Soccer Monday: Oh, the drama. WHAT A CHAMPIONSHIP!
The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Nov. 13, 2023
Congrats to Gotham for winning the NWSL Championship. It was such an unexpected ride, from last place in 2022 to champions in 2023.
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And they almost didn’t make the playoffs. A 2-2 draw with Kansas City in the regular-season finale gave Gotham the final berth on the goal-differential tiebreaker. Then they got past both the Courage and the Thorns to earn a spot in the final.
It was a group of wildly talented players, from Midge Purce to Kelley O’Hara to Lynn Williams to Bruninha to Esther Gonzalez to Yazmeen Ryan and just about everyone else. Just star-studded. Head coach Juan Carlos Amorós got them all on the same page.
And then there’s Ali Krieger. Playing in her last season, honored with billboards in Times Square, and at the same time “blindsided” by the divorce from Ashlyn Harris. I found it especially gross that the relationship with Sophia Bush was flaunted in People magazine in the midst of everything. Y’all know I like to give folks grace during breakups and divorces because damn they’re HARD. But from the outside Ashlyn just looks mean.
Kyle Krieger, Ali’s brother who I met back in 2015, summed it up in an Instagram post.
I was thinking about Ali, and I remembered speaking to her a lot back in 2017 when she was fighting for a better CBA for the women’s national team. Then she was unceremoniously cut by the team.
She wrote about it for The Players’ Tribune, linked here, in 2019 when she won a World Cup title in France. I remember being surprised by her inclusion on that team, but I think as the years have passed, I understand it now. Krieger is like the glue that holds things together. And every team needs one of those players.
Then there was, of course, Megan Rapinoe. Of course she heads into retirement in the MOST dramatic way ever. Six minutes into the game and she had to be helped off the field.
“I thought about it a little bit, and I’m not a religious person or anything, and if there’s wasn’t a God, this is proof that this isn’t, because this is fucked up. It’s just fucked up guys. Six minutes in, and I fucking yeet my Achilles.”
In her last World Cup, things didn’t go expected for Rapinoe either, with that shootout miss against Sweden.
But of course, she handled it all with humor and aplomb. Drama and great quotes? Yes please.
Like Krieger, she was also one of those necessary players in the locker room: Someone who is always willing to fall on the sword for her teammates. With style, of course. Look at the World Cup. She put herself out there after the match, answering the hard questions. That allowed Sophia Smith, who was devastated, some space. She did the same thing for Alex Morgan following the 2016 Olympics.
Before the championship match Rapinoe was asked what it meant to be playing with (and against) Krieger in their last competitive match.
“With Ali, we’ve been through so much together. We’ve played in the biggest games together, played in world championship games together while the president was tweeting at us, so I feel in this moment we’re just happy to be together,” Rapinoe said. “I think we both wish each other so well. We’re so happy and proud of each other.”
Gotham won in the end, giving Krieger one last trophy. It really was such a perfect ending to the season.
Full confession: I wasn’t there! Grrrrrr. I had the No. 6 Oregon Ducks hosting USC on Saturday night for The AP. Gotta pay the bills! But I watched the game on Sunday, after trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid the final score.
One final note: What am I gonna watch now? Guess this is when I transition to the WSL.
Here’s a recap of the postseason awards!
Rookie of the Year!
Goalkeeper of the Year!
Coach of the Year!
And finally, MVP!
What they said after the championship!
Here’s the post championship press conference with Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle. Definitely worth a watch.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer|
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