The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Nov. 23, 2020

Recapping some of a particularly busy WoSo week, plus links and Sam Mewis from camp this morning!

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It’s been an unusually newsy week!

First, Angel City announced it would play at Banc of California stadium, which was somewhat expected because of the Mia Hamm connection.

But what wasn’t expected was the announcement of Heineken as a founding partner/sponsor.

I don’t need to tell you what an absolute boon this is for Angel City and women’s soccer in general. We saw the first step toward broader commercial sponsors with Budweiser coming aboard the league as sponsor last year.

Add the multi-year deal with Verizon, and it’s clear that the league is being taken seriously as a commercial enterprise.

The league announced its tentative schedule for next year, which includes a Challenge Cup tournament in select bubbles in April. Then a regular season of 24 matches in local markets with a six-team playoffs.

Of course, all of this is a big “if” amid coronavirus. There’s also the Olympics. I talked a bit about that last week with Jen Cooper from Keeper Notes. You can listen to the podcast here.

Cross your fingers, we may have a vaccine by April.

Finally, there was the announcement of the roster for the USWNT training camp in advance of the friendly against the Netherlands. The roster was fairly predictable, with Europe-based players available at this time. The game is set for Friday morning, so something to enjoy with your Thanksgiving leftovers!

One thing that wasn’t expected: Lindsey Horan tested positive for coronavirus.

That opened the door for Jaelin Howell to join the roster. I love this addition! And in case you didn’t know, her dad played in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks.

Get better soon Lindsey!

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LINKS!

(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! apeterson@ap.org.

This is important: FIFA banned Haitian federation president for life for sexual abusing female players, from my AP colleague Graham Dunbar.

Dunbar also had a story on FIFA’s proposed new rules surrounding maternity. This is good, and overdue.

Allegations of emotional abuse in Cal’s soccer program, from KTVU.

Also, please read this from The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer on the intern who alleged sexual harassment at NYCFC. Dear Lord, this statement: “I thought I was getting the opportunity of a lifetime when I got that internship. What I got was David Villa touching me every fucking day and my bosses thinking it was great comedic material.”

Kudos to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times for breaking the Banc of California story.

Sandra Herrera for CBS Sports covers the 2021 NWSL season. Herrera also did a nice job on this story about Nikita Parris’ thoughts on the Lyon PS rivalry.

Simone Charley is collaborating with Mimi’s Fresh Tees, from Kyle Garcia of Stumptown Footy.

The IX’s fearless leader, Howard Megdal, writes for Forbes about how this strange year has impacted the makeup of USWNT.

Steven Goff’s story for the Washington Post on the roster for the upcoming match against the Netherlands.

Annie Costabile of the Chicago Sun Times spoke to Tierna Davidson.

Meg Linehan and Sam Stejskal for The Athletic report that MLS may have to step in when it comes to the sale of Real Salt Lake and the Royals.

Marta tests positive, from AP.

The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf spoke to Heather O’Reilly for the Kickin’ Back podcast.

Also for thre Equalizer, Arianna Scavetti explains the trouble in the French national team.

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Five at The IX: Sam Mewis from USWNT training camp!

This morning Sam Mewis spoke to the media from training camp. Here are a few excerpts!

Question: What was it like to get the group back together and clear all the protocols. And also, why is it important to have this group together after such a long time, amid health and safety concerns?

Mewis: It's been so great to be back with the team. It's been, obviously, a crazy year but I think just the kind of like spirit of this team -- It's so fun to be in with the girls and just get to see everybody again and to get to play in this group again, so I think that it's been an awesome environment so far and one I definitely feel safe in. US Soccer has gone to great lengths with these protocols and making sure that we all are safe and in a protected kind of bubble here. And I think it's important to get us together, we're hoping that the Olympics goes ahead for next year, and just getting this time together to kind of get reacquainted. I know that they had a great October camp and I wish I could have been part of that so I just feel like getting the group back together is a positive thing. And at this point I feel really safe with the protocols and US Soccer has done a good job protecting us and keeping everybody safe.

Question: How has your sister influenced your development, even in the five or six years since you two were last able to play together on the US team?

Mewis: Thanks for asking that, I'm so excited to talk about Kristie here. Growing up, Kristie had a huge impact on me and my development and always kind of paved the way for me and what I could see myself doing. She obviously made the national team first and got caps first, and I think showing me that that was possible was a big and important part of me and my development in my career. Just to see her over the past couple of years, have her knee injury and then come back to really great form this past this past year and even the year before, to just see her go through that adversity and then come back and play so well and prove that she's a really valuable player for both Houston and hopefully now here for the national team. I'm just really excited for her and I know that she has worked so hard for this, so I'm excited about the possibility of playing with her again. Already today at practice we were working together a little bit and it's just so fun to have her here in the environment. I've always said that being a professional soccer player can be difficult and challenging at times, and I think that you have some people in your life who understand that. But for a lot of people who have never done this, it is kind of hard to understand all the ups and downs. To have someone in my family that gets it, and that we kind of go through the ebbs and flows of this career together --  whether it's injury or getting cut from a team or winning a big tournament -- I think having someone that you're so close with that's in your family that can share those moments with you, is just really special and it's brought us closer in a whole different way than I think anything else could have, so it's been just so great having her here. I'm really happy for her and excited to hopefully have more chances to play together.

Question: Kristie has talked about what has changed for her in recent years. What have you seen in her development? And is it nice to have Thanksgiving together in an odd year?

Mewis: I don't know exactly what Kristie has said, but I do think that the knee injury kind of opened her eyes a little bit and really set her set her up for a big comeback. It's obviously a tough injury to go through and I think it kind of made her realize how badly she wanted to push to get back to being the best that she could be. So watching her go through that and watching her come back to full form has been really rewarding for me as her sister. But just getting to see her get back in shape get back from what was really a tough time, I think has just shown her character to everybody.  I mean it's just demonstrated how hard she worked, how much she wants this and how good of a character that she really has, so I feel like it's just a great story. Then yeah, to be here for Thanksgiving together is awesome. I know my parents wish we could all be together but it's in such a weird time. It's very special that I'm going to have a family member here for a holiday so it'll be really cool and I'm very grateful for that.

Question: What is the WSL like compared to the NWSL?

Mewis:  I’ve been so lucky to be at a club like Man City. I've really enjoyed my time in England so far and I think that the WSL is a great league and it's clearly getting more and more competitive. I have really enjoyed my teammates, they've been so welcoming, and I feel like I'm learning a lot from them and really being challenged on a technical and tactical level, to get down to these fine details and make sure that technically I'm like keeping up. I think all the girls are so technical and can really just like ping the ball one touch at speed, so it's been really fun for me and a big challenge and I'm excited to continue with them. I think that both leagues are really great. Anybody who's fortunate enough to play either league is really lucky so I can't say enough good things about both leagues.

Question: How beneficial has it been just on a personal level to be exposed to a new league, new teammates, new opponents, just a whole new environment?

Mewis: Like you said, I have never played outside of the country before in a league. I think it was always something I wanted to experience in my career and getting to do it now is especially exciting because I'm getting in a lot of games during like what's been an uncertain and weird time. And I think it’s an important time in my career where I still have a lot I want to learn, but I want to be performing at a high level all the time, so I think it's been really great for me and exciting for me to get to experience it, especially at a club as great as Man City.

Question: Can you tell us maybe some of the major takeaways or some of the biggest things that you've learned from your experience playing at Man City on and off the pitch?

Mewis: I feel like I'm learning so much tactically, I'm in an environment where there's a lot expected of you, not just physically. My coach talks a lot about positional play. So I'm really learning how to kind of perfect those fine details of where I should be when this player has the ball, when should I check to my own center back to get the ball, when should I run in behind. I think for the first time in my career I'm like really trying to learn how to read the other team. I feel like that's something in my game that I have wanted to improve on myself. And I'm really trying to pay attention to that and to take that with me and to, for example, the national team. It's something I can definitely keep learning and improving on, and something I hope will help me continue to earn call ups here and playing time for the national team.

Question: Are you thinking about going back to Man City, or there may be other foreign leagues, that you'd like to explore in the future?

Mewis: I have no idea. I mean, I'm having a great time where I am and feel like I'm learning a lot and I would love to play in the NWSL again someday, of course. I think that the NWSL is doing a lot of things really well and I'm excited for the league, what they've announced for next year, I think that's going to be awesome for soccer in the U.S., so I'm very supportive of that league as well. Who knows what the future brings? There's one thing we've learned one thing this year we can't really control what's happening so we'll see what happens.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women's Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon Freelance Tennis Writer
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By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal The Next
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