Soccer Monday: Y’all can plan your trips to France now!

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie Peterson, March 25, 2024

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This is going to be a seriously limited Soccer Monday because I’ve been knee-deep in the NCAA Tournament for the past week in Corvallis and I’ve got more games in Portland this week. I got to see the last 20 minutes of the Gotham-Thorns match Sunday but that’s it! So forgive me in advance.

Also, Monday is Monday-ing. And I’m eagerly awaiting the Washington Post’s Kim Mulkey story, so there’s that. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

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One soccer thing on my radar was the Olympic draw. The United States, winners of four Olympic gold medals, will play the winner of CAF qualification between Zambia and Morocco early next month, in Group B in Nice on July 25. The team will play the next two matches in Marseille against fifth-ranked Germany and World Cup semifinalist Australia. Then, hopefully, it’s past group stage.

The United States last won a gold medal in London in 2012. They were knocked out of medal contention by Sweden in the 2016 “cowards” match, then won the bronze medal in Tokyo.  

Canada was in Group A with host France, Colombia and New Zealand. The Canadians won bronze medals in both London and Brazil before winning gold in Tokyo.

World Cup winner Spain is in Group C with Japan, Brazil and either Nigeria or South Africa.

Let the roster predictions commence! Oh, and the SheBelieves roster appears to be dropping tomorrow. So there’s that.

Couple of other items:

This is cool:

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This week in women’s soccer

Sandra Herrera’s power rankings are out.

The Athletic’s takeaways on the weekend.

This is cool! NWSL and Liga MX summer camp!

Fast Company on how the NWSL became the hottest investment in sports.

The Reign have (finally) been officially sold.

There are little details about what happened here, but the Dash dismissed their GK coach.

ESPN on what the influx of African stars brings to the NWSL.

Oh, hey! Rematch with Mexico. And celebrating the ’99ers.

USA Today’s Nancy Armour breaks down the Oly draw.

Five at The IX

Twila Kilgore sits at a podium with a microphone

Q. What are your initial feelings on the group, and what does it mean in terms of presentation?

TWILA KILGORE: We were going to be excited for any group that we got. We obviously had a pretty good indication that Germany would be in the group, and it was pretty good odds that Australia might be one of those teams, too. And we’ll wait to find out with Zambia. But the bottom line is we’re just excited to have a path to know who we’re playing for the most part, to start working on specific game plans and things like that. But also just to know the logistical path. There’s so much that goes into an Olympics with such a short turnaround and congested games, and for our administration to be able to sort of start mapping that out and take steps towards where we’re headed is really, really important and exciting and we’re just really ready for it. Just happy the day came. The suspense with the balls was not fun.

Q. How are you enjoying Paris, and are you going to see Emma Hayes?

TWILA KILGORE: Am I enjoying Paris? Yes, this is a fake background, but the Eiffel Tower is, you know, less than a couple hundred feet from me, which is pretty nice. And it’s been a great event, spent some time with some really important people today. I’ve been in Europe for a few days doing some other things and I will make it over to visit Emma tomorrow. It’s been a good trip so far and it’s going to end well as well, as I’ll get to spend some time with them and discuss this further.

Q. Having lived through 2019 Women’s World Cup in person, the heat really played a role in that tournament. The heat could very much be a factor. Is there any specific planning around grappling with the weather in this tournament?

TWILA KILGORE: Just actually our path our in terms of location pinpoints what we were hoping for. So in terms of location and the sights of games, it’s a really good fit for us for a lot of different reasons. It’s the right type of travel. And just like any adversity that we’ve got to take on there, anything that we can control, we will. We have a really robust high-performance medical department that surely will be putting things in place that will help us cope with those things. But everybody’s got to cope a with it. Our opponents want to cope with it, too. And this is part of who we are that we take adversity head on, and and we’ll just control the controllables and move forward.

Q. The federation posted a photo of you with Thierry Henry. Was that your first time meeting him and what are your thoughts on that one?

TWILA KILGORE: It was my first time meeting him. It was a pleasure and honor. Really enjoyable to get his perspective on the game a little bit, on life and just to be near somebody like that on an important day for us was just quite special.

Q. How do you continue to set the table for Emma before she arrives and then leading up to the Olympics?

TWILA KILGORE: I think it’s just a little more of the same, but we’re evolving so much as we go that that includes some of evolving as well. The team is in a good place. We will pick up where we left off in the Gold Cup and that’s really important. This is a team that’s working on taking steps, consistent forward steps and making sure that even when we go back to our clubs and we come back, that we’re reintegrating as quick as possible and making sure that we are taking advantage of every moment that we have together because it’s so precious leading up to the Olympics. There’s just not that much time. And it also has a lot to do with the collaboration. Fortunately, because I’m in Europe, this collaboration will be face to face, which is great. But spending time with Emma and working towards — especially now that we know who our opponents are — the next steps for the group is really important.

Q. Do you approach roster-building any differently now that you know two of your three opponents?

TWILA KILGORE: It’s a really good question. I think that because we look at the Olympics as — there’s a lot that goes into it. And we’re not just looking at the group games. The idea is that you prepare to move beyond the group games and the idea is to select the best group of players that will work the best together to accomplish a variety of different tactical tasks. The answer is probably not greatly, but it’s a little too soon for me to make a definitive comment about that. I think that one of the best things about our player pool is we have such a variety of different types of players that we can pull from. Again, with only 16 field players, two goalkeepers, it’s hard to make a lot of kind of one-off, opponent-based decisions.

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