U.S. Women’s National Team

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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Just Another Rant (#ENGvGERmix)

England's Karen Carney is described by the manager, Mark Sampson, as an 'incredible football talent'. (Photo: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters)

It is easy enough to denounce the lack of attention paid women’s sports in the United States, especially when the idea that the local women’s professional soccer team aims for a sixty percent attendance increase to a six thousand per game average for a team featuring that much international play talent. And it is easy enough for Americans to scratch their heads in puzzlement—since awe and soccer are a forbidden combination in this country—at the thought of the best-attended MLS team averaging twice what the next team draws, the word out of England regarding Sunday’s match at Wembly is a kick to the shin:

England women’s midfielder Karen Carney believes their historic game at Wembley on Sunday proves there is an appetite for the women’s game.

“TV are behind us and we’ve just got to do the business now. I think the rest will take care of itself,” Carney said.

Tickets have sold out, but sales have been capped at 55,000 due to London Underground engineering works ....

.... The game begins England’s preparations for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which takes place in Canada, and will be the first women’s international fixture played at Wembley.

(BBC Sport)

Fifty-five thousand. Sold out. With allocation capped because of disruptions caused by public infrastructure work.

Just a reminder: Our U.S. Women’s National Team just won the CONCACAF Championship, with world-record goal scorer Abby Wambach notching a ridiculous four goals against Costa Rica, and we are supposed to be impressed by the 11,625 who showed up to watch the game in person.

If something about the previous statement seems amiss, I promise you it isn’t the statement.

Well, okay. Supposed to be impressed? Yeah, I kind of made that up. Women’s soccer in the U.S. is only supposed to be impressive if it’s a World Cup match. Or one of the players pulls off her shirt after scoring a goal. Preferably both at once, then all the guys can feel like they tuned in for a reason.

And, you know, at times like this I recall a t-shirt, of all things. One of my daughter’s classmates happened to be wearing it one day when I was at the school. It was a soccer shirt, with a silhouette female mid-plant and about to deliver a hard shot to the upper right corner of the net. The slogan read, “You only wish you could kick like a girl!”

Cool shirt. I applaud.

Then again, that’s also what it comes to.

I just don’t get it. Is a woman playing soccer not sexy enough unless she whips off her shirt? No, seriously, what is the problem here? To the one, soccer is the most popular team sport on the planet. To the other, the U.S. has some of the finest talent in the history of women’s sports. To the beeblebrox, we also have an untapped talent reserve of unimaginable size. What, exactly, is the problem here?

Fifty-five thousand will gather at Wembley to watch the English women’s team host Germany. I’m not going to knock this particular match, but come on, really? The USWNT can’t even sell out eighteen thousand tickets at PPL Park? For the freaking CONCACAF Championship?

What … is … the … problem … here?

Get your heads out. Open your eyes.

Watch … in … awe.

The U.S. Women’s National Team has a tournament next month; four matches in eleven days.

Seriously. Open your eyes and watch in awe.

Oh, right. After all that, I forgot: Congratulations, Karen Carney; we hear you’re up for your hundredth cap. Good show, madam. Indeed, great show.

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British Broadcasting Corporation. “Karen Carney: England women forging place in football market”. BBC Sport. 20 November 2014.