The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, May 10, 2021
The Challenge Cup final, Olivia Moultrie's lawsuit and the summer series — Must-click women's soccer links — Postgame interviews: Adrianna Franch and Meghan Klingenberg
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First off, congrats to Just Women’s Sports, which announced $3.5 million in seed money and a slate of new investors this morning. Here’s the release. Really excited for JWS and what they’re doing.
Also this morning, the Washington Spirit announced that Washington Capitals player Alex Ovechkin and his wife Nastya have joined the club’s investor group.
Meanwhile, there were lots goings-on in the women’s soccer world this past week, so here’s an abbreviated recap in case you missed anything:
There was lots of drama about whether the Thorns would be able to host fans at Providence Park for the Challenge Cup final. Turns out it was much ado about nothing.
Here’s what I don’t understand: Brown turned down the NWSL’s request to allow fans (as we covered last week in The IX) but then the next day lowered the risk in the county, which allowed 10 percent capacity in the stadium. Why didn’t she just tell the NWSL to hold on for a day when she looked at the numbers again? It was kind of odd.
Anyway, here’s my game story for the AP. If you don’t follow women’s sports at all (editor’s note: in which case WHY ARE YOU HERE), the Thorns won on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
While that was expected, I was pleasantly surprised by Gotham’s tenacity. Thinking back to just a few years ago when we were asking Sam Kerr about what in the heck was going on with Sky Blue, it is quite the transformation.
Also: Olivia Moultrie and her dad filed a lawsuit against the NWSL and its age requirements.
Here’s my story for the AP. Paul Tenorio from The Athletic has been on this story since the start. Here’s his story.
The NWSL, for its part, noted that age requirements are common in leagues across the globe (they are). But you definitely have to feel a bit for Moultrie who is in kind of a weird dead zone.
I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know what her chances are in this lawsuit. Michael McCann, however, is a sports lawyer, and has a great explainer right here.
And the U.S. women’s national team announced a summer series. I’m being pretty shameless with the links here. But I appreciate the clicks!
Last but not least: Chelsea! Sam Kerr just keeps getting better, if that’s possible.
Looking ahead, the NWSL regular season starts next weekend. I’ll have my season preview package for AP this week, so stay tuned.
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Hey, didn’t include all the game stories from the Challenge Cup final. But it was cool that so many folks were either there or wrote about it.
I was there!
Megan Rapinoe rallies for an NWSL team in Austin.
The Insider’s Meredith Cash talked to Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams about their new podcast, Snacks.
Ed Sheeran is the new kit sponsor of the Ipswich Town men’s and women’s teams.
The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Bachman spoke to Abby Wambach about the future of women’s soccer.
Sandra Herrera from CBS Sports takes us through the TV schedule for the upcoming season.
The Athletic’s Meg Linehan with the latest twist in the NWSL to Sacramento or not saga.
Harjeet Johal with a really nice story on Janine Beckie’s role with Canada for The Equalizer.
The SF Chonicle’s Ann Killion on the hypocrisy of Caitlin Jenner
Rachel Kriger for Last Word on Sports on what we learned from the Challenge Cup. Colleague RJ Allen writes about the ongoing anthem issue. Why don’t they just not play the anthem?
Steph Yang for All for XI considers the Moultrie lawsuit.
Jeff Kassouf wrote about Meghan Klingenberg’s role with the Thorns for The Equalizer.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Five at The IX: Kling and AD
Here’s what Adrianna Franch and Meghan Klingenberg had to say following the Challenge Cup!
AD: The win’s great, we’re happy that we were able to bring a championship of the tournament to our fans and we’re glad to be able to win it here. Long pre-season into a tournament you know, we’re going to just continue to develop. Every game we’re working to do better and see the things that we want to accomplish, and how close we are to accomplishing those. And it’s definitely been a progression every single game. And even within this game, we’re going to celebrate for a little bit and then turn around and go right back to work because we have an entire season that we need to continue to prepare for.
Question: (From Katelyn Best!) Wondering how you would rate the actual Challenge Cup in terms of aesthetic and utilitarian qualities?
Klingenberg: We’re rating the trophies now? That’s hilarious. I just like that it’s a cup. We call it a cup and they gave us a cup.
AD: We drank from the Cup.
Klingenberg: We drank from the Cup.
AD: I mean, any time you have trophies, they’re all important, right? Because this club, what we come here to do is to win. And when we go to accomplish that, we’re we’re constantly working to do so. So every trophy is an opportunity to bring something home to this community and to this club and every day in training and practice, everything that we do is constantly working towards that, to continue to build into our tactical, technical, individual abilities as a team and as individuals. And yeah, the trophies are just a little reminder that you’re putting to work and to continue to do so.
Kling: But honestly, if we are rating the cup, I’d say I really like the big handles.
AD: Oh, yeah, you can hold it. Two people can hold it.
Kling: If you have to give it a rating like out of 10?
AD: Maybe it could have a couple more handles?
Kling: More handles? How many more handles do you need?
AD: For everybody.
Kling: I just want it to be a bigger cup.
AD: So you can fit in it? Bathe in it?
Question: AD, the long road to rehab, the long road to rehab, to be back in this park. What’s the significance for you?
AD: Yeah, outside of the rehab, everybody struggled with 2020. It was a rough year for everyone. And the way this team performed last year, that’s what got us here today, because that growth, the growth that we are in right now, is what started last year. And though I couldn’t be a part of it on the field, I was a part of it off the field. And that’s what makes this team so great, is because, we’re continuing to work for each other on and off the bench. And that brings us into very good positions to continue to win games.
Question: AD, I’m curious from a personal perspective how you’re feeling now coming off, obviously, the MVP and making that PK save.
AD: The PK save was just one action. It took everybody to get where we are. Honestly, it could be as easily as the goalkeeper making two, or our defenders missing, or our fours missing, or any of our players missing their PKs. Everybody did what they needed to do to put ourselves in a good position for me to make one save. And then we brought it home. It comes way before that: if we don’t score a goal in this game, we’re not taking PKs, if we don’t keep them off the board any more than one, we’re not taking PKs. So I understand that that moment was great and it was significant, I’m happy about it and proud of it. But I’m also thinking about the goal that I got scored on, could I have done something better there? So, again, we’re on a journey. We’re continuing to grow. We’re going to continue to develop. And that’s not going to change.
Kling: AD’s why too humble. It was a kick-ass save.
Question: Can you just describe what it’s like to be in that high pressure situation this early in the season and also the way that this team handled that situation, being able to deliver with the championship on the line?
Kling: Our team lives in pressure. And I think once you accept it like that, then it doesn’t become pressure anymore. Once you embrace it, it kind of releases the pressure and makes it just another game. And we know that when we’re us, and we play to our strengths and we do what we can do, then it’s going to be really hard for other teams to beat us — because that’s how much we believe in our style, our culture, and the way that we can press and build and score. So for us, it’s amazing because, we take take this and then later in the season, we already have this under our belts. I think that’s a huge advantage. Obviously, it’s an extra game compared to everybody else. But for us it’s a learning opportunity because I think regardless, there’s still things that we need to do better, things that we need to work on. I think we could have scored five goals today. And that’s not to put any ‘you should have done this, you should have done that’ on it. That’s not it at all. But obviously, we need to be a little bit more calm in front of the net. And once we get to that place, I think it’s scary how good this team can be.
AD: I concur.
Question: I’m also going to focus on the PKs, not because the first 90 minutes weren’t amazing, but because it was a first for this franchise, if I’m not mistaken.
Kling: Well, not to bring myself into it, but obviously I didn’t make mine today. And so I was, like, doing the most out there, trying to root for everybody, because I know you want to pull your own weight, you want to do what you can for the team. But also, I’m not going to let my personal things that are going on inside of my head affect everyone else, because I could easily pull people down and make it hard for us to win. And AD was just like, I remember looking over her before we went out there and she just kind of smiled at me and she’s like, ‘I got one in me.’ I’m like, ‘One?’ Usually she has three (laughs). But I’m just glad she was able to do what she does best because you guys don’t even know how good AD actually is. we see it in practice every day, we see it with all of our goalkeeping corps. It’s the best goalkeeping corps in the league. And no offense to anybody else, but it just is. It’s facts. When I get to watch AD do her thing on a stage like this, it just makes me really proud and it makes my heart feel really full because I know all the work and I see all the work that her and Nadine and the other goalkeepers put in. And it’s for times like this. So seeing her step up and be big and be that person that we know that she can be, it’s not surprising, but I’m just proud.
Question: Meghan, Mark was just talking about maybe over the past year or so, you’ve helped the team recognize what’s what’s truly important, what’s most important in this journey and winning. Wondering if you could speak to that, and leading by example? Could you self-assess?
Kling: I’m just having fun guys. That’s all it is for me. My purpose on the Thorns is to be joy incarnate, and run around and connect with my teammates and pursue mastery, because that’s it for me. Those are the things that I want to do. And I think what’s really cool is that the Thorns have a similar journey. And you don’t kind of know that when you’re starting out with something new. I started out with this new journey last year, and the Thorns kind of started on the same journey with our culture, this learning culture, this feedback loop that we’re trying to develop here. And it’s really cool because it feels like these parallel paths of learning and getting better. And I’m just having so much fun. And I hope you all could see that out there because I’m literally like having a fucking blast. So that’s a quote Jeff, you better put that in. And it’s not because we’re winning. I love to win, but I just love being out here. And I think what’s really cool is that there are certain athletes and certain teams that focus on outcomes or focus on process. But our team focuses on purpose. What is our why? And I think once you start focusing on purpose and your why, then those other things fall into place. The outcomes fall into place, the process falls into place. And I love that, because when you start thinking about it from that aspect, there’s no limits to your potential. Because for us, we don’t just want to win. We want to also be the best. We want to be the best that ever was. And we want to be the type of team that — North Carolina was so good that I think people started changing the way that they play and changing the way that they draft to try and beat North Carolina the last couple of years. And that’s amazing. Like that’s literally changing the culture of the league with how good you are. And that’s what we’re chasing, because there’s no limits once you have that kind of goal and outlook. So for us, it’s about making sure that we’re on this journey because we don’t have a destination. There’s no end to this road. We’re just going to see how much better than we can be.