Soccer Monday with Annie Peterson for Tax Day! April 15, 2019

Jeff Kassouf gets it right — A few must-click links — Ashlyn Harris had A LOT to say after Orlando's loss.

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My goodness, the Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf (and friend of The IX) nailed it when he said there’s no buzz around the NWSL season.

Despite the fact that many of the major media outlets had season previews (AP included!) a friend of mine who casually follows the Thorns — and was actually at last year’s championship game — had no idea that the season started this weekend.

Huh?

Kassouf pointed out that there was no media conference call heading into the season, something that’s happened for the past six previous seasons. Part of the reason is that there’s no official spokesperson for the league right now.

I have no idea who to contact if I need comment from the league offices. I guess Amanda Duffy?

I hate to keep harping on this, but the league needs a commissioner who can oversee these kinds of details. A spokesperson is just a basic hire for A PROFESSIONAL SPORTS LEAGUE. I mean, it’s not like the best players in the world are part of the NWSL or anything.

Also, I’m getting this weird sense that the soccer world is just passing the NWSL by. I see the record attendance in Europe, the huge Barclay’s sponsorship deal, even developing pro leagues in Latin America.

What have we heard from the NWSL in this great sea change for women’s soccer? Mostly crickets.

Anyway, the games went on this weekend. A lot of you likely watched on your phone. Unfortunately, with no network deal, folks who flip through channels on Saturday and Sunday had no indication that the, yes, best women’s soccer players in the world were actually playing.

And they missed a fun goal from Tobin Heath.

Two other notes: Congrats to Meg Linehan for her new post with the Athletic. I’ve admired Meg’s work for like forever. She’s got a great voice that comes across in her writing, something that’s rare.

At the same time, I’m kind of disappointed that The Athletic told Caitlin Murray she wouldn’t be writing for them any more. I understand the site went regional (and congrats to Matt Pentz, and certainly no disrespect to him because he’s wonderful) but I hate to see it when great female sports writers are undervalued. And, with that, I may have skewered any chance I ever had of working for the Athletic.

So on that note, 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! apeterson@ap.org

Links:

Annie Peterson’s NWSL preview for AP is here (Hey that’s me!)

Caitlin Murray’s NWSL preview for Yahoo Sports is here.

Jeff Kassouf looks at the NWSL season and finds a lack of buzz around the league. Which is true.

Here’s Julian Cardillo’s league preview for Pro Soccer USA.

Graham Hays with the NWSL’s top storylines for ESPNW.

Meg Linehan debuts with her take for The Athletic.

Pro Soccer on Amada Duffy’s comments at halftime of the Courage-Red Stars opener.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is thanking the US Women’s Soccer team.

Jonathan Tannenwald took a guess at the World Cup roster. Hey wait! Might wanna do this as a reader exercise! Ok, lemme work on that. He also talked to Jen Hoy before the start of the NWSL season.

Last but not least, Caitlin had a really well-written piece in the New York Times about the USWNT CBA, which she also talks about in her book. ORDER IT HERE! Do IT, worth every penny

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Ashlyn Harris

OK guys, confession time. I didn’t do an interview this week because of the NBA playoffs. I could post the transcript of the interview with Enes Kanter, which probably work here. LOL. But I instead I decided to give you Ashlyn Harris’ remarks following Orlando’s loss to the Thorns. Love her or hate her, Harris DOES NOT MINCE WORDS.

Question: Thoughts on the game?

Harris: "Yeah. A disappointing result. A really rough start to the season. The first 45 minutes was not good enough and very disappointing. I mean we came back out and and you know, parts of the game we we had chances to finish and unfortunately I didn't put the ball in the back of the net -- because I think if we squeeze one out the game changes a bit. I'm I'm proud of the team and the response they had the second half because at halftime we got our asses chewed out and it just has to be better. We have all the tools, you guys, we have all the tools. We have an incredible coach that is putting everything on the line, everything on the line. Giving us all the tools we've been begging for. It's now about executing. We weren't brave enough today and soccer you have to be brave on the ball or these things happen. We will unpack this. We will be better. And we have two days to turn around play again in North Carolina. So it's about how we respond at this point.

Question: How frustrating was it going into our time knowing that obviously Portland was all over Orlando and they were able to squeeze in a goal before halftime and change the dynamic of the game.

Harris: “Of course it’s frustrating. It could have been five or six-nothing in the first half. We were lucky to go in to the locker room with only one goal which I believe came in the 45th minute which should never happen. I don't want to beat a dead horse but yeah I just, I mean what can I say? Am I pissed? Yeah, of course I'm pissed but I have to be the best version of myself every day for this team. I believe in myself that I am the best fucking player out there every single day and I can't give that to other people. That is something that they have to wake up and feel every fucking day. I can't give that. I'll run through a brick wall for this team and every single one of you out there know that. I can't give that to everyone else, that's a choice. I hope, I hope that we choose to continue to grow and dig deep because football is about tactics and this plan and these strategies. But when it's out there it's about who's willing to do the little things right, the small details. There's no there's no -- the plans don't work out the way we envision and training, it's here. It's how hard you're willing to work here. And I I feel like we lack that a little bit. And I know our coach is disappointed because he's picked up he's left this family. He's left his little kid. He's left his partner and it was shit. And that's not how we repay him for all the stuff he's putting in hour after hour at work. You know, he's working incredibly hard and he's giving us all the tools. There's no excuse. Football's not about excuses. I have no excuses to stand up here and tell you guys. It just wasn't good enough.

Question: Is this a performance where you guys want to forget or is there something that you're going to purposely try to do to make it better for ...

Harris: Yeah. You can't forget it. You can't forget it, that means you're not growing. We're not here to be perfect. No one's claiming to be perfect. There's no such thing as perfect in football. There's gonna be ebbs and flows in the game and it's just managing the times when your back's against the wall and we will unpack this and we will individually be sent our clips, and individually and collectivey be held accountable accountable so we can move forward to be better. Absolutely. We have a standard. Football was about taking accountability and putting your hand up. We absolutely win as a team and we lose as a team but we have to unpack this game and figure out what we're going to do to be better moving forward.

Question: You mentioned that you only have a couple of days to turn this around before playing the reigning champions. Is it a couple of days enough time to make significant gains?

Harris: I do. I do. I think that we can only go up from here at this point. I think that when a few of our players get healthy, I think there was a few missing pieces and credit to people stepping up last minute. But yeah, there will there will -- It has to get better. It will get better, whether it's two days or whether it's 24 hours. We need to self reflect and we need to be better. And my hope is that we come out and, I mean, what a better way to just bounce back. I hate waiting when I feel the way I feel right now, to wait another week to play a game is really difficult. So to be able to let that out in two days, I mean that's that's good for us.

Question:. What positives can you take from this.

Harris: Positives. Interesting question. That no matter how shitty things get, that we stayed collectively together. I didn't necessarily see anyone yelling at each other. I still felt like this team believed. We are on a mission right now and we have to stick to that mission. And, yeah, I think that's a positive because it is difficult to get off on a start like this. But if we stay together and we stay committed to the mission and the vision of our coach, we will be OK. He will carry us. I really, really believe that. I think he's incredible. He makes all the right decisions. He he treats everyone exactly the same. Everyone is equally as important, and he carries a lot of the weight on his shoulders, which is a good feeling because he wants us to succeed and he's willing to do whatever it takes. And we're getting all the tools to do that. So yeah, we're gonna be OK. We're gonna be OK. It's just the first game. Shit like this happens, we move forward. We had two players who were rookies you know stepped out on the field. That's that's great. Congratulations to Erin and Bridget super proud of them and yeah we move forward now as a team and unpack this and then we're hungry for North Carolina. I don't give a shit if they won last year. Last year is last year. We're coming for them.


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