Plush Steps Down:
Jeff Plush has announced he is formally steppeing down as the National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner. Plush has been in the role since January of 2015. In his tenure, he saw the league grown to 10 teams when the Orlando Pride entered in 2016. Plush also oversaw the sale of Western New York Flash and their re-brand to become the North Carolina Courage at the start of 2017.
Plush wasn’t as recognizable to many fans because he wasn’t in attendance as often as someone like myself might like. A few other commissioners around sports such as Adam Silver (NBA), and Lisa Borders (WNBA) are well-known for making a serious effort to not only attend playoffs and championship games, but regular season games as well.
Plush was in attendance at the 2016 NWSL Championship and helped complete the recent TV deal with Lifetime and A+E. This latest deal could be what many will remember him for, a historic TV partnership that will bring the NWSL into American homes every Saturday.
The search for a new commissioner has begun and I hope we find out soon who will lead the way for the NWSL’s fifth season – which begins April 15th.
USSF New Anthem Policy:
The United States Soccer Federation has introduced a new policy to that will apply to the National teams. This new policy states that:
“All persons representing a Federation national team shall stand respectfully during the playing of national anthems at any event in which the Federation is represented.”
In my personal opinion, this policy is completely unnecessary and undermines the player’s constitutional right to protest. This new policy seems to be a very dramatic and ridiculous reaction to USWNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the National anthem in a friendly September 15th of 2016. Rapinoe has said she did it to support Black Lives Matter, the movement that rose over the past few years to fight against racial inequality in America.
While U.S. Soccer made it clear that they didn’t agree with Rapinoe’s action when it happened, this addition to the bylaws seems to be sending a very strong statement to players thinking about wanting to protest in any slight way during the anthem. I do feel confused by this, because without protests how will the players, as citizens, express their desire for positive change and for the government to do the right thing by ALL citizens of this beautiful country?
ESPN The Magazine Senior writer Mina Kimes perhaps summed up my feelings perfectly when she tweeted out her opinions of the new policy:
ordering people to celebrate their country's liberties strikes me as a bit of a paradox https://t.co/YWdXFxz1pB
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) March 4, 2017
Kimes, along with myself and many others, don’t agree with this new policy. Also, could this decision signal the end of Rapinoe’s national team career? Rapinoe has not been selected for National team duty since September 18th of last year. Time and future actions will certainly tell if the fate of Rapinoe with the USWNT is over for simply standing by what she believes in.
One of the best players to ever grace the game of soccer in the history of the sport has officially retired from international play. 41-year-old USWNT legend Christie Rampone was honored Saturday before the game versus England in front of the crowd of 26,500 in Harrison, New Jersey at Red Bull Arena. In attendance to honor the trailblazer were familiar and former stars of the USWNT, Abby Wambach, Heather O’Reilly, and Nicole Barnhart.
To many women’s soccer fans–or soccer fans in general–Rampone is simply known as Captain America. The defender made her USWNT debut in 1997 and played her last minutes in 2015. And Rampone expressed the desire to make a bid for the 2016 Olympics had injury not hampered her fitness. The two-time World Cup Champion (1999, 2015) and three-time Olympic gold-medalist (2004, 2008, 2012) has certainly left her mark on the game. Rampone played in five FIFA World Cups, four Olympics, appeared 311 times for her country to become the second-most-capped player in US history, and managed to score four goals during her time.
I don’t think enough can be said about the last 99er. Rampone was composed, positive, regarded as a complete team leader and someone who embodied the national team spirit. She was one of the most incredible athletes I’ve ever seen compete at the highest level for that length of time. I’m absolutely honored to say I had the privilege of watching her play in person years ago and I will forever be proud to call her our Captain.
Lavelle Earns 1st Cap:
21-year-old Rose Lavelle has finally earned her first cap for the USWNT this past weekend in the #SheBelieves Cup. Starting against England, a team ranked fifth, Lavelle held her own. Even though the United States lost to England, she played well enough to also earn her first Player of the Match award.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native played all four years of college ball at the University of Wisconsin. She was selected number one overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft by the Boston Breakers. Lavelle has shown plenty of promise and to see a small sample of what she is capable of on the National team is rewarding as a supporter.
Chastain and MacMillan HOF Confirmed:
Two more USWNT legends are being inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on March 24th. The two women earning this honor are Brandi Chastain and Shannon MacMillan, who each spent 12 years on the National team.
Chastain made her debut in 1988 and concluded her career in 2004. She won two World Cups (1991, 1999) and two Olympic medals (1996, 2004), appearing in 192 games for the U.S. She is known for her left foot penalty shot that secured the USWNT’s second Women’s World Cup in 1999 and then taking off her shirt to celebrate. I witnessed that moment when I was eight and for me, it’s easily one of the most iconic moments in sports. Chastain now coaches at the University of Santa Clara.
MacMillan got her start in 1993 and ended her career in 2005 after appearing in 176 games and scoring 60 goals, good enough for ninth place in program history. MacMillan won the ’99 World Cup and Gold at the 1996 Olympic games. She was named U.S. Soccer’s Female Player of the Year in 2002. MacMillan is now in San Diego, where she is the director of club operations for the Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks soccer club.
Sweden Women Aim To Inspire:
The Sweden Women’s National team is sporting a different look these days. The Swedish Football Association have initiated for the team to replace the names of players to instead have messages of empowerment. These messages are meant to be positive and to inspire all generation of women.
The Swedish players picked quotes from Swedish women, to show the power they hold, and to bring to light the National team at the same time. Some of the messages include: “To try is to be successful” (journalist Frida Soderlund); “Women want different things”(comedian Karin Adelskold); “I’m not bossy, I’m the boss” (author Nina Akestam); and “Never look down on someone unless it is to help her up” (politician Gudrun Schyman).
The latter message was chosen by Sweden’s captain Lotta Schelin, who expressed this in a statement recently: “It is great we can join forces with other strong women and together we can show that everything is possible.” She went on to say that “There is always a need to show young women it is possible to succeed, and that no one should feel limited in what they can achieve and particularly not because of their sex.”
I absolutely love this from the Swedish Federation and the team itself. I fully support this idea. I think everything Schelin mentioned is very important in a world where the glass ceiling does still exist. These kits have been worn during the Algarve Cup that takes place March 1st through March 8th.