The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for June 22, 2020
Breaking news on Monday with a COVID-19 outbreak on the Orlando Pride — This all feels ominous to me — Plus links and a Rocky Rodriguez Zoom call
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Well, Holy Cow
The Orlando Pride has withdrawn from the Challenge Cup after six players tested positive for COVID-19.
Here’s the link on Orlando’s website announcing the withdrawal. AP’s story is here.
The NWSL rosters for the tournament were due yesterday set to be announced today, but it’s unclear that will happen given the Orlando bombshell.
Adding to the drama: Both the Pride and the NWSL put out releases with the announcement, then suddenly deleted them. A few minutes later they were re-posted.
Then, to top it all off, Meg Linehan of the Athletic says it may have stemmed from a trip to a bar. Yikes. Sidenote: Here you have another reason to subscribe to The Athletic.
To top it off, the Orlando Sentinel’s Julia Poe reported that the Pride had requested to leave early for Utah, and the league told them to wait. Another Yikes.
Regardless, all of this this is ominous. Not just for sports, but for all of us.
The cases are exploding nationwide.
In Utah alone, there was a record for new cases on Friday, then it was surpassed on Saturday with 643 new cases. On Monday, there were 444 cases.
State officials there were warning that the rising cases threaten to overrun hospitals. In other words: Not good.
This whole thing feels like a recipe for disaster.
Oh, and we’re still waiting on those rosters.
Also of note: Steven Goff of the Washington Post via Twitter earlier today:
Given the announcement about the Pride, I’m not surprised.
On to more Links.
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Please note that All for XI is doing team-by team previews. The Equalizer is, too. I’ve got a big week planned too, with features every day and an overall tournament preview on Friday. Keep an eye out here.
Meg Linehan broke some news this past week about efforts to bring the NWSL to Los Angeles.
My The IX colleague Erica Ayala wrote about US Soccer’s repeal of the anthem policy and winning back trust.
Annie Costabile (Another Annie!) of the Chicago Sun Times spoke to Sarah Gordon.
Meg also spoke to Kelly O’Hara and Haley Rosen about Just Women’s Sports and O’Hara’s new podcast.
Grant Wahl spoke to Lisa Baird for his Futbol podcast.
NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly also spoke to Lisa Baird.
TSN talked to Sky Blue GM Alyse LaHue about the NWSL heading into the Challenge Cup.
WFLA had a feature on Sky Blue rookie Evelyne Viens.
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on how soccer has an opportunity to make an impact in combating systemic racism.
Handy Challenge Cup guide on each of the NWSL’s teams from the Insider.
British Vogue on women’s soccer and Pride.
The Orlando Sentinel’s wonderful Iliana Limon Romero spoke to Ali Krieger about the tournament.
The Equalizer’s John Halloran with a nice piece on Ashley Hatch. While Dan Lauletta had this good story on A-Rod.
Neil Davidson from Canadian Press had a nice story on Erin McLeod.
Paul Kennedy with Soccer America looks at Ellie Carpenter’s move to Europe.
Five at The IX: Rocky!
So obviously from Farley’s tweet we got some time with Rocky last week. Here are some of the excerpts. I’m not including my questions because I have a story coming out tomorrow (maybe, barring any other NWSL surprises). You’ll have to read it (CLICKS!) to get that part of the interview.
Question: What as training like before you could return to team practice?
Rodriguez: Well, the routine was _ the team would provide a workout for us to do on our own. For me, I like to get my workouts done in the morning. I definitely took it one day at a time. That’s how I survived quarantine. Of course, the team and everyone was really aware, and really harping on taking all the precautions for COVID and all of this. But I guess to answer your question, it was sort of finding a way each day to get the workout done. I think that was the biggest challenge, because it’s one thing if you’re just wanting to stay healthy. But if you’re competing, it’s a challenge to find the best, and to create that, environment for yourself. So once I had the routine, it was sort of easier. But in the beginning it was a challenge. You’re always competitive, you want to get the best training out of it, but there’s only so much you can do.
Question: We’ve never been here before. No athlete has ever had to deal with what you guys are dealing with, being the first sport back. How do you look at this tournament?
Rodriguez: Absolutely. I mean, I was asked that question before and I think it’s a double-edged sword. It’s not a secret, because, being the first league doing this, if something goes wrong, other sports and leagues can learn from this. But at the same time, I think it’s a great opportunity to hopefully get a lot of people to follow women’s soccer. I think that has been a challenge in the US. Soccer is huge sport around the world, but not in the US. So I think that, I like to see it as an opportunity. The NWSL has been doing a great job of just communicating how things are gonna be in this bubble, once we get there. We’re just navigating through the challenges, everything has a challenge. And of course, the league is doing the best they can to make this a successful one. So hopefully it brings a little bit of enjoyment in this crazy year, not only for the players, but for the fans. And hopefully we can pick up more fans throughout the country.
Question: How do you feel that this tournament format will be received by fans? And how are you feeling about it? Are you excited? Are you nervous? What’s going through your head?
Rodriguez: When I first heard about the format of the tournament, I was excited for several reasons. For once, we knew what we were gonna train for, because up until a certain point, we were sort of training and waiting for the NWSL and some news about it. So once we heard about it, I was excited because I was like, OK, we have one definite here. (Laughs) Unless, of course, it would have changed. This is no different than like World Cup championships, which in the international level it’s more common. So I’m excited. I know that a huge challenge for all of the teams is going to be: it’s such a short period of time, it’s going to be so intense. The NWSL is already very competitive, let alone in a tournament where every game counts and every point counts. It’s going to be a lot. So excited for sure and also aware of the mental challenge that is going to be. The format of this torunament, it what it is. It’s like mentally and physically tiring.
Question: Does it matter to you or is there any significance in being the first American League to come back after all this? [00:06:09][9.7]
Rodriguez: I guess, like I said earlier on the other question, it’s exciting on one end and on another end, like, I guess, big risk big reward. The fact that we’re being the first ones, it’s like I said, some things the other leagues could learn from our mistakes, if they pop up. That’s sort of the downside. But on the other hand, I really hope that we get attention from people who normally don’t watch women’s soccer. We’re going to be the only around. Hopefully it makes the league grow and women’s soccer in the country.