunn/Klingenberg -- set in stone come April, so they can develop chemistry in the Colombia and send-off friendlies. 

 

Hope Solo:  Earned her pay against France, but perhaps possibly could have done better with Mittag's goal.

 

Jill Ellis:  Questionable, yet defensible substitution tactics against France and the return of the "were you watching the same match" overly rosy comments (espnW).

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An update on Olympic Asian qualifying: Australia and China each qualified for Rio on Monday, with a game to spare, thus eliminating Japan who stumbled in their opening three matches as Elsydeon noted above. This is the first time that Australia has qualified for the Olympics since their federation moved to Asia (in 2006), and the first time that Japan has missed the Olympics since it was expanded to more than eight teams in 2004.

 

Videos from Australia's FA website (should not be geo-blocked, they weren't for me)

 

 

I got a little choked up listening to Barbieri being unable to contain her emotions after Australia qualified. After all the struggles the Matildas have had trying to get back to the Olympics, it had to have been such a relief to see them get over the hump at last. And the fact that they almost ran the table despite missing a couple of key players to injury makes it even more impressive. If my calculations are correct (they usually are, give or take a point), Australia will climb up the rankings and end up 5th, which is their highest position ever.

 

I think Australia has one of the best starting lineups in the world, and on paper they have the potential to reach the podium. They have one of the fastest frontlines of any of the top teams, a solid midfield trio, and a strong backline. Their problem is a lack of depth in the midfield and the backline. The backups were underwhelming, and with a reduced roster, if injuries strike, it could derail their campaign quickly.

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The new uniforms -- for both the USMNT and USWNT -- were officially announced today (US Soccer). Home uniforms are primarily white, while the away uniforms are primarily black. The USWNT will debut their uniforms against Colombia in April.

 

* * *

 

Also, the draw for this year's FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup was held earlier today (FIFA.com). Pots were organized a bit differently this time, supposedly being based on each federation's historical performance in the last five U-20 WWCs.

 

  • Pot 1:  Papua New Guinea (Hosts), Germany, USA, Nigeria
  • Pot 2:  Korea DPR, Japan, France, South Korea
  • Pot 3:  New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Canada
  • Pot 4:  Ghana, Sweden, Spain, Venezuela

 

  • Group A:  Papua New Guinea (H, A1), Korea DPR (A4), Brazil (A2), Sweden (A3)
  • Group B:  Nigeria (B4), Japan (B3), Canada (B2), Spain (B1)
  • Group C:  USA (C2), France (C1), New Zealand (C4), Ghana (C3)
  • Group D:  Germany (D1), Korea Republic (D4), Mexico (D3), Venezuela (D2)

 

The USA has a somewhat easier group than last time around, avoiding Germany as well as a strong Asian team (at this age group) like Korea DPR or Japan.

 

The tournament runs from November 13th to December 3rd, meaning it will be going on the same time as the NCAA D1 tournament, which will likely affect the final rosters for the USA, among other teams, such as Canada and Mexico, as some players choose between college and country.

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The new uniforms -- for both the USMNT and USWNT -- were officially announced today (US Soccer). Home uniforms are primarily white, while the away uniforms are primarily black. The USWNT will debut their uniforms against Colombia in April.

 

Wait!! What happened to the traditional American neon green of the USWNT??!!:)  Honest to god, it's worked for over 200 years...red, white, blue...but I guess that's not "hip" enough now.

 

P.S.  Get off of my lawn.

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USWNT's roster for the Colombia friendlies was announced today (US Soccer).  The big news is the inclusion of Ashley Sanchez, who just turned 17 last week. Other changes to the roster (from the SheBelieves Cup) include Allie Long being brought back in, with Lauren Barnes dropped. Morgan Brian was also included, even though she recently pulled a hamstring in training for the Dash (Twitter) and is likely doubtful for these friendlies.

 

I'm a bit shocked by the Sanchez call-up. After her tournament performances, I expected an eventual call-up in early 2016, and before that, maybe some special behind-the-scenes attention from the likes of Dawn Scott for training and preparation advice, as I see Sanchez as a very likely inclusion on the USA's 2019 WWC roster.

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The USA has a somewhat easier group than last time around, avoiding Germany as well as a strong Asian team (at this age group) like Korea DPR or Japan.

 

The tournament runs from November 13th to December 3rd, meaning it will be going on the same time as the NCAA D1 tournament, which will likely affect the final rosters for the USA, among other teams, such as Canada and Mexico, as some players choose between college and country.

 

Actually, I was more relieved that the US didn't draw Spain. Spain got to the final of the U-17 WC in 2014, and they're no joke at the youth level. Germany crashed out of that same WC in the group stage, and only barely scraped through qualification. Every time I've seen them play, I've been underwhelmed. France didn't even qualify for the U-17s two years ago, and a lot of French fans that I've spoken to are not high on this age group. The US basically got the Group of Life (for once).

 

It wouldn't even be a surprise if Germany failed to advance out of their group. Korea Republic is usually good, and I haven't heard anything that would lead me to believe this year will be different. And Venezuela has a legit star in Deyna Castellanos who lit up the U-17 WC two years ago and is still age eligible for the U-17s this year. CONMEBOL had their qualification for the U-17 WC last week and she scored in every game, including the only goal in the final against Brazil.

 

The US players faced a similar dilemma in 2008 when the U-20 final was scheduled the same day as the College Cup final. A couple of players who would have been on that U-20 team did opt out to stay with their college teams, but most top players chose the U-20s over the College Cup. The ones who chose college had some difficulties breaking into the full NT later on.

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I am totally loving the lawsuit for 2 reasons 1) it's about damn time and 2) Jeffrey Kessler scourge of the NFL is the attorney for the ladies.   US Soccer needs to start giving up NOW.   Especially after the stupid comments made by the Director of Indian Wells (I know different sport, but same problem).

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I read somewhere that the women's national team is subsidizing the men's team, yet they make more?  What a crock.  

 

Good luck, USA Women!  May justice prevail.

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I read somewhere that the women's national team is subsidizing the men's team, yet they make more?  What a crock.  

 

Good luck, USA Women!  May justice prevail.

Actual examination of the revenue brought in by both teams over the course of a four year World Cup cycle belies this.  Comparing World Cup years and not just a year where one team had a World Cup and the other didn't, shows the men's team to be vastly more profitable than the Women's team.  And considering that a lot of that money comes from FIFA, an international organization, and that the women's game is far behind the men's game in international popularity as to be almost non-existent in a lot of the world, it's not surprising at all.

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/10/are-women-soccer-players-close-to-scoring-equal-pay.html

 

Should the women be paid more than they currently are?  Yes, probably.  Should they be paid what the men are paid, based on respective revenue generated and respective year-round interest in the sport?  Looking at it as an economic argument and not a social one, no, they shouldn't be paid the same because they are not generating anywhere near the same amount of revenue.  As women's soccer develops and hopefully increases in popularity, the situation should certainly be reexamined, but as it currently stands, the USWNT earns less than the USMNT for good reason.

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Not really good timing on this.   If the Equal Pay goes to court, the other side WILL use this against them.   Does it mean that women should not get equal pay because one of them got busted for domestic violence (Hope Solo) or DUI (Abby Wambach)?  No.   But it's the optics of it.   Sad but true, you want likeable people as your plaintiffs.   Which is why I all "Why Hope Solo as one of the named Plaintiffs?"   Every juror is going to have heard of her batshit crazy recent antics.

 

Right now the complaint has been filed with the EEOC.   That is administrative.   If the EEOC declines to pursue the Plaintiff will be issued a right to sue letter, then they file the suit in court.

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Abby Wambach has been arrested for a DUI.

 

She's released a statement on her Facebook page that is a textbook example (I think) for how a pro athlete should handle a situation like this.

 

Last night I was arrested for DUII in Portland after dinner at a friend's house.

Those that know me, know that I have always demanded excellence from myself. I have let myself and others down.

I take full responsibility for my actions. This is all on me. I promise that I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my horrible mistake is never repeated.

I am so sorry to my family, friends, fans and those that look to follow a better example.

- Abby

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What a classless thing to do.

 

 

Agreed. I was disappointed when I saw Bedoya (and to a lesser extent, Altidore) go in on her. It's totally fair that they dislike her and her comments about dual-national players, but dang. Now they just look shitty too.

 

Background here, for anyone who wants to read more.

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