The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for July 1, 2019

Megan Rapinoe answers the haters with goals, and a bit from this morning's media scrum (hot off the presses!) with Christen Press. And hey, it's July!

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Megan Rapinoe answered the haters

What a week for the Rapinoe-bashers. So if you’ve been living in a cave and hadn’t heard, The Hill, a website that covers politics in Washington D.C., caused a bit of a stir early in the week with a click-baity post about how Rapinoe isn’t singing or putting her hand on her heart for the national anthem.

Besides the fact that lots of athletes don’t sing, or put their hands on their hearts — have these people been to a pro sporting event? — it felt totally random. Megan Rapinoe has made it clear she’s going to keep calling attention to injustice — even if U.S. Soccer’s rules won’t let her kneel.

Then the soccer magazine Eight By Eight drops a video, taken at the Nike uniform photo shoot in January, with Rapinoe saying she wasn’t going to the f-ing White House if the team Wins at the World Cup.

Donald Trump called Rapinoe out on Twitter. Ah, Twitter. The longer I’m on it the more I hate it.

The collective soccer world shrugged, because of course Rapinoe wouldn’t go to the Trump White House. Just like Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Just like Olympians Lindsay Vonn and Adam Rippon. Just like a whole bunch of the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles. And countless other athletes and teams.

Alex Morgan told Time Magazine before the tournament she wouldn’t go if invited, either.

While Trump’s base seems to get all in a lather about these snubs, seriously, Megan Rapinoe visiting the Trump White House? Like that’s ever going to happen. She is a gay woman. Vice President Mike Pence once advocated using federal funds for conversion therapy. No, she was never going to go, ever.

And Alex Morgan? Her husband is the American-born son of immigrants. Becky Sauerbrunn has stated in the past that she won’t go, and Ali Krieger and fiance Ashlyn Harris have both made their feelings known.

We make a lot about Donald Trump’s base and their outrage over, well, everything. But really, what does that mean to the women’s national team? I’m guessing that the team isn’t going to sell fewer jerseys because of Megan Rapinoe. They’re going to sell more. Ratings aren’t going down, they’re going up.

It’s the same thing that happened when Nike stock rose after they gave Colin Kaepernick a sponsorship deal and an ad campaign. It’s the same thing with the outrage over Keurig machines, the Golden State Warriors, Target, Starbucks or Beyonce. The outrage is not a real thing. It’s a manufactured illusion, amplified on social media to make it look like half of America hates Megan Rapinoe, or any number of other Trump detractors. But it’s not close to half. And those folks mad about Megan Rapinoe? Well, they don’t watch soccer anyway.

But we buy into it. It becomes this vicious cycle. Donald Trump tweets, creates a firestorm, and the media has no choice but report on it. Because he’s the president.

So how long will it be before we get to ignore the faux outrage generated by a tweet?

Anyway. I hope Megan Rapinoe has a hell of a World Cup. Because she makes the covering the team, and the World Cup, way more interesting.

Oh, and here’s Tobin Heath’s shorts. With Julie Foudy. Just to brighten everyone’s day!

This Week in Women’s Soccer

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Again, like last week, there’s all sorts of media here telling some really great stories. I can’t possibly include them all. Here are some of the high points.

The New York Times did a wonderful story on an LGBTQ soccer team in Paris torn over the US-France match.

Gwendolyn Oxenham wrote the most amazing story about Megan Rapinoe’s brother.

Caitlin Murray with the lowdown on what the men’s team would have made if they made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Great stuff here. Murray obtained the CBAs for her book: The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer. Which you can buy here.

Speaking of books, Jeff Kassouf and Kieran Theivam wrote a wonderful book too, The Making of the Women’s World Cup: Defining Stories from a Sport’s Coming of Age. Available here.

Steven Goff for the Washington Post had a charming story on Jill Ellis’ dad.

Stephanie Yang with a personal story for SB Nation on the woso community! It’s true!

Real Madrid is getting a women’s team. No really. Maybe don’t announce this during the World Cup. Before would be good. Or after. More people would see it.

Graham Hays on what we should all be paying attention to: The US defense. Five-man backline. Anyone recall seeing that before?

As always, the must-click landing pages:

The Equalizer’s World Cup page is here.

The AP’s World Cup page is here.

Pro Soccer USA’s page is here.

The New York Times Word Cup page is here.

Sports Illustrated’s is here.

OK, hopefully just providing the splash pages is helpful.

Five at The IX: Christen Press

And last but not least, as a thunderstorm breaks out over Lyon this evening, here’s a few worlds with Christen Press from her media scrum this morning at the team hotel. About 2 a.m. West Coast time.

Press: “I think just simply the team rises to the occasion. I think that throughout the history, watching the team, being on the team, playing for the team, we’ve done a great job at flipping pressure and making it inspiration, making it motivation. And we know that when the stakes are the highest, when the games and the tournaments are the biggest, you have to find another level in yourself to win. I don’t think that you could ever find that level in another moment. And I think that if you don’t find it you don’t win.”

Question: The coach of England says the team has a Ruthless streak. Is that you see it?

Press: “I think that I think I I would call it more, belief. I would characterize it as optimism that we’re going to win. But there is a ruthlessness to this team. And that’s win at all costs. That means tactically adapt in a way that we never have in four years. And you have to do that to win. And then when you do it, when you adapt, when you’re playing in a different style than maybe you want to or you have been, doing it as well as we did in the last game in reference to our defensive nature, it’s incredible. It’s incredible that we could change and still be so solid.”

Question: How is Hope different from Alyssa?

Press: “Totally different people. Different experience, different relationships with the players on the team, different personalities. Both confident, but in very different ways, and they’ve showed in different ways. Both hugely talented, but different strengths. And I think that this being Alyssa’s first big tournament as the starting keeper, she’s shown great confidence and composure, made big saves in the last game, her distribution throughout the tournament has been fantastic. And I think that it’s been really cool to see her step into this moment.”

Question: How does she show her confidence?

Press: “Quietly. I think she shows her confidence in her willingness to put in the work in a humble way, and that means you know staying to take extra shots where usually the first keeper would would be gone. She just loves to train and she loves to work out and she she’s the goalkeeper I know that runs the most. She literally runs all the time. She lifts all the time and I think that that is like what feeds her soul and then she gives that back to the team. And the team sees her working and you see how she functions in that way. I think it does make everyone confident in her as well.”

Question: You talked about switiching formations and tactics, what did you see in the coordination?

Press: “I think that it’s not easy for us to sit to sit a little bit back. I think it’s against the attacking and aggressive way that we’ve been built and that are our style normally like lends itself to. But I think the reason it was so impressive is that in a more defensive structure people were asked to do things that they hadn’t been asked to do. That that was even true in the Spain game as well. Like for example Crystal’s one-v-one defending has just been out of this world. It’s like unbelievable every time she’s going one-v-one. We’re like she can’t possibly still be like fit and fresh and ready to take this on, and she is every single time. Then, just with sitting back a little bit, the other players then coming around her to support her, to make to lighten that load, to being able to change to different styles, different defensive shapes, with coordination with confidence, it’s actually quite difficult. I think it’s a testimony to the character of the players and also the smarts and sophistication of the players.”

Question: You guys have talked a lot about the atmosphere on this team has been good. How much has a role has Alyssa played?

Press: “I mean the same amount as every player. I think that each personality, and this is how I see the world, I think each personality brings something beautiful into the group. Our team wouldn’t be our team without Alyssa. People probably don’t think that as much because she doesn’t have big media personality and she’s not front and center in the news and in the team photos. But she has a huge energy about her, a determination and she’s also has some of the closest relationships and friendships of any player on this team because of her slightly more introverted nature. I think that actually develops really close friendships. I actually think Alyssa’s one of my closest friends on the team. Because it’s a little bit special when someone who isn’t traditionally like, talking and trying and take all the attention, it does give that and does want that from you. She has several really close friendships and she has this very humble way of like mentoring and guiding her friends but also being able to receive the same. And I think that’s very cool.”

Question: You’ve been here before. What’s it feel like?

Press: “Yeah, I think it’s very different from the first World Cup for me because I didn’t know what to expect then and so I was living in this state where I was kind of learning as I was going. After I was an alternate in 2012, then 2015, 2016, I think I came into this World Cup just with the understanding that like anything could happen, that how you think it’s going to go, it’s never gonna go that way. And I think that makes it a lot easier to ride the waves. And to know that everything that happens is going to get blown out of proportion in everyone else’s mind, and you can kind of just stay steady through that. I think I have been able to enjoy this. Before we played in the French in the France game I actually just kind of looked in the mirror and I thought like I’m so much more ready for this. Than I have been for any other big moment in my career. I’m ready for whatever role, however many minutes or not minutes that I get. I feel I feel prepared. I feel confident and it feels very good.”

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson