The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, April 19, 2021
Oh hey look who is (finally) joining the Reign — Taking on Discipline: How much is too much? — Woso links — Vlatko Andonovski closes the book on the European trip
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Oh look, a bit of breaking news. It finally happened.
Now that (after months of rumors) that’s out of the way, there’s just a ton of stuff that went on last week. I’m still kind of catching up, to be honest. I also has all my MLS preview stuff and I had a family thing in Seattle, so it was crazy.
Following the red card bonanza between the Thorns and KC, and Sarah Gorden’s encounter with security in Houston, the league issued its Week 1 disciplinary report.
I was frankly surprised at some of the fines.
First off, Megan Klingenberg. She said nothing that was out-of-bounds by any stretch. She was responding to a question, very diplomatically, and she was supporting her teammate. She suggested the Thorns would appeal (and they did, I’ll note, successfully).
All leagues have rules against criticizing officials, and all of these rules are pretty much subjective. Because it is a young league, I understand the NWSL’s interest in setting a tone.
But in my experience across sports, Kling’s comments did not rise to “fine” level. And certainly Alyse LaHue’s comments did not either.
It is my understanding that the fines were issued because the league had already asked teams not to comment on Gorden.
Sarah Spain also weighed in, and it appears this may have prompted a fine, too.
I believe that if you want to be taken seriously as a league, you must allow space for some constructive criticism, especially when it comes to players backing up their their teammates. Sure, there are responses that step over a line. But none of these specific situations do.
And certainly there has to be room to support a player, in this case Gorden, who was obviously upset about an experience within an NWSL venue. Again, If you are serious about promoting racial justice, you have to take seriously the concerns of Black players and not silence those who sympathize and encourage solutions.
Also last week we had our last USWNT game for a while, a nice and neat 2-0 victory over France. Basically textbook: Rapinoe scored, Morgan scored, rebound win after the disappointing 1-1 draw with Sweden.
The fact remains that France didn’t have some of its best players. But the USWNT has always tended to “trust the process” in a season-long climb. I see this European swing as no different.
The interesting aspect to these games was trying to figure out how Vlatko Andonovski is going to try to pare down the roster to 18 players for the Olympics. Sandra Herrera pondered this question for CBS Sports.
Some decisions might be already made: Tobin Heath has returned to the United States because of a season-ending knee injury. I agree with Sandra Herrera: Heath, if healthy, is in.
I’m torn about Carli Lloyd. She’s just a really steady veteran presence. Her role at this point is as a super sub, not a starter. There is value in that, but how much? For an upcoming The IX we’ll do a roster survey. (Editor’s note: Carli Lloyd must be on the Olympic team.)
And finally, the equitable pay portion of the USWNT players’ lawsuit has been appealed to the Ninth Circuit, following the settlement of the accommodation dispute. This kind of rolled out over the course of the week, with dueling statements from US Soccer and Molly Levinson, the players’ representative.
I wouldn’t expect a decision on this any time soon. So the lawsuit drama continues.
(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.
Cute story on Roger Espinoza and Lo LaBonta from the Kansas City Star.
Sandra Herrera opines on which players make the Olympic team for CBS Sports. This is also above.
Seth Vertelney recaps the European trip for Goal.com.
The always entertaining Julie Foudy recaps the trip, too, for ESPN.
AP’s story on the disciplinary action taken following the red-car bonanza in Portland. Also, my AP story on the investigation into Sarah Gorden’s encounter with a Houston security guard.
Wonderful Full Time podcast with Meg Linehan, Stephanie Yang and Sandra Herrera.
Annie Costabile from the Chicago Sun Times gets additional details. Including fines for some of those that supported Gorden via Twitter.
Well-reported story by Paul Tenorio of The Athletic on phenomCBA. Olivia Moultrie and the issues she presents for the NWSL.
Ride of the Valkyries; Susie Rantz on the Reign’s efforts to be more eco-friendly.
LYON LOST? Yep, Sophie Lawson recaps the game here for The Equalizer.
Our fearless leader Howard Megdal weighed in on both the Equal Pay lawsuit and the work toward an NWSL CBA.
I missed this last week! Nice story on Alana Cook from Jonathan Tannewald at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
TWEET OF THE YEAR!
Five at The IX: Vlatko Andonovski
Here’s what USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski said to wrap up the European trip after the win over France:
Question: Beyond the result, how important was it for you to see the team play pretty well in the first half and get those two goals compared to some of the struggles you had this week?
Vlatko: This team is the best when they’re getting tested. And I thught that this was a great test for us to see how quick we can adapt from the game from Sweden to this game. And it was a great test for us to see how quick we can bounce back from some of the things that we didn’t do well, and can we do those things well, which I think that we executed very well. One of those things was, I said that we were not patient enough and we were not clean enough in the last game, which in this game we did a pretty good job.
Question: I was wondering what your observations have been of Alex, not only in today’s game where she was pretty active, but just kind of her whole progression since the start of the year?
Vlatko: After looking at this game, she’s back. We we went against a team, one of the best teams in the world, 2-0, and she scores one and gets a penalty kick on the other one. So that’s that’s a pretty big impact, pretty good impact for any player on the team. Very happy with her, very happy with her attitude and mentality. She came in as a sub for a couple of games, previous games, and was very good for us, gave us a spark and that helped us win win a game or score a goal, at least. Today, as a starter, I think that she executed her role very well. Besides the direct impact with a goal, she was also very involved in a build up, able to she was able to hold the ball, bring the midfielders into the game and release pressure for us.
Question: you managed to get Julie, Lindsay, Rose and Sam all together on the field at the same time, moving rose up. What was behind the decision and how do you think it worked out?
Vlatko: First I think all four are incredible players, and as a coach, you want to have the best players on the field at the same time and try to figure it out. So I thought this was a great opportunity for us to try things against a very good team, to have all four of them. When Rose went up in the front line. … Yes she was the right forward with a very free role, I would say, role to overload the midfield and create the four-v-three in the middle part of the field. I think that she did well, she got involved enough, but there’s still a little more bit of work right now. But I was just happy to see more of them on the field
Question: I know that Alex has said that in past games she felt like she was just kind of missing that last touch, that last little bit of confidence. From your perspective, where do you kind of think that she’s at in terms of just that last little step to coming back?
Vlatko: Obviously, we analyze not just every game that we play but we analyze every practice. And in the last couple of practices, it’s almost like she bumped it a notch or was just a little more focused, a little more concentrated. And we as a staff, we were talking about how she got the killer instinct back. With just a little space and time, she was scoring goals, which was very encouraging for us. And she showed it in the game tonight. Just a little space, little time, with a brilliant finish. So I’m very happy with the way she’s been progressing and where she’s at this point of the preparation.
Question: You mentioned that you played Rose as a right side, right forward for a spell there. Is your intent to stick with the 4-3-3 and fit players into it, or are you willing to try a 4-4-2 or a couple of other things along the way?
Vlatko: With inserting Rose as a right forward and her ability to come inside, we were trying to create overload in the middle with four midfielders. We went at times in a 4-4-2, but offset 4-4-2, just to create different different problems in the middle and then find Soph on the left side, which we saw that in a couple of instances. Like I said, in order to do that, in order to make all of this happen, we have to work a little bit more. With one training. It’s really hard to implement everything.
Question: With Smith on the left, and obviously not knowing who’s going to Tokyo, but to give a player like that, who was a more traditional nine, little versatility, a little experience on the outside. How important is that?
Vlatko: It is very important just to have a player like that on the field, for a young player to get minutes against one of the best teams in the world. I think it’s extremely important, but Soph so has been training on the 7 in the 11, more than 9. And we felt like that’s where she was going to be able to perform better in this game and that’s why she won the position.
Question: Now that you’ve faced the best national teams in the world, how would you evaluate your defense?
Vlatko: I think first, defensively as a team, I thought that we did a very good job, especially higher up the field. I feel like our high press is spot on. We were able to intercept the balls in the in the attacking third and create opportunities off of that in the middle third. That was one of our problems. But I felt like we were very good, very synchronized and that low block as the team is spot on. No problem when we were in the low block. But just the defensive line and the goalkeeper together, Alyssa in the back, I think they’re very, very well synchronized. They understand each other’s movements and they cover each other so well that I’m very happy where they are.
Question: You told us that you were expecting more of the same out of France in terms of disrupting the game and challenging the rhythm of this team. Do you think you actually saw that today, or was it maybe a little bit less in terms of still being able to set the pace that you wanted to set with this team?
Vlatko: I thought France was just slightly more withdrawn than what I was expecting. I thought they were going to be more aggressive coming at us. They gave us a little bit more time on the ball. When we were patient and methodical in the buildup, I felt like we were very good and we were able to advance forward and create the opportunities. On the other side, when we were not patient, we lost the ball very quick. Now, on the other side, defensively, I said that their pace and how dynamic they are is going to cause problems. I thought that we executed, defensively, the test very well in terms of bringing numbers around the ball and eliminating their speed, in wide areas especially.
Vlatko: With the players going back to their clubs, I was curious if you had any general message for them. And more importantly, are you an out and out Kansas City fan now for the NWSL?
Vlatko: So I’ll start with the second question first. Kansas City will always have a special, special place in my heart for obvious reasons. But I wouldn’t say that I’m out-and-out Kansas City fan. I’m a fan of the game women’s women’s soccer. I’m a fan of the NWSL and want to see all the teams doing good, especially the players that are on the U.S. women’s national team. Now, my my message to the players is very clear and they know that. I expect and expect them to keep the rhythm that they’re in. They’re in a very good rhythm, to do well in training and to be the best players on their teams in every game. That’s my expectation. And hopefully by the time they come back into the next camp, they’re going to come even more sophisticated and cleaner and and overall better.