Reflections on the NWSL quarterfinals — My NWSL awards ballot

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie Peterson, November 8, 2021

There’s two playoff games in the books as the NWSL’s turbulent 2021 edges toward a close. Honestly, I thought the whole league shutdown last season because of COVID was bad. But it definitely got worse.

The Chicago Red Stars knocked Gotham out of the playoffs and put Carli Lloyd’s final season to bed. Lloyd spoke to reporters afterward. Jackie Gutierrez asked a question and Lloyd broke down, realizing it was over. See more of Carli’s comments below.

North Carolina’s season has come to a close with an OT loss to the Spirit. As Jeff Kassouf pointed out, this will be the first time that a Courage team hasn’t won the title since 2017. An intense, emotional season for those players. I hope they all have the time and space to heal that they need in the offseason.

Ashley Hatch came through for the Spirit, another notch in her fantastic season. And that brings us to the awards!

COACH OF THE YEAR

I’m going with Laura Harvey here. She took an underperforming Reign team under Farid Benstiti and made it a legit contender for the championship. Sorry Mark Parsons!

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Yikes a hard one! I went with Trinity Rodman because — Oh, so many reasons. I mean, look at this.

And that nutmeg! I jumped out of my seat. Which was embarrassing because I was at the Timbers’ game. Yes, I realize the award is for a body of work during the regular season, but this cemented it. Hoping she gets a call up to the national team soon, although she’s just 19 so there’s time for her to develop.

GOALKEEPER OF THE YEAR

No offense to the candidates, but echoing many fans in asking where is Casey Murphy? I can’t complain AT ALL, however. Things got really busy for me and I didn’t vote for the finalists. But I just want to emphasize that my vote here for Bella Bixby is by no means a “second best” vote. Bixby had an excellent season, holding it down in AD’s absence.

DEFENDER OF THE YEAR

I went with Caprice Dydasco. What a rebound after injury. She held it down. Oh, and I really thought Sarah Gorden had a fantastic season, too.

And that brings us to:

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER!

Man oh man, this one was tough. I have conflicting thoughts: Yes, Ashley Hatch scored the most goals and led her team through turbulence this season (Richie Burke, COVID issues). But OMG once Midge Purce was freed to play her game, she flourished. Cue Natalie Imbruglia: I’m torn.

I think I’m going to have to go with Hatch, just because of her success in the face of so many challenges.

Thanks everyone for helping me fill out my ballot. Now it’s your turn! Vote here! Deadline is Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.


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LINKS

Annie Costabile writes about Sarah Gorden for the Chicago Sun-Times.

All For XI’s take on the first round of the playoffs.

Grant Little of Stumptown Footy wrote a wonderful story on Angela Salem.

More drama about the sale of the Spirit from Pablo Maurer and Steph Yang at The Athletic. Geez, what’s so hard about just selling to Michele? It’s not hard. It’s pettiness.

Nice story here from Shahnaz Mahmud with The Athletic on Japan’s WE League.

Last but not least from The Athletic: Meg Linehan’s nice story on Mallory Pugh.

Well-done story here from Jeff Kassouf of The Equalizer on Andi Sullivan.

Loved this from the gang from Ride of the Valkyries with Phallon Tullis-Joyce.

And one more from Ride: Susie Rantz writes about Dzsenifer Marozsán

Andre Carlisle wrote about Trinity Rodman’s first season for Black and Red United.

Kumi Yokoyama is engaged! Love this!

Jackie Gutierrez on the quarterfinals for Women Kick Balls.

Julia Poe for the Orlando Sentinel on what the Pride need to do going forward.

The great Candace Buckner writes how Spirit supporters love the players, not so much the franchise.

This is big: The Women’s Super League is coming to CBS Sports Network next summer.

Guys, this is cool:

And one last: CHENEY! Guys, if you have a moment go check out the JLH Impact Fund. Lauren and Jrue are doing some wonderful things in the community.


Five at The IX: Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd took questions after the final match of her career. END OF QUITE AN ERA. Here’s what she said:

Question: Can you give us your thoughts on the match?


Lloyd: I think, you know, obviously unfortunate. This isn’t how we all would have liked to have ended the season. But overall, I’m just really proud of the group proud of the team. We really turned this whole season around. We went from a team that was looking like we weren’t going to make playoffs to then making playoffs and just having a really good run. And I think today in the first half, specifically, we displayed this team and what it can look like. I don’t necessarily think we created enough chances. And that’s, kind of what happens — another team gets one chance and Mal finished a great shot and kind of put the dagger in us. So for me, bittersweet obviously, would have liked to have kept going, but overall just really proud of the group and the future is really, really bright for Gotham FC.

Question: Now that this was your last game, just kind of how you’re feeling for Gotham, specifically being your home state club and what you hope to see from them in the future and how you kind of plan to maybe stay involved with them?


Lloyd: I think it’s been really special to end my career being on a New Jersey team. That’s sort of something I had always wanted and so I’m very grateful to have been able to be a part of this team since 2018. There’s no better group that I would have liked to have ended with. Everybody on the team is just been really special to me. Everybody has just been unbelievable on and off the field. We really came together as a group and I’m very proud of every single player. I mean, we’ve all been through a lot. There’s been a lot of changes, in numerous years, especially this year, but it’s in good hands and there’s the right leaders that are leading this group. I’m gonna probably go home and take some time to just chill out and relax. And then obviously have some conversations Yael and just see if there’s a way for me to keep helping, because I want to stay involved. I want to be able to inspire others and help in any way I can. But first and foremost, I’m just gonna get home and just kind of pause my life for a little bit.

Question: I know there’s a lot of last moments for you just these past few weeks. And so I was just wondering if you can maybe talk more about just what that was like for you as you stepped on and off the field today and just maybe what was going through your mind?


Lloyd: I think is the clock was obviously winding down and we were pressing for a goal, I just kept looking at the time because eventually time was running out. (Lloyd starts sobbing). It’s really sunk in now. And it’s just unfortunate that it couldn’t have went on. But this is it. I guess the one word I can say is it’s, it’s real. I was also thinking that in 2009 for the WPS, I started my career here, and it’s just kind of weird how I just ended my career here. It’s just been a really special run and special journey. Tonight’s gonna be definitely emotional.

Question: You mentioned you’re going to have some talks with Yael. Can you give us any more detail on what you would like to see in your future involvement with the
game?


Lloyd: I think these next couple of weeks, I’m just gonna kind of unplug. I haven’t given it much thought, but I’m tired. You know, I’m emotionally really tired. And I’ve just tried to kind of push through these last couple months. But it’s been a lot. It’s been coming to terms with retiring and just having all of these farewell games, which has been unbelievably amazing. But it’s tiring. I think for these next couple of weeks, just kind of go home. enjoy time with Brian, my family. We have a vacation scheduled the day after Thanksgiving. So I’m really looking forward to that, and basically just going to unplug from the whole entire world for once in my life. And then just kind of see how the the New Year goes and go from there. I’m going to have lots of involvement with FIFA, whether it’s around the Men’s World Cup, Women’s World Cup, Olympics are are coming up as well in the next couple of years. So there’s going to be loads of opportunities. I want to continue to just figure out what I’m most passionate about, how I can help. Obviously I don’t want to go crazy, be all over the place, but definitely going to just pause and once the New Year hits just kind of see where we’re at.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Anne Tokarski, @annetokarski, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Jessica Taylor Price, @jesstaylorprice, Freelance Gymnastics Writer

Written by Annie Peterson