Your soccer year in review — NWSL Drafts are over — Must-click woso links

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, December 20, 2021

The IX is taking its annual break. I’m celebrating the holidays with the kids and then Brian and I are headed off on a retreat. So this is my final post until Jan. 3. (Editor’s note: we’ll have a full array of newsletters this week, and then we are off next week.) It’s been a turbulent year in women’s soccer. The NWSL was shaken by scandal, and the U.S. women’s national team found out it was fallible.

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For the U.S. national team, the rebuilding project that began this fall goes into full swing in January camp. World Cup qualifying is now the CONCACAF W Championship, which will be held this coming July. The top four teams make the expanded WC field.

For the NWSL, the college draft was held this past weekend. Naomi Girma out of Stanford was the top pick, unsurprisingly, by the San Diego Wave.

So here we go, a look back at 2021, the year that was. I tried to pick just a sampling of memories each month. No interview this week, but there are some links below. See you next year!


               Catarina Marcario given permission by FIFA to play with the U.S. national team.

               Christen Press and Tobin Heath opt out of January camp, stay with Manchester United.

               Becky Sauerbrunn named captain of the team.

               Emily Fox was the top overall pick in the NWSL draft by Racing Louisville.


               Alex Morgan returns to the roster for the SheBelieves Cup after a bout with COVID-19.

               FIFA announces plan to educate member federations about abuse and harassment.

               The 2020/21 NCAA season starts for some teams, continues for others.

               The SheBelieves Cup is played with the USWNT, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. Japan backed out because of COVID-19.


               NWSL announces the preseason Challenge Cup.

               Angel City says controversial YouTube celebrity David Dobrik is no longer part of the ownership group.

               Nationwide becomes an NWSL sponsor.

Megan Rapinoe and Midge Purce visit the White House to make a case for Equal Pay.


               The equal pay part of the USWNT’s lawsuit against US Soccer is appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

               The USWNT beats France 2-0 after a 1-1 draw with Sweden in a European trip.

               Sarah Gorden reports upsetting incident with Houston stadium security.


               Rising COVID cases threaten Portland’s bid to play the Challenge Cup final at home, but in the end it all works out.

               Olivia Moultrie files a lawsuit against the NWSL asking for the right to play.

               Santa Clara wins the 2020 NCAA women’s championship.

Mark Parsons announces he’s leaving the Thorns to become head coach of the Netherlands after the season.


               Jill Ellis is tapped to lead the San Diego NWSL expansion team, which was supposed to be the Sacramento expansion team.

               The USWNT opens a summer series of games in advance of the Olympics, beating Jamaica and Nigeria in Texas.

               Cindy Parlow Cone calls the USWNT’s demands to equalize FIFA prize money a non-starter ahead of the release of LFG.

               Vlatko Andonovski announced the Olympic roster, with Kristie Mewis making the squad.


               The USWNT beats Mexico twice before departing to Tokyo for the Olympics.

               The Americans get surprised in the group stage opener, losing 3-0 to nemesis Sweden.

               The U.S. squeaks by the Netherlands on penalties in the quarterfinals.

Farid Benstiti resigns as coach of the Reign. We don’t find out until later what happened. Laura Harvey returns as coach of the team.


               The U.S. loses to Canada in the semifinals. Canada win the gold. U.S. settles for bronze. Lots of questions about what went wrong.

               Carli Lloyd retires. Shocker.

               Angel City hires Freya Coombe as coach, signs Christen Press as first player.

               GM Alyse LaHue dismissed from Gotham FC for “violation of league policy.”

Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke is suspended pending an investigation into his behavior after Kaiya McCullough comes forward in a story in the Washington Post.


               The sh*t hits the fan.

               Richie Burke is dismissed as coach of the Washington Spirit for violating the league’s anti-harassment policy.

               Meg Linehan drops her story in The Athletic, recounting allegations of sexual harassment and coercion by Paul Riley, made by Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim.

               Paul Riley is fired as coach of the Courage.


               NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird resigns after 19 months on the job. U.S. Soccer and the NWSL launch internal investigations.

               Players cancel a weekend’s worth of games to regroup. When they re-start, they stop play in the sixth minute of their games and gather together in the midfield for a moment of reflection.

               Portland places GM Gavin Wilkinson on leave from Thorns, but he’s still in charge of the Timbers.

Marla Messing hired as interim NWSL CEO.

Carli Lloyd plays her final match for the USWNT.


               Karina LeBlanc named new GM of the Thorns, team later names Rhian Wilkinson coach.

               Crystal Dunn announces she is expecting.

               The Washington Spirit wins the NWSL championship, defeating the Chicago Red Stars. Two days later Chicago coach Rory Dames steps down ahead of a report that he, too, engaged in abusive behavior.

               Jess Fishlock named NWSL MVP.


               The USWNT plays, and wins, a pair of games in Australia.

               Lindsey Horan named U.S. Player of the Year, Trinity Rodman is Young Player of the Year.

               Alex Morgan signs with the San Diego Wave.

               UCLA coach Amanda Cromwell is named coach of the Orlando Pride.

LINKS! NWSL, UWCL and more

Our fearless leader, Howard Megdal, looks ahead to 2022 after the NWSL draft.

For reference, Sporting News did a tracker of the draft if you’d like to review.

Meg Linehan and Steve Yang did a draft tracker for The Athletic, plus analysis.

Nice story here in the Washington Post about Voice in Sports and Ifeoma Onumonu

USA Today’s Emily Olsen spoke to Alex Morgan about joining the Wave, and everything else.

Caitlin Murray for ESPN looks at Horan and Rodman winning postseason awards.

Alex Azzi for NBC Sports looks at the new NWSL NET fund to help players.

Meredith Cash for the Insider writes about free agency in the NWSL

Cash also had a nice story about Julie Ertz’s move to Angel City.

The Patriot Ledger wrote about Kristie Mewis’ move to Gotham

Jess McDonald is off to Racing Louisville.

Sports Business Journal looks at Y. Michelle Kang’s bid to buy the Spirit.

The Spirit drops the interim tag from coach Kris Ward.

Linehan spoke to Ward about in advance of the announcement.

My story on the OL Reign moving to Lumen Field next year.

Dan Lauletta of The Equalizer takes a look at the 2022 NWSL season.

Suzanne Wrack of the Guardian looks at the Champions League quarterfinals.

And with that, I’m signing off y’all. See you in the new year. Blessings to you and yours over the holiday season.

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: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Annie Peterson