The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for August 26, 2019

For y'all outside the PNW, here's a little background on the Iron Front thing and why it became a thing. Plus links and a few words from Rory Dames

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“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. — Elie Wiesel”

Thorns supporters came out strong yesterday against fascism, an act of defiance over a new Major League Soccer rule that bans certain political displays at games.

The Wiesel quote was prominently displayed in the North End.

So lets rewind a bit here, for those who may have just heard about all of this yesterday. Several weeks ago, the Seattle Sounders riled up supporters’ groups by banning flags with the Iron Front symbol, then explaining the move in a letter that associated “Iron Front” with antifa, the Proud Boys and another far-right group in the Pacific Northwest called Patriot Prayer.

The Iron Front symbol, three arrows facing down and to the left, was first used by a paramilitary group that resisted the Nazis. It has since been used to decry fascism in all forms. But it has also been displayed by some in the so-called antifa movement during violent clashes with those far-right groups.

The Sounders later apologized for equating the things (The Iron Front isn’t a group anymore, it’s an antifascist symbol, while Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys are far-right extremist groups that have actually instigated violence).

But a Seattle right-wing radio host amplified the antifa aspect of the issue. And then a small group of extremists, some armed, confronted Emerald City Supporters during a March to the Match. They were apparently looking for antifa. But what they really wanted to do was goad random people into a fight, deceptively edit video of it to label them as the “real’’ thugs, then grift for contributions. Y’all know the “support our work against antifa by donating” schtick. We’re REALLY tired of it here in Portland.

At the same time, Timbers Army supporters were also protesting the ban. The hashtag #AUnitedFront started on Twitter, and other supporters’ groups nationwide helped spread it in solidarity.

Prompted by the confrontational March to the Match and the quickly spreading hashtag, I wrote about the issue for AP a couple of weeks ago. My article is here.

The Timbers FO last week posted a letter to supporters seeking to clarify the issue, saying that while as an organization it is against fascism (which is good), it will continue to support the ban.

Here’s where the Thorns come in, in this section of the open letter:

“Some have asked why the Timbers are enforcing an MLS rule at NWSL and USL games. Neither league has a Supporter Code of Conduct. All of our operational staff for Providence Park games are the same. Having different rules for different teams creates confusion among staff and for fans alike. We also believe that what is allowed, for those wishing to trumpet opposition to fascism at MLS games, is also a fair and reasonable approach for Thorns and T2 games.”

At the Timbers’ match against the Sounders on Friday night, fans were silent for the first 33 minutes in protest of the ban. Then at yesterday’s Thorns match, there were numerous banners attacking fascism. And there was a small Iron Front banner that was attached to a capo stand that remained for the whole game.

So that leads us to this: I don’t really see MLS backing down on this. Worst-case scenario, if the ban is lifted it could lead to trolls coming to the stadiums and putting up “Trump 2020” banners. And lots of arenas ban political displays.

The debate here is whether the Iron Front symbol is political.

I’ll let you all decide what you think for yourselves. I’m going to be writing about it more, I’m sure, in the coming weeks. I just felt it was important to let you know some of the backstory about all of this, and why the Thorns have become involved, especially those of you outside the Pacific Northwest.

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!

Washington Spirit majority owner Steve Baldwin has an idea: Pay the women more than the men.

Kim McCauley with a really nice story here on Stanford’s Catarina Macario.

May 2020 trial date set for the equal pay lawsuit. Alex Morgan talked to NPR about how she was hopeful about resolving the matter before then.

I wrote about the World Cup Bump for AP.

ESPN’s Graham Hays with a wonderful story about how Deyna Castellanos was inspired by Marta. And check out all of Hays’ work on the start of the NCAA season. Great overview here.

The NCAA has its season primer here.

Casey Short brought in for USWNT’s latest victory tour matches.

Paul Riley takes himself out of the running for USWNT head coach.

The USWNT will set an attendance record in Philadelphia. Jonathan Tannenwald is all over it, as usual.

Carli Lloyd doing Carli Lloyd things.

Sophie Lawson wrote about England for The Equalizer.

Caitlin Murray with more about the Iron Front controversy in this Thorns match recap for ProSoccerUSA.

Tweet of the Week


Five at The IX: Rory Dames

Chicago coach Rory Dames spoke after Sunday’s loss to the Thorns, and I thought it was interesting. So here’s a bit of what he said. One thing about him, he talks really fast and he tends to get down into the weeds, which can make his quotes pretty dense in the fact that he unpacks a lot.

I picked up Dames while he was addressing a question about the defense:

Dames: “If you want to put on the defense you can, but both of those goals came from us turning the ball higher up the field and then opening ourselves up in the transition. The defense which is the last part that got broke on it.”

Question about what needs to change defensively.

Dames: “We need to not be tired. And we need — the way our byes have worked out for us haven’t been kind. So we’ve got to bye on the front end of the World Cup break, and the back end of a World Cup break, which did us nothing because everybody was on a break then. And I mean, it’s our fourth game in 15 days maybe. So I’m not making excuses for why we lost but the players are tired. The most important thing we get out of the day was that nobody got hurt. Nobody got hurt. And this is, if we come here and get points, it’s rare. So in the big scheme of things for us it was always going to be about the last five games. Morgan got another 90 minutes here and Tiera got another 90 minutes for our fitness. We ran into that problem last year, because of the injuries we had we didn’t get people fit.

“The way we conceded the goals, it’s disappointing but it was a nothing game for us. I get it was for first third and all that stuff, but in the big picture for us, it was about fitness getting players through. I would have liked to have made them maybe work a little harder to get the goals they got. I actually thought we played really well in the first half, to be honest. But you’ve got take your chances. Portland puts chances away in the box and right now we don’t.”

Question about what the team can do on offense when teams double Sam Kerr?

Dames: Yeah, I don’t think that’s the problem for us right now. The problem is is that, everybody we play against — So I mean how many Portland games have you been to this year? How often do they play the goal kicks big on the first (inaudible). That’s the M.O. against us. Nobody wants to play against our trap. So Franch comes out and hits every goal kick back to the half to push their line up. That’s because they don’t want us to be able to try to take it off of high spaces and get the goal. So it’s not that Sam’s 1-v-2 or 1-v-3, people are making a start from our goalie and build through their lines. And we’re not necessarily built to do that just yet. So I think it’s a work in progress as far as getting the right personnel on the field of who has the qualities to do that.

“Portland didn’t do anything different against us than Washington did against us those four games ago,or with Sky Blue did against us, or what Orlando did against us, they all just smashed balls into the line. In the second half in the first nine minutes Mark actually got up and yelled out to Klingenberg What do we doing? We’re playing in our end, get it out of our end, we want the game in their end. And rightfully so, right now that’s the M.O. to have success against us. It doesn’t make a difference if Sam’s 1-v-1 or 1-v-3, we’re having a hard time sustaining pressure in the opponents final third. And that’s because every time we make a bad pass or take a bad touch. It comes back into our end and we’re starting over.

“If that sounds like crying about spilled milk, I’m sorry because I’m not. But teams aren’t trying to play and build out against us, especially when it’s 0-0 or 1-nothing.”

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
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