The NWSL season is underway. The Thorns picked up where they left off

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, March 27, 2023

I wanted to open the IX this week with something really cool. After years of lobbying on my part, The Associated Press is now doing game stories for the National Women’s Soccer League.

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And I’m super proud to say we’ve brought in Susie Rantz to help out. We’re doing European-style roundups on the league’s games each weekend. And she’s off to a flying start: Here’s her roundup for Saturday’s games, and Sunday’s games too.

Anyway, we’re not worthy. Susie rocks.

Went to the Thorns opener yesterday. Tifo referenced Midsommar, which I haven’t seen. But now it’s on my list.

So I don’t want to make this a Thorns newsletter. But this week it just kind of turned out that way. Apologies. I promise next week I’ll adopt a new team.

NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman wrote a hopeful letter to fans to start the season.

“First and foremost, we have worked very hard to earn the trust of our players. The systemic reform work is underway and ongoing, and we will continue our efforts to make this league a safe, healthy ecosystem where players have the resources they need to succeed, excite, and entertain our growing fanbase. Our potential is limitless with their support. I’m thankful to every one of them for their excellence and professionalism, but maybe most critically, for their partnership. Working together, this league knows no bounds.”

You can read the whole letter here.

Couple of other observations:

Alyssa Thompson is so good for someone so young.

So is Trinity Rodman.

At least at first glance, Gotham looks like they’ve got it together. Lynn Williams helps. (And so does VAR, apparently.)

Williams spoke after the game, saying the team got off to a bit of a slow start at adjusted at the half.

“But you know, you take it as it comes, you ride the storm, and sometimes you get a little bit of luck with the VAR call. We go into halftime and (coach Juan Carlos Amorós) was saying `We’re still in this. It’s 1-0, we’ve got to get back in.’ I would say halftime and just having that fight mentality.”

(Editor’s note: you can read more about VAR’s Hollywood debut from Jeff Kassouf at The Equalizer.)

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And, finally, the Wave have Alex Morgan. Definitely helps.

You can’t tell too much from the first game of the season. But it already feels like this year the soccer, and not the drama, is going to take center stage.

Here are a few of the stories I wrote in advance of the season. And please click on these to let AP know women’s sports are important!

I wrote about Carson Pickett adjusting to her new team and getting more comfortable with being a role model.

My season preview.

I wore about Ali Krieger playing one more season.

I also did capsules on each team.

More links!

CNBC says there’s lot of money on the line for the league’s success.

The Pride are betting on Marta and the newbies this season, from Just Women’s Sports.

CNN’s story on how players aren’t exactly happy about their depictions in FIFA 23.

Gotham signs Sinead Farrelly after 8 years away, from Steph Yang at The Athletic.

The Athletic’s story on Ali Krieger’s retirement.

Kim McCauley wrote a very nice piece on the Current for The Athletic.

Good story on Mallory Swanson by Sandra Herrera for CBS Sports.

Yahoo Sports’ Henry Bushnell on the American-ness of the NWSL.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on players hoping to move past scandal this season.

Meg Linehan’s season preview for The Athletic.

The Equalizer‘s Dan Lauletta on the how the NWSL can’t get complacent. Lauletta also ran down the 11 talking points before the season.

Claire Watkins for Just Women’s Sports with predictions for the season.

FIVE AT THE IX: Sophia Smith and Christine Sinclair

This preseason press conference was hysterical. Sharing my YouTube post since transcribing won’t do it justice. Just watch and enjoy:

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