Sure looks like Y. Michele Kang is on her way to take over the Spirit — Woso links — Ashley Hatch talks about USWNT camp

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, January 24, 2022

Happy Soccer Monday! In case you missed it on Saturday night, the NWSL Board of Governors unanimously voted to approve the request of several investors of the Washington Spirit to become full equity shareholders, paving the way for Y. Michele Kang to take control of the Spirit.

(Editor’s note: Annie filed as she always does. I happened to be broadcasting my beloved Bard Raptors, who lost a heartbreaker to St. Lawrence, when she did. I drove home, was greeted at the door by my children, and forgot to edit and send out as usual. Thus: the delay to this morning. My deepest apologies, and Tennis Tuesday will follow as usual.)

This is confusing so I had a friend (OK, my partner) who is a CPA explain it to me.

When these investors came aboard, their ownership position came with certain rights, but they lacked the votes of full equity shareholders. That put them at less risk if the team folded. Some of these investors have recognizable names: Chelsea Clinton, Jenna Bush Hager and Brianna Scurry.

Several of these minor investors, apparently at Y. Michele Kang’s encouragement, decided to convert to equity shareholders, giving them voting rights. And for her part, Kang bought out investor Devin Talbott, with the intention of converting his share to equity. The NWSL’s Board of Governors approved both moves.

Meanwhile, Baldwin’s deal to sell the team to LA Dodgers Todd Boehly for $25 million fell apart.

Kang has already offered $35 million for the team and has the support of the players. For it to come to this point is kind of silly. Baldwin is coming off as petty.

And it seems like the NWSL Board of Governors supports Kang, too. Here’s the statement that was released Saturday night:

Our collective focus is to create the best environment for the Washington Spirit players, fans, and team employees, and to operate the NWSL in a manner that supports excellence on the field of play and in front offices around the league. Our priority is determining what is in the best interest of the NWSL, Washington Spirit, its players, and the D.C. soccer community. We believe Michele is fully committed to elevating this club and delivering for its players and it is now a matter for WSP shareholders to determine who holds a controlling interest. We are committed to allowing the required ownership process to be resolved in the appropriate, orderly manner. We will provide any additional updates once that process has taken place.”

So what happens next? The Washington Soccer Properties group will sort out the support Kang has among equity shareholders, and whether it’s enough to unseat Baldwin as controlling owner.

There’s no timeline for this, but hopefully the embarrassing saga ends soon. I think we’d all like to see this chapter of the upheaval that marked 2021 be put to rest.


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LINKS!

Lots of newsy stuff going on this past week, but I thought this was interesting from The Athletic’s Steph Yang pressing the Courage to expand on the signing of Jaelene Daniels.

My story for AP on the NWSL Board of Governors’ vote on the Washington Spirit.

The Washington Post on the Spirits’ Steve Baldwin problem.

Meg Linehan of The Athletic cites sources who say NWSL players won’t report without a CBA.

ESPN’s Caitlin Murray spoke to Michelle Akers about her new job with the Orlando Pride.

The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer also spoke to Akers.

My story on the young players who are getting a look in the USWNT”s January Camp.

The Courier-Journal wrote about the new Racing coach’s plans for this season.

Midge Purce signs a two-year deal with Gotham.

Jess Fishlock signs a two-year deal with the Reign.

German international Dzsenifer Marozsan talks with Goal.com about her time with the Reign

Nice story here on Sam Kerr and her impact on the Australian national team after breaking Tim Cahill’s record.

ESPN’s story on Kerr’s record-breaker.

Good story here in The Equalizer about Ashley Lawrence.

My story on Stephanie Labbe’s retirement.

Oh hey, Tobin Heath is out there scoring for Arsenal. Also, love this feature from the Guardian that tracks the action live. Helpful for those watching from afar.

Erin Cuthbert rightly calls out The Sun for a salacious headline.

India’s national team is out of the Asian Cup because of COVID cases. Sad for the hosts.


Five at The IX: Ashley Hatch

Ashley Hatch was the NWSL’s Golden Boot winner for last season and scored in the frindlies against Australia at the end of 2021. Here’s what she had to say to the media from the USWNT training camp in Austin.

Question: I’m wondering if you can explain how you continue to keep up such a positive mindset and confidence especially through all the ups and downs of the season with the Spirit ever rollercoaster ride and also also with the national team?

Hatch: That’s a great question. Two years ago, I started working with a sports psychologist and that’s really helped me with my mindset and just being positive but also just like realizing that it’s a waste of time to focus on these negatives or focus on complaining or whatever the outside circumstances may be. So just staying in a mindset that I can control and then giving it my best. That’s kind of how I’ve been rolling and it’s worked out so far.

Question: If I can have a quick follow up on that with the sports psychologist, was there something in particular that happened that caused you to seek that out?

Hatch: I just kind of found myself in a rut knowing that I could play better, and I feel like the only thing that was getting in my way was myself. So I just knew that I needed to speak to someone to help me kind of unlock that next level and kind of free my mind a little because I knew as soon as I freed my mind, I would be able to play more free on the field.

Question: Can you just give us a general sense of the vibe in the camp, how it’s going so far. And also you’re in camp with a lot of your Spirit teammates, how is that experience?

Hatch: To answer your first question, the vibes in camp have been great. I think everyone who is here is excited to be here, especially with the new year, fresh start. And then of course, being here with six other Spirit players is fun. I was super excited when I saw the roster and I was like, `It’s like a little mini reunion before we go back to the season.’ So I think it’s very well deserving of every Spirit player that’s here and I hope that we can continue to play together in this environment.

Question: In years past, not getting into January camp you’ve maybe had a different experience, having to make make do in the offseason, finding your own training or finding people to train with. How helpful has it been? How much sharper do you feel like you can be?

Hatch: I mean, it makes a huge difference. I think anytime you get invited into this environment, whether it’s preseason, middle of the season, whatever it is, it’s always helpful because of the players that you’re surrounded by and just the competitiveness of this environment. And also, just having numbers to play with makes a world of a difference. In the offseason normally, you’re trying to scrub together small sided games with whoever can play, and the quality is kind of all over the place. But when you get here, you know what the quality is going to be. So it’s huge, and it’s exciting to be able to start the year off like this.

Question: The US Soccer Twitter just posted a video of you guys running the beep test. As a non-elite person seeing you guys run the beep test and puffy coats seems like a nightmare. Is it a nightmare?

Hatch: I think the beep test is the beep of everyone’s existence. Luckily, we didn’t have to do the full beep test. We just did the first 15. It’s kind of like a warm up and a standard just to see where we’re at. So yeah, it wasn’t great, but at least it was the first 15, so I feel like if it was a full beep test that those puffies would have been off.

Question: What is your overall first impressions of the newbies, this is their first camp and just overall in competition and how’s it going?

Hatch: It’s been good. I mean, I feel like we have the newbies who are maybe new to this environment, but they’re not new to the NWSL environment — and that’s also a competitive environment. So it may be new seeing them here but it’s not new playing against them and with them. So it’s fun. It’s super competitive. And I think everyone’s level always goes up a notch when we’re in this environment.


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: Eleni Demestihas, @strongforecheck, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson