Soccer Monday with Anne M. Peterson for April 1, 2019

Pondering a turning point in women's sports, lightning round with Meghan Klingenberg and must-click links

So I spent the past two weeks immersed in women’s hoops and it was fun! I covered Oregon and Oregon State at home in sub-regionals, then the Portland Regional. Yesterday’s game between Oregon and Mississippi State was thrilling (OK, maybe a bit challenging on deadline) and it has been a pleasure to see Sabrina Ionescu and Teaira McCowan play in person. I’m going to try to re-watch the game today without the pressure.

One thing that was especially cool? More than 11,000 came to see yesterday’s Elite Eight game at Portland’s Moda Center. It helped that a local team was in the tournament, sure, but it was a respectable crowd at a time when there are lots of sports going on. The Albany game between UConn and Louisville got over 9,000.

There’s been a lot of talk in Oregon about how women’s college basketball is big here, and growing. We’ve got two great teams in the Beavers and the Ducks. The Oregon State women often outdraw the men.

It’s kind of like how women’s soccer is big here. I went to Saturday night’s preseason match between the Reign and the Thorns and there were more than 4,000 people there.

Which brings me in a waaaayyyyy roundabout way to my point. I’ve been thinking a lot about whether women’s sports overall, and women’s soccer in particular, are at a turning point. Steven Goff had an excellent piece in the Washington Post about it. And AP’s Daniella Matar addressed the big crowds that have been showing up at women’s games. Then there’s the eye-popping Barclay’s sponsorship.

I wonder how much of this is the so-called World Cup Bump, and how much of it is a boost that women’s sports overall is receiving, as access to games and athletes expands globally. Heck, the Telegraph Women’s Sport initiative is a sign things are changing. I even get to see it here with the rise every week in the number of people reading and subscribing to The IX.

So, naturally, I asked Meghan Klingenberg about whether this feels like a turning point following Saturday night’s game, and she thinks so, too, but with a caveat.

“In a lot of ways I do. I think that you know when you when you start looking across, geez, just the status of women's international football, the status of women's club football. It's really interesting because they're getting bigger crowds. I think that salaries across Europe are getting higher and there's more interest. If you look at the World Cup there's there's so much interest this year especially in the United States. They have more activations around the women's national team than ever before. “

Then she added:

"I think the the thing that's holding us back is honestly the organization at the top. FIFA. We need them to invest. We need them to hold federations accountable, we need them to impose rules for what the women's game to drive it forward. We need, basically, allies. And we need it to be FIFA, we need it to be Nike, we need it to be the NWSL front office. We just need allies to keep pushing the game forward. And I think if we can start getting there -- I mean people are watching. People love it. Look at Portland, Barcelona. They just started a league in Argentina. So it's it's really awesome to see that. But we just we need more allies. And so that to me that's all about the investment. And if we start getting that then I think we'll see a lot of interest in the women's side.”

Couldn’t have said it better.

I should probably add here that Oregon, and indeed the Pacific Northwest, is a little different when it comes to women’s sports. Portland in particular has supported women’s soccer, going back even before the University of Portland won its NCAA titles.

So Portland is kind of a women’s sports bubble at the moment. I really do hope my view isn’t skewed because of that. I hope we’re indeed on the precipice of something great.

OK, on to the links. Click on them and show editors and producers how much women’s sports matter. And send me suggestions! I miss a lot of stuff every week because I’m scatterbrained and I’m always getting pulled in different directions. So if you see something that stands out, email me at apeterson@ap.org.


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! apeterson@ap.org.

Gotta say the best thing I read all week was Katelyn Best’s analysis for The Equalizer on the Olivia Moultrie phenomena. I’ve covered my share of teen phenoms and often they don’t pan quite out, like Freddy Adu. Michelle Wie is another example of a teen athlete that battled unbelievably high expectations. The talented kids who do eventually strike it big, I’m thinking LeBron James and Tiger Woods, are actually rare.

Jonathan Tannenwald broke this story (this morning!) for philly.com: Brandi Chastain wants to coach for the USWNT.

John Halloran with an excellent story for The Equalizer on Morgan Brian.

My AP colleague Daniella Matar with a wonderful story on the big crowds in Europe and what they may mean.

The United States holds onto first place in the FIFA world rankings.

Caitlin Murray with a story for The Athletic on how the Thorns manage the long offseason.

Jane McManus on whether the rest of the world is catching up with the U.S. when it comes to women’s sports.

Thirty-five senators called on US Soccer pay its men’s and women’s players equally. Here’s the letter from Dianne Feinstein’s office.

The Washington Posts’s Steven Goff on the ICC coming to North Carolina this season.

Goff also penned a column about whether women’s soccer has reached a turning point in 2019.

Sky Blue’s outdoor training facilities are upgraded to Georgian Court University, which I did not know existed.

Suzie Rantz looks at Jess Fishlock and Lyon headed to the Champions League semi.

Neil Morris with a story on one of my favorite Canadians, Stephanie Labbe.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Thorns Defender Meghan Klingenberg

I had fun with the lightning round thing with Ellis and Rapinoe, so I did it again with Klingenberg. I realize it’s not soccer-y, but I like learning stuff a little different about the athletes I cover. Soooo much better than the “We executed” drivel. Plus, Klingenberg spoke about how she still consults Anson Dorrance, which was a nice nugget.

PS: After the interview, Klingenberg said via email that the favorite book she read last year was Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. Another nugget. (This book is legit on my nightstand right now, and because of Klingenberg’s endorsement it has moved to the top of the stack.)

Annie: What's your favorite food?

Meghan: Okay, well sadly the first thing that came to my mind was french fries but there you go.

Annie: What's the best movie that you saw last year?

Meghan: Shoot, I don't even know. I can't pick one. I'm not good with that. Books are better.

Annie: So what's your favorite book that you read last year?

Meghan: OK. Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. I know exactly what I want to say. I'm just forgetting the name. (Turns to Richard Farley) Can I tell you and you tell her?

Annie: We'll see each other tomorrow at basketball anyway. (Farley covered the Elite Eight for High Post Hoops!)

Meghan: Great. I write all the books down that I read, and last year I read something like 40 so it's hard to remember.

Annie: When do you have the time?

Meghan: I don't. I just do it when I'm like on the bus or whatever.

Annie: If there was one word to describe you what would it be?

Meghan: I think people would probably say feisty or competitive.

Annie: What's the best piece of advice that you ever received?

Meghan: I don't think that I can remember a specific piece of advice that somebody gave to me. But, when it comes to like soccer or football, I always call Anson for advice. And I love it because he promises that he'll always be honest with me. That's all I want out of a coach is for them to be honest with me, constructively give me feedback. I mean he texts me after almost every game that he watches in the NWSL, which I think is pretty cool. And so I don't think that I ever remember a piece of advice that he gives, but it's just like always exactly what I need to hear. It's not what sometimes what I want to hear but it's always what I need to.


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 PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster