Remembering Katie Meyer — Cindy Parlow Cone wins her bid to remain US Soccer President — Crystal Dunn speaks

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, March 7, 2022

So many of us who cover women’s soccer this week were saddened by the death of Katie Meyer, the Stanford goalkeeper who grabbed attention for her badass celebration during the penalty shootout with North Carolina for the 2019 NCAA College Cup championship.

In case you missed it, here’s the shootout in its entirety.

This is just heartbreaking. It’s the second talented athlete here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve lost to suicide in recent years. Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski took his life in 2018.

No matter how together people may seem, you never know what they’re going through. I am trying to keep this top of mind right now.

I was at the Thorns preseason tournament opener against the OL Reign on Saturday night. Both teams honored Meyer by gathering in a circle at midfield for a moment of silence before the game. I know other teams paid similar tributes.

Before the game on Saturday, U.S. Soccer held its much-anticipated presidential election. Cindy Parlow Cone won, but it was close. It’s hard to quantify how much Parlow Cone’s negotiation for an agreement with the USWNT over equitable pay played into her victory, but it certainly didn’t hurt. U.S. Soccer also announced a new English-language broadcast rights deal this week, which also may have played into it.

She was asked about it afterward:

I honestly have no idea. The reason why people vote one way or the other, I think is a probably a pretty complex decision. And I don’t have insight into what role that play that played or didn’t play.

Before the vote, both Carlos Cordeiro and Parlow Cone were given a chance to speak. Cordeiro, for our readers who haven’t followed the play-by-play in the team’s fight for equal play, was USSF president when documents revealed the federation’s attorneys suggested that the women had lesser physical abilities and responsibilities than their male counterparts. He resigned in the fallout, and Parlow Cone was promoted.

For his statement, Cordeiro again apologized:

What happened two years ago was inexcusable, and it was hurtful, especially for the incredible players of our women’s national team. On behalf of the federation, I apologized. I took responsibility. That experience was deeply, deeply humbling. And over the past two years, I’ve reflected a great deal. I’ve learned, and I’m committed to doing better to being a better listener and a better partner. In recent months, many of you shared your concerns about the Federation. Many of you have felt ignored and marginalized. I hear you it’s time to heal our federation and look to the future and I’m ready to do my part to reach out and to build bridges.

I’m fairly certain that had Cordeiro won, the misstep in the equal pay case would have followed him through the four-year tenure — which comes as the United States prepares to host the World Cup with Canada and Mexico. Could have been a distraction and certainly would have re-frozen the recently thawed relations with the USWNT.

Oh, and let’s not forget that Cordeiro mispronounced Megan Rapinoe’s name during the tickertape parade to celebrate the 2019 Women’s World Cup victory. Yikes. (Editor’s note: No, I will never forget.)

But, astonishingly, the vote was still close.

We spoke to Meghan Klingenberg following the Reign-Thorns match, and here’s what she had to say about the election:

My thoughts are it was too close of an election but I’m glad she won because Carlos had his chance and his opportunity and he proved that he thought that women were unequal to men. And that’s not the type of leadership that US Soccer can have. And it is really frustrating, saddening to think that people would want that type of leadership again, but he didn’t win, and CP did and I’m glad that she did. She’s a good person. She’s good leader. And I’m excited for four years of her leadership because now she has a little bit of a time cushion. And now she can implement things that she wants to.

Beyond that, the NWSL schedule is not out yet, but we’ve got preseason games! Tidbits in case you’re not quite ready to take a deep dive into preseason soccer.

Alyssa Naeher started for the Chicago Red Stars in their scoreless draw against the U.S. women’s U-23 team in the Portland tournament on Saturday. Understandable, since she’s played just once since her injury in the Olympics.

Becky Sauerbrunn played for the Thorns, and Sophia Smith came in as a sub. Also among the national teamers, Sam Mewis made her debut for the KC Current in a preseason match against Orlando earlier this week.

The Houston Dash traveled to Mexico City to play the Pumas. More of this, please. Good for both leagues.

We still have the preseason Challenge Cup to look forward to, too. It starts on March 18.


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LINKS!

Jessa Braun from Just Women’s Sports takes a look at the NWSL preseason.

The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf takes a look at Cindy Parlow Cone’s task: Unifying US Soccer.

Also from The Equalizer, Dan Lauletta adresses the future of the USWNT midfield.

The Athletic’s Katie Meyer story.

Story from the Kansas City Star on the Current’s improving prospects this season.

Nice story from Amee Ruszkai from Goal.com on Jessica Ayers.

ESPN looks at the analytics from the SheBelieves.

Also for Goal.com, Seth Vertelney with a story on Portland’s Kelli Hubly.

Dissappointing news on Sarah Gorden’s Angel City debut.

Sandra Herrera spoke to Sam Mewis as part of the Attacking Third’s series on Title IX

The Guardian’s Megan Swanick with a story on Ashley Hatch.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Gramajo on how the Pride is progressing under Amanda Cromwell

Carli Lloyd is complaining about the “culture” of the USWNT.

Interesting NBA Column on the Equal Pay agreement.

Caitlin Murray with the UWSNT stock watch, following the SheBelieves Cup.

In case you missed it, the USWNT will play Uzbekistan in April. The team that the US was supposed to play backed out, so amid COVID and qualifying, the options for opponents were limited.


Five at The IX: Crystal Dunn

I spoke to Crystal Dunn about the USWNTPA, her role as secretary, and the union’s new partnership with Kiva, to help provide women and underserved communities no-interest loans. I’d never heard of Kiva, but my partner had given to several projects. Learn something new every day!

Anyway, here’s excerpts from our conversation. Crystal is, as always, gracious with her time, and great to talk to.

From what I hear, has been doing a lot of the heavy lifting at the bargaining table, despite being more than seven months pregnant. Oh, and she’s been going to practice with the Thorns and working out.

Annie: When when they were having the press conference with all the players to announce that the agreement last week, Becky said `Oh, and crystal Dunn was involved too. She’s actually negotiating at the bargaining table at this very minute.

Dunn: I know, I missed the party. I was kind of texting with the girls as it was going on. And I was just like, Thank you guys for doing that, and I’ll hold down the fort in negotiations right now. But it was a collective effort, you know, and it was really incredible to get over the finish line. And like I said, it was something that fell on everybody’s shoulders. It wasn’t one person having to carry too much of a load but I will say Becky Sauerbrunn is definitely an MVP of this. She has just been so committed and so attentive and she definitely carried a good chunk of the weight. But like said, we just collectively are so proud of where we’ve been able to get to.

Annie: I’m wondering, did you feel like when you were at the bargaining table that the moment was really kind of a breakthrough in terms of thawing the relations between the two sides?

Dunn: Yes, I truly believe that. There’s no secret that there has been tension between US Soccer and the players, obviously, but I do think that this agreement was a kudos to release Cindy Parlow Cone, who really did come back to us and it has been in complete communication with the players on reaching an agreement. She really wanted to make this work. She really understood where we were coming from. And we undestand that it’s not just her making the decision, that she has to answer to the board, as well. But I do believe that this is a great step in the right direction to really making it known that we all want to grow the pie together. You know, this isn’t about us versus them, them versus us. It’s about collectively, how can our federation benefit and really grow the pie so that, you know, we’re all winning, you know?

Annie: Now the hurdle is reaching an agreement. Are you positive at this point — the dealine is March 31 and it’s going to come quicker than then than we all probably realize. And so are you encouraged that you’re headed in the right direction?

Dunn: Yes, I believe so. I’ve been heavily involved and as you know, on as many calls as I possibly can be and sitting at the table, and I think the conversations have gone well. Obviously are some things that we may not always see eye to eye on with US Soccer, and the same vice versa, but I do feel like it is moving in the right direction. And yes, the deadline is approaching but we’ve upped our sessions, we’re meeting constantly throughout the week, and I am very hopeful that we are going to reach an agreement. And like I said, I think the relationship is building. It’s getting stronger. And I do think like I said, both sides want this federation to be as successful as possible. And now it’s just about agreeing to terms that we both feel comfortable agreeing to and moving in the right direction. But we’re right there. I’m very hopeful. And yes, I hope by that date, we can both be shaking hands across the table and really looking forward to this next upcoming year — and these next couple years that have obviously a World Cup, both the men’s and women’s, and then following that the Olympics. So I think it’s a really crucial time for us to reach an agreement because there’s so much excitement and buzz around soccer at this point.

Annie: So are you like saying okay, come on guys, hurry up we got a baby coming here, we got to wrap this up.

Dunn: Basically, I’m sitting on all the calls they’re probably like alright Crystal’s showing up again, she must really want this. But I mean for me, like I said, it’s been incredible that even though I’m not able to be on the soccer field, I love being a part of these sessions and really feeling like I can lean into other things that really benefit and help this group.

Annie: You seem like you’re really embracing the role.

Dunn: I’m starting to I think I’ve hit this point in my career where I’m just like, Okay, I’m no longer the mentee. I’m the mentor. And I think it’s really incredible to kind of be a fan of the game right now. I would say I have this incredible perspective where I show up to training and I’m around a lot of soccer players on a daily basis, but I still feel like I get to take this step back and really see what changes I want to help make when I’m ready to get back on the pitch. I get to really dive into such a new journey. And I’m so excited about that.


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: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson