The Challenge Cup hits a snag, but the regular season is upon us — Janine Beckie returns! — Must-click woso links

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, April 25, 2022

The Challenge Cup round-robin stage has wrapped up, and the regular season is about to begin.

The Reign captured the top seed, followed by the Kansas City Current, the North Carolina Courage and the Washington Spirit.

So the Reign play the Spirit and the Current play the Courage in the Challenge Cup semis. The higher seeds get to host.

But there’s a snag. Lumen Field isn’t available on May 4. And neither is Audi Field. So the semifinal between the Reign and Spirit will be held at Segra Field, in Virginia.

Interestingly, Audi Field is booked because of the Project Play Summit, put on by the Aspen Institute. The summit addresses youth sports and best practices. I actually took part in 2020 as I was looking at how youth sports were impacted by the pandemic.

The NWSL’s new commissioner Jessica Berman is one of the speakers that this years event.

Jason Anderson and Susie Rantz were the first to report the late-night announcement last night.

Rantz suggests that the reason Starfire wasn’t selected was because the Reign is playing the Spirit at Audi on Sunday to open the regular season, so it didn’t make sense to fly back to Washington state for a Wednesday game.

All that aside, the regular season starts on Friday with Angel City hosting the North Carolina Courage at Banc of California stadium.

BECKIE’S BACK!

Below you’ll see our media session with Janine Beckie, who is back in the NWSL after a stint with Manchester City. She fared well in her debut Sunday with four shots, including two on target.

Christine Sinclair even joked this week that the Thorns are looking very Canadian. Born in Colorado, Beckie holds dual citizenship, but plays with Sinclair on the Canadian national team.

You might remember that last summer she had a brace against Chile during the group stage at the Tokyo Games. Canada went on to win the gold medal. She has 86 caps with Canada and has scored 34 goals.

Beckie, who played for Texas Tech, was originally drafted in 2016 by the Houston Dash, where she played for two seasons. She went to Sky Blue in 2018 as part of the three-team Carli Lloyd trade.

Later that year she left Sky Blue (now Gotham FC) on a transfer to Manchester City. She made 49 appearances with the club and scored six goals.

She signed a three year-deal with the Thorns earlier this month. It will be interesting to she how she fits in with Sinclair, Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver.



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LINKS

My fave story of the week. The Athletic rated the NWSL’s jerseys.

The New York Times wrote about France’s hijab ban.

Bethany Balcer criticizes the Challenge Cup final start time. It’s May 7, and if Seattle advances, that’s a 10 a.m. game time. For Just Women’s Sports.

Also from JWS: a nice feature on Common Goal.

Tennessee coach Brian Pensky takes the top job at powerhouse Florida State.

The San Diego Union Tribune with a column looking at the Wave’s Challenge Cup struggles.

Nice feature on Racing’s Ekic from Goal.com’s Amee Ruszkai.

The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter spoke to Mia Hamm for this nice story.

Interesting story on Angel City signing athletes to NIL deals.

The US women’s under-17 team went off against Grenada.

Marca did a feature on Angel City.

Catarina Macario leads Lyon over PSG in the Champions League semifinal.

Fansided talked to Alex Morgan.

The NCAA is tweaking overtime rules. No more OT for regular season games. If a game ends in a tie, it’s a tie — no more extra time.


TWEET OF THE WEEK

Because of cuteness.


Five at The IX: Janine Beckie

So I think it’s important to take advantage of all the in-person access we’re getting now, as we emerge from the pandemic. Even though postgame interviews for opponents are on zoom, the Thorns have “hybrid” access (in person and Zoom) but they’re also opening up practice! Yay! So instead of transcribing, I’ll just let you watch our time with Janine Beckie.

And yes, I am a total geek. (Editor’s note: Annie is actually cool as hell.)

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