The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, October 21, 2019

Louisville joins the NWSL (we assume) and the playoffs are set. Here we go! Plus links and interviews from the NWSL semis

Louisville-bound

So this dropped into my inbox about 7 a.m. this morning.

CHICAGO (October 20, 2019) – NWSL President Amanda Duffy will join Louisville City FC Chairman John Neace and Team President Brad Estes on Tuesday, October 22 at Lynn Family Stadium for an important announcement. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Louisville City FC Head Coach John Hackworth will also be present on Tuesday.

And indeed, if what I’m hearing from my sources is correct, Louisville is getting an NWSL expansion team that will begin play in 2021.

The team will play at Lynn Family Stadium, the home of Louisville City FC, set to open next spring. You can see pictures of the new stadium here.

But wait, there’s more.

There were hopes that the league would be at 10 team next season, and those hopes are still alive. Sacramento was announced as an MLS expansion team on Monday.

The Equalizer reported a few days ago that the Sacramento Republic is in ``advanced discussions’’ to jump into the fray for 2020.

So maybe, just maybe, California will be getting a team.

I got Ron Burkle, one of the main investors in the Sacramento Republic’s bid on the phone this morning, and asked him about the rumor. He was not forthcoming. LOL.

“I think comedy in our numbers is always an incredibly bad idea,” he said.

Of course, this is all great news for the health of the league with U.S. Soccer stepping away from its management of the league at the end of the year. Meg Linehan of The Athletic reported earlier that the league will soon start to look for a commissioner.

More good news: Attendance is up, thanks to the World Cup Bump.

The regular-season average across the league was 7,337 fans per game, up from 6,024 last season. Just a hair under a 20 percent increase.

And finally: this was also announced this morning: Octagon and the NWSL announced a “multi-tier consulting partnership.” Connecticut-based Octagon will advise the league on media rights, sponsorship, and marketing. The media release is here in case you want to learn more. This is a solid move on the league’s part. Simone Biles is one of the company’s clients, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, here’s to the North Carolina Courage and the Chicago Red Stars, who will meet next Sunday in the NWSL championship game. Especially the Red Stars, who are finally in the final after four consecutive years of disappointment.

Tough weekend in Portland though, with both the Thorns and the Timbers eliminated. Though it gives me more time for other stuff.

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.

Lots of links last week with the semis happening but y’all know the outcome now, so I figure it’s OK I didn’t include them.

High school soccer team wears Equal Pay shirts. Cool!

The Women’s World Cup was watched by more than 1 billion. Cool again! Now increase the prize money.

North Korea and South Korea will face off as part of Olympic qualification. This comes after that weird men’s game in Pyongyang.

Megan Rapinoe wins the Women’s Sports Foundation sportswoman of the year award. AP’s Melissa Murphy spoke to her for this story.

Neil Morris looked at HAO’s PK for The Equalizer.

In addition to Meg’s work above, she summarizes the NWSL semifinals nicely.

Jonathan Tannenwald with the Philadelphia Enquirer answers your questions about Vlatko here.

This is basically a commercial, but please appreciate the fierce fashion of Ali and Ashlyn.

Mallory Pugh spoke out about gender equity in sports at a Georgetown University event. Pugh is finding her voice more and more, which is always good to see.

Carli Lloyd’s Laughter Permitted interview with Julie Foudy. A lot was written about this, so best to go to the source. Excellent podcast, you should subscribe.


Tweet of the Week

Oh, yes, and in a particularly newsy day, the Ballon d’Or nominees were announced. The awesome Ann Odong helpfully put them all together in a single tweet.


The Five at The IX: Semis Postgame

Here are some of the comments from the Courage and Red Stars following their wins yesterday.

Paul Riley, Courage coach:

“I thought we dominated starts to finish, to be honest with you. I thought we were really good in the second half, overtime I thought we played really well too. The midfield was tremendous in the second half and into overtime, created a ton of chances and put the game away. Should have put the game away a lot earlier. We thought they would sit deep, and they did sit deep, I thought they may come out with a back five and played with a back four so it was good for us. I thought we looked dangerous.”

Heather O’Reilly, Courage:

“Clearly when we scored the penalty in like the 87th minute, you think it’s sealed right? so it’s a real dagger when they then score in the 90th. But I think that it was really important to not let that be it, that’s not our season right there. That takes a lot to kind of turn that momentum around. But the team is built on grit. We get after it week after week on the training pitch, so that moment didn’t scare us. It was definitely unfortunate, don’t get me wrong, but we knew that we had a lot in the tank for extra time and we said `Hey, we get 30 more minutes to play this game that we love with each other, so bring it on.’”

“Obviously we had been knocking at the door all day, you start to naturally have that feeling like `Gosh, it’s just not falling for us.’ But we stayed resilient. We kept doing and we kept going. That shows a lot of character, I think, for the team. I’ve been pretty solid in my penalties at training, so I knew that I was first up, kind of, to take it, and I thought that that would have been enough to seal it. Unfortunately they came back to tie it in the 90th which was unlike us, uncharacteristic for our team, but on the other side of things we knew that we would have a lot more in the tank for overtime than they did. We would have liked to get it down in the 90 minutes, it would have been fun if my penalty was the winner, bu what can you do? We had more football in us, I guess.

Sam Kerr:

“It’s been a lot of hard work. We’ve been waiting 13 months for this game. Yeah, a lot of hard work and we just stuck together as a group. We’ve been there all year and today was just our day.”

(On first goal)

“I think we started really well. We went after them really quickly. There was just an opening and Yuki, the magician, just played me a ball and I knew if I kept it low I’d have a good chance. I had one probably two minutes earlier. It’s not about who scores, just that we made the final and we can go to North Carolina and hopefully win the championship.

(On Yuki)

“I mean, everyone in the league knows how good she is. She and amazing player, she’s an amazing teammate, and she’s an even better human and I love playing for her. She put the ball on the platter and I don’t have to do much.”

Oh, and one last thing, a MoMo update (and Yes, it’s from Avatar, the last Air Bender.)

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