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NWSL

Alright, here’s the breakdown of the NSWL so far.

There are 8 teams: Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Kansas City FC, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit, and Western New York Flash.

Each team was allowed to sign three USWNT members, 2 CanWNT players, and 2 MexWNT players. The only team that was only allotted 2 U.S. Players was WNY.

The NWSL draft then added on 4 more players in four rounds to make each teams’ total 11 players (WNY the exception with 10).

The free agent signing deadline was yesterday, with each team signing 4 free agents (WNY, Washington, and Chicago 5*).  WNY was given one more FA signing because it was only given two allocated U.S. players. Chicago was originally allowed 4 until it was announced Amy LePeilbet would undergo ACL surgery and will be out for 6-8 months. Washington was also given another FA after scheduling issues of over seas leagues might conflict with the return of certain players.

The Supplemental Draft will take place on February 7th in which teams may sign 2 more international players included in the possible eight eligible for signing.

Four more Discovery Players are up for signing after the Supplemental Draft is over, bringing the total of each team to 18-20 players.

Notable absences:

Megan Rapinoe-With Lyon until June

Tobin Heath-With PSG until June

Amy Rodriguez-Pregnant and will miss entire season

Ashlyn Harris-Play rest of season with Duisburg

Yael Averbuch-Must finish contract with Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC

Christen Press-Will play with Tyreso FF

Meghan Klingenberg-Shoulder surgery and will return to Sweden

Whitney Engen-Signed with Liverpool FC

Amy LePeilbet- Will undergo ACL surgery and miss the season

Here are the teams so far:

Boston: Heather O’Reilly (US), Heather Mitts (US), Sydney Leroux (US), Adriana Leon (CAN), Rhian Wilkinson (CAN), Anisa Guajardo (MEX), Cecilia Santiago (MEX), Casey Short (Florida State), Mariah Nogueira (Standford), Jo Dragotta (Florida), Maddy Evans (Penn State), Cat Whitehill (US, FA)

Chicago: Shannon Boxx (US), Amy LePeilbet (US, Injured), Keelin Winters (US), Erin McLeod (CAN), Carmelina Moscato (CAN), Maribel Dominguez (MEX), Dinora Garza (MEX), Zakiya Bywaters (UCLA), Rachel Quon (Stanford), Taylor Vancil (Florida), Jennifer Hoy (Princeton)

Kansas: Nicole Barnhart (US), Lauren Cheney (US), Becky Sauerbrunn (US), Desiree Scott (CAN), Lauren Sesselmann (CAN), Renae Cuellar (MEX), Marylin Diaz (MEX), Kristen Mewis (Boston), Erika Tymrak (Florida), Whitney Berry (Kansas),Nia Williams (Missouri State)

Portland: Alex Morgan (US), Tobin Heath (US), Rachel Buehler (US), Christine Sinclair (CAN), Karina LeBlanc (CAN), Luz Saucedo (MEX), Marlene Sandoval (MEX), Kathryn Williamson (Florida), Nicolette Radovic (Central Florida), Amber Brooks (UNC), Roxanne Barker (Pepperdine)

Seattle: Megan Rapinoe (US), Hope Solo (US), Amy Rodriguez (US, pregnant), Kaylyn Kyle (CAN), Emily Zurrer (CAN), Jenny Ruiz (MEX), Teresa Noyola (MEX), Christine Nairn (Penn State), Mallory Schaffer (William and Mary), Kristen Meier (Wake Forest), Haley Kopmeyer (Michigan)

Sky Blue: Jill Loyden (US), Kelley O’Hara (US), Christie Rampone (US), Sophie Schmidt (CAN), Melanie Booth (CAN), Monica Ocampo (MEX), Lydia Rangel (MEX), Lindsi Lisonsbee-Cutshall (BYU), Kendall Johnson (Portland), Ashley Baker (Georgia), Rebecca Kaplan (Maryland), Brittany Bock (US, FA), Danesha Adams (US, FA), Lisa De Vanna (AUS, FA), Manya Makoski (US, FA)

Washington: Ali Krieger (US), Ashyln Harris (US), Lori Lindsey (US), Robin Gayle (CAN), Diana Matheson (CAN), Alina Garciamendez (MEX), Teresa Worbis (MEX), Tiffany McCarty (Florida State), Caroline Miller (UVA), Holly King (Florida), Colleen Williams (Dayton Flyers)

Western New York: Abby Wambach (US), Carli Lloyd (US), Sarah Huffman (US, FA), McCall Zerboni (US, FA), Samantha Kerr (AUS, FA), Brittani Taylor (US, FA), Adriana (ESP, FA), Bryanna McCarthy (CAN), Jodi-Ann Robinson (CAN), Veronica Perez (MEX), Pamela Tajonar (MEX), Adrianna French (Oklahoma State), Amy Barczuk (Colorado), Vicki DiMartino (Boston), Jaclyn Logue (Wake Forest)

Head Coaches:

Boston: Lisa Cole

Chicago: Rory Dames

Kansas: Vlatko Andonovski

Portland: Cindy Cone

Seattle: Laura Harvey

Sky Blue FC: Jim Garbarra

Washington: Mike Jorden

Western New York: Aaron Lines

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Why 2012 Was THE Year to Remember

It stung. It still was stinging. Every time I heard the sound of the ball hitting the upper left corner of the net, it sent chills down my spine. I looked down, I cringed. I couldn’t help it. There wasn’t a team that I’d rather have win if the U.S. had to lose, but that still didn’t mean it hurt any less. 2011 may have been Japan’s year, but that didn’t mean 2012 wouldn’t be ours.

Redemption, revenge, whatever you want to call it, the USWNT went into 2012 with one goal. Show the world they’re still number one. They buckled down, pressed forward, pushed themselves harder than they ever had before, and went head first in to competition making sure they did whatever it took to make it to the Olympics. 38-0. 38, that’s how many goals they scored. 0 goals, that’s how many goals they allowed in CONCACAF Qualifying.

We look at what all the achievements the USWNT had this year. Gold medal, only one loss, Volvo Cup Champions, undefeated Celebration Tour, 55 goals scored between Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan; it’s easy to forget everything the USWNT had to persevere through.

Ali Krieger tore her MCL and ACL in their first match of qualifying, they went down 2 goals against France in their opening match of London 2012, they lost against Japan early on, there were a lot of questions surrounding the backline, all this pressure was on the team heading into the Olympics. The USWNT has always had a storied program, never falling under second in the FIFA rankings. Everybody for the longest time had always assumed that they would win the gold in either the Olympics or World Cup. But several teams popped up on the radar, France, Japan, Sweden, teams that maybe didn’t always get the attention broke through and were threats. Heading into the Olympics, many people started to question if the USWNT could do it again, for the 3rd time in a row. They all hushed the critics with a 6-0 run scoring 16 goals and only allowing 6 in the Olympics.

Mia Hamm a legend of women’s soccer said it best. “True champions aren’t always the ones that win, but those with the most guts.” That’s exactly what this team had this year, not only on the field, but off. Possibly one of the most influential stories came with Megan Rapinoe. She came out to the world, knowing all eyes would be on her and her teammates in less than a month. She said, “For the record, I’m gay.” Coming out is hard when parts of society don’t fully accept it; in the sports world it’s harder. Sports are still a bit homophobic, but what Megan did was not only brave, but it changed the dynamic of women’s sports. She’s breaking down barriers, she’s proud to be who she is, and that’s something she can always hold on to. She won’t be able to play soccer forever, but she can hold onto the fact that she impacted the world. She is the reason that many young LGBTQ youth athletes are accepting of who they are. If their role model, an athlete representing her country, can come out and be proud, they can too.

2012 also was the berth of a dynamic duo that the game of soccer maybe hasn’t ever seen before. The A-Team. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan combined for 55 goals. Abby, at age 32, scored 27 goals. Alex, at age 23, scored 28. Alex also assisted 21 goals while Abby assisted 8. Both are nominated for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, and both deserve it. Abby has been such a leader on the field for the U.S. and Alex is paving her way to become one. There is just no way to stop them. You can push and pull, tackle and slide, but one way or another they’ll get by you. That’s what they showed in 2012. From the very beginning of the year, everyone sensed something special was about to happen. Did anyone expect 55 goals to come out of this duo? No, but it was simply amazing to watch.

Enjoy the journey. Christie Rampone said her New Year’s Resolution at the beginning of 2012 was to enjoy the journey up to the Olympics. Each player embraced their role and won gold together. Sometimes we get caught up in an individual person’s performance and fail to acknowledge those who played a role too. And sometimes we get so caught up in a game that we feel what those players are feeling too. It’s real, raw emotion. It’s how you can tell you’re a true fan. And that’s why I thank this team so much. That’s why I stand in their corner every day. This team is the epitome class. I am so grateful that they continue to take us on the journey with them. They don’t have to let us in on their lives, they don’t have to stay after games for hours signing autographs for thousands of adoring fans, they don’t have to do any of this. But they chose to, not because they feel the need to, like if they don’t all the fans will leave, they do because they want to. And that’s special.

After the 2011 loss, some players said they didn’t know how long it would take to move on, a devastating loss, a tournament they poured their heart into, and it looked as if they might not ever move on; until 2012 came along. We saw a fire, a spark, a light in each player, to somehow keep marching on. From the fields of Old Trafford to Hampden Park and Wembley, the USWNT left all they had on the field. Their proof, a gold medal hanging around their necks.

2012 was a year to remember. Alex Morgan made a name for herself, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe burst on the scene, and the USWNT finally redeemed themselves. Instead of hanging their heads, they worked, they practiced, they trained, they played, and they won. Thank you to every player for always making us smile, for never giving up, and most importantly, for being the epitome of sportsmanship, class, strength, and for giving us a year to remember. I know I’m looking forwards to a bright future, but if this team has taught me anything it’s to live in the moment, to never give in or give up, dream big, and to always enjoy the journey. No team has as much tribulations or obstacles as the USWNT. Then again, no team has so many players with never ending hope, determination, and perseverance. That’s not something you can coach. That’s not something you can practice. That’s a gift that you’re born with. It’s gift that few people possess. And maybe that’s something a little more valuable, a little more special, than an Olympic gold medal.    

USWNT VS. CHINA Dec. 8th, 2012

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Anthem.

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A-Rod’s 100th cap.

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Dynamic Duo.

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She was a beast this game. As the usual though.

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She had some good chances, also a extremely vocal leader. I could hear her from the 26th row up, and over 17,300 people.

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Captain America taking a free kick. The US had a lot of set pieces.

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Always fun to watch.

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Hope came up huge this game. She was on fire.

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Waiting for the throw in.

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Amy LePeilbet guarding our near post on a corner kick. Or hiding. But I’m pretty sure she was ready for anything.

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Our back line. Sorry #6, only got your legs…

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Directing the box.

 

 

Hope Solo, What Really Matters

            I’d have Hope Solo on my side any day. I’d want her protecting the goal. I’d want Hope Solo in my corner of the ring. She’s the best in the world at what she does. Her stats back it up; she has the experience under her belt. She’s been on this team for more than 10 years. A huge superstar athlete like Hope is constantly in the spotlight. There’s no avoiding it. It will find you, it will hunt you down, and with no doubt, it will not leave you alone.

            That’s the thing with Hope. She’s meant to be a role model to young girls, she’s supposed to be this picture perfect athlete who never does anything wrong. Someone with as high a celebrity status as Hope can’t always be perfect. In fact, why should she have to be? What’s her life is hers and only hers. She’s a grown up, she can do what she wants to do. On the field, she’s playing for her country. Off the field, she’s allowed to have her own life. Agree or not, she’ll do what she wants. Who are we to stop her?

            Hope Solo is married to Jerramy Stevens. No secret there anymore. It’s her life and I feel she shouldn’t have to live with the word, “controversy” constantly next to her name. By the outside world’s life, what she does is always a little bit, “controversial”. Every step she makes, every decision she chooses seems to be in constant scrutiny by someone, somewhere. They’re afraid she might be distracted from her job, bring too much negative attention to the team, and that her quality as a goalkeeper will suffer if she continues to create, “drama”.

            Let’s be honest here, she didn’t create the drama with Jerramy. The public did. We looked at him and decided, “You know what, I don’t like him. His rap sheet is longer than his stat sheet.” Be it true or not, Hope sees something in him that we don’t. Her private life is private. We don’t get many details, but when we do we judge off of those. She says they’re happy. If we’re true fans, we take those words to heart and let them be. All that matters is that the two of them are happy with each other.

            One thing I’m sure of, Hope Solo is not distracted whatsoever when she steps on the field to play for her country. I don’t understand why people think that all this controversy swarming around will distract her. If anything, it would motivate her. With her brilliant play, she tells everyone that once she’s on that field there is only one thing on her mind, a shutout. As long as she’s not letting goals in and not making errors on the field, than she’s doing her job and everyone should be focused on her play, the on the field stuff, not off the field stuff.

            I think Hope said it best, “I feel bad for those who judge with their eyes and not their hearts. Let’s not sensationalize things for the sake of “news” and call it truth.” It’s not easy to be in the spotlight constantly. It’s hard when you try to live your life, but people are always there to question. Hope deals with it a lot, and while she’s not perfect, she doesn’t need the constant judgment from the public. Controversy or not, there’s no denying she’s the best at what she does. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Looking up at the score board, and seeing a zero next to the good ol’ US of A.    

Why We Need Ali Krieger Back, Quickly

Ali Krieger has this undeniable swag that no other right back in the world possesses. The fist clenching, face covering, teeth gritting moment when she went down, hard, sticks in a lot of fans’ minds. Then there was the heart sinking moment where the news came out that Ali had sustained a torn ACL and MCL. The world’s best right back and a rock in the USWNT back line was likely out of the Olympics. “Determination”, was clearly the motto of the year for this team. Liebe, the word written on each player’s arm as they tried to move on past what had happened. As much as they played like they had forgotten, I doubt there was one time when someone didn’t say or think, “Let’s do this for Krieger.”

Ali means so much to our team. A player must exude a confidence and bravery when the world’s best forwards are coming at them. Countless times she has made incredible saves, tackles, and even services into the box. Krieger can get forward and play in the attack, but then she is quick enough to realize the oncoming danger and hustle to regain her position in the back four. When she was on the field the defense was communicating superb and playing great soccer. That’s not to say the USWNT isn’t playing great soccer now, but our defense is lacking a certain spark that comes with a player like Ali Krieger.

Amy LePeilbet has taken over right back, Kelley O’Hara is at left back, and Captain America is at center back along with either Becky Sauerbrunn or Rachel Buehler. Kelley is a converted forward gone defender; Amy LePeilbet is playing out of her normal central defender position as well. Heather Mitts is a versatile player able to play wherever she’s needed, and we found out Sydney Leroux can play right back as well.

The only issue with this is we have three players playing out of position. This goes to show how big of a gap was left after Ali was injured. The coaching staff was trying out tons of different defenses because Ali is in a word, irreplaceable. Just think that if Ali is in her normal right back position, we can have O’Hara back at attacking midfielder, LePeilbet as a center back with Rampone, Buehler, Sauerbrunn, or Mitts at left back. Once Ali is on the field, our defense will be stronger than ever, a brick wall really. If I were Hope Solo, I would be extremely confident with the four players helping me defend the goal.

Ali Krieger has never backed down from a fight. In 2005 after being short of breath, she went to the hospital. She had developed a pulmonary embolism which caused six mini heart attacks. If she had gone to sleep, doctors say she would not have woken up the next day. She’s made an incredible comeback in the minimal amount of time a normal ACL tear takes to heal. She’s worked hard and did it all without ever losing hope and always being positive.

We need Ali Krieger back. With Tom Sermanni coming in, it would be an enormous mistake to leave someone so talented off the roster. If anyone knows the game, they know Ali Krieger is as good as it comes. Determination, Liebe, and a lot of hard work goes a long way. Whether it’s on the field right next to her teammates or across the Atlantic Ocean in Germany, she’s always with the team. But it goes for a lot of fans when I say; let’s get her back where she belongs, on the field with the U.S. Women’s National Team.

FIFA Ballon d’Or

The FIFA Ballon d’Or Player of the Year could easily be seen as the most prestigious award a soccer player could receive. The USWNT has four players as nominees—Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Megan Rapinoe. Each player has had one heck of a year.

Carli Lloyd- What a tournament she had. 4 goals to her name including the 2 goals against Japan, she fought her way back from being on the bench to starting and making an impact every time she took the field. Her physical play and ability to strike the ball with pace makes her one of the most lethal midfielders in the game. Scoring both goals in the final and the go ahead goal against France gives her a good chance at the award.

Megan Rapinoe- London 2012 was the tournament of her life. She had a spark about her that we hadn’t seen before. Her first goal against Colombia was one of the best goals of the tournament. The player of the match against Canada, Rapinoe rescued her team twice from the depths of defeat. Her rare Olímpico goal and burner from 18 yards out were the best goals of her career. She played a vital part of the team’s success in the Olympics and should be in the conversation for the winner.

Alex Morgan- Without a doubt Alex has had one of the best years in USWNT history. With 24 goals to her name and tied for first in assists in 2012, she has done it all at age 23. Her London games were nothing short of inspiring, scoring the latest goal in FIFA competition history. Along with Abby Wambach they have formed the most dynamic duo in the game. Her speed and skill has made her one of the best players to grace the game. Not only can she score, but she is an assist machine, with 4 at the Olympics. Without a doubt, she will be at least in the top 3 for consideration of this award.

Abby Wambach- Abby Wambach has also had a great year. She scored in 5 consecutive games in London, tying the Olympic record. She has scored 23 goals in 2012 including the vital penalty kick against Canada. A vocal leader on the field and a role model off, the soccer world has so much respect for Abby. She is only 10 goals away from Mia Hamm’s record. The most dominant player in the air, every team that defends her says all they can do is brace for a collision. 3rd place in last year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or, this could be the year she brings it home.

My Pick: There is no doubt Alex Morgan has had a year to be remembered, but Abby Wambach has had a season nothing short of spectacular. Being only 1 goal behind Alex this year and a constant scorer in the Olympics, tying the record for continuous goals in an Olympic games (5), rest assured Alex will have her time, but I believe Abby Wambach just edges out Alex Morgan for the player of the year. Abby sets high standards for herself and the team while still playing with the grace and respect of a true athlete. She has been nominated for 2 years in a row now, and it’s finally time for Abby Wambach to take home the FIFA Ballon d’Or Women’s Player of the Year award.

Lauren Cheney, The Future

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Look up Lauren Cheney on Wikipedia and you’ll find the first sentence of her bio is, “Lauren Nicole Cheney is an American soccer player, who plays midfield playmaker position for the United States women’s national soccer team.”  That’s right, playmaker. Lauren Cheney turns 25 today, September 30, 2012. With an already astounding career including a 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal, 2011 Women’s World Cup runner up, and a 2012 London Olympics gold medal, she has plenty left in the tank before anybody even thinks about muttering the word, “retirement”.

She started on the team young, only 20 years old. Right away she was handed possibly the hardest job on the USWNT as a forward, or any player for that matter. Fill in for an injured Abby Wambach. The 20 year old had to fill in for the most prolific goal scorer since Mia Hamm, oh, and she would fill in during the Olympics, the largest sporting event ever. She was substituted in for 3 games and won gold with the team. Starting out as a substitute in ’08, now she’s starting almost every game, growing as a player in front of our eyes.

Cheney has already made a name for herself, becoming one of the most versatile players on the squad. Going into the World Cup, Cheney was a forward. Then Pia decided to try her out in the midfield role. This would have been an easier transition if it was a friendly, but this was the very first game of the USWNT’s Women’s World Cup campaign and she was playing in a position she never had before. Apparently, she didn’t mind that much because she scored the first goal in a 2-0 victory. Thus began Cheney’s role as a midfielder.

Playmaker. That’s the best word to describe Lauren Cheney. It’s her ability to change the game, to put her teammates in a position to score; she can control the flow of the game. We’ve seen it before and I’m sure we’ll see it again. When she has an extremely good game, you can tell. She has a natural ability to calm down her teammates when they’re playing sloppy, to calm down the game when it’s too rough.

But what can also be seen is her kindness and compassion on the field. She’s always the first one to come over when a player is down, regardless the team, and makes sure they’re okay. She helps her teammates up, literally and emotionally. An example that will stay in my mind forever was when Abby had just been punched in the eye against Colombia. A few minutes later she was checked from behind. It was easily seen that Abby was close to boiling over (of course she didn’t) but Cheney went over to her right after she had fallen down, and picked her up around her waist. The 5’8” 24 year old was making sure the 5’11” 32 year old knew she was there for her. That’s not something you can teach, that’s something you’re born with. This uncanny ability to step in and know when your teammate and friend needs to know you’re there for them, regardless of if they say it.

Rampone is captain now, then Wambach will be, and then Lauren Cheney. It’s almost a given that Lauren Cheney will be a future Captain America. On the team since she was 20, a 2x gold medalist and World Cup runner up, a playmaker, a USWNT midfielder, and yet she still remains one of the most genuine, kind, and caring players in the game. Lauren Cheney can be described in four words: playmaker, leader, future captain.