The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, April 12, 2021
Reflecting on what happened to Sarah Gorden, and other tidbits from the NWSL's opening weekend — Woso links galore — Crystal Dunn spoke this morning from France!
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I was at Providence Park Friday night for the Thorns’ opener against KC. I’m still trying to figure out AP style on the team name: Going with just KC? Kansas City spelled out? Maybe? If you have suggestions let me know.
I’m happy that soccer has returned, even though it was cold.
The match got wild at the end, with three players — Portland’s Simone Charley and Morgan Weaver, and KC’s Kristen Edmonds — sent off with red cards. Thorns coach Mark Parsons was also ejected.
Confession: the scuffle between Weaver and Edmonds occurred in the corner that is not easily viewable from the pressbox, so I’m relying on the available video like everyone else.
Turns out, there’s a lot of red card truthers out there! There’s video of what happened, including here, if you’d like to judge for yourself. LOTS of opinions. Thorns owner Merritt Paulson, unsurprisingly, weighed in.
But more seriously, the opening weekend also included an awful experience for Chicago’s Sarah Gorden and her boyfriend following the Red Stars’ scoreless draw with the Houston Dash on Friday night.
Gorden posted on Saturday morning that as players’ family and friends approached the teams from the stands following the game in Houston, her boyfriend was singled out.
In fact, Gorden said he was shockingly threatened with arrest. By a security guard? What the hell?
History tells us that calling the police on a Black man — I don’t think I need to spell it out for anyone. Except maybe the Dash.
The Dash issued a somewhat strange apology, blaming coronavirus protocols, and not addressing the racial aspects of the incident.
Red Stars assistant coach Scott Parkinson posted what he saw.
Annie Costabile covered it all for the Chicago Sun Times here. The end result? The NWSL is looking into what happened. As they should.
But let’s take a quick look back at some recent for a moment here. The Dash unapologetically hired Eddie Robinson as a coach back in 2018. Robinson is no longer with the team, but the Dash admitted to The Equalizer that they knew Robinson had some problematic posts and retweets on Twitter.
Robinson, as you remember, fired off a tweet suggesting, after Rachel Daly collapsed of heat exhaustion during a 2017 game, that a man wouldn’t have complained. But that led to an examination of his Twitter feed, which showed likes of disturbing Islamaphobic posts and other far-right nonsense. Claire Watkins was far more eloquent about the whole thing at the time in a column for The Equalizer.
It suggests that perhaps the issue is one of culture within the Dash. And it’s imperative that this incident is given weighty consideration — and introspection — beyond ‘it was coronavirus’ excuses.
We’re all having a reckoning over our nation’s shared ideas of race and white supremacy, and the historic suppression of minority and indigenous communities. We need look no further right now than the trial of the officer accused in George Floyd’s death. We need to demand better.
With that, I’ll move on to the links. I know we had an interesting national team game this past weekend, and I’ll discuss it next week when the European trip is complete.
(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! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, I did not put links to individual game stories here, because of the volume. Which is a good thing! Lots of stories out there on the Challenge Cup, which we love here at The IX!
Kevin Baxter of the LA Times had a great exclusive with Carli Lloyd where she discusses the reconciliation with her family. This is always good to see. Thought it was interesting Lloyd didn’t speak to the media after her 300th cap.
Hey, random note of thanks here to my friends on Twitter for the thoughtful conversation on how to best handle Trinity Rodman’s famous dad in stories, where it’s clear she wants to separate herself from his legacy. Lots of valuable advice, and it’s appreciated.
Big news dropped that the NWSLPA is pursuing its first CBA with the league. My AP story is here.
Also, Steven Goff of the Washington Post broke the news that the Women’s ICC will be held in Portland this summer. I also did a story for AP. Interesting that it comes so close after the Olympics. Thinking many players will still be on a post-Tokyo break, as well as some reporters, like me.
Jonathan Tannenwald wrote a nice profile of Gotham’s Estelle Johnson for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
John Halloran wrote about Tierna Davidson for The Equalizer.
Meg Linehan and Brooks Peck looked at all the NWSL’s jerseys for The Athletic.
Alex Morgan was disappointed with the timing of the Challenge Cup, from Kathleen McNamee at ESPN.
Stephanie Yang looked at Sky Blue’s rebrand as Gotham FC. I totally agree. Great rebrand.
Carli Lloyd hit 300 caps, a remarkable achievement, from FIFA.com.
Cassandra Negley for Yahoo Sports spoke to Megan Rapinoe about a bunch of stuff.
Babies! Charlie takes a few steps on the pitch, from People.
AP’s recap of the USWNT match against Sweden.
Ahead of the match against France, US Soccer details five things to know, including the absence of some players because of the coronavirus outbreak at Lyon. No Wendie Renard. Sigh.
The Toronto Sun’s recap of the Canadian national team’s victory over Wales. Christine Sinclair was injured, but it didn’t appear to be serious.
Five at The IX: Crystal Dunn
A few excerpts from this morning’s media availability with Crystal Dunn from France, via the magic of Zoom. The questions are paraphrased for brevity.
Question: As a new group of young players come into this team, how do you teach them how to play in those big games?
Dunn: I think it’s not so much us teaching them anything, I think everyone knows (that being on this team) means you have to be resilient, it means you have to be well equipped to deal with adversity. That is the fabric of this team, it’s dealing with all the challenges that teams throw at us, but being able to stay unified and just play our game and play to our strengths.
Question: As you’ve scouted France, what do you see?
Dunn: Everyone is very focused on the idea that there are some players missing from the French national team, but I watched the game back against England and what I see is still a large group of talented players. We’re approaching this game as if the Olympics is tomorrow and this is the team that we’re facing. But I think France has a deep player pool and the players that we’re going to face tomorrow are going to throw many different challenges at us. I think it’s just going to be a top opponent. There’s nothing different, regardless if there’s some players missing. We know what the French national team is all about: They’re talented, they’re technical and they’re very dynamic, so it’s going to be a great match.
Question: What is it like to still have the narrative of 2016 still swirling about even though it is five years ago?
Dunn: Yeah, I mean there’s definitely no secret that 2016 was a bit of a disappointment for this group. We are very used to being successful. We also know that it is not easy to be successful on this team no matter how easy we make it look at times. We know that these teams are getting better and better and better. So one year from another we know that teams are going to bring us that much more of a challenge. Everyone’s fired up. 2016, like I said, wasn’t our ideal finish, but we were able to bounce back, obviously in 2019, winning the World Cup. I do think 2020 was a bit of a very odd year for teams to prepare, but this team has always felt like we prepare as if the Olympics are tomorrow. Even with the pause and the break in the games, anytime we were together we never took those moments for granted. … We’re really excited about this game. France is a top opponent so it’s another way for us to prepare and get ready for the matchup for the for the games.
Question about the diversity of the French team.
Dunn: I’ve always recognized that about the French national team, both on the men’s side and the women’s side, I think that their teams have always been very diverse. I’ve always enjoyed seeing just the amount of diversity that is placed on the field. It’s incredible. It’s inspiring. And I think that is what makes the French national team both men and women, special. There is just that diversity and uniqueness from one player to another, obviously, in just looks, culture, everything. I feel like that is something that I would love to see on the women’s side in the US as well. I think we’re getting better, there’s definitely more black and brown girls playing this sport, but I know there’s so much more work to be done. And when I do leave this game, I hope to be leaving it in a better place than I found it.
Question: Thoughts on the Sweden game? And how is it to always have to go against the best player on the teams you face?
Dunn: Sweden was definitely not our best performance, the team understands that. We have such high standards for ourselves every single game we step into. But we need to go through these moments, we need to embrace the challenges that we are going to face leading into the Olympic Games. There’s so much that we can learn from the game, a couple of days ago. The team’s in really great spirits about it, we understand that this is what it takes in order for us to bounce back even better and hold ourselves accountable and just make that extra stride to be exactly where we need to be during the Olympics. And to answer your point, yes, there are sometimes in our games where I do feel like I’ve got to be on it, because their top players are most likely on my side. It’s an incredible challenge for me, I’ve learned so much about being an outside back. Every single year I try to reinvent myself and add a little bit more. I’m just really honored that I get to take these challenges as not a negative but as a positive and every game I get to get better and better and face new situations that I know ultimately is going to make me that much better come Olympic times.
Question: What are some of the areas you’ve focused on going into this game?
Dunn: I think, the Sweden game, we just weren’t good enough, we weren’t technical enough, we didn’t connect the way we know we could. We definitely do that from time to time. And I just think, once your technical ability isn’t really there, it makes the game that much harder. I think we got back in the game towards the end, obviously creating a lot of chances, but I think we definitely need to clean up those missed passes, those missed touches, and be a little bit more clinical. But something just felt a little bit off and sometimes those are games that happen and know that that’s just soccer: You have to show up on that day and be at your very best. Against a really top team such as Sweden, they’re not going to give us anything easy. We know the battle, the rivalry between us in Sweden, so it was exactly the game we needed. We needed to go through a game where we felt, ‘Yes if we are not at our best, we are not going to win.’ And that’s just always given. That’s a known thing, that we have to show up and be at our best. And I just don’t think that the team was there. Nothing that we need to really do a deep dig into, but I think we just have to bounce back and we play well against a tough opponent tomorrow and just touch up those technical things and we’ll be good.