The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, February 10, 2020
CONCACAF'd by the schedule? Lots-O-Links and Sam Mewis from the mixed zone
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CONCACAF’d by the schedule?
As usual, Megan Rapinoe was out there holding truth to power at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
There were just 48 hours between the semifinals and the final. A little tough when it comes to recovery, and by extension, player safety.
“I haven’t played a game this close together in like literally 15 years. This is insane. I think even in college a while back they went more to a Thursday-Sunday schedule. I don’t know why this happened or how it was allowed to happen. But no, it’s not good, it’s not good for the game, it’s not, in my opinion, the safest position we could put the players in, therefor it’s not the best game you are going see overall. I don’t know if it was a TV rights thing, or what. But I felt certainly in this whole month we could have found at least one more day to put in there — so it’s fair to the players, especially with the shortened roster, compared to some of the other rosters like the World Cup. So I don’t know what the deal was on that, but really quick turnaround I’m very thankful for depth at this moment.”
It didn’t go unnoticed by the media, either.
Following the final, U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said he had to make roster decisions based on the tight turnaround. And Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller said he thought perhaps his players were a little tired and had heavy legs in the final.
We all know what can happen when players get tired on the pitch.
In the end, the United States with its depth was always going to have the advantage over Canada. And thankfully, it appears that both teams came out of it without any serious injuries.
The Olympic schedule is brutal, too, with a possibility of six games in 17 days. And factor in travel in Japan into that, too. The roster for the Olympics is 18 players, as it was in the qualifiers.
Perhaps it’s time to look at either expanding the rosters or changing the schedules. Because of the way the Olympics are structured, roster expansion seems to be the best option.
And with that, I’m out. Thanks Southern California for the hospitality, but happy to be heading home to Fast Eddie and MoMo. Stopping at In-N-Out first, though.
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! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caitlin Murray on what we’ve learned from qualifying, including the competition at forward.
I took a look at Christen Press making a case for herself for AP on an off-day in the tournament.
Also from AP: China’s national team is winning despite the challenges they’ve faced.
Also from AP: Making a statement in Spain.
My game story from the final on Sunday. Fun story: I lost everything I had written (autosave is a myth!) five minutes before the final whistle. Was able to pound out about 400 words by the end of the game. It wasn’t pretty. I have new gray hairs today.
The New York Times had the wonderful Andrew Das in Carson! He wrote this great story here.
Interesting story here from Kieran Theivam of The Athletic on the women’s transfer window.
The absolutely delightful Harjeet Johal with looks at the fight for equality bond between the soccer and hockey teams for The Equalizer.
Damian Calhoun with his story on the final for the L.A. Daily News.
L.A. Times soccer writer Kevin Baxter looks at Vlatko Andonovski in the wake of his first tournament win.
The Washington Posts Steven Goff looks at Andi Sullivan and Lynn Williams looking to break into the USWNT mix.
Five at The IX: Sam Mewis
The always thoughtful Sam Mewis spoke in the mixed zone following the game. It had an Oscars flavor. Here’s some excerpts.
Question: What’s the biggest challenge for the team coming off the World Cup?
Mewis: It is a challenge. And I think the thing that we’re really focusing on is just making sure that we’re keeping the standard and the level really high, obviously. We performed really well at the World Cup and we played well, but we don’t want to let that drop at all. We want to improve on that and grow on that. So it’s kind of taking what was our best and getting better than that. And I think it’s a really special group of women who can kind of hold each other to that high of a standard and kind of expect the best from each other every day.
Question: What is the key to pushing yourselves, even within yourselves, to keep getting better?
Mewis: One thing is that our roster is just so competitive, to get any playing time at all is like such a challenge. I think that everyone on the team is so talented, the roster’s so deep. So just knowing that someone’s always right there pushing you is really motivating. And it’s something I think that we use to fuel us and make sure that we’re performing at our best every day. And I also think we expect so much from each other. And to hold each other to that high standard, and to be able to tell someone when it needs to be better, that’s a big thing to be able to say and to be able to receive. We all just respect each other so much that we’re able to do that, in a way that ‘s respectful and encouraging, making sure that everybody is just performing their best.
Question: We’re close to UCLA, what is it like being back where you played?
Mewis: It was so fun to be here. We all love being in L.A. so much. As soon as we got here, it was kind of like, ahhhhhhh. Just being near the beach. And I think everybody kind of has friends or family in the area. So it’s nice to have that sense of familiarity. And I think it’s a great stadium. We’re really excited to have played such a big and important game here and being in L.A. was awesome.
Question: How important was UCLA to your development?
Mewis: I think that my time at UCLA was really important to my development, not only as a player but as a person. I grew up a lot when I was there and was able to win the national championship in 2013 there. So I think just kind of learning how to really expect a lot from yourself on and off the field, learning how to be a champion, learning how to work as a team. And I definitely enjoyed my time playing for Amanda, I thought she was an awesome coach.
Question: Because the Oscars are happening here, what is the best moment in your career?
Mewis: Winning the World Cup, I think. There have been so many awesome moments: I always think about the 2016 NWSL championship with the Western New York Flash, too. I think that was such a special time. But I mean, winning the World Cup was such a dream come true and something that is just at the top of my memories.
Question: Best Role Model?
Mewis: My older sister, I think, was my role model always growing up. So I always look up to her a lot.
Question: Best advice?
Mewis: The best advice, I think, was probably to just be a little bit more like selfish on the fields and be confident in what I can do. And I think that that’s just translated into me, fully believing in myself and feeling like I can play at the highest level.