Category Archives: NWSL

How To Pick which NWSL Game To Watch on Saturday

NWSL fans are in a pickle this Saturday: all 4 matches happen at basically the same time. So, you’re a diehard and you want to watch all the fixtures – how do you prioritize?

 

1. Invest in mulScreenshot 2015-04-15 21.48.45tiple screens

Not for the faint of heart, the multiple screen option allows for the comfortable viewing of two simultaneous broadcasts. If you push that to three, you should probably invest in anti-vertigo medication. You will need: two computers (open windows won’t cut it, my friend), a keen eye for the game, and a willingness to miss out on the details of the play.

2. Let your homer show

You only *need* to watch your team, right? Who cares about scouting out the next opponent. Who cares about the overall quality of the league. Who cares whether your secret favorite player who plays for your rival has a good game. It’s the home team or no team, and you want to luxuriate in all the beauty of tactics and psychology that your team has to offer. You will need: one computer and a notepad to write your love/hate note to your team’s coach.

3. Pick your favorite player and follow them to the end

Let’s face it: your favorite player and your favorite team are not always going to match up. Poor Sydney Leroux fans now have to choose between their loyalty to the kid and their loyalty to the queen. Maybe you’re captivated by the smoking good looks of Ashlyn Harris. Maybe you’re enthralled by the gutsy play and blistering shots of Carli Lloyd. Maybe you like a good underdog or a local kid made good. Point is, pick your fave and support them with all you got. You will need: a soccer crush and good enough eyes to pick out your favorite on the spotty live feeds.

4. Choose based on the quality of the match-up

Now, here I can be of some service. I’m excited for the Houston Dash to play Sky Blue this weekend. Sky Blue had a great run at the end of last year with the addition of Nadia Nadim, and by opening their season with a victory (albeit a squeaker of a victory) against FCKC they’ve become early contenders for the playoffs. The Dash look great with their new national team players in the lineup, and I’m bullish on them to go far this season. It should be a good contest.

I predict the Flash vs. Thorns game will end in another annihilation of the Flash, which is fun if you like that kind of thing.

FCKC vs. Washington might be a solid game, but it might end up with a dominated and demoralized Spirit side. You never know with that team. If Ali Krieger is out as a precautionary measure, they’ll be that much more likely to fall behind defensively.

I for one will be watching the Seattle Reign take on the Chicago Red Stars at 8pm, which at least gives me the option of watching the first half of one of the other three matches in real time. The Reign are clearly the team to beat this season, but the Chicago Red Stars historically have depth, physicality, and cohesion. They are a tough side to beat.

5. Watch them all, in a row

This option is not for the faint of heart. It requires absolute abstention from social media of all forms for a full 6 hours. Think you can handle it?

How are you going to decide which NWSL game (or games) to watch? Let me know your strategy for picking games in the comments.

Sydney Leroux Revenge: Re-Cap

Well Sydney Leroux’s revenge sure didn’t pan out, did it.

The Reign dominated the match – if not from the start, then at least from about the 10 minute mark. Leroux was stuffed and barely made a mark on the match. Too bad, really, I always want her to come to play.

If you are a Reign fan, everything about the game was beautiful. The crisp weaving of Winters, Little and Fishlock. The work rate and physical stand-up offense of Bev Yanez. The spunky addition of Merritt Mathias. And, of course, Megan Rapinoe’s blistering hot finishes – three on the night. About the only downside for the Reign was Little’s missed PK, and only because of the shock value.

The Flash looked completely outclassed, and resorted to physical play early to try to disrupt the Reign’s rhythm. That said, Becky Edwards played as good a game as you can expect against the Reign’s middle, and there were flashes of interesting play from Sam Mewis and Jessica Spencer.

Overall, the Reign has entered the 2015 season with a well-deserved target on their backs, and are once again the team to beat. It will certainly prove difficult this year.

Boston Breakers vs. Portland Thorns – Recap

The Breakers’ magic touch against Portland didn’t come through tonight. Poor Boston’s lone bright spot last season was their uncanny ability to *bring it* against the Thorns. And that special talent doesn’t seem to have made it through the off season. Portland dominated and won 4-1.

The first half was a chippy affair, and the Thorns netted two. Sinead Farrelly scored off a corner kick to make up for a stolen goal after some fine clutch defending by Kassey Kallman saved a chip off the goal line. Mana Shim, a PDX favorite, doubled the score a few minutes later on a cross from Kendall Johnson. Boston answered 20 minutes into the second half when Stephanie McCaffrey netted a brilliant strike – in her first pro game, no less! But PDX opened the floodgates soon after. Allie Long scored two pretty breaks in quick succession, and the game was sealed.

In the 2014 season, Portland seemed like a team full of superstars who were just unable to gel when it came time. Too many personalities. Paul Riley seems confident that his new 3-4-2-1 formation will provide the tactical glue to make the team cohere, and it did seem like a promising beginning overall. Like so many other Thorns games, the stars were relatively quiet tonight, but strong performances by the likes of Allie Long made up for it, and the formation was successful. Also, Michelle Betos stood out in goal for Portland, which should alleviate concerns for the Thorns as they face down most of their season without German International Nadine Angerer.

The poor Breakers. I hope for more from them this season, and it might be that their new Brazilian player and Stephanie McCaffrey will step up and produce. I love Kassey Kallman, and she proved a good addition tonight; she is still one of the most exciting young defenders in the league. Still, despite some heart and fire, they played like a frustrated team tonight.

Washington Spirit vs. Houston Dash Re-Cap

Not to say “I told you so,” but, well, I did say the Dash were the team to watch this season! They roared into 2015 with a 2-0 victory over the Washington Spirit. The combination play between Jessica McDonald, Kelia Ohai, Morgan Brian, and Carli Lloyd was a joy to watch, and Ella Massar’s move to the backline yielded a bunch of sass and one yellow card while Niki Cross managed to calmy hold it down in the center. Both goals were things of beauty, and the ones that *didn’t* go in because of rusty finishing could just as easily have made the scoreline a massacre. The Dash will likely suffer more than most without their national team members during the World Cup, but once that is out of the way, with a little time to gel, they could be contenders deep into the season.

The Spirit have a few questions to answer going into the season. They’re as spunky as ever, but they don’t have a clear target forward, and there will continue to be doubts about the solidity of their backline. The Dash just had the better of them today.

Heart attack of the year

Already, first game of the season, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve had the scariest moment of the year. You never want to see a player strapped to a stretcher. Especially when it’s Ali Krieger. Especially with just a few short months to the World Cup. Especially when you have to watch the fear in Ashlyn Harris‘ eyes as she walked her off the field. Thankfully Krieger should be able to come back from her mild concussion relatively quickly, and shouldn’t miss out on her chance to play for the country.

Congrats to the Dash, and here’s to the opening of the 2015 NWSL season!

Sydney Leroux’s Revenge – Preview

Sunday is shaping up to be a very exciting first test for the Seattle Reign.

Sydney Leroux, ignominiously traded to Western New York after requesting a trade to Kansas City to be near her husband, will be back in Seattle for the first game of the NWSL season, and she is mad. We know how Leroux plays when she is mad – witness her goal against Canada in 2013 after bearing the brunt of Canadian fan attacks.

Since the Reign got very little for the deal that sent Leroux packing, she probably should feel slighted. Laura Harvey might have felt offended by Leroux’s request to be traded to the team that bested the Reign to win the championship in 2014. Or Harvey might just have been tired of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Leroux struggled all of the 2014 season to fit into the Reign style of play and just never quite succeeded. For the brash, physically dominant Leroux, the tactical, possession-oriented play of the Reign proved impossible to adapt to. She was often out of her depth, failing to make needed runs off the ball and resorting to relatively predictable play on the ball. Her productivity suffered – after scoring 11 goals for the Boston Breakers in 2013, she scored only 5 in 22 games for the Reign. And she needed 51 shots to get that many.

This is not to denigrate Leroux as a player – I imagine the Reign are nervous to go against her on Sunday. When she’s on, she harasses defenses like it’s her job and uses her speed to make the best defenders in the world look like B-siders. And, if she shows up like she has said she will, she’s sure to bring the fire. She just never found a home in the Reign style of play.

It’s players like Leroux – a bit cocky, opportunistic, media-savvy, and able to bring it when it’s time – that make the game so much fun. Women’s soccer needs personalities, grudges, and hurt feelings. It’s what keeps the fire going. I love a good grudge match. And I’m excited to watch a new one unfold on Sunday.

-Megan

Hope Solo is back with the USWNT

Hope Solo has successfully complied with certain unannounced conditions and is back with the USWNT. Watching her implode over the last few years has been painful, and I really hope she has exorcized whatever demons she has. Even though her personal life has been erratic and violent, her playing is still world-class. She is an absolute joy to watch play.

It’s not fair, I know, to speculate about her problems. That’s not going to stop me, since I’m a soccer fan, and we speculate about inappropriate things. Hope needs to get help with her drinking. I would be shocked if a 30-day sobriety period weren’t part of the plan to get her back on the team. Her memoir is so frank when she discusses her mother’s addiction. She clearly understands the unique pain that comes along with loving someone who is stuck inside addiction, how you can respect their struggle and love their spirit while needing to distance yourself from the person to become whole yourself.

Actually, I wish US Soccer were more upfront about whatever conditions they put on Solo, especially if treatment for alcoholism or some other substance abuse condition was part of the plan. They would never, of course, especially with a woman soccer player: the pressure on these women to be perfect role models is out of control. US Soccer will never recognize that you’re not a ‘bad role model’ if you struggle with addiction or get help for addiction, but it is irresponsible to pretend like alcoholism and addiction don’t exist among professional athletes. Hell, even Hope dismisses criticism about her drinking by claiming that it’s part of athlete culture to work hard and play harder. Denial surrounding alcoholism and addiction does not limit itself to families. But when serious athletes are more likely than non-athletes to drink to excess, open conversations about drinking culture and alcohol abuse need to be a part of soccer culture. Even women’s soccer culture. Even when there are girls out there who look up to these players. Especially when there are girls out there who look up to these players.