Women's Soccer

67YAZ

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Tough own goal there, Franch has to smother that. Don’t see how KC can back down 2.
 

67YAZ

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Congrats to Portland! An excellent squad who deserved this. And they deserve a new owner.

It will be very interesting to see what top US women do this winter. Under the new CBA, USSF no longer tops up USWNT salaries for those who stay in the NWSL. And the allocation system that spread USWNT somewhat evenly around the league is gone.

Will the young US stars without major endorsement deals get lured to the big European clubs? Lyon, Chelsea, PSG, Arsenal, and ManU each have multiple players earning more than the top NWSL stars (City did until White retired…I think they’ll be a prime contender to go NWSL shopping in January). Will Soph Smith, Mal Pugh, Rodman, etc. make the leap?

Will the more aggressive and creative clubs - Portland & OL Reign for sure, maybe a couple of the newer clubs like LA & SD - try to load up on USWNT talent? That might lead to a top-heavy squad under the salary cap, but could also be a big draw and provide an advertising bump.

Whatever happens, happy 10th anniversary to the NWSL.
 

67YAZ

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Arsenal and England striker Beth Mead blew out her ACL on Saturday. A massive loss for both squads.
 

67YAZ

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A new report commissioned by the NWSL to dig into its own past is out today. It finds widespread misconduct at more than half the clubs. This confirmed the Yates' report findings and went further, unearthing many more troubling stories across the league. Here's hoping that the reckoning is finally here.
 

InstaFace

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Good for them for seeking out and taking their own medicine and not being dragged to it, I suppose.

Can't say Jessica Berman lacks for courage in her first year in charge so far. Between this, the Washington Spirit ownership saga, the Thorns stuff, the nationally televised final, etc she's has quite the year. I guess the (impressive) labor deal was before she took over in March, and should be more credited to Lisa Baird, but there's plenty to like so far.
 

67YAZ

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Good for them for seeking out and taking their own medicine and not being dragged to it, I suppose.

Can't say Jessica Berman lacks for courage in her first year in charge so far. Between this, the Washington Spirit ownership saga, the Thorns stuff, the nationally televised final, etc she's has quite the year. I guess the (impressive) labor deal was before she took over in March, and should be more credited to Lisa Baird, but there's plenty to like so far.
Definitely agree. She has built up a lot of credibility and capital by handling League affairs well this year, which she is going to need all of for the steps ahead.

First up, they need 2 committed owners to join the league for marque franchises. It would really help if these owners have public integrity and can lead By example.
 

InstaFace

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Wow that is a huge validation of their progress and current "obviousness that this league will succeed". That money will go a long way towards needed capital investments in the rest of the league, too.

At this point they might be clearly the #2 women's sports venture of all time from a business perspective, and it took #1 (the WTA) into the late 80s or 90s to get to this same level of market validation.
 

67YAZ

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Miedema tore her ACL this weekend. Nooooo. She’s my favorite non-USWNT player. The World Cup will be much less without her.

Arsenal have now lost Beth Mead and Miedema this season. After pulverizing Lyon, Arsenal looked primed for massive things this season. But now their 2 best players are done. Very sad.
 

SocrManiac

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Miedema tore her ACL this weekend. Nooooo. She’s my favorite non-USWNT player. The World Cup will be much less without her.

Arsenal have now lost Beth Mead and Miedema this season. After pulverizing Lyon, Arsenal looked primed for massive things this season. But now their 2 best players are done. Very sad.
She should have time to recover, no?
 

Ale Xander

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Miedema tore her ACL this weekend. Nooooo. She’s my favorite non-USWNT player. The World Cup will be much less without her.

Arsenal have now lost Beth Mead and Miedema this season. After pulverizing Lyon, Arsenal looked primed for massive things this season. But now their 2 best players are done. Very sad.
Yes but the US WC chances are better without her!
 

67YAZ

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Yes but the US WC chances are better without her!
the US and NL are in the same group, the only group I would qualify as having 2 legit contenders in it. But without Miedema, the NL are not contenders any more.

Also, because of the imbalance in the women’s game, winning your group is hugely valuable. I tried to game it out a bit. If the US wins their group, they won’t hit a serious contender until the semifinals. 2nd place is a much, much tougher path. So Miedema going down is a direct benefit for the US, sad as it is.

But if the US really wanted to bump their chances to retain the trophy, they’d replace Andonovski…
 

67YAZ

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The Guardian kicked off it's annual 100 Best today, with the top group being revealed on Saturday.

I'll keep a couple of running tallies as the list gets unveiled:

Number of NWSL players: 6

Americans:
  • 93. Becky Sauerbrunn
  • 88. Mia Fishel (She's often overlooked because she turned down Orlando to play for Tigres in Mexico! Led the league in scoring as a 22yo rookie, should get a USWNT look after the WC.)
 

InstaFace

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If we're innovating in competition formats everywhere else - expanding the World Cup, adding league-on-league play for MLS vs Liga MX, tacking on a third UEFA competition because why not - I don't see why we shouldn't get more NWSL vs UEFA Womens Teams games. Lyon and the other top clubs would probably win most of the time vs NWSL teams, but I feel like the average UK Womens Super League team would absolutely boat-raced by the average NWSL team, and I wish we had some way to prove it.

What are the barriers here that I'm missing? Other than travel budgets and jet lag, I guess.
 

67YAZ

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If we're innovating in competition formats everywhere else - expanding the World Cup, adding league-on-league play for MLS vs Liga MX, tacking on a third UEFA competition because why not - I don't see why we shouldn't get more NWSL vs UEFA Womens Teams games. Lyon and the other top clubs would probably win most of the time vs NWSL teams, but I feel like the average UK Womens Super League team would absolutely boat-raced by the average NWSL team, and I wish we had some way to prove it.

What are the barriers here that I'm missing? Other than travel budgets and jet lag, I guess.
Every time you mention this, I get excited by the idea. It’s a great one that would bolster the sport even if it was once every 4 years - a cycle like WC, Olympics, Club World Cup, WC qualifying.

Winter vs summer leagues is a hurdle, but solvable of there was real intent by FIFA…meaning real sponsor money behind it.

I am really curious to see how the new USWNT and NWSL CBAs play out. I def think it will decrease parity in the NWSL and lead to more dominant clubs who are willing to pay to the cap. But I also suspect that the cap-less Euro super clubs will start pulling in more prime-age top USWNT players (Smith, Pugh, Girma). That will bring the leagues ceiling down, but the strong salaries should still help the league remain a destination for Canadian, East Asian, Central and South American plus Aussie/NZ talent.
 

InstaFace

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Yeah everything hinges on how good the NWSL marketing engine is, and whether they can keep building loyal fans and get them buying tickets and showing up. If that virtuous circle continues, NWSL can be the destination league for most of the world's best talent, perhaps excepting a few UEFA mega-clubs. Here's an exchange between me and folks on the Scuffed Discord on the subject, from back in the summer...

Shaq said:
A week or so ago, in this thread there was a discussion as to whether the Europeans were catching up to the USWNT. On this week's Shirtless Plantain Show Pod a CBS Analyst named James Benge, who is English but now lives in the states, weighed in addressing this question with a resounding "no." The talent in the women's game here is just so much deeper than other European countries it's likely that the US will remain dominant for years. Other folks on the pod also weighed in, and said it's insane that someone as good as Sydney Leroux is now, with her experience, can't get a sniff of NT ball right now.
highoctane said:
I also think the "catching up" thing being based on European countries, although they really mean England and Spain because Germany and France have been doing it for years, finally investing money in their women's club teams disregards:
1. That we have been romped by European(and Brazilian, Marta and Co. little sister'd us 4-0 in a WC semi final!) teams before. Look up how well we do against Sweden on neutral fields or against Germany in '03 at home. We have had a golden generation the last 10 years or so that was just better than everyone, that's not necessarily standard. And
2. We have only barely scratched the surface of investment in our own women's leagues, half the women's Euro players being semi-pro seems and is horrible and it's good that it's shifting but at the same time 80% of NWSL players were making like 10k-20k per year until the most recent CBA. We have a women's pro team in the US building their own stadium, that would have been laughable even in like 2019. Despite the next generation likely not being as golden I don't think the USWNT is anywhere close to their ceiling when combining investment with the huge talent pool
My reply:

We do indeed have a ton of factors that favor us keeping our hegemony for a good long while. Let us name a few:

1. First on the list has to be Title IX. How many European women's clubs are given resources equivalent to an average D-1 school soccer team? Our men's game has moved past NCAA soccer but it will be a linchpin of our advantage in the women's game for decades yet.
2. Our proportion of girls playing youth soccer is roughly 40%, 2 girls for every 3 boys. Not ideal, but still way better than most European countries! And we have 4x the population of any European nation.
3. Say what you will about the NWSL, it is standing on its own two financial feet right now, on the merits of the business deals and labor deals it can secure. How many UEFA women's leagues can say the same, without deficit financial investment from the men's clubs? Many of them put only token money into their women's team (looking at you, Liverpool). How many countries' leagues are fully professional? England, France, Sweden, and Spain became so just this year. That's it. Germany (!), Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Czechia etc are all semi-pro, with a minority of players having full professional contracts.
4. For all the sport-culture differences, the level of fan interest in NWSL in terms of attendance and viewership is much higher than the UEFA equivalents. ENG Women's Super League averages 2200 attendance per game, France ~900, Sweden ~700. NWSL 6400. Spain is coming on hard by putting games in La Liga stadiums, but we're way ahead of anyone else in this regard.


Lyon can pay better salaries right now. But not THAT much better. Here's the top 10 in France: top 4 and 7 of the 10 are Lyon, the other 3 are PSG. And those salaries range from €300k - €480k / yr, for the very best-paid women's footballers in the world.

If I look at that and I'm NWSL, I figure that my contracts for stars will get to that level in 10 years max, maybe as few as 5. And will do so at more than just 1-2 teams.

----

In other words, I like our chances to continue dominating, against just about everyone except global all-star teams like Lyon. And sooner or later, some Lyon players are going to feel like they're not getting the level of competition week-in-week-out that NWSL peers are getting. People want to compete at the highest level they can, for the biggest crowds they can, and a bigger paycheck can only persuade them otherwise just so long. And the size disparity in that paycheck may start to dwindle.
 
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67YAZ

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Yeah everything hinges on how good the NWSL marketing engine is, and whether they can keep building loyal fans and get them buying tickets and showing up. If that virtuous circle continues, NWSL can be the destination league for most of the world's best talent, perhaps excepting a few UEFA mega-clubs. Here's an exchange between me and folks on the Scuffed Discord on the subject, from back in the summer...



My reply:

We do indeed have a ton of factors that favor us keeping our hegemony for a good long while. Let us name a few:

1. First on the list has to be Title IX. How many European women's clubs are given resources equivalent to an average D-1 school soccer team? Our men's game has moved past NCAA soccer but it will be a linchpin of our advantage in the women's game for decades yet.
2. Our proportion of girls playing youth soccer is roughly 40%, 2 girls for every 3 boys. Not ideal, but still way better than most European countries! And we have 4x the population of any European nation.
3. Say what you will about the NWSL, it is standing on its own two financial feet right now, on the merits of the business deals and labor deals it can secure. How many UEFA women's leagues can say the same, without deficit financial investment from the men's clubs? Many of them put only token money into their women's team (looking at you, Liverpool). How many countries' leagues are fully professional? England, France, Sweden, and Spain became so just this year. That's it. Germany (!), Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Czechia etc are all semi-pro, with a minority of players having full professional contracts.
4. For all the sport-culture differences, the level of fan interest in NWSL in terms of attendance and viewership is much higher than the UEFA equivalents. ENG Women's Super League averages 2200 attendance per game, France ~900, Sweden ~700. NWSL 6400. Spain is coming on hard by putting games in La Liga stadiums, but we're way ahead of anyone else in this regard.


Lyon can pay better salaries right now. But not THAT much better. Here's the top 10 in France: top 4 and 7 of the 10 are Lyon, the other 3 are PSG. And those salaries range from €300k - €480k / yr, for the very best-paid women's footballers in the world.

If I look at that and I'm NWSL, I figure that my contracts for stars will get to that level in 10 years max, maybe as few as 5. And will do so at more than just 1-2 teams.

----

In other words, I like our chances to continue dominating, against just about everyone except global all-star teams like Lyon. And sooner or later, some Lyon players are going to feel like they're not getting the level of competition week-in-week-out that NWSL peers are getting. People want to compete at the highest level they can, for the biggest crowds they can, and a bigger paycheck can only persuade them otherwise just so long. And the size disparity in that paycheck may start to dwindle.
Re: Depth of talent in the league - Already in the Guardians' rankings for players 71-100, the NWSL has 6 (20%) of the talent, more than any other league. I'm eager to keep the running tally to get an overall sense, then maybe parse it by quartiles just to see if there is a tapering off at the top tier.

re: Salaries - the case that sticks out to me was Sam Kerr. Chicago had a max salary limit of $50k for non-USMNT players, but could allocate an extra $300k to players beyond the salary cap. So in theory, Chicago could have gone to $350k for Kerr. But Chelsea offered £400k in year 1 with escalators. So agree, the handful of mega-clubs can still gazump the NWSL for the elite talent, which isn't so bad as the global talent pool continues to deepen and improve. But it does hurt the marketing a bit if you can't keep the global stars.

re: Level of competition - the UCL is really great, but it's a small tournament of 16 teams and only 3 knockout rounds. Your idea for a robust intercontinental club cup would do so much for both sides of the Atlantic.
 
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InstaFace

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Well, while we wait... Here's an ESPN top 50 list from this summer.

#s 1-20: 1 NWSL (Lavelle) and 2 USWNT (Lavelle, Macario).
#s 21-50: 4 NWSL (13%), 4 USWNT (13%). Horan (OL) for USWNT outside of NWSL, and Sinclair for NWSL-but-not-USA, plus Rodman, Morgan and S. Mewis.

The list contains 6 players on Arsenal, 9 players on Lyon (including Horan and Macario), 9 from Barcelona (including #1 Putellas of course), 7 from Chelsea, and 4 from PSG. That's 35 of the 50, on those 5 clubs. Now, I'm not saying the NWSL would win more than it lost against those 5 clubs, but I think that severely overrates the world-class-talent concentration on that handful of teams. And brutally underrates the level in the NWSL. And we all deserve to see it put to the test.

And the Guardian's 2021 Top 100 from this time last year, offers:

Barcelona: 13 (including, absurdly, 6 of the top 10. They're saying even Barca's non-starters are in the top 100 in the world!)
PSG: 10
Lyon: 10 (including Macario at #87)
Arsenal: 9 (including Heath, and #2 Miedema)
Chelsea: 9 (including #s 3, 5 and 7)
Bayern: 8
Man City: 6

Wolfsburg: 3
Juventus: 3
Real Madrid: 2
Atleti: 2

NWSL: 20 (Sinclair 18, S. Mewis 20, Debinha 27, Lavelle 30, Horan 35, Le Sommer 37, Fishlock 43, Marozsan 46, Rapinoe 52, Dunn 53, Marta 57, Press 58, Lloyd 71, Hatch 82, Sauerbrunn 84, Daly 90, Purce 92, Ertz 93, Rodman 95, Pugh 97). Of which:
OL Reign: 5
Portland: 4
NC Courage: 2
Gotham: 2
Chicago: 2
Washington: 2
1x: Houston, Orlando, Angel City

I'm just saying, there ain't much on the field to prove out all that Eurocentrism.
 

67YAZ

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The Guardian kicked off it's annual 100 Best today, with the top group being revealed on Saturday.

I'll keep a couple of running tallies as the list gets unveiled:

Number of NWSL players: 6

Americans:
  • 93. Becky Sauerbrunn
  • 88. Mia Fishel (She's often overlooked because she turned down Orlando to play for Tigres in Mexico! Led the league in scoring as a 22yo rookie, should get a USWNT look after the WC.)
Updated for 11-100

Number of NWSL players: 14

Americans:
  • 93. Becky Sauerbrunn
  • 88. Mia Fishel (She's often overlooked because she turned down Orlando to play for Tigres in Mexico! Led the league in scoring as a 22yo rookie, should get a USWNT look after the WC.)
  • 70. Megan Rapinoe
  • 66. Naomi Girma
  • 47. Trinity Rodman
  • 36. Mal Pugh
  • 33. Rose Lavelle
  • 29. Lindsey Horan
  • 21. Soph Smith (1st time on the list, got 3 votes for #1 overall)
  • 18. Alex Morgan
  • 16. Cat Macario (despite an ACL tear)
 

InstaFace

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Buncha people underrating Julie Ertz. She gave birth in August, we could very well see her back to 100% in time for the WWC if she's training as hard as Crystal Dunn did to get back. Anyway, I doubt she's in the top-10, so absent that it means she fell off the radar of elite global football entirely, and I hope she uses that disrespect as motivation, because she's just about my favorite women's-soccer player. And she's also still paid like a top-10 player in the world ($430k).

Sophia Smith getting 3 votes for #1 is fun, I'm not sure I'd vote for her and it's obvious those are American-homer voters, but I can also see what they see. She jumps off the screen at you when watching, just moves differently than most everyone else. Rodman has some of that in her, too. I do think if you were drafting a team from scratch, you'd pick Macario (a super-technical #10) over Smith.

Rapinoe still being at #70 when she lacks the fitness to even start matches at a competitive international level, feels a bit like a lifetime-achievement award. She played the full 90 for the Reign exactly 3 times in 2022 (the first in August), starting a majority of matches nevertheless but also being the first one substituted. And she's a traffic cone out there in defense, just doesn't have the speed anymore even if she still has the ball-playing skills.


...Anyway, here's a fun article about the origins of women's soccer here in the US:

https://theathletic.com/3457534/2022/07/28/womens-soccer-craig-league-st-louis/?amp=1
 

67YAZ

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Buncha people underrating Julie Ertz. She gave birth in August, we could very well see her back to 100% in time for the WWC if she's training as hard as Crystal Dunn did to get back. Anyway, I doubt she's in the top-10, so absent that it means she fell off the radar of elite global football entirely, and I hope she uses that disrespect as motivation, because she's just about my favorite women's-soccer player. And she's also still paid like a top-10 player in the world ($430k).

Sophia Smith getting 3 votes for #1 is fun, I'm not sure I'd vote for her and it's obvious those are American-homer voters, but I can also see what they see. She jumps off the screen at you when watching, just moves differently than most everyone else. Rodman has some of that in her, too. I do think if you were drafting a team from scratch, you'd pick Macario (a super-technical #10) over Smith.

Rapinoe still being at #70 when she lacks the fitness to even start matches at a competitive international level, feels a bit like a lifetime-achievement award. She played the full 90 for the Reign exactly 3 times in 2022 (the first in August), starting a majority of matches nevertheless but also being the first one substituted. And she's a traffic cone out there in defense, just doesn't have the speed anymore even if she still has the ball-playing skills.


...Anyway, here's a fun article about the origins of women's soccer here in the US:

https://theathletic.com/3457534/2022/07/28/womens-soccer-craig-league-st-louis/?amp=1
I’ve been saying for a couple windows now that the US has an Ertz-size hole at the base of the midfield. I think a big chunk of our WC hopes rely on her coming back fit enough to play a world class DM. Ertz doesn’t have to play at her 2019 single-handedly-destroying-the-opposition level, but she needs to provide the backstop what will allow Lavelle & Horan to play fluidly at the 8.

I have the highest of hope for Rodman. She was physically dominant from the youngest ages that she never needed to develop the polish world class players have, but you can see it coming along. I also think she works best as a 9, which will make her fit with Smith a good problem for the next cycle.

Agree on Pino. England, Spain, and Germany each sent right at her…actually, right past her during the last 2 windows. She can’ start against high level competition anymore. Her role now is leadership and a creative attacking sub. I hope Andonovski see that.

cool story!
 

67YAZ

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Updated for 11-100

Number of NWSL players: 14

Americans:
  • 93. Becky Sauerbrunn
  • 88. Mia Fishel (She's often overlooked because she turned down Orlando to play for Tigres in Mexico! Led the league in scoring as a 22yo rookie, should get a USWNT look after the WC.)
  • 70. Megan Rapinoe
  • 66. Naomi Girma
  • 47. Trinity Rodman
  • 36. Mal Pugh
  • 33. Rose Lavelle
  • 29. Lindsey Horan
  • 21. Soph Smith (1st time on the list, got 3 votes for #1 overall)
  • 18. Alex Morgan
  • 16. Cat Macario (despite an ACL tear)
Final Tally:

Number of NWSL players: 14

11 Americans. Only Germany with 14 and England with 13 had more:
  • 93. Becky Sauerbrunn
  • 88. Mia Fishel (She's often overlooked because she turned down Orlando to play for Tigres in Mexico! Led the league in scoring as a 22yo rookie, should get a USWNT look after the WC.)
  • 70. Megan Rapinoe
  • 66. Naomi Girma
  • 47. Trinity Rodman
  • 36. Mal Pugh
  • 33. Rose Lavelle
  • 29. Lindsey Horan
  • 21. Soph Smith (1st time on the list, got 3 votes for #1 overall)
  • 18. Alex Morgan
  • 16. Cat Macario (despite an ACL tear)
 

InstaFace

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That is hilariously eurocentric. The Guardian would like all of you - and especially the entire USWNT - to know that there are 5 players on Barcelona, 3 players at Arsenal and 2 at each of Chelsea, Lyon and Wolfsburg who are all better than any American player.

Let's check out the judges!

Players:
- 12 UEFA internationals, mostly France and Germany, some nordics
- 1 African (Doreen Nabwire) who played in Netherlands and Germany
- 3 Americans, 2 of whom (G. Lewandowski, Ella Masar) played mostly in Germany and other UEFA stops
- 4x others, 1 each from Brazil, Mexico (played NWSL), Australia and New Zealand

So of 20 players, it's 10% NWSL, 75% UEFA, 15% Other.

Coaches (incl youth & assistant):
- 22 UEFA club coaches (Abriel, Arroyo, Cabral, Eidevall, Giraldez, Jacobsen, Jeglertz, Kulig, Masaryk, Merk, Miquel, Montemurro, Panico, Pry, De Rooij, Sargeant, Slegers, Sorensen, Spugna, Straus, Wedeborg, Vilahamn)
- 10 UEFA international managers (Cortes / UA, Del Rio / ES, Fuhrmann / AT, Gerhardsson / SE, Haraldsson / IS, Patalon / PL, Pedersen / DK, Signeul / FI, Sondegaard / DK, Terp / FO)
- 5 NWSL club coaches (Amoros, Coombe, Gunney, Salem, Yanez)
- 4 International managers in the Americas (Antonovski / US, Letelier / CH, Lopez / MX, Priestman / CA)
- 8 International managers elsewhere (Bell / SK, Blayney / AU, Booysen / SS, Demaine / PNG, Rogers / VN, Ross / SK, Stajcic / PH, Waldrum / NG)
- 3 Americas club coaches (Grahm / Tigres, Martinez / Juarez, Silveira / Santos)
- 3 Club coaches elsewhere (Ishihara, Smith, Ting)

Out of 55 coaches, it's 58% UEFA, 22% Americas (incl 9% NWSL), 20% Other.

Sportswriters:

- 24 UEFA (Arvind, Astill, Balland, Becker, Dalmat, Degen, Doeker, Eriksson, Ibaceta, Laverty, Lawson, Lia, van Lieshout, Menayo, Munch*, Paulos, Postma, Ruszkai, Tokas, Tokarska, Urbaniak, op het Veld, Wrack, Zaza)
- 4 USA (Kriger, Newman, Swanick, Wahl [RIP])
- 8 Americas (Arrau / CH, Johal / CA, Johnson / CA, Osorio / CH, Prusina / CA, Sacher / AR, Soares / BR, Viana / BR)
- 8 Elsewhere (Abdullah / UAE, Ahmadu / NG, Bishop / JP, Buratti / AU, Cootes / AU, Downes / AU, Wanjeri / pan-Africa, Ali / GH)

Out of 44 writers, 55% UEFA, 9% USA, 18% Americas, 18% Elsewhere.

* not Detective; the one thing he's not in

Total by Primary Affiliation:

UEFA: 71 (60%)
USA: 12 (10%)
Americas: 15 (13%)
Other: 21 (18%), of which 6 Africa, 15 Asia / middle east
(total 119)

Gee, I just can't imagine why the list would so severely underrate US players and overrate players on UWCL clubs, some of which would get whupped by the average NWSL club nevermind the best ones (looking at you, Wolfsburg)! Surely it has nothing to do with UEFA-based players, coaches and sportswriters being represented at 6x the rate of those in the USA.

Edit: Against all common sense I went and read the comments on the Guardian article, and this one nicely sums it up:

"Not taking the bait this year. Last year the US team got blanked in the Top 20 spots despite cruising to a second [consecutive] World Cup title. This is what happens when the rest of the world judges these things fairly, but the Europeans only credit what happens in Europe.​
For the record, all the major football titles are now held by the Americas:​
Men's World Cup: Argentina​
Women's World Cup: United States​
Men's Olympic Gold: Brazil​
Women's Olympic Gold: Canada​
All the titles are over here, so you can keep your silly lists."​

No lies detected.
 
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67YAZ

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That is hilariously eurocentric. The Guardian would like all of you - and especially the entire USWNT - to know that there are 5 players on Barcelona, 3 players at Arsenal and 2 at each of Chelsea, Lyon and Wolfsburg who are all better than any American player.

Let's check out the judges!

Players:
- 12 UEFA internationals, mostly France and Germany, some nordics
- 1 African (Doreen Nabwire) who played in Netherlands and Germany
- 3 Americans, 2 of whom (G. Lewandowski, Ella Masar) played mostly in Germany and other UEFA stops
- 4x others, 1 each from Brazil, Mexico (played NWSL), Australia and New Zealand

So of 20 players, it's 10% NWSL, 75% UEFA, 15% Other.

Coaches (incl youth & assistant):
- 22 UEFA club coaches (Abriel, Arroyo, Cabral, Eidevall, Giraldez, Jacobsen, Jeglertz, Kulig, Masaryk, Merk, Miquel, Montemurro, Panico, Pry, De Rooij, Sargeant, Slegers, Sorensen, Spugna, Straus, Wedeborg, Vilahamn)
- 10 UEFA international managers (Cortes / UA, Del Rio / ES, Fuhrmann / AT, Gerhardsson / SE, Haraldsson / IS, Patalon / PL, Pedersen / DK, Signeul / FI, Sondegaard / DK, Terp / FO)
- 5 NWSL club coaches (Amoros, Coombe, Gunney, Salem, Yanez)
- 4 International managers in the Americas (Antonovski / US, Letelier / CH, Lopez / MX, Priestman / CA)
- 8 International managers elsewhere (Bell / SK, Blayney / AU, Booysen / SS, Demaine / PNG, Rogers / VN, Ross / SK, Stajcic / PH, Waldrum / NG)
- 3 Americas club coaches (Grahm / Tigres, Martinez / Juarez, Silveira / Santos)
- 3 Club coaches elsewhere (Ishihara, Smith, Ting)

Out of 55 coaches, it's 58% UEFA, 22% Americas (incl 9% NWSL), 20% Other.

Sportswriters:

- 24 UEFA (Arvind, Astill, Balland, Becker, Dalmat, Degen, Doeker, Eriksson, Ibaceta, Laverty, Lawson, Lia, van Lieshout, Menayo, Munch*, Paulos, Postma, Ruszkai, Tokas, Tokarska, Urbaniak, op het Veld, Wrack, Zaza)
- 4 USA (Kriger, Newman, Swanick, Wahl [RIP])
- 8 Americas (Arrau / CH, Johal / CA, Johnson / CA, Osorio / CH, Prusina / CA, Sacher / AR, Soares / BR, Viana / BR)
- 8 Elsewhere (Abdullah / UAE, Ahmadu / NG, Bishop / JP, Buratti / AU, Cootes / AU, Downes / AU, Wanjeri / pan-Africa, Ali / GH)

Out of 44 writers, 55% UEFA, 9% USA, 18% Americas, 18% Elsewhere.

* not Detective; the one thing he's not in

Total by Primary Affiliation:

UEFA: 71 (60%)
USA: 12 (10%)
Americas: 15 (13%)
Other: 21 (18%), of which 6 Africa, 15 Asia / middle east
(total 119)

Gee, I just can't imagine why the list would so severely underrate US players and overrate players on UWCL clubs, some of which would get whupped by the average NWSL club nevermind the best ones (looking at you, Wolfsburg)! Surely it has nothing to do with UEFA-based players, coaches and sportswriters being represented at 6x the rate of those in the USA.

Edit: Against all common sense I went and read the comments on the Guardian article, and this one nicely sums it up:

"Not taking the bait this year. Last year the US team got blanked in the Top 20 spots despite cruising to a second [consecutive] World Cup title. This is what happens when the rest of the world judges these things fairly, but the Europeans only credit what happens in Europe.​
For the record, all the major football titles are now held by the Americas:​
Men's World Cup: Argentina​
Women's World Cup: United States​
Men's Olympic Gold: Brazil​
Women's Olympic Gold: Canada​
All the titles are over here, so you can keep your silly lists."​

No lies detected.
Thanks for doing that. I was going to dig in more last night, but all this shit wasn’t going to wrap itself.

My missing Americans from the top 100: Franch, Murphy, DUNN, Huerta, Cook, Coffey, Hatch, Thompson, K Mewis, Purce, Williams…ERTZ.

These voters really seem to punish players who take maternity leave. Putellas tore her ACL 6 months ago. I’m fine with her staying at #1 - she is the best. Macario stayed top 20 despite tearing her ACL in April. But Ertz have birth in May & Dunn came back from her leave just this fall. How did they fall out of the 100 altogether? I don’t really see how you can distinguish between these situations.
 

InstaFace

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The Kerr stans in the comments really make quite a case for her to be #1. She's been the best player in the league everywhere she's gone and has shone in international competitions and, more to the point, had a much better 2022 than Putellas did.

The question isn't whether you would draft her first if you were starting a team from scratch, but rather, who is playing the best in 2022? Seems hard to keep Putellas up there, especially (as you note) if voters dock players for maternity leave. So having a baby changes your performance level, but not popping an ACL? OK guys.
 

InstaFace

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Jessica Berman continues cleaning the Augean Stables she inherited, banning 4 coaches for life:

https://www.espn.com/soccer/united-states-nwsl/story/4848794/four-nwsl-coaches-get-lifetime-ban-after-sexual-harassment-investigation

Two more got 2-year bans. Various others must complete training and "demonstrate a commitment to changing behavior" (standards unspecified in the articles), one of whom (Vera Pauw) is currently Ireland's coach.

In a particularly clever move, 7-figure fines were imposed on the Chicago Red Stars and the Portland Thorns. Because those are both in the process of being sold, this has the effect of adding an additional liability on the books which will take some of the money those selling owners would've been expected to clear and sending it to the league, without any lasting impact on the new owners. Had any sales gone through, of course, that would've been on the new owner's shoulders.

Far from pushing me away from interest in the league, this actually makes me more interested to follow it, because I know that however bad it is here, it's gotta be much, much worse in other women's leagues. None of the other women's pro leagues have the financial resources of the NWSL, and all of them are probably just hiding from it the way the NWSL did for years. I don't for a minute believe that Spain's or France's leagues are freer from sexism, harassment and toxic workplace environments (although if you told me that about Sweden's, I might believe you, but they're just about the most feminist country on earth)... I just think they haven't confronted the skeletons in their own closet yet.
 

67YAZ

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Jessica Berman continues cleaning the Augean Stables she inherited, banning 4 coaches for life:

https://www.espn.com/soccer/united-states-nwsl/story/4848794/four-nwsl-coaches-get-lifetime-ban-after-sexual-harassment-investigation

Two more got 2-year bans. Various others must complete training and "demonstrate a commitment to changing behavior" (standards unspecified in the articles), one of whom (Vera Pauw) is currently Ireland's coach.

In a particularly clever move, 7-figure fines were imposed on the Chicago Red Stars and the Portland Thorns. Because those are both in the process of being sold, this has the effect of adding an additional liability on the books which will take some of the money those selling owners would've been expected to clear and sending it to the league, without any lasting impact on the new owners. Had any sales gone through, of course, that would've been on the new owner's shoulders.

Far from pushing me away from interest in the league, this actually makes me more interested to follow it, because I know that however bad it is here, it's gotta be much, much worse in other women's leagues. None of the other women's pro leagues have the financial resources of the NWSL, and all of them are probably just hiding from it the way the NWSL did for years. I don't for a minute believe that Spain's or France's leagues are freer from sexism, harassment and toxic workplace environments (although if you told me that about Sweden's, I might believe you, but they're just about the most feminist country on earth)... I just think they haven't confronted the skeletons in their own closet yet.
That’s all good news and hopefully jump starts the sales process for Portland and Chicago. That uncertainty is out of the way, and as you note, new ownership can start with a clean slate.

Chicago promoted Michelle Lomnicki from associate GM to GM today. She is a former Red Star and has worked her up through the organization since retiring in 2015.

This will be a key hire because the CBA dramatically changes the player recruitment landscape. The smart clubs will be the first to find advantageous angles and loopholes, and while the rest of the league will soon follow, it could mean a significant talent drain for the slow adapters.

Priority #1 is holding on to Mal Pugh…er, Swanson. Maybe her husband signing with the Cubs will keep her in Chicago, but I predict the new CBA will see more of the very top US players head to the European mega clubs. They can offer much higher salary. But NWSL clubs may be able to compensate by connecting their stars to advertising and image rights opportunities as homegrown stars that playing in Europe won’t offer. Like, can they can get Soph Smith in a Chipotle ad like Julie Ertz was? Can Mal Swanson get hooked up with Chicago-based McDonalds? That will tip the financial scales back.
 
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67YAZ

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The NWSL draft was yesterday. The big news is that 18yo Alyssa Thompson, who got her first cap late in the match against England, was selected #1 by Angel City. The LA club swung a complicated deal to get from #5 to #1 for Thompson:

Angel City sent its natural first-round pick, the No. 5 overall selection; its second-round natural pick in 2024; and $200,000 in allocation money to Portland for midfielder Yazmeen Ryan, Angel City announced. The team then sent Ryan and an additional $250,000 in allocation money to Gotham FC for the top pick in the Jan. 12 draft. The trade was made official Thursday.
$450k to acquire a player in the NWSL is crazy. I can't find a definitive answer, but this is probably the largest cash outlay as part of an intraleague acquisition and certainly the biggest for a draftee.

But Thompson looks 100% worth the gamble. She's from the LA area, so she has the potential to be a true hometown superstar.
 

InstaFace

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Salary cap also bumped up 25% to $1.4M, and allocation money up to $600k.

https://www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/nwsl-commissioner-jessica-berman-talks-next-steps-for-league-salary-cap-building-brand-and-more/

They're also going to let their CBS television deal, for $1.5M / year over 3 years, expire, and talk to the broader market. Which seems like the correct play.

https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Daily/Closing-Bell/2023/01/12/nwsl-media-rights-CBS-window-lapses.aspx

Also planning to add two teams for 2024, I know contenders have been rumored but I hope the Boston Breakers resurface.
 

Ale Xander

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Sweet. Where is Boston expected to play? Harvard like last time, or BU, or Fenway, or Gillette?

I'm thinking Fenway since Linda P.H. is on the Epstein bid team.
 

Van Everyman

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We used to buy a season package for the Boston Breakers. I was really bummed when they folded. But Harvard was unfortunately a shitshow, the parking situation made leaving take an extra 90 minutes, which is awful when you don’t have little kids. Untenable when you do.

On the merits, women’s soccer should be hugely popular and Boston should be a big spot for it. I really want it to be so.
 

InstaFace

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$50M expansion fee? That's nuts, in a good way. I mean, it sure will help shore up the finances of any club that might be a little shaky, but talk about resetting the market - Angel City paid $5M, 3 years ago.

Let's do a little league benchmarking, for a sec. Leave aside the potential for parent-club deficit spending, or any questions about media deals. Let's just look at butts in seats at the world's fully-professional women's football leagues. FBRef can helpfully give us some rough numbers from the last 3 league years:

(most recent season last, and leaving out pandemic seasons with no attendance, so most of these start with 2019-20)

USA (NWSL): 7,389 -> 5,155 -> 7,917
ENG (WSL): 3,014 -> 1,926 -> 6,677
GER (FBL): 644 -> 711 -> 2,635
MEX (LMF): 2,224 -> 1,744 -> 2,005
AUS (ALW): (no data) -> 1,198 -> 1,380
SWE (DAS): 856 (2019) -> 713 (2021) -> 823 (2022)
FRA (D1F): 1,051 -> 664 -> 772

- All UEFA numbers include UWCL attendance in the averages, which for big clubs is often several times more than league matches; it often does not have data from domestic cups, but whatever
- England recovered from the pandemic lull, and numbers have surged this year with the playing of a lot of games at the parent clubs' big stadiums. Arsenal (leading with 24k average attendance!) has played over half its matches at the Emirates. One source had 3,314 for 2019-20 figures.
- Spain only went fully professional this season. Attendance data is only available for UWCL matches, I can't find any for Liga F (the new name) or Primera Division Feminina (the previous name).
- Italy likewise is trying to go professional this season, by removing the salary cap; whether teams are fielding full rosters of paid professionals is less clear.
- Germany is still not fully professional, although Wolfsburg, Bayern etc are. The big jumps for this season are across the board; unclear if the TV deal is driving it, or if the fan interest (from being runner-up at the Euros last summer) drove both attendance and the TV deal.
- For Brazil (semi-professional) it's hard to tell, Serie A1 Feminino playoff games averaged like 1k for the first round, except for Internacional and Corinthians which managed steadily increasing 10k+ numbers, and the two legs of the Final had 36k and 41k (more than double Mexico's equivalent, the Liguilla).


Anyway, I'd say there's two encouraging things to see here:

1) Even if England is continuing to manage things responsibly and make use of their best assets (particularly, a rabid club fanbase and huge stadiums), NWSL still is well ahead of them by most important metrics, and they're both lightyears ahead of whatever league is in 3rd place.

2) The pro game is growing rapidly, and there are way more opportunities to draw a pro salary (even if it's not very high yet) playing women's soccer than there were even a few years ago.
 
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Titans Bastard

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Sweet. Where is Boston expected to play? Harvard like last time, or BU, or Fenway, or Gillette?

I'm thinking Fenway since Linda P.H. is on the Epstein bid team.
They don't know yet, which presumably is why Utah and San Francisco are entering in 2024 and Boston is entering at some point later.

Publicly, all parties have discussed renovating White Stadium in Roxbury as a possibility, but that hardly seems like a done deal:

Both Epstein and Wu emphasized no agreement has been reached on where the prospective team would play, but White Stadium in Franklin Park appears to be the leading candidate. Wu mentioned East Boston’s Memorial Stadium as well.

Wu said the city has not discussed using any funding or putting in resources to join the private equity bid, and has only begun to think about how to find the resources to restore and renovate White Stadium, which is under the jurisdiction of Boston Public Schools.

“We would only move forward with an arrangement that protected and enhanced BPS athletics, their ability to access facilities and expand their reach,” said Wu. “We have primarily been engaged in what this could mean for our students and community members, depending on which venues might be used.”

Said Epstein: “White [Stadium] does fit many of the goals of the city to have a public-private partnership and enhance that facility. It achieves many of the goals of both the city and the Boston Public Schools, it’s the right size and space and we’re very excited by its location and investing in that particular area of Boston.”
The parking situation for White Stadium surely would be very difficult, especially if there were ever any daytime games that overlapped with when the Franklin Park Zoo is open.
 

Humphrey

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Fenway would be a challenge for a soccer team whose season is more or less concurrent with the baseball season. The infield and, even more so, the pitching mound; are a challenge. On the positive side, more than enough seating; even excluding all the bad-angled ones.

Maybe this will rekindle building a soccer stadium in the city or inner suburbs.
 

67YAZ

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These fees are crazy. And great for the league! That’s like 16x in 3 years based on Angel City’s buy in.

I wonder how this affects the Thorns & Red Stars sales. Both owners are under pressure to sell, but will undoubtably want to reap the profits of being early in a league that is blowing up. I’m sure it also affects the buyers as they try to assess club values and line up financing.

Really, I just want new, responsible ownership in Chicago as fast as possible.