The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, September 7, 2020
Players are still on the move, including two of the biggest names in the NWSL —Woso links — A few moments with Sky Blue GM Alyse LaHue
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First off, shoutout to friend of The IX Jonathan Tannenwald for nailing down the Christen Press and Tobin Heath move to Manchester City. Long rumored, Tannenwald got his sources to confirm it. Click that article like 100 times, people!
And Neil Morris is similarly breaking some news surrounding the Courage:
My thoughts? At least Alex Morgan is returning! Well, at least to practice.
An aside: Her return is weird to me because I didn’t leave my house for like six months after my daughter was born because I was so afraid of germs. Returning in the midst of COVID-19? No thank you. But I also get it, she’s in the prime of her career, and the Olympics are coming up (hopefully).
Morgan was supposed to speak to the media today following her first training with the team, but the video conference was postponed because the team got the day off.
As we await the official announcement by ManU, and more players depart for Europe or opt out, the NWSL’s fall series is looking like a great way to scout young talent.
I mean that! While, sure, I’ll miss the wizardry of Rose Lavelle, I’m really looking forward to seeing Sophia Smith. And more Tziarra King, please.
I’m just not sure it makes for compelling TV for the masses who want to see the big names, which is a shame now that games are on CBS.
Here’s my wayyyyy unofficial list of allocated U.S. national team players who have opted out, gone to Europe or otherwise aren’t taking part in the Fall Series. Let me know if I’m missing anyone.
Opting out: Megan Rapinoe, Kelley O’Hara, Crystal Dunn.
Off to Europe: Christen Press (Manchester United), Tobin Heath (Manchester United), Sam Mewis (Manchester City), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City).
Injured: Carli Lloyd, Andi Sullivan.
The deadline for transfers is Thursday.
One sad note: The Spirit have waived Kaiya McCullough.
She wrote a sobering post on Twitter, pointing to COVID-19 and racism. Good for her for doing what’s right for her health, both mental and physical. Too bad for us that we won’t get to see her play.
I’d vote for her.
After the opener this weekend, I will say one more thing: I really like Sky Blue and everything they’ve done to turn that team around. I have a story I’m working on for AP about it, and I spoke to GM Alyse LaHue. You can see some excerpts below.
I had never spoken to her, which I still can’t believe! As you know, she’s a great ambassador for the sport.
(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! apeterson@ap.
Couple of podcasts I was listening to today:
The Equalizer’s podcast analyzes the Sky Blue-Spirit match and more.
The Keeper Notes podcast takes a look at the Utah scandal.
Coffee and the Valkyries podcast chats with Sophia Huerta.
This is the piece of the week, from Andre Carlisle for All For XI.
Caitlin Murray with a good story on how the coronavirus unexpectedly helped the NWSL.
Caitlin also has an excellent story on whether the WSL is becoming the dominant league in the world.
GOOD NEWS: England national team players are being paid equally.
The Pride’s focus is on young talent, from Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel.
Annie Costabile from the Chicago Sun-Times talks to Sarah Gordon about her new venture.
Katelyn Best spoke to Kelli Hubly for Rose City Review.
The Telegraph’s handy club-by-club guide to the Women’s Super League.
Meg Linehan looks at the Fare report on diversity for The Athletic. I’ve been meaning to look at this.
Also for The Athletic, Sam Lee spoke to Sam Mewis on her move to Europe.
Axios takes a loot at all the happenings in women’s soccer.
Charles Olney’s WSL preview for Backline Soccer.
Actress Eva Longoria on all the attention that Angel City is getting for ESPN.
JJ Watt says yes, he really really wants to buy Utah Soccer Holdings.
The Equalizer’s WSL primer from Blair Newman.
WSL season preview from inews.
Everton manager says it’s time to expand the WSL.
The BBCs Tom Garry wonders if the influx of star to the WSL will hurt young English talent.
TWEET of the WEEK
Ok, so I didn’t want to link or mention the comments made by Utah’s Andy Carroll because they are gross. He should be shown the door. That said, I love US Soccer’s subtweeting. And yes, Becky Sauerbrunn is the very embodiment of excellence, all around.
Five at The IX: Alyse LaHue, Sky Blue FC GM
OK, here’s a tiny slice of my interview with Alyse LaHue. You’ll be seeing more on the AP wire as soon as I get a moment to write my story. I’m almost busier now than before coronavirus.
Question: We’ve all heard about what was going on with Sky Blue and the the challenges there. When you got there, what did you see?
LaHue: When I first came in, you know I had been a general manager before and I certainly had my own way of operating on my own ideas of things. But I wasn’t in charge of the club when I came in. So I came in really just to help where I could. I saw some of the challenges that Denise (Reddy) had. So I just started working in the background on the things that I could control without really stepping on everyone’s toes. I started to work on some of the foundational things like, kind of boring sounding stuff, but reorganizing the database of customers and fans and looking at the sales ticket sales structure and setting a CRM in place. Doing some basic things that just maybe had gotten a little unorganized on Sky Blue.
It was just a process of blocking and tackling on the back and trying to sort of reset the foundation there, but also coming to the realization that Denise was really struggling in her role. And I believe, on account of, really a lack of resources to her at the time. I think it’s been well documented, so I don’t think I have to go over all of it. That was the hardest thing to watch, was feeling like, at the time, I tried to help as much as I could, but also seeing that there was a tremendous amount of work to be done to make changes at the club.
Question: When you you know, when you took over, how was it that you were able to get those resources? I’m assuming that there was some really bad PR and and that the ownership group decided to commit more resources to the team?
LaHue: Tammy Murphy had come in at the same time. She had always been an owner in the background, but she came to the forefront and really was the one that put me in the position that I was in, and made a lot of changes at the club initially. She had the trust in me to take over. And she and I really worked hand-in-hand at everything that came next. And she’s brilliant, incredible business mind. I think she understood at that point what was happening and what we were up against, and she was 100 percent on board with giving me the resources that I needed to do what I felt had to be done to sort of re-guide the club in a new direction.
So she was integral in that in that process and really just providing everything I needed. You know, if I needed more money to do X, Y or Z, she was there and supportive of it. And I’m always going to be reasonable. I’m used to coming from independent clubs and understand some of the challenges that we have in women’s sports, women’s soccer. So I’m reasonable in my requests. But it wasn’t a big change because, we wanted to do, or I wanted to do, a lot at once. I knew that we could make a dramatic difference at the club, but it needed to happen really, really quickly. So having Tammy by my side during all of that and being supportive was crucial to where Sky Blue is at now.
Question: What was your biggest challenge?
LaHue: Our biggest challenge across the board was earning back trust. And that’s a simple thing to say and a difficult thing to do. And when I say earning back trust that meant the trust of our fans. I think our own fans had really turned on the club after what they had gone through. The players certainly were vocal about some of the challenges that they were having. So it’s one thing to have me come in as a new leader. But any lip service I had, had to be backed up by action. We simply had to put everything we said into action. We had to get to a point where we were essentially under promising and over delivering and being very honest about the timeframe of what it was going to take. So earning back trust is the most simple way I can say it just across the board.