WSN247 Blog – Three Down, Three To Go

This blog is one I wrote and is shown by my friends at www.wsn247.com.  Be sure to check out their site for more women’s soccer and women’s sports information!  You can also follow them on Twitter @WSN247 and make sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page!

 

Three Down, Three To Go. USWNT Eyes Quarterfinals vs New Zealand

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August 1, 2012

WSN Guest Blogger, Amy Maestri’s reactions after the USWNT vs Korea DPR women’s soccer match

Within the first three minutes of the USWNT vs North Korea match up on Wednesday I knew a win was in the cards for the red white and blue.  Not because of my confidence in our skill and determination, or our explosive weapons in battle such as Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach.  No, I knew we were going to win because I saw…**Jaws theme music**…The Heather O’Reilly Game Face.  For those of you who have not seen this face, I would recommend watching the next game and waiting for the magic to happen.  The Face came out and so did the USA, with a winning score of 1-0.

I have been waiting to see this very recognizable side of Heather O’Reilly since the games began.  With no minutes in the match against France and not her best performance against Colombia, I have been anxiously awaiting this moment.  This is the side of O’Reilly that has made her my favorite player for the past 5 years.  She was strong on tackles, speedy up the sidelines, getting back to defend, sending in crosses and putting every last ounce of her being on the field for a loose ball.  She had no goals or assists today, but definitely made her mark.

Our midfield shined in the first half.  O’Reilly with her beast-ness, Carli Lloyd with her attacking prowls, Lauren Cheney with her calmness and ability over the ball and Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe and Amy Rodriguez all making appearances as well showing what they can do on the pitch.  Cheney had another solid game, even with North Korean players basically hanging off of her like a group of monkeys swinging from a tree.  She had a physical battle raging against her all game and came out on top with a sparkling midfield display.

Alex Morgan had another playmaking game.  No goal but had the assist to Abby Wambach for our only goal of the match.  I can guarantee Morgan will be one hungry Baby Horse in the next match.  She’s going to come out like a starving animal attacking prey.  The opposing team’s defense better not show blood for their own sake.  Because Morgan is going to be a SHARK.  The goal from Abby was nothing short of clinical from start to finish.  Morgan’s back to goal work and decision making skills in the box while under pressure do not show us your typical 23 year old forward.  Her ability to stay calm, observe her choices quickly and make the wise play shows us what Hope Solo mentioned in the conference call last week.  Solo stated we shouldn’t go by years but by experience and how they play.  Morgan plays with knowledge and instinct that seems to far surpass her years.  Then we have Wambach’s ability to do what she was born to do; SCORE LIKE A CHAMPION.  After receiving the composed pass from Morgan in the box she slotted it home past the keeper with a textbook finish.  With Wambach nearing Mia Hamm’s record for career goals it gets more and more exciting.  You can feel that Abby won’t let any opportunities pass for her to get closer to the legend, Hamm.  She wants a gold medal for herself and for her team more than anything right now and the closer she gets to Hamm’s record; the closer she is to helping achieve that.

After all of the over-blown media ridiculousness surrounding Hope Solo’s comments about commentator, Brandi Chastain, I was hoping to see a patented Hope Solo gravity and logic defying save today to shut every one up.  But our defense did their job and protected our girl, Hope, from incoming fire.  If the media want to harp on the comments that’s fine with me.  But I, along with other fans, will continue to just enjoy our favorite team dominate and play with the USA spirit that we love.  And personally, I love that Solo speaks her mind.  She has every right to and further more; it’s funny!  It’s refreshing to see it and I love that she comes out blazing on all cylinders.  She works it on the field and doesn’t hold back off the field either.  Get it, girl!

With this win the USA wins first place in their group and move into the quarterfinals with some good notes to work on and some good confidence from where they’ve excelled.  I would say my takeaways are that Abby’s shiner has not impaired her goal scoring vision.  Christie Rampone is going to be a show stopper until she is 107 years old.  Becky Sauerbrunn and her fully loaded guns, which she kept hidden under her sleeves today, deserve more minutes.  Lloyd, Cheney and O’Reilly are all going BEAST on anyone who crosses their paths.  And Hope Solo remains the most swaggerific goalkeeper on the planet.

Let’s take it to the semi’s ladies!  Keep making us proud back home!  Go USA!

WSN247 Blog – USA Defeats Colombia 3-0

This blog is one I wrote and is shown by my friends at www.wsn247.com. Be sure to check out their site for more women’s soccer and women’s sports information! You can also follow them on Twitter @WSN247 and make sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page!

USA Defeats Colombia 3-0 and Could Megan Rapinoe Be ANY Cooler?

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July 28, 2012

WSN Guest Blogger, Amy Maestri’s reactions after the USA vs Colombia women’s soccer match

After watching the USWNT beat Colombia 3-0 today, my immediate reaction was to cheer wildly, clap vigorously and try to emulate an Ali Krieger million dollar smile.  I admit, I didn’t even come close to a Krieger smile, but let’s be honest; who can??

I’m sure Krieger has a big smile after watching this game as well.  Between the birthday message from Megan Rapinoe and a big USA win, it was a winning day for our beloved defender who is still out from her ACL tear in January.  And it was a winning day for the whole USA team as they charged over Colombia 3-0, with black eyes and all.

Megan Rapinoe started the scoring off with a beautiful strike, chipping the keeper like a boss.  After her rock star goal was a rock star celebration, with the birthday message to Krieger.  Normally after a goal Rapinoe is the first to leap into the scorer’s arms like a maniac.  But this time it was our girl Pinoe with a super strike.  Pinoe had an all around spectacular game creating chances everywhere.  Next was Wambach’s goal, which spelled determination; taking on a physical battle to smash one into the back of the net just a few plays after taking a right hook from a Colombian boxer…I mean…soccer player.  Sorry, Colombia, it is going to take far more to silence Abby Wambach.  Next time try bringing an entire army.  It still probably won’t work, but might do a little more than a measly smack in the face.  Canadian striker, Christine Sinclair, would probably also like it if they sent an army against Wambach, as they are still in their neck to neck competition for career goals.  Goal number 3 was all Carli Lloyd.  After a disgustingly beautiful strike for a goal in theFrancegame, Lloyd came back with another picturesque goal.  Getting a beautiful feed from Megan Rapinoe, she timed her run perfect, took a sweet little touch and then buried the ball saying, “Bye Colombia!  Thanks for stopping by!”

After the scoring spree that Alex Morgan has been on, I was almost confused when not seeing her name on the goal tally.  I thought maybe I had forgotten how to read or that the TV was malfunctioning.  But one thing that didn’t surprise me was her playmaking abilities through the game.  She may not have had her best game or scored a hat trick, or even one goal.  But she was a play maker for us showing her skill over the ball, her ability to set up others and her ever impressing speed beating others to the ball and sending crosses in.  Our other playmaking super star of the day (and every day) was Lauren Cheney, in my opinion. Colombia, while you’re at it, sending that army to try and silence Abby, you might want to have them make a stop by Lauren Cheney as well.  I saw her dribble her way out of a tight area with defenders swarming around her just as often as I saw her give a Philly stare down toColombiaafter each questionable tackle.  She may not have been as involved in the attack as Carli Lloyd was, but she showed us all why that central midfield position suits her so well.  Watching her skill and composure was enough to make me happy for the rest of the week.  (But seeing the stare down was an added bonus)  I’d say the other bonus of the game was watching Kelley O’Hara dance and frolic over Colombian players like the stupendous little soccer leprechaun that she is.  Both in this game and againstFrance, she was a stud.  A happy little leprechaun stud.

Next up is North Korea and I am confident in another victory.  There is of course work to be done, as there always is, and there were plenty of chances we probably should have finished but I am proud of our girls after two wins with some fantastic goals.  And I know they will be ready and waiting for North Korea.  So Abby, ice your gangster black eye.  Cheney, don’t ever change.  Rapinoe, you’re a boss.  Lloyd, keep the goals coming, girl.  Solo, oh, that’s right.  I forgot you were out there!  Good job touching that ball that one time!  And way to pull of that new jersey, it looked great!

Congrats, USA!

WSN247 Blog – Talking To the US Women’s National Soccer Team

This blog is one I wrote and is shown by my friends at www.wsn247.com. Be sure to check out their site for more women’s soccer and women’s sports information! You can also follow them on Twitter @WSN247 and make sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page!

A Gold Moment: Talking To the US Women’s National Soccer Team

Posted By: 

July 24, 2012

WSN Guest Blogger, Amy Maestri, writes about participating in a teleconference with the USWNT

The US Women’s National Soccer Team will kick off their Olympic run on Wednesday, July 25, against France.  If you could measure the weight of my excitement, you would need one of those animal scales they use at the zoo.

After the heart breaking loss in the 2011 Women’s World Cup to the team which will not be named (well I guess I have to name them just in case you have been living under a rock; we lost to Japan.  Japan is the team which I will not name.  Japan, damn it!)  we have a team filled with passion, fire and determination.  They have been conditioning, mentally preparing and practicing their pageantry wave for when they stand atop the podium.  I was recently on a media conference call with head coach, Pia Sundhage and players Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone and Hope Solo.  I was lucky enough to participate in this call thanks to WSN247.  The task, I decided, was to listen, ask questions and do my best to not embarrass myself.  I realized I would be tempted to drift into my favorite old timey newspaper reporter character which in return also made me realize the ‘not embarrassing myself’ task would not be so simple.

Sundhage was up first and in her answers made it very clear that they intend to take these matches one game at a time.  France is their first test on Wednesday and it will be a good one.  As she stated, France has a very dangerous attack.  The US defense and midfield will have a battle raging against them all game.  Sundhage also made it clear that she is excited to have an impossible number of options for a starting lineup against a technically sound France.  With their infinite options and their conductor of the back line, Christie Rampone, I am confident we will see a shining victory.

Abby Wambach, in her ever calm demeanor and laid back style approached questions with an intelligent response each time, while also tossing in a few, “What up’s” to the media.  Wambach answered some questions about the pairing of her and Alex Morgan and why they are such a fantastic team.  She explains it’s the balance they provide in an attack.  While Abby soars 1.7 miles in the air higher than any human on earth to stuff a header into the back of the net, Morgan is usually right behind her with a goal of her own from winning a ball through speed, strength and skill before calmly placing a shot into that same, tired out net.  The combining of opposite players like Morgan and Wambach has obviously been epic.  But Wambach also brought up the strategy Sundhage has brought to this team.  She talked about where the US has always been strong and where they are learning from Sundhage.  It’s two opposing styles coming together on one field, making said field a sitting duck waiting for an explosion of versatility from the USA.  They still have the typical US strength, speed and an almost sickening ambition to never, ever quit on anything.  But now they also are more possession oriented and implementing different tactics.

When getting to ask captain, Christie Rampone, a question I hesitated for a moment.  I knew I had a good question, but I also knew there was a better one I should have asked.  I asked how she is handling the changes in the back four (organizationally) and also how she sees Becky Sauerbrunn’s role changing and developing.  But I know my question should have been, “When can we expect to see another ‘Reece Race’?” Come on Amy, think!  But I went with the first question and she came back with a response reeking of an excellent captain.  She knows the back line has had many changes and they are still learning and growing.  She also said that the best way to learn is to make mistakes and move forward as a collective unit.  They have been spending a lot of time working on spacing, timing and angles and watching videos (game tapes, not old Full House episodes on original VHS; much to my dismay).  She also had immensely good things to say about Sauerbrunn who she calls a very technical, calm player with a great presence who Rampone is sure will have an amazing career.  She was also asked about Kelley O’Hara; complimenting her one on one defense and how she quickly learned to connect with the back line.  And of course the question came about her post Olympics career.  Although her decision is not yet made, and probably won’t be for a few months; I still insist she is going to be playing and still owning people well into her 90’s.  Ok, realistically maybe only 87.

Hope Solo answered questions with a genuine tone and well thought out answers backed by knowledge.  When asked what her reaction is after letting a goal in she painted a picture of a prideful goalkeeper who can always see the good in things and be proud of her team but will never be satisfied if a ball has passed her goal line.  But as she stated with a win, “…my happiness trumps everything.”  Good, because we love seeing that smile after a game.  If you’re interested in learning from and being inspired by someone who is able to cut out distractions from her life and dive into her passion head first; then learn more about Hope Solo.  Also, check out her full response to a question pertaining to that subject on the quote sheet at www.ussoccer.com (along with the rest of the call).  Then they wrapped up the call with my question because obviously they save the best for last.  Or they were hoping they would run out of time before getting back to me.  Either way…my question was about the balance on the team of newer players and veterans and how effective it is.  She mentioned Lauren Cheney who although by age is younger, has a lot of minutes under her belt and was crucial for them in last year’s WWC.  So by looking more at experience than age you see what a young player can really bring to the table.  While she also stated that any championship team needs that balance.

Now onto my in depth analysis and opinion of what the Olympics will look like for the USA.  It will look like a heavy circular object connected to a pretty ribbon and will be a distinctive color; not like a bronze or a like a silver…more like a gold.  (…to put it briefly)  The competition is stiffer than it has ever been and the gap is closing drastically in skill sets between teams in the women’s game.  Lots of teams will be fighting until the end and putting up a battle.  France will be a challenge as our first opponent with their speed, technical skill and attacking force but I am beyond confident in this USA squad.  That other team that will not be mentioned will be racing towards the finish line as well looking to come out with back to back summer gold medals.  They have been growing by the day in skill it seems, but I am sure our girls will shut down the team which will not be named and send them back to their country which will not be named without a gold medal around their anonymous necks.

The USA sound ready, they sound hungry, they sound fit, they sound excited and they sound a little bit crackly.  I guess that was probably just from the speaker phone though.  Best wishes to the team and staff! Go USA!

Side note: In case you were wondering, I did manage to stifle my old timey newspaper character.  I can’t make any promises for next time, though.  See ya in the funny papers!! – Amy

The Team To Envy – Pali Blues

I have been feeling guilty lately and I just need to air it out.  I’m feeling really bad for all the people who don’t live close enough to Pacific Palisades, CA to be able to witness the Pali Blues women’s soccer club play games live.  I feel like I’m hogging all the magnificence.  But now that I say it out loud; I don’t feel that guilty anymore.  I feel kind of awesome actually.  Let me tell you why…

I live 30 minutes from The Stadium By The Sea where the Pali Blues tear up the pitch on a regular basis.  They are legit in their stadium name, too.  It’s as great as it sounds.  It’s not like one of those motels that boast their color TV sets and indoor pool, which is essentially a puddle out back, and then calls themselves ‘The Grand Ocean View Motel’; when it’s 6 miles from the beach.  This stadium is a beautiful turf field that is right around the corner from the gorgeous Pacific.  Sorry if I sound like someone from the tourism board trying to sell you a tour, but it’s pretty super there and I just can’t help it.

But enough about the stadium, let’s talk about what happens inside the stadium.  “What happens in The Stadium by the Sea stays in the Stadium by the Sea.”  You guys like that?  I just made it up.  It does sound familiar though…

When you enter the stadium you enter it knowing you are going to be right on top of watching women’s soccer at its highest level in the US.  You enter knowing you made the right choice to come to the game and ditch the $15 movie you were going to attend instead.  The Pali Blues have put together an impressive roster that has led to an amazing start to their season.

Raise your hand if you love watching a midfielder who connects plays, finds openings and plays a physically demanding style of soccer which you can respect all day long.  (I will assume your hand is raised.  If it is not raised I will assume you are incapable of reading the written word and / or have no pulse.)  I’m speaking of Sarah Huffman.  She’s a hard working midfielder who takes a hard tackle as well as she gives one.  And trust me; she takes plenty.  She is a midfielder willing to put her body on the line for the sake of her team.  She’s got a killer shot, a smart mind for the game and a strength all young aspiring players should strive for.

Now raise your hand…actually no.  Let’s jazz it up.  Do ‘The Dougie’ if you love watching a forward with speed, skill and impeccable vision for the game.  (If you are not doing ‘The Dougie’ I will assume you just an old white person with no rhythm or again, have no pulse.)  This time I’m taking about Liz Bogus.  A defense can never rest or look away from this player for a minute.  If they do, you can be sure she will quickly punish them for it.  She has experience, quality timing on the ball and a super awesome name.

Still not understanding why I feel awesome about living so close to this team?  Fine.  I’ll give you a few more reasons to hate me.

We have a spider monkey with cat like reflexes as a goalkeeper.  BOOM.  Straight from the Italian national team, Anna Picarelli is one feisty little goalkeeper.  At 5’4, some forwards may underestimate her and think they will have an easy time beating her.  Those forwards are what we call in the biz; dumb-dumbs.  Whether you go high, low, far post or near post she will get there.  She is enormously fun to watch and is a major part of this finely oiled machine we call Pali Blues.

Then there is Whitney Engen who has been getting consistent call ups from this little team you may have heard of; The US Women’s National Team.  Coming off of a Women’s Professional Soccer championship last year with the New York Flash and the Defender of the Year honor for the league in 2011 she is more than worth the trip.  Want to hear bad news for all opposing teams?  Before you even get to Picarelli and her spider monkey saves you have to get through Whitney Engen.  Good luck with that.

And this is all without mentioning names like Nikki Washington, Cami Levin and Mariah Nogueira who are all young guns making moves.  This team, as a whole, is a collective unit and a shining example of the beautiful game being played by a roster full of class players.

So although I do feel kind of bad that not everyone gets to witness this team live; I feel a stronger sense of overall awesomeness.  If you do live anywhere nearby, do yourself a favor and check out some of these games.  If you don’t live anywhere nearby, do yourself a favor and move here.  Ok, so that may be a little drastic.  How about instead, you just check out their live streams and show your support through their Facebook page and Twitter accounts?  (www.facebook.com/PaliBluesSoccer and @PaliBlues)  And for that matter, do the same for your local W League or WPSL club if you haven’t already.

They take on the Seattle Sounders Women today, June 20th, which is sure to be a doozie.  With that much talent on one field coming from both sides, meeting on the pitch, I am predicting some sort of explosion or combustion.  Get ready for fireworks.  Check out the livestream from the Sounders to watch some top shelf soccer and put in your earplugs if firework boom-booms scare you.  Because it will be going off.

Enjoy the game!

Dear US Soccer

Dear US Soccer,

Remember that last post I did?  The one where I ranted about US Soccer in a never ending spew of sarcasm and anger over having no live stream for US Women’s National Team vs China?  And then remember when US Soccer ended up streaming the game after all?

…………Oops.

Well, I guess it’s not a total “oops”.  At the time I wrote that blog US Soccer had announced there would only be Twitter updates and Match Tracker. Normally US Soccer leaves us waiting until the last minute to say if there will be a live stream or not. In those cases, I sit back and relax while all the crazies start ranting and raving.  I know US Soccer normally pulls through a few days before a match to announce a stream, so I keep calm.  But this time around they actually stated there would be no stream, and instead Match Tracker and Twitter only.  That’s when I launched into action with my own finely crafted brand of crazy and wrote a blog releasing my frustrations over the situation.

I don’t take back any previous statements I made in it.  I still think US Soccer needs to do more on their part to promote the women in order for more exposure.  Control the controllables.  I understand US Soccer can’t just demand ESPN, Fox Soccer and ABC to air every game and play only the Abby Gatorade commercial during halftime. Although let’s be honest; that would be sick.  All I’m asking is for them to keep us informed and to promise a live stream for domestic games if there is no TV coverage.  If W-League teams have the resources for it then I think US Soccer does too.  Communication is key, people.  I feel like that girlfriend who never gets told anything, so she ends up freaking out on her boyfriend over nothing just because she’s pissed that he doesn’t keep her in the loop.  I think I’ll refer to US Soccer as ‘boyfriend’ for a bit. (Affectionately, of course)

So listen boyfriend:

I’m sorry I freaked out. I was mad because you told me you wouldn’t be taking me to dinner on Sunday.  But then at the last minute Saturday night you’re all like, “Let’s go to dinner.  I was totally kidding before.”  Then I felt bad because I got so mad at you.  So please accept my apology boyfriend.  I’m super, super excited we went to dinner.  I had an amazing time and it was really sweet of you to take me after all of my complaining.  Oh, and it was made even better by the fact that we won 4-1!

Wait.  I think I mixed metaphor with real life.  Now I’m just confused.  Was Alex Morgan at the table next to us at dinner doing fist pumps?  I really shouldn’t write late at night anymore.

After all said and done I hope we’re on speaking terms again, US Soccer.  I know there are a lot of things that we don’t see and a lot of inner workings that we can’t understand.  But you have to understand; we are an exceptional group of fans who will draw blood for this team against anyone we see fit.  Reason and logic no longer come into play when we feel wronged.  We act off of impulse and Red White and Blue heated blood pulsing through our veins.  So forgive our behavior, but understand we still expect more from you at times.

When you can clue us in and when you can give us a stream or a TV broadcast we truly do appreciate it.  But don’t you think for a second that if you piss me off again I won’t dive into another rambling rant of righteousness against you.  I’m feisty; deal with it boyfriend.

I’m wishing the USWNT all the best in the coming month of matches and will thank US Soccer in advance for coverage.  I am eager to get back to writing about the team itself and their pure power and talent.  Rather than ranting about things out of my control while I throw a temper tantrum any stubborn 4 year old would be proud of.  I am also extremely eager to see “US Women’s Soccer” on my cable guide for the June 30th game. (Thanks boyfriend!!)

Forever Yours,
Amy xo

 

A Therapeutic Rant From A USWNT Fan

Ok, US Soccer let’s have a chat.  It seems you’re moderately excited about the upcoming Women’s National Team game this Sunday against China in Philadelphia.  Sorry, but I really can’t in good faith, use a better adjective than “moderately” when describing your excitement level.  If I’m wrong, please correct me.  But furthermore, if I’m wrong; please prove it and act like it.

I am always willing to give an organization the benefit of the doubt when I know that there are many different aspects that I am unaware of.  I don’t work for US Soccer, I’m just a comedy writer who is a well educated fan of the game who speaks bluntly and wants some freaking answers. (To be politically correct)

The upcoming WNT game vs China is not going to be televised.  Fine.  It’s a friendly, it’s not a current rivalry, it’s not on at 4am; which seems to be the only time of day ESPN likes to acknowledge that women’s soccer exists.  As much as I would love for every game (no matter how important or unimportant) to be televised; I don’t live in an idealist’s fairy tale land where everything is fair and everything is made of candy.  I understand it comes down to money.  So that’s fine that it won’t be televised, for now.  I still truly believe women’s soccer can one day be a major money maker in this country, but I also understand right now we are still growing.

So here is my question to US Soccer:

If we want the sport to grow and gain more viewers and sponsors…how exactly will we do that if there is no way to watch games half of the time?

Oh, I know!  I’ll hop into that idealist’s world with trees made of candy and I’ll pull people who have never seen a game before out of thin air and turn them into sponsors and fans!  Then while I’m at it: I’ll turn all mean people into bunnies and solve world peace by singing smooth adult contemporary songs about friendship to all warring nations!

Oh wait…you mean that all sounds farfetched and unrealistic?

After my exaggerated rant, all I am trying to ask is, “How is a sport expected to grow if no one can see it?”  If it is too much money and they don’t think they will have the viewers and sponsors to get in on TV, then why no live stream?  It’s cheaper and it’s easier.  I know of at least a couple W League teams that are live streaming their regular season home games this year.  If W League teams can afford it, how is US Soccer denying us of one?  That’s like Taylor Swift saying something is too expensive while the transient who lives under the bridge swoops in and buys it instead.  (Sorry, W League; I’m not trying to call you a bum.  I love you.  Please forgive me.  xoxo, Amy)

If money is not the issue for a live stream and it has to do with something like copy writing issues or whatever it may be; at least tell us.  Because now, instead of a large group of disappointed, but understanding fans; you have a large group of pissed off fans that are going to relentlessly hassle you and bash your good name out of anger.  Everyone will either assume US Soccer is not willing to spend money on the women or they will draw their own mislead conclusions.  Either way; they will be mad and most likely ill informed due to lack of information coming from the horse’s mouth.

I truly believe that US Soccer wants the women’s team to succeed.  I am in no way saying they don’t support them or don’t want them to be televised and make money.  Of course they want them to make money.  But for some reason they still tend to neglect certain things on the women’s side which hinders their ability to grow.  So prove us wrong, US Soccer.  Show us you can be more than moderately excited about a women’s game, and not just men’s games.  I love both teams; men and women.  But have always been a much, much bigger women’s fan.  It just blows my mind that the women can be ranked #1 in the world, be going to the Olympics this year and be coming off of a 2nd place finish in last year’s World Cup and they still cannot get half the attention of the men’s team. (Which is not even ranked in the top 25, is not going to the Olympics and didn’t place in their last World Cup.)  I understand the competition levels are completely different, but it’s astonishing to me that we would not want to be proud of our women’s team for the superb record they have held for years and show them off a bit.  If you got it, flaunt it, girl.

Women’s soccer has come a very, very long way in the US in the past 20 years.  The strides that they have made are huge, and I am not unaware of that or ungrateful for that.  But is it too much to ask for progress moving faster than a snail’s pace?  Don’t we owe it to ground breaking legends in women’s soccer like Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm to continue the legacy and keep building on the strides they made?  We have a top ranked team which is extremely marketable.  Hope Solo was on the list of the 50 Most Marketable Athletes of 2012.  (Ummm, hello dumb dumbs.  What more do you want?)  Ask 100 people who Alex Morgan or Hope Solo is and I bet 90 of them could tell you.  Then ask those 90 when their next game is, I bet 10 of them could tell you.  If they know who these women are, but don’t know where or how to watch them; how are we ever supposed to expect more fans?  If US Soccer is not even willing to stream all domestic games as a minimum for now, we can expect Snooki’s grand-kids to be gearing up for season 47 of Jersey Shore before we consistently see women’s games aired on TV.

These are just opinions from a fan.  I just want answers at the end of the day.  Why is a live stream not a given for all domestic games?  Why are they not capitalizing on an Olympic year with a team filled with marketable players?  Why does everyone and their mother’s dog know who Hope Solo is, but can’t watch her play?  And do those dogs have a hard time watching soccer deciphering between red and yellow cards due to their color blindness?

All important questions…maybe some more than others.

I’d love answers, but even more I’d love to be able to watch the best team in the world of women’s soccer, play this Sunday.

 

PS to US Soccer: PLEASE stop talking and tweeting about the new uniforms which will be debuted at this Sunday’s game for “all” to see.  All you’re doing is turning the knife that has already been jabbed into our stomachs.

Woso Fans: Stop, Drop and Read

Now that there is no more Women’s Professional Soccer to give us our women’s soccer fix like a bunch of addicts who Dr. Drew is just waiting to get his hands on; we’re all turning to our local W League, WPSL or WPSL Elite teams.  As much as I hate seeing another professional league start to bloom just for it to be chopped down by a big metaphorical douche bag of a weed-wacker; it could mean an enlightening experience.  Giving these other leagues more support will open our eyes to new teams and new players.  Shame on me and every other women’s soccer fan who didn’t pay enough attention to them before.  In fact, I’m putting myself in time out for my ignorance.  Be right back.

 

…Ok, I think I learned my lesson.  Each of these leagues will be boasting players from the US Women’s National Team, college stand outs, international talent and dozens of relatively unknown’s who are anxious to blow us away.  If you’re wondering where I’m going with all of this; you’re not alone.  I’m not really sure either.  Let’s figure it out together.  I think what I’m trying to say is…eh, who am I kidding…I’m not sure, so I’ll just keep rambling.

Oh, how about this!?  I’d like to talk about some of my favorite players who I think deserve a lot more hype than what they get currently.  They all have a good following, don’t get me wrong, but they are players who just really stand out for me.  And they are players who we will have the joy of watching in these leagues just like we got to watch them in the WPS.  If any of you know me at all you can probably guess who I am going to start with.

 

Leslie Osborne.

A central midfielder.  A leader.  A communicator.  A fierce competitor.  A chameleon of the field taking on any challenge necessary.  If you need a central midfielder who can tackle hard but also play with finesse, charge at the opposition but also be wise in her decisions and lead a team but also be a humble team player then look to the Boston Breakers’ Captain #12.  (I’ve done sales work for over 5 years so please forgive my sales pitch of a description.  But tell me it didn’t work…you’re dying to watch her in action, yes?)  She is an irreplaceable force on the field as well as off.  If she’s not playing for her club she is modeling for Puma or training fellow athletes or coaching a local club.  She’s kind of… well…UNSTOPPABLE.  I can also say she is one of the nicest people I have ever met.  Knowing that she knew me by my twitter name, Gillian E Dubbs; I met her at a soccer expo where I nervously approached my favorite player of the past 5 years and awkwardly spit out, “It’s me, Gillian E Dubbs!” like a goofy 6 year old.  We then talked for about 15 minutes or so.  She was humble, smart and well spoken.  Plus I managed to get through the whole encounter without tripping over anything too, so I’d say it was a stupendous day.  But back to her: Never, EVER underestimate the importance of a strong central midfielder who holds the team together.  Ever seen a game that looks more like ping pong than soccer?  That’s because there was no one in the midfield to settle the game down and control tempo or possession.  That is what Leslie Osborne does so well and that also leads me to my next player who does the same…

 

Brittany Bock

I refer to her as the Fighting Irish Ninja.  If you don’t understand why I do, let me explain: She went to Notre Dame and…SHE IS A FREAKING NINJA.  You cannot contain this girl in the midfield.  She is a freight train of power, skill and smart playmaking.  She covers more ground in a game then some players will in three games.  One of the things I like about her play the best is that she is fearless.  She goes in strong and fierce.  You also can’t keep track of her.  One second she is taking down the opposing team with her ninja tackles and the next she is sending a beautiful through ball up field to a teammate.  I love nothing more than a game that is battled out in the midfield.  If I was ever to go into battle on the pitch there is no one I would rather have by my side than Bock.  Scratch that.  I wouldn’t want her at my side; I’d want her in front of me.  (I flinch easily; I think I’d feel safer behind her)  And similar to Leslie, off the field she seems like a genuinely awesome person who is great to her fans and is pretty inspiring as well.  As far as central or defensive / possession midfielders go, Bock and Osborne are at the top of my list who are not on the current USWNT roster. *cough cough* *Attention to Pia* *cough cough*

 

Becky Sauerbrunn

I am among the hopefuls that wish to never see the day where Christie Rampone retires.  But I am also confident in life for the USWNT defense after Rampone.  No one will ever truly replace her, but Sauerbrunn, in my opinion is going to do one hell of a job of filling the void.  She plays with a quiet knowledge about her that must be intimidating to opposing players.  I would rather take on a lunatic defender charging at me with a trident screaming bloody murder than go 1 v 1 with the composed and confident Sauerbrunn who wisely matches her opponents step for step before devouring them.  She has speed, she has skill, she has consistency and composure that any central defender would kill for.  PLUS: she doesn’t tweet often but when she does she seems to have a great wit.  What beats that?  A witty super soccer athlete?  Come on now!  Which brings me to the fact that she also happens to be a beast of an athlete.  Rampone is my favorite Soccer Machine Robot Lady as I have mentioned.  Anyone who wants to try proving she is human to me; good luck.  But I can see Sauerbrunn becoming the next Soccer Machine Robot Lady who I hope will grow with this team for many, many years to come.  She directs the back line like a wise leader and plays like a possessed soccer beast.  That’s a good combo.

 

Ashlyn Harris

Watching Harris in goal is like watching a panther protecting her home on crack.  She is agile, feisty and fierce.  Her reactions are incredible to watch, especially for someone like me who waits until a ball has already practically hit me in the face before I think to put my hands up and catch it.  She has split second reactions that enable her to come up with saves that leave spectators in awe.  She also is a vital part of organizing the team.  While watching scrimmages of the team where you can hear everything, she is one noisy lady.  She is continuously directing, encouraging and organizing.  She puts off a vibe of confidence and swagger that would make any forward think twice about their next move.  And while that forward is thinking, Harris strikes like the cracked out panther that she is and protects her home from intruders.  And on top of all this, she just seems like one dope chick, who also happens to have one hell of a celebration run. (Please reference her epic run after her massive PK save in the WPS Final last year)

I’ll continue this sometime with a few more players who I love to watch and would love to see more of.  I’m excited to watch these four through domestic leagues and international play for years to come.  And as I am still a little unsure if this had a point other than a chance for me to ramble about some of my favorite players; I’ll leave you with this….

No seriously…I’m leaving you with that.  Bye!

The Man Who Thinks Soccer Is Ruining America

Dear Stephen H. Webb,

I am going to refer to you, affectionately as I.I.A (Ignorant Insane Ass) for ease of use. I read your article today on how soccer is ruining America. For anyone who hasn’t read this article, yes I am being 100% serious; that is what the article is about. I hate to promote such insanity but here is the link for anyone interested in losing 10 points in your IQ by simply reading something. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123680101041299201.html?mod=WSJ_article_comments#articleTabs%3Darticle

I’m not sure if you were trying to do some sort of funny satire or if you’re really just that much of an I.I.A. Either way, it didn’t work. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion so I will try to be as nice as possible in this but that could have been the dumbest thing I have ever read in my life. And that includes the first chapter of Snooki’s book.

Let’s begin with your first argument where you say any sport which only allows use of feet is very wrong. I would have to argue that any article where you blame the downfall of an entire country on a sport is very wrong. You mention how God gave us opposable thumbs for a reason; well He also gave us a brain for a reason. Try using it next time you write an article. And apparently God only gave us hands, He is not responsible for giving us feet. Apparently feet are the work of Satan. God gave us hands which we should use, but Satan gave us feet which we should all just chop off and only use our hands. Makes total sense. (And by the way, if you are going to bring God into a discussion such as this; at least show the respect to capitalize “He” or “Him” when referring to Him.)

Your next argument is that kids should be broken down in sports before being built back up, like in baseball. Really? Because I remember in t-ball when I was younger and softball and baseball games as a young kid parents and coaches would allow roughly 17 strikes before calling a kid out. All sports when you’re younger pander to not making a kid feel bad. Yes, kids probably are coddled too much in sports when they are younger. I agree kids need to be shown there is always going to be a winner and a loser and that is how sports work, but you’re argument of baseball being some sort of gladiator event is one of the worst and largest exaggerations I’ve ever heard and does nothing to prove your point against soccer. Soccer can be one of the most heart breaking games on the planet. There is a winner and a loser and kids know that and learn from it. You’re entire argument in this section was nothing more than an opportunity for you to use some (what you probably thought were hilariously brilliant and cute) metaphors about the sport you actually do like, baseball. Congratulations, you’re ‘Buddhist monks on steroids’ was a funny expression but made no sense. So in the end, you still struck out. (Are you happy I used a baseball term there?)

Next we have soccer being a foreign invasion. It’s interesting that you say penalty shoot outs are anti climatic because most soccer haters say that’s the only part they like. It’s the part where everyone is on the edge of their seat to see who will win. Unlike your beloved baseball which could go on for endless hours before people are put out of their “misery” (as you say about watching soccer) for someone to finally win. You say Americans would never invent a sport where the better you get the less you score. So Americans don’t appreciate defense then I suppose? I guess in basketball or football after a team scores they should just sit down, wait for the other team to score, get back up and then they can score again. Defense is a strategic part of the game which helps to make it the beautiful game. Doesn’t it say something about the level of difficulty this game has to be a low scoring game? My Dad is a huge baseball fan, has been his whole life. He (along with plenty of announcers and commentators I’ve heard) always talks about how sometimes the most exciting games are the ‘pitcher’s duels’ where it is really low scoring and the defense and pitchers put on a show. Funny how in baseball a low scoring game can be the greatest thing ever but in soccer it makes it boring. In any other sport when the defense is so good that the opposing team can’t score it is called ‘exciting’ and ‘brilliant’ and ‘top notch’ but in soccer it’s called boring.

And your last argument, quite possibly the dumbest (although it’s hard to pick) is that it is a game for girls. You say your daughter will want to kick you after reading this, I think some boys may have more of an issue with this statement than us ladies. You also mention that girls are too smart to play baseball. So I assume by that you mean only dumb people play baseball. Congratulations once again; this time you not only didn’t prove your point but also insulted the people who play the sport you supposedly like. Your I.I.A-ness continues to impress me. This is one of the arguments that people toss on the table which gets me fired up the most. They say soccer is nothing but running. If it were nothing but running it would be called track, morons. Yes, running is a major part of the sport but so is strategy, skill, aggression, ball movement, anticipation, strength and ability. If you stop thinking for one second on the field, if you rest on your heels for one second too long, if you’re not strong enough or aggressive enough or if you don’t know how to anticipate movement and move on and off the ball you’re useless in the game. There are so many aspects of soccer that non-fans don’t see and are too ignorant in a lot of cases to ever try to see. My Dad, the baseball fan, is a perfect example. He hated the sport while I grew up playing it, not understanding it, calling it boring…the usual arguments. Once he started paying attention though and listening to me talk about it, learning more about what is truly happening on the field he has become a fan. It will not be for everyone; I am not saying every person in the world should love soccer. That won’t ever happen and it’s good that won’t ever happen. People have their own opinions, but the problem comes when people who do not know enough about the sport and are not willing to give it a chance start spewing their nonsense into the atmosphere without truly knowing much about it.

And just the fact that you made this political and religious is beyond me. I hate to break it to you, but a sport is a sport. That’s all it is. Last I checked Karl Marx didn’t create soccer to take down various countries one at a time. And before you even try to go political on me about it being a liberal thing let me state this very clearly for you: (read it slowly if you need to in order to comprehend it) I am NOT a liberal. This has nothing to do with politics; it has everything to do with a lunatic ranting about something he knows very little about and trying to make a political statement. It is called the beautiful game around the world for a reason. In this country it hasn’t even caught on nearly as big as it is in the rest of the world, but where it has caught on it has had nothing but positive impacts. Kids are losing weight, getting active, making friends and learning about winning and losing. Adults are losing weight, getting active and learning about a new sport that they can get behind and support their local teams. Soccer is a sport; a beautiful, underestimated one at that. I understand you think it is a political ramp for you to shout disillusioned, uninformed nonsense but at the end of the day it is just a sport, not a symbol for communism you nut.

I will give you kudos on the fact that this did make me laugh quite a bit. Not because you’re funny or clever, of course; but because it’s one of the most insane things I’ve ever read. Lastly I just want to say again, if you were doing this as a humorous satire then maybe you should have actually made it humorous. And if you weren’t, and you were actually serious about it…well…I really don’t know what else to say other than you are a true I.I.A.

Disrespectfully Yours,

Amy Maestri

 

The Japanese Are Coming!!

Dear Fellow US Women’s National Soccer Team Fans:  As hard as I tried, I was not able to change the shape of the globe and alter time zones.  My apologies.  So instead, I will be watching the USWNT vs Japan at 3:30 am Pacific Standard Time from the comfort of my living room this Sunday. Some friends will join me as we watch the USA and cheer relentlessly until I am certain I will be thrown out of my apartment.  Let me give any non soccer fans a little background on what this game means…

Japan has become what we call in the business, a giant pain in our ass. The technical term is “chronic ass-pain implementing distributors.” Since they beat us in the final at the World Cup this past summer (I still cringe just typing that) we have had one crack at them in the Algarve Cup this past month. We were defeated in that match, furthering their pain in the ass status.  This next game just so happens to be being played in Japan.  It’s also on April 1st, April Fool’s Day. The outcome I’m hoping for is a huge win, where we silence every Japanese fan in that stadium. The outcome I’m worried about is some of those kooky Japanese game show hosts coming out for April Fool’s Day and creating an obstacle course on the field as part of their show.  So I’ll be on the lookout for any old Japanese men in suits that belong on American used car salesmen from the 70’s holding a microphone and little Japanese girls wearing Hello Kitty helmets ready to win a karaoke machine.

The Japanese team has made some amazing strides in women’s soccer in the past couple of years. Homare Sawa, who won the Player Of The Year award for 2011 is one of my personal top international picks.  I really do think that the progress we see from them is great news for women’s soccer across the globe.  With that being said; I still hate them.  I’m not going to tip toe around this.  I want so badly to like this team of possession oriented, skilled players who have come very far but I can’t.  I have respect for them and I love seeing the positive progress in another country of the sport but every time I see them I just feel violent.  And I’m not a violent person.  The only time I ever threw a punch it was in self defense and it was done with my eyes closed and was immediately followed by me running away screaming like a 4 year old waving my hands over my head trying to protect my face.  So for them to make me feel violent says something.  It says I do not want to see another loss to them.  I do not want to see a tie with them.  I want to see a good old fashioned USA smack down laid out on them.

In my humble outsider opinion, this is how we do that:

PLAY OUR GAME.

Simple, right?  Don’t let them dictate.  When we play our game, there is no stopping us.  When we use our strengths, instead of caving early to letting them control the pace we cannot be stopped.  I don’t care how good they’ve gotten; if Heather O’Reilly takes on a defender 1 v 1 (burns them obviously) then takes the ball end line and serves a tasty dish into the head of Abby Wambach who will then bury that ball so far into that net the keeper can’t find it to fish it out – they cannot stop us.  If Lauren Cheney picks off a ball in the mid field and finds Alex Morgan on a diagonal through ball so perfectly placed you assume there is a magical path linked between their feet and Morgan takes out each defender and keeper with speed, agility & a killer finish – they cannot stop us.  If Hope Solo stands there and stares down each player until they are too insanely terrified to attack goal – they cannot stop us.  My point being, we need to play to our many, many strengths and not allow them to get under our skin.  Whether it be Abby’s head, Morgan’s finishing, HAO’s speed, Lloyd’s vision, Cheney’s connecting plays or any one of the other dozens of strengths we have; we need to utilize them.  When we dictate early and make that statement we’re an unbeatable force.  But when we sit on our heels for too long and let them begin to control the pace is where we lose.  And I have immense faith that this team will come out on April 1st ready to control that game.  There are a ton of things I could go on and on about that I would like to see happen but I feel controling the pace early is the biggest key.  Hold the ball, make smart decisions, play to our strengths so we control the game and don’t let those fricken mini possession monsters get the ball for too long.  They’re like bed bugs.  Once they take control of your hotel room, there is no getting rid of them.  Just like once Japan gets the ball for too long, there is no gaining control back of the game.  I have a feeling Pia is packing some heat for this annoying infestation though.  Just call her the exterminator. (cue intense movie music)

This week requires pulling out all the stops in fan preparation.  When I was a kid, my best friend and I used to run around my yard screaming in British accents, “The Chinese are coming!” And then we’d attack them with chop sticks. (Yes, we beat imaginary Chinese people with their own eating utensils. Don’t judge me.)  Why am I telling you this embarrassingly odd child hood tale?  Because, the accent will be coming out in full force and “Chinese” will be subbed out for “Japanese” as I warn my fellow man of their upcoming attack plans.  This is war.  No longer will they be chronic ass-pain implementing distributors to us.  April 1st we’re coming for you, Japan.  In true American fashion we’re going to come strong, proud and ready.  And none the less; on a day where we honor crafty tomfoolery.  So Japan, get ready to be tomfoolerdied… tomfoolersted… tomfoolerized.  Yes, tomfoolerized.

USWNT fans near and far: Get ready to cheer your hearts out and support our girls because (Please read the following in a British accent) The Japanese are coming!! (Decease British accent)

Who else will be gearing up this week and pulling the all nighter / early morning wake up to watch this epic match?  What do you think we need to do to win?  Tell me about it here and on twitter!

 

GO USA

 

An Unbreakable Team

After watching* the US Women’s National Team game today where they opened the Algarve Cup with a 5-0 win over Denmark I am left in awe again of the endless options this team has.  I saw countless tweets about how no one envies head coach, Pia Sundhage, in her decision making process to create a final roster.  Pia has more top shelf options than Chelsea Handler has top shelf vodka.

*By watching, I of course mean reading updates from US Soccer because Portugal hates the Universe and is not filming all games.

Once again Pia gave Alex Morgan a starting spot in the lineup and once again Alex Morgan thanked her for 90 minutes by playing brilliantly.  With 2 goals and 1 assist on the night she is continuing to prove that 2012 is going to be the year of the Baby Horse.  (The Chinese forgot to put the “Baby Horse” in their rotation, obviously)  Although I couldn’t see her I assume it looked something a great white shark circling its prey and then attacking it forging full speed ahead at 40 mph.  I would also assume there was less bloodshed in this scenario than in the shark metaphor.  Alex Morgan aka Baby Horse aka Pink Ninja aka the red white and blue blur you see darting down the field; is making a statement.  That statement reads: “Hi America, did you order this new generation’s great goal scorer?  Well……..hi!”  That statement wasn’t taken, verbatim, but I think it’s close.

Aside from the usual Alex Morgan show we have all come to know and love, there were also some fun numbers by Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Tobin Heath, Lauren Cheney, Sydney Leroux and solid defending as usual with Stephanie Cox, Amy Lepeilbet and the whole crew coming to play.  Wambach scored her 132nd career goal off of a Morgan assist putting her 132 goals ahead of me.  She continues to be a shining, leading example of what the payoff looks like from hard work.  On the defensive end it sounds like all of our girls put up quite a strong front with Captain America, Christie Rampone leading the way.  With 251 caps she doesn’t look or play a day over 150.  Experienced and seasoned with knowledge and can still kick everyone’s ass up and down that field.  Carli Lloyd did what she always does…WORK.  With one goal for the night and I’m assuming a full evening of connecting plays and settling the midfield; she is undoubtedly one of America’s finest assets.  O’Reilly, Cheney and Heath all tacked on one assist each to their stat sheets as did defender Stephanie Cox who sees limited minutes but is making them count.  And after seeing highlights and witnessing quite a few magical Tobin moments including a nifty little snake dribble right at the end line I am now officially convinced she is a soccer Houdini chick extraordinaire (official technical title).  I hear Cheney was ‘all over the field’ as well (from US Soccer) to which my response was, “Why is this news?”  Because let’s be honest; that’s just a given.  She finds openings, she locates teammates and she creates chances.  Cheney exposes opportunity more than Angelina Jolie exposes her malnourished leg.

The depth of this team is truly what makes it so special.  As much as I do not envy Pia for the tough decisions she has to make, she must sleep pretty damn soundly knowing that she can put together a winning team with a number of different options.  The Wambach / Morgan duo has proven to be a special one this year, creating endless scoring opportunities resulting in some pretty delightful goals.  Let’s remove Wambach from that scenario though, and add in Tobin Heath.  We substitute physicality, superior danger in the box and leadership for impeccable foot work and vision.  Every time someone comes off and we lose what they have to offer, the person coming on has just as much to offer whether it be in the same areas or completely different ones.  The team’s chemistry is a thing of beauty too.  You can have all the talent in the world on the pitch, but if there is no chemistry it’s pointless.  The team as a whole plays with an overall sense of togetherness and chemistry but certain duos and trios really just link up as if they were born to be on the field together.  Wambach and Morgan were born to play up top together just as Cheney, Lloyd and Boxx were born to create a midfield that any team in the world should fear going up against.  And newcomer, Leroux, seems to be able to blend with anyone and fit right in right away.  I’ve got my eye on that one.  Syd The Kid is going to be a trouble maker for many back lines across the globe.  But it doesn’t end there; Heath and Morgan are brilliant together too…and HAO can very easily be tossed into that midfield trio making it unbeatable in their seamless transitions to each other.  And then we have the beautiful love story and pairing of Hope Solo and her goal.  The chemistry is undeniable.  The way she does everything in her power to protect her net from being hit is inspiring.  Every time Solo sacrifices her body for the well being of her beloved goal, hopeless romantics everywhere quiver in the knees.  Although Hope is normally the one doing all the work in the relationship you see the love reciprocated on the rare occasion she cannot protect her net and the posts or crossbar step up to take a hit for the team.  Chemistry at its finest.

Being the number one ranked team in the world there are heavy expectations on our girls.  And I can tell you confidently that even those expectations are not great enough for what this team is capable of achieving.  We have not faced many difficult teams so far this year, so I will acknowledge that.  We have yet to play a top 5 team in 2012 so our results should be pretty epic thus far, as they have been.  But I have no doubt in my mind that when we face teams coming up such as Germany, Brazil or Japan that we will come out firing on all cylinders and continue to prove to the world why we maintain our number one rank.   These games are an excellent time for Pia to be trying new things, which she has been doing.  And what we are finding from these little experiments is that there is no such thing as a weak link on this team.  This team is one of those chains that you see on a huge ship that has links the size of a small foreign car.  It’s unbreakable.

Next up is Norway at the Algarve and I am eagerly waiting to see what Pia Productions has up their sleeves for us.

Lastly I want to thank, as always; US Soccer for giving us Match Tracker and Twitter updates to keep us from having epileptic fits from not knowing what is happening.  Match Tracker was on point today with quick and informative updates throughout the match keeping us sane.  Oh, just one question….where on earth did saying that someone was ‘bundled’ to the ground come from???  But now I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite phrases from our friends at US Soccer’s Match Tracker.

‘Heath is back on.  She’s tough.  She’s from New Jersey.’

‘Syd The Kid and Blonde Ambition’

‘…the charging Baby Horse.’