Soccer Monday with Anne M. Peterson for April 8, 2019

THE NWSL is coming, must-click links and a few words from Mark Parsons

First off, Caitlin Murray’s book “The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer” came out! You can find it here at Amazon.

And here’s the pre-order link for “The Making of the Women's World Cup: Defining Stories from a Sport's Coming of Age” from Jeff Kassouf and Kieran Theivam.

Supporting these books is a lot like clicking on links, the more orders they get, the more the powers-that-be know there’s an audience. So if you can, please support this work.

OK, now that I’ve made those plugs, the seventh season of the NWSL is upon us with many of the same questions we had last year at this time.

One is the overall health of the league, as it remains at nine teams with expansion talk (apparently?) on the back burner. Then there’s the lack of a meaningful broadcast deal (availability on an app isn’t meaningful) . Oh, and there’s still no commissioner.

I know Amanda Duffy is currently in charge as league president, but the NWSL needs a business-minded commissioner. Not only is a broadcast partner lacking, but how long has it been since a new major sponsor was announced? The Barclays sponsorship overseas has made me believe that opportunities are being missed.

This kind of thing should be at the forefront as the league faces the potential World Cup bump later this summer.

And let me just say this about the Yahoo Sports thing, and this is nothing against the good folks at Yahoo, who do tremendous work: I personally don’t see how the league will gain many new eyeballs with a “just watch it on the app” arrangement. I don’t really see people going to the app, saying, `Oh look, women’s soccer, let’s check it out!’ I know the whole argument about thinking outside the box , and that people consume media differently these days, but in a super-crowded multimedia landscape there needs to be a traditional component to capturing viewers, like having games on actual television.

Then again, I’m old.

Oh, and because folks were asking last week: I downloaded the app yesterday, and it now allows you to choose NWSL teams among your favorites.

With that, I’m on to the links.

This Week in Women’s Soccer

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second, Clicks = Attention from editors, producers, & webmasters. Third, I’d love to hear from YOU, email me! apeterson@ap.org

Hey guys, lots of folks covered the USWNT games, I’m not gonna include all of them (just the AP’s cuz I’m biased!) but I figure most of you saw the games and know what happened.

First, me! I did a story on Alyssa Naeher last week. And then she gave us an assist on a goal. Hopefully that made a lot of folks google her and click on my story.

The AP covered the wild USWNT friendly against Australia. Then the awesome Greg Beacham covered the equally nuts USWNT victory over Belgium.

LUNA Bar and making up the World Cup roster gap. OK, like a lot of folks, I thought this was awesome but I also thought the money would be better spent on the NWSL and a sponsorship.

Jonathan Tannenwald had a banner week last week, with several major stories out of the ICC forum.

First: Brandi Chastain wants to coach. Let her. Just maybe not at the senior national team level just yer.

Second: Bri Scurry has some thoughts about the goalkeeping situation.

Third: Kristine Lilly has some thoughts on Tobin Heath. Because of course she did.

And finally: Heather O’Reilly is working for Fox for the World Cup.

Susie Rantz is simply being excellent for SBNation’s Sounder at Heart.

If you missed KeeperNotes’ last podcast, that’s a shame, but the good news is that you can still listen here!

Speaking of pods, here’s The Equalizer’s reaction to the Belgium match.

Harjeet Johal had an excellent feature on Lucy Bronze for the Equalizer.

Forbes with a story on how Nike believes this is a tipping point for women’s soccer.

(We’re hearing that a lot lately!)

Yahoo Sports on Mia Hamm expecting a challenging World Cup.

The great, great Helene Elliott on the 99ers. By the way, Helene is someone I’ve always looked up to and admired.

New this morning: Joanna Lohman is retiring.

And exciting news: SB Nation has a women’s soccer site, All for XI, and gave the keys to it to Steph Yang!

Tweet of the Week

Y’all knew I couldn’t let the week slide without a little Christine Sinclair.

Five at The IX with Mark Parsons

Coach Mark Parsons spoke to the media following the Portland Thorns’ Spring Invitational. Here are some of the excerpts.

Parsons on takeaways from the preseason tournament games:

"I think what has been very consistent, I'll go this way on the three tournament games, we're not giving up massive chances. Last year was a bad year on giving up big chances and giving up goals and silly goals. This is an important and first clean sheet of preseason and we wanted to do things better in those areas and even in the chaotic situations, I think we showed pride. I think Brit came up and said at the end -- She'd come up big with a lot of reaction saves -- she said `That's why we play ping-pong at the training facility before training.’ She got us out of trouble. But defensively, we as a team have been giving up less quality chances, less big looks, and it's been a goal of ours, and that would be one that's in the first phase of maybe 10 big steps that we've got to make. “

Parsons on the little mistakes and how much of a concern they are:

“I would say mistakes, or decisions that can be better, passes with passing to people — they're only going to be in trouble with those passes because of the way Seattle is playing. That's what comes with experiences, experienced players know what their role is. And they're also analyzing what the opposition is doing. We've got a lot of young players especially in the back line, the senior ones in Katherine and Kling. Kath comes in, I think and calmed us down and Kling's making good decisions as always. Otherwise we're very young. With Gabby, with E-Ball with Kelli with Ellie. I think the young players won't read the opposition as much. They wanted us to play our center-mids, and the we just kept passing to our center-mids, and Cel and Dagny were constantly under pressure. We needed to miss that line and when we did, that then got us into the attack. Or, the couple times we got in behind them by playing with a little bit more purpose. I think decision-making improves when we're dealing with that pressure. “

“Last year was a bit unique. We didn't get pressed a lot. Actually, I think it hurt us a little bit near the end where we had all these oppositions that tactically didn't press us and then we played Seattle, and then Seattle (again) and North Carolina. And they came after us and it shook us there in this semi for the first half. “

Parsons musing on the changes and what it means:

“With all this change we've had, because people just aren't seeing some of the pictures and decisions like they would if it was a consistent unit getting all the reps, do we do we really -- and I'm just being honest --- do we really commit to improving some of those problems? We're going to we're going to have loads of mistakes with that. Do you commit to solving them, or, do we go `You know what? Maybe we have to play into areas and skip lines until we become more consistent with the people in that back line.’ And of course there's the competition, you now look at it because of the performance in this tournament, E-Ball, Kath and Gabby, and Kelli (I think of Kelly as a fullback), four possible centerbacks while Menges is still recovering. So, yeah, having headaches but the same time I think when we get a consistent backline, things will start to improve.”

Parsons on the road stretch to start the season:

"Fingers crossed that we can get onto a good start. And that's what we're training for, that's what we're working for. Things can be different if we don't. If a couple of games go the wrong way, it's just a couple of games to calm down. We're all winners and we want to be great, and if that happened it could be hard. Otherwise I've got a very positive outlook, and my positive outlook is: Everyone thinks they can win in the beginning of the season. Everyone has trained really hard in the preseason. Everyone comes out really pumped up. I don't mind being on the road and us building our character, grinding points finding a way to win, get points, and then be in a place where you have all these home games,14 games at the end, 10 at home, two in Utah, two in Seattle. If we can get points things will look good. What will be important, and it'll be a big challenge, is keeping ourselves in the middle. If we get some wins, we stay here. If things don't go away we've got to stay here because it's 24 games plus two. It's a long long season. Us growing, us developing, us improving is what is the highest priority and in pro sports sometimes you can get distracted when when when you have a few tough games.”

"I've got to work nine, 10, 11, 12, internationals turning up a couple of days before (Orlando) and we're on the road, so that game's going to be chaos. It's going to be absolute utter chaos. And I don't mind that being absolute utter chaos away because I want us to be settled at playing football when we're at home, that's what makes us good, and being in front of our fans. So yeah, we've got to prepare the troops for an interesting game in Orlando.”


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