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Your Curated Guide to Women's Sports

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, AP Women's Soccer
Twitter: @AnnieMPeterson

 
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, High Post Hoops
Twitter: @HowardMegdal

  
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, NWHL Broadcaster
Twitter: @ELindsay08
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What we missed in woso—Julie Foudy interview—must-click woso links

 
Happy New Year Everyone! After a two-week holiday break, Soccer Mondays is back. To start the new year, I’d love to start a dialogue. If you have any suggestions or links you’d like me to include, please reach out! Or if you think I suck, go ahead and let me know that too. I’m always looking to improve/expand what I’m doing, both for The IX and for AP. I’m available at apeterson@ap.org.  

So this will kind of be a catch-up post, with a few things happening across the women’s soccer landscape.

First off, the U.S. team begins its World Cup year with camp in Portugal. I was hoping to go to camp until it was decided to hold it in Portugal. As I look out on my ice-covered patio, I kind of wish I was able to go. Sigh.

Couple of items from the roster: First off, it appears that the team is fully healthy heading into the year, which is a good thing.

No Allie Long. I honestly don’t know for sure whether this means she’s on the outside looking in, or if Jill Ellis is still looking at her options — The Equalizer reported the latter. Options include McCall Zerboni, who has returned from an injury. Morgan Brian is also working her way back to the team and then there’s Danielle Colaprico, too. I’m personally and perpetually excited about the prospect of Zerboni. And if you want some inspiration, look no further than her Instagram post a few days ago. 

And a little news from this morning. Midfielder Andi Sullivan was added to the roster, bringing the number to 27.

No word yet from Tierna Davidson — currently with the USWNT — on whether she’s going pro with a year of eligibility left. She was not on the NWSL’s original list of declared players late last month. The rules allow players to declare up until 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. So we’ll see. Dan Lauletta tweeted that he’s hearing that UCLA’s Hailie Mace has declared.

A couple of player moves: Vero Boquete signs with the Utah Royals, becoming the only NWSL player with a stadium named after her. She played for the Portland Thorns in 2014. And Nadia Nadim is NOT coming back to the Thorns, and has instead signed with PSG.

Unless you live in a cave, there were rumors that the Thorns were bringing back a former player, spurred by Merritt Paulson’s Twitter. So cross Vero and Nadia off that list. It might be that the Thorns made a play for either/both and the deals were scuttled for whatever reason. And honestly, I may have missed something because I was pretty much in a cave (I was at a retreat) over the holidays. Paulson isn’t on Twitter anymore so we have no idea what the skinny is. I miss Merritt.

We’re on to the NWSL draft this week. I expect things to get interesting on Wednesday. Buckle up and welcome to the new year, a World Cup year. Should be fun.  
 

This Week in Women's Soccer


Kevin Baxter from the LA Times on the USWNT opening camp. 

PRI weighs in on the Afghanistan national team abuse scandal.

Really interesting story from Reuters on Maha Jannoud, a former Syrian national team player, who is now coaching a men's team.

The wonderful Jonathan Tannenwald with a story on Carli Lloyd about her adjustment to the bench.

I've been interested in the situation in Iran with female fans of both volleyball and soccer for some time. The Hill weighs is with this piece. Both the FIVB and FIFA need to simply stop scheduling matches there until all are welcome. It's that simple. (Oh and just ignore the click-baity headline. It is the Hill, afterall).

Handy roundup from the Guardian aboyt happenings in the Women's Super League this week

Former Orlando City player Erik Ustruck is GM of the Pride. He'll rep the Pride in the draft. Still no coach.  

Stephanie Yang tackles the heady topic of what the NWSL needs to tackle going forward, for The Athletic.

The Equalizer didn't take time off for the holidays, so you (and I) should catch up here, as usual. 

 

Tweet of the week!


Five at The IX: Julie Foudy

I spoke to Julie Foudy about a variety of things recently, but one was her involvement in an Allstate program to bring four teams of high school standouts to next year's Major League Soccer All-Star game in Orlando. Foudy will coach a team of girls that will play against another team coached by Brandi Chastain. The idea -- and it's a good one -- is to showcase high school talent. While there are lots of these types of events for high school football and basketball players, it's nice to see one for soccer. Foudy weighed in on how she doesn't like how kids are asked to choose between high school teams and development teams. As an aside, re-upping this piece Foudy did before the World Cup draw: It's here, and it's good. 

ANNIE: How did you get involved?
JULIE: When they said that they wanted to have an inaugural Allstate All-America Cup, I said `Where do I sign up?’ Because I’m such a huge fan of high school soccer and I’ve always been bothered a little bit by the fact that kids now days are told they have to make a decision when it comes to high school sports, and playing for development academy teams. So when they said they wanted to shine a spotlight on these kids playing around the country in high school -- and I get to trash-talk Brandi Chastain -- any opportunity to do that, I’ll say yes. And it’s really cool, they announced 75 boys and 75 girls and another 100 or so will be added. They’ll whittle it down to 40 boys and 40 girls, 20 for me and 20 for Brandi, and we get to hang out with them for MLS All-Star Week. So I just love the opportunity, first to spend time with them and second to honor and celebrate them.

ANNIE: Do you know how it will work? Will you get to Skype with them or get to know them?
JULIE: We’re going to do weekly practices where we fly them all into California. No, just kidding. Don’t tell Brandi, but when I sent videos out to the kids congratulating them I said. `You want to play for Team Foudy. Don’t let that Brandi talk you into anything different.’ I have been pushing them all my way. I’m sure Allstate will have a say in it, but I’m doing my best to influence that. (Laughs).

ANNIE: You have a leadership academy, too. Why is working with kids important to you?
JULIE: The reason we started that (the leadership academy), we felt ll the conversations around sports were how to become a better athlete. To me the gift of sports is how do you become a better human being and a better person in the community? So the leadership academy really addresses both of those: Unlocking leadership potential, which I’ve always believed is personal, not positional. Everyone has it. So for a young girl, and she’s obviously hearing about it from her parents and teachers, but for her to see different examples of leadership and to understand it comes in all different shapes and sizes, and what is your own style? It’s something that is often transformational for girls at that age. The power of that, I’ve seen it and lived it for 13 years of the leadership academy, where parents and kids who are alumni and have been working at Amazon or Google or wherever, will come back and say `That week changed my life.’ To know that you can have that kind of impact in such a short period of time is what keeps drawing me back. We’ll get to do that in Orlando. I told Allstate I want to do some leadership development with the kids, I want to talk to them about the things I and we learned, surrounded by all these amazing women, Brandi included, in celebrating others and being good teammates.

ANNIE: Do you think these programs can fit into developing young talent?
JULIE: Right now you have this debate between development academies and high school programs. And I don’t think it has to be one or the other. My position has always been that you gain so much by playing at the high school level, playing in front of your community, playing with your peers. I was at a local high school game in San Clemente at the end of last season when they were playing for state finals. There were like 1,000 people there, everyone was talking about it and all the kids wanted to go. I’m sitting in the stands thinking that this is the amazing thing about high school sports. You don’t get this at the club level. Plus you’re playing a totally different role, you’re probably the leader of the team. You’re having to learn a different set of skills than you’re using on your club team.  I think that part of player development gets lost. That’s why I like this program. Now we get to shine a light on players that have made this decision and look at how good they are and look at what they’ve gained by doing it this way. If it incentivizes kids to play high school sports, it’s a good thing.
 
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