The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for March 30, 2020

USSF indicates it prefers to settle Equal Pay case; Mark Parsons speaks, and lot of links!

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The timetable on settling with USWNT

First off, I want to say that I hope all of you are well and staying safe. These are terrifying times. As I was just saying to a friend, although I’m used to working at home, last week was REALLY tough for me. I kept turning my attention to the virus news, to the point that it was consuming my life and I wasn’t able to focus at the task at hand. It was hard. The past two days I’ve been a bit more grounded. So I’m hoping for a productive week.

Last week we heard from Cindy Parlow Cone — as well as new U.S. Soccer CEO Will Wilson — on a conference call with reporters. And yes, of course the final question was about pro/rel. LOL.

But the overriding message was that U.S. Soccer would like to resolve the lawsuit filed by the USWNT.

Parlow Cone appears to understand the P.R. hit that the organization has taken. Chief legal officer Lydia Wahlke has been placed on administrative leave. An outside firm has been retained to review the decision-making surrounding the federation’s sexist legal stance.

“A lot of damage has been done, and I think we are going to have to rebuild that trust and rebuild the relationship. It is not going to happen overnight,” Parlow Cone said Tuesday. “It’s going to take a lot of effort and time and energy from the U.S. Soccer side to rebuild that trust, not only with our U.S. women’s national team players, but with our fans and everyone engaged in the sport.”

Players’ spokeswoman Molly Levinson was succinct in her response: “The solution here is clear, simple, and unequivocal: Equal pay.”

Coronavirus is having an impact on the case. The judge announced last week that he’ll just rule on the motions for summary judgement rather than holding a hearing on March 30 (oh hey, that’s today!) as scheduled. Although nothing has been said about the May 5 trial, I think it’s safe to assume that it will be pushed back, too. There’s also the distinct possibility that if the two sides agree again to mediate (at some point when we’re not social distancing) the judge would put off the court date.

We’ll see.

And hey, that wasn’t the only news last week. The Olympics are postponed to 2021. This morning the dates were set: July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.

I was set to go, and had a list of stories to tackle in the run-up. And I was really looking forward to the NWSL season to grab national team players as they came through Portland. Alas. But trying not to dwell on what I’m not able to do right now, and focus on what I can do.

The delay does add some intrigue to the USWNT roster. Alex Morgan will no doubt be able to return to the Olympic roster, which is only at 18 players for the Olympics. That means some tough choices.

First off, what about the older players? Carli Lloyd will be 38 next summer. Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn are both 34.

What about the players who were breaking into the roster like Lynn Williams and Andi Sullivan? Christen Press was on a freaking roll, will this slow it?

Anyway, like all of our lives right now, everything is kinda a `What if?’

One certainty is that the NWSLPA announced its board of representatives. Good names here.

On to the links.


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

Out today: Caitlin Murray took on the ultimate stay-at-home challenge: What would a game between the 2015 and 2019 USWNTs look like?

Caitlin Murray on what the Olympic delay may mean for the USWNT for Yahoo Sports.

Monday March 30 is going to be big on ESPN2.

Feel-good non-virus story on the Orlando Pride’s Kristen Edmonds’ foray into coaching in ProSoccerUSA.

Meg Linehan on what Cindy Parlow Cone’s approach means for the USWNT lawsuit.

Mollie Walker asks if this is the end of an era for the USWNT for the New York Post.

Nice story here from SI’s Grant Wahl on Cindy Parlow Cone.

Stephanie Yang’s take on the Olympic postponement for Stars and Stripes.

Michael McCann for SI on the state of USWNT’s case.

Seth Vertelney for on the Olympic roster possibilities.

Love the headline here: No more pink it and shrink it. Story on soccer cleats made for women.

Remember last week when I spoke to Susie Petruccelli about her new book and she talked about the documentary she worked on with Pele’s daughter? Here’s a story about it in The Guardian! From the wonderful Suzanne Wrack.

Charles Boehm spoke to UCLA law professor Steven Bank for an excellent SoccerWire podcast. Very informative.

Tweet of the Week!

BABIES! Love babies.—%20Karina%20LeBlanc%20(@karinaleblanc)%20a%20href=

Five at The IX: Mark Parsons

So the Thorns set up a video conference call with Mark Parsons. But I was moving my daughter out of Gonzaga. (They made everyone clear out by Friday which was a little weird given everything in Washington is closed and people aren’t supposed be out and about — so absolutely let’s call kids and their parents back from all across the country and bring them together in a situation where socially distancing is nearly impossible! Yay!) But the Thorns graciously posted audio.

So I thought he said some interesting things in the call about training. I’m not including the call in its entirety, just the highlights, because it was over a half hour. Good stuff here on players picking a player they admire and analyzing their play, and Rocky.

Question: How are you saying contact with people and and keeping even keel, knowing it’s so crazy everywhere?

I’ll be very honest, sometimes in the heat of battle when we’re training and games are coming thick and fast, and family text me to see how I’m doing and I send an emoji in response. It’s not great, it’s not great communication. I’m in full flow of really communicating with people. Me and my wife feel really privileged that we’ve been in a high-performance environment during this.

I felt like the way the NWSL, federation, MLS, Merritt, Mike, Gavin, how everyone communicated information through to me as a head coach of this team, I felt privileged that I was getting so clear and clean information at a time that no one knew what was going on. And then the information constantly was updated and constantly evolved. And we felt was a big responsibility for us, to share that with friends and family, to constantly share the message. You’re not spreading fear or spreading panic, but raising awareness.

Question: How are are you communicating with the players, what kind of training or soccer stuff are you able to do?

We do have a majority of people in market. There are a few that have that are not a market, where they didn’t get here yet, or had to return somewhere for a specific reason. Otherwise the majority are here. Right now at this point, the advice from our medical experts, the advice is on not traveling. … So the majority are in market with a couple that aren’t in market.

The information and communication has been constant and being constantly updated, and the way that the Timbers’ and Thorns’ coaches, technical staff, everyone — this is the power of this challenging time, it’s pushing us all to work together more than ever. And while I think we’ve been a cohesive club, it’s really pulled us close together to better support the most important people, which is our players and our players’ families and friends, trying to offer any any support we can.

Our players are home and they’re doing workouts very creatively. Our performance team has done a good job so far and making sure it’s individual to the person and what their situation is. Are they in the living room working out? Do they have a small yard? Are they able to get to a safe place to have a run? There was one point where where players were jumping onto a local park to be able to get in their individual work out. Of course, now that isn’t allowed.

That also became a challenge because the more people turned up in parks, it becomes unsafe for the players to follow the guidelines of the league and the club have shared with them. And then on the tactical side, this week, we started our support to the team and support for the individual via Zoom and video chats, starting off with a team meeting. It was interesting, as the brand new team and brand new players, the very first meeting for everyone connected would be on a video call. That was to be able to communicate what this next two weeks look like with regards to our team support and individual support.

There is huge opportunity to be able to support our players as individuals and support them and build our team and our collective, because of the time we have now. Unfortunately, we have lots of time, but we can take that and use it to be able to develop our team. So we’re having our team mandatory development meetings started this week, in addition to our individual development meetings, video meetings. I’ve spoken to seven players so far. I’ve got two more today on their first tactical task.

They are profiling one individual player — whether it was is a male player or a female player in the world — that they wanted to analyze. They got two games worth of that individual, of their actions, whatever the player wanted to to analyze. We wanted to player to drive it. Our assistant coach, Rich, came up with a model to be able to really just understand how their minds see the game. Something that we probably wouldn’t have done this year if we weren’t in this situation, because you’re always so focused on their performance related to the Thorns and our team tactics. So I’ve done seven, I’ve got two more. The other two technical members of staff will have 9 each as well and Nadine has the three goalkeepers. So we are in the first stage of that video support program, team development. And we’ve just got obviously multiple layers set up.

Question: How much do you miss being on the pitch?

Yesterday, I was watching our first week of training back. So we got to record all the training, started watching it back and just every second, of course, we clip it, we cut it, we analyze it every day off to every training session. We watch training back as coaches, we prepare for the next day. I just watched it, just let it roll. And that was in the evening during personal time. I needed that for my personal time. I think that answers your question. I’m missing it dearly. The same time, there’s a bigger responsibility right now. I just I needed that for myself because being back on that field after four, five months with the new group, new players, the Sun was shining that training week. I needed to escape to that place for for an hour or so.

Question: Can you talk about Raquel Rodriguez?

Short version? She could be one of the best 6s in the league. She could be one of the best 8s in the league, she could be one of the best 10s. So we’ve got someone who’s very, very, very effective at playing multiple positions. If we could build the role that she gets to bring out her strengths all the time, which I would guess would be an 8 because she’s so good at both sides of the ball. She’s so good in all three thirds so if she had a role of playing as an 8, I think that would suit her strengths. At the same time, the balance of the team and what the team’s gonna need, when when the roster is complete, when we’re there and we’re seeing how people are training and we’re seeing how people performing throughout pre-season, we will have to make a decision on what’s best.

Obviously in conversation with her, we’ve gone through this. We’ve talked about the exact same thing, the roles of the 6 and the 8 and the 10. It’s interesting because when she played for Sky Blue in the league, you know, she’s played as an 8 and sometimes sat a bit more. She sometimes plays an 8 with Costa Rica, sometimes plays as 9 and it’s more about their need for that type of that top quality higher up the pitch. If I simplify it, go back to if I think of a midfield partnership, what Lindsey Horan and Amandine Henry did and 17, we had two number eights. So we had, Henry turned up as a number 6. Number 6 who sat in a 10X10 grid, got the ball, passed the ball, got the ball, passed the ball. And we said no. We took the chains off. We said no, Mandy, you have all the qualities to be an all action box to box.

So if you have Lindsay, you could do that. So if we think about Rocky, straight away, if there was a way that a partnership could work or a connection with 1, 2, 3 other players, where she gets to play that type of role, where she gets to bring all her strengths out, that would be great.

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 High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala,@ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson