Sydney Leroux

One of the Greatest Sports Teams Ever

The nominees for U.S. Soccer 2014 Female Athlete of the Year: Carli Lloyd, Christen Press, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, and Lauren Holiday.

Let us start the day the fútbol way.

Or, you know, with bad rhymes. Whatever works.

Nominees: U.S. Soccer 2014 Female Athlete of the Year.

• Lauren Holiday, midfield

• Sydney Leroux, forward

• Carli Lloyd, midfield

• Christen Press, forward

• Abby Wambach, forward

In a way, it is almost sad because there is an argument that the answer is clear. Of course, Abby Wambach has also taken the prize six times out of nine nominations. With sixteen caps and a record goal-scoring season highlighted by four goals against Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Championship, it seems hard to argue otherwise. Still, though, there is a case to be made for others; Lauren Holiday also earned sixteen caps, amounting to 1,255 minutes, over a third again more than Wambach played. Sydney Leroux managed 1,130 minutes, grabbing eighteen caps with nine goals and five assists. Carli Lloyd logged a staggering 1,683 minutes in earning nineteen caps, scoring ten goals and eight assists. And suddenly the answer isn’t so clear. U.S. Soccer is also accounting for play in other leagues; Wambach only played in ten games for New York Flash, while Lauren Holiday claimed the NWSL championship game MVP after FCKC defeated Seattle Reign FC at the end of August. And Christen Press played 1,115 minutes while being the only player on the USWNT to earn a cap in each of the twenty matches played so far this year; additionally, she played full time in each of twelve games with Chicago Red Stars and notched nine goals with Tyresö in Champions League play.

And suddenly the answer is not at all clear.

The U.S. Women’s National Team is one of the finest assemblies of sporting talent on the planet. And this is a term in which we do not bother parsing out male and female.

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Some Thoughts on a National Disgrace

Players for the Mexican and Jamaican women's teams present themselves before a nearly empty house at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., prior to the CONCACAF group stagte fimale on 21 October 2014.  Final score: Mexico 3-1 Jamaica.  The Mexican team advances to face the U.S. Women's National Team in the 2014 CWC semifinals.

You know how we always hear about various pro sports teams struggling with their salary cap? And the persistent question of how much is too much, and whether any pro athlete is really worth that many millions of dollars a season?

SeattleReignFC-logo-bwHere’s a real salary cap for you: $30,000 per season.

For the record, that’s not a minimum salary. That’s a maximum salary for the National Women’s Soccer League.

While KUOW gives an August report from Arwen Nicks and Marcie Sillman a happy title, “Seattle Taking Notice Of Reigning Women’s Team”, it’s also a bit deceptive. Seattle took greater notice of S2, the new Sounders FC third-league team intended for their reserves to get playing time.

It should be noted that aside from playing their games at Starfire, the Seattle women’s professional soccer team is entirely unrelated to Sounders FC. Rather, they are Seattle Reign FC, a name apparently held over from the former ABL squad.

While SRFC is blessed with powerful talent, it is almost a prerequisite for any kind of success; unless a player is on a national team, her salary is capped at thirty thousand dollars per season, creating a situation in which the lucky players without a national team roster spot get to play in the championship game, go home, and either pay rent the next morning or move.

As any sports fan in general can tell you, this is no way to run a premiere league. Then again, considering the history of, say, English football clubs, we’ll have to see what the NWSL becomes over the course of the next century.

Meanwhile, this miserable state of things is accentuated by a soccer match that had nothing to do with SRFC or the U.S. Women’s National Team except for the fact that the winner will meet Hope Solo, Sydney Leroux, and Megan Rapinoe (all of SRFC) and their USWNT teammates in the semifinal round.

Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I've seen in ages. (John G. White Jr., 21 October 2014)Mexico topped Jamaica in a CONCACAF contest at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., earlier tonight. The final was 3-1, though Joseph White of Associated Press tweeted during the game, “Not that you care, but I just saw Donna-Kay Henry of Jamaica score one of the best soccer goals I’ve seen in ages.”

And, yeah, as goals go, it was a sweet one.

This was the end of CONCACAF group play; Mexico will meet the U.S. in the semis. And, true, the weather only made the game that much tougher, but White’s recap for USA Today should probably be praised for not making a point of the absolute embarrassment this game has caused should cause Americans.

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