The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson

The NWSL edition. Playoffs, here we come. Plus Toni Pressley returns, and its suddenly really dusty in here.

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First off, some personal news. I got a new furball at the shelter. Her name is MoMo. When my cat Po came into our lives she was already an adult. MoMo is just 8 weeks old! So I’m off on a new adventure. Taking her to the vet today just to make sure everything is OK.

So here are a few thoughts while I’m playing with her. The NWSL season has come to a close, Sam Kerr is the Golden Boot winner (again!) and the same four teams that went to the playoffs last year are back.

Obviously the Courage are the favorites to repeat, but I’m not so sure the Thorns will return to the final. They’ve looked out of sorts lately, perhaps because of the international players being shuttled in and out. Portland has gone 1-3-1 in its last five games with only one goal scored. And one of those losses was the 6-0 drubbing – at home, no less – to the Courage.

It doesn’t bode well for the Thorns. But they did beat Chicago 3-0 at home before the slide started. Portland secured the third seed and the match against the Red Stars this weekend when the Reign played to a 2-2 draw with the Orlando Pride.

Chicago, meanwhile, has won five straight since that loss to the Thorns.

“No, I’m not concerned,” Midge Purce said. “We’ve been shutout, but that’s fine. I think soccer and scoring is kind of like this with teams and individuals. I think it’s really natural for teams to go like this and I think if we pop off at the right time it doesn’t really matter.”

Historically, the Thorns lead the series 10-1-9. But then again, the Red Stars have Sam Kerr.

By the way, as of Sunday night the schedule wasn’t updated on the NWSL website showing that match, it just said Chicago Red Stars versus TBA.

And, if you haven’t heard, Laura Harvey announced following the Royals’ season finale that she was no longer a candidate for the national team opening, and she’d be back with Utah next season. The Equalizer reported that both Harvey and Reign coach Vlatko Andonovski had interviewed in Chicago recently.

On to the links!

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!

First off, the BBC said it “understands” Andonovski will be the next USWNT coach. My folks tell me it’s not a done deal. Yet. My folks apparently also talk to SI.

Meg Linehan with The Athletic broke a big one. The NWSL may be in the market for a commissioner. Finally!

Everything we feared about artificial turf is true: It’s truly awful all around.

Caitlin Murray’s great story for Yahoo about jerseys. Yep, there weren’t enough.

Caitlin also looks at whether it’s the right time to talk about NWSL expansion.

Stephanie Yang spoke to Lisa Cole on the difficulties faced by women in coaching.

Steph and Meg are teaming up with some handy info for the NWSL playoffs. This is a great reason to subscribe to The Athletic.

One more from Meg, hot off the presses.

The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta selected four players who can have an impact in the NWSL playoffs.

Longevity comes to the NWSL with players reaching 100 caps, from Pro Soccer USA.

Cal soccer player sues after being cut by the team.

Could Lyon be in the market for an NWSL team? It seems so, according to Daniel Karell.

NWSL attendance has hit a record high.

Tweet of the Week

The Five at The IX: Toni Pressley’s inspirational return

The most moving moment of the weekend as the NWSL wrapped up the regular season, was when Ashlyn Harris gave Toni Pressley the captain’s armband. Pressley played just three months after her breast cancer diagnosis. There’s a really nice story here from Pro Soccer USA from Julia Poe. After the game she spoke to reporters. This is an excerpt of her comments.

And, public service announcement, Pressley is a good reminder that folks should do self breast exams every month. If you feel something, for goodness sakes have it checked out. And for folks my age, get regular mammograms.

Toni: “I think the girls did so well tonight. From the moment the whistle, the first whistle blew, so exciting to watch. Rachel’s goal was unbelievable and then to finish with Marta’s was just so fantastic. And it was amazing to be back out there.

Question: One of the moments that I felt kind of stood out was when Ashlyn came over and put the captain’s armband on you. How did that feel?

Toni: Just so surreal you know she’s someone that I love dearly and have so much respect for, and she’s such a great leader and for her to hand it over to me in that moment was so special. It was a special moment. And it’s something that I will never forget.

Question: Going off that, Obviously when you went in there was a standing ovation, how did that feel to have the whole stadium supporting you.

Toni: Felt amazing, you know to have everyone be so supportive and to be behind me and just give me that extra push to get on the field. I think it’s a testament to how wonderful our fans are. You know, they stick it out with us every single game and just have them, it means the world.

Question: What do you credit for your resiliency and strength?

Toni: I think it’s just the support around me from friends and family, to my team, to our fans, to this league, to our coaching staff, technical staff, everyone who’s around me day in day out, supporting me and pushing me to get better and be better. Yeah, it’s been a crazy ride but just to have them have my back has been amazing.

Question: Aside from the emotions and everything tonight, how did you feel physically and kind of how did you feel getting back into the game?

Toni: Honestly I felt great. I was saying before, it felt like I had never stepped off the field. So I think it’s just speaks volumes to our staff, you know our fitness coach , to our head coaches and coaching staff, for first believing in me to get back out there and then doing what it is necessary to make sure that I am fit and that I am ready to play.

Question: The auction that you put on, I don’t know the final total but it was up above $30,000 thousand. Did you ever expect to have that big of an impact?

Toni: No. And I’m just so grateful that you know the league has rallied behind this amazing cause. And that we’re just able to help so many people. I never expected any of this to happen but I truly believe everything happens for a reason and now that we’re able to help I’m just so thankful.

Question: From an experience side, having you and Sydney both out for such large periods of the season, how do you think that affected the team and how do you think both of you are going to be able to impact the team going forward into next season.

Toni: Yeah, we do have experience, we’ve been around the league for quite some time, but I think we were in and around the training and the girls as much as we could be even though we weren’t on the field, encouraging them, just watching training, watching video, giving feedback when I could. Then I think going into the offseason we have a lot of work and we both know that, and we’re ready for that. I was just so happy that Syd, as well, has been able to get back on the field. That was her goal and I’m glad that she was able to achieve that, and she’s such an amazing player and I’m excited to see her next season.

Question: Do you have any plans for the off season?

Toni: Get as fit as I can. I think that my physical condition is what’s most important to me at this point. So making sure that I’m fit enough to play, that when preseason comes I’m firing on all cylinders.”

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports QUEEN OF ALL MEDIA
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