The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, January 11, 2021
USWNT in camp — NWSL heads into the draft — Catarina Macario goes pro — Also there was a coup attempt, that was also a thing that happened
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Like all of you I watched the siege on our nation’s Capitol in horror.
At first, I have to admit, I was kind of grateful that I could “stick to sports” and shut off the insurrection that I was watching unfold on television.
However, after taking some time to absorb what had happened in Washington D.C., I believe it’s important that we don’t turn away, given the steady drumbeat of attacks on our democratic processes for the past few years.
Including the Fourth Estate. An AP photographer was attacked during the siege.
Some of you know how I was covering the NCAA Baseball Regionals a few years back and I introduced myself to a college coach (who shall remain nameless).
He said to me: “Oh, Associated Press? Fake News!”
Needless to say I didn’t do the feature I had been mulling about his senior pitcher. Hard to “stick to sports” when a coach you are supposed to cover is insulting your profession.
I’ll leave it at that. But, again, this moment has been brewing for quite some time: The anger, the distrust, the disrespect. I’m not quite sure how we move forward when lines have been drawn that give a coach permission to insult a person covering his team.
For now, however, I’ll actually “stick to sports” because SO MUCH IS HAPPENING.
First off, the USWNT opened January camp in Florida. Megan Rapinoe is back, so I guess she wasn’t ready to retire just yet. Same with Carli Lloyd. There’s a pair of games against Colombia set for later this month.
Who isn’t there? Christen Press and Tobin Heath.
We know that Press recently suffered from a non-COVID illness that forced her to miss three games with Manchester United. She just returned to practice with her club team this weekend.
Heath was invited to camp but opted to stay with MU.
Conversely, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis decided to join the national team in Orlando.
Catarina Macario was also included in camp, but she has still not received her FIFA permission to play in a match for the national team.
Macario was brought into the team’s October camp the same day she became a citizen, and she made news again shortly after the January camp announcement by proclaiming that she’s going pro.
Which brings us to the NWSL draft: There was speculation whether Macario will head to Europe or play in her adopted country.
Until last night, when Grant Wahl posted this to Twitter:
Meanwhile there’s a bit of confusion about the NCAA waiver for this season. Annie Costabile from the Chicago Sun-Times took a look at it here.
Stay tuned. The draft is Wednesday night, live on the NWSL’s Twitch channel. Once again, friend of Soccer Monday Jen Cooper will be providing analysis! (Editor’s note: Friend to THE WORLD Jen Cooper.)
One last thing before I go: I’d like to take note that in the middle of all of this soccer news — and the tumult in our government — we are in the midst of a pandemic that is claiming a life every 20 or so seconds in this country. Please wear a mask and socially distance.
On to the links!
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Speaking of The Athletic, Meg Linehan took a look at what to expect from the January camp.
Seth Vertelney of Goal.com says U.S. Soccer may be looking into how Alex Morgan contracted coronavirus, based on an interesting comment made by Andonovski.
Avi Creditor of Sports Illustrated on Catarina Macario’s announcement.
Sandra Herrera of CBS Sports reports on the January camp roster.
Goal.com looks to explain Alex Morgan’s decision to return stateside.
Soccerwire’s report on the expanded pool.
My The IX colleague Howard Megdal on the NWSL players on the move for Forbes.
Kevin Baxter of the LA Times takes a look at how Angel City seeks to change women’s sports.
Nice feature on a pair of local players who will play for the Kansas City NWSL team.
The Washington Post’s Steven Goff on why 2021 will be big for soccer.
The Equalizer’s Rachel Kriger on the return of Rapinoe and Lloyd to the USWNT fold.
The Equalizer’s Emily Olsen on the Spirit and what the addition of Sonnettt and O’Hara can do for the team.
Five at The IX: USWNT Vlatko Andonovski talks about the January camp
Here is a little bit of what Vlatko Anondovski had to say on the media call about his roster for the January camp:
Question: Wanted to get an idea where you think Megan and Carli are?
Vlatko: Megan and Carli have been doing a tremendous, tremendous job. Our high performance department, high performance coach, has been monitoring everything that they’re doing. There are GPS monitors on them when they’re working with coaches or the group that they’re working with. So everything is documented, everything they do we follow. And we have a pretty good idea of where they stand. In fact,both of them are a little bit ahead of what we expected them to be in January camp from the physical standpoint,. The only thing they are missing is team training. So it’s good that we have a good eight or nine trainings before going to the match. And both of them to get minutes in the first or second game. We’ll determine that. But from the mental standpoint, I think they’re refreshed, their mind is rested and they’re very excited to be back in camp. I’ve been in constant communication with both of them and they both constantly say they can’t wait to get back in camp. [00:02:00][74.6]
Question: Following up on Alex’s announcement, how is that affecting the team? And do you have updates how she is doing?
Vlatko: First, in terms of Alex, we’ve been in communication. I’ve talked to Alex numerous times now, and I’m glad that herself and her family are doing well. And slowly but surely they’re putting everything behind them and they’re handling the virus very well. In terms of the protocol, I think that our protocol is very, very strict, and it’s very well done. I mean, we proved that we did a good job in the October camp, in November camp. I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll have the same experience in January camp. The medical staff, and not just the medical staff, but also the technical staff, support staff, the players. Everyone has done an incredible job of following the protocol and doing what we need to do now. Now, I’m sure that our chief medical officer and the medical staff are looking into this incident with Alex and we’ll try to correct if there’s anything that needs to be corrected going forward.
Question: A year ago, you left Mallory Pugh off your Olympic qualifying roster and you said that she needed to get a little bit more consistency. Where do you see her now?
Vlatko: Personally for me, the approach to Mal has not changed. I want the best for for Mal and I want Mal to be the best. That’s why she’s in this camp, because we all know that she has tremendous potential. We all know how good Mal can be. And, I feel like it’s my personal responsibility, the responsibility of all the technical staff, to help her be the best version of herself. Mal will be given the opportunity, and she’s already been given an opportunity to be in this camp, and showcase herself in the best possible manner. Ultimately, it will come down to her whether she’s ready or not. But from everything that I know and communication with Mal and communication with the staff that is working with her, she is on the right path to do well physically, and now we just have to see technically and tactically how she is going to be able to perform in camp.
Question: We’re seeing increasing reports and studies about the long term effects of COVID, especially for pro athletes, things like myocarditis and long-term issues. Is that part of your protocol, long-term monitoring and looking for issues like that?
Vlatko: Yes, every player — obviously we had an incident Lindsey Horan, she wasn’t able to be in November camp because of COVID, and now with Alex — we take this very seriously and we don’t just throw the players back in the back in camp right away. There’s several steps that they have to go through, several screenings, EKG, and we monitor their progress before they get into the normal training, or any training, to begin with. So it will be the same thing with Alex.
Question: The press release said Tobin was asked to take part in training camp but chose to stay in Manchester. Can you tell us how that conversation went?
Vlatko: Yes, it is true that she was invited, but in this particular time, Tobin had an opportunity to opt out or come in, and she decided that in this particular moment it was better for her individually to stay in Manchester and play in the fixtures that they had with Manchester United, instead of coming to camp. On the other side, Rose and Sam decided to come and they are going to be in camp, because they’re not missing all of the fixtures because some of them got canceled by the FA, and the other thing is that they felt like this is going to be a better opportunity for them.
Question: Normally January camp is a chance to evaluate where everyone is at, but now you have these two games against Colombia. What do those games give you?
Vlatko: Yes. It’s not a typical January camp in several different ways. One is because of the two games that we have scheduled. Usually we don’t have games scheduled in January. The other thing is, because of what happened this whole year, it is a little bit different camp. So the preparations for it are going to be a little bit different. I have to say that I’m very happy with the fact that we are able to play again because games is something that we’re missing as a team, as a group. The fact that we were able to secure the two games makes me happy. I’m very thankful for everyone that made it happen from the standpoint of the federation and everybody else, that they made it possible for us.
But, what are the what are the goals from this camp and from this game: Obviously we brought more players than usual, it is a bigger group, and it’s a mix of players that have been in the previous two camps, a group of players that haven’t played for a long time. It’s a group of young players as well, Emily Fox, Jaelin Howell and obviously, Catarina Macario. So it’s a little bit of everything. (We) have a chance to see where the players are that haven’t played for a long time and give them a chance to get back up to speed, but also, evaluate them around the around the players that have been in every camp. And the same thing for the young players, being evaluated among the group and getting used to the system.