The Unused Sub is a weekly musings piece by Jacob Cristobal because he has fooled the world into thinking he has valuable opinions about soccer. So yeah.
You may remember me from being a contributor to Sounder At Heart’s Ride of the Valkyries. When I was asked to be a part of Backline Soccer, I thought it was a confirmation of the power of the bribe. If it’s worked for FIFA all these years, then why not for a women’s soccer blog? The next thought was, “Oh cool, I get to drop more silly thoughts about soccer because that’s what this world needs right? Another dude with opinions about soccer.” Alas here we are and once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. I share the same amount of excitement that everyone else has. Who knows what this season will bring us, but surely there will be highlights and low lights or shall we say the preferred nomenclature, FURTlights.
WE ARE IN YEAR FIVE AND WE SHOULD ALL BE FEELING FINE
My experience in covering women’s soccer only goes as long as the NWSL has existed. I know plenty of others were here for the WUSA and WPS days and viewed last season as uncharted waters being the previous two leagues didn’t have a fourth season. However it was an exciting uncharted waters, because we knew there was a fourth season. Now we are entering a fifth season and with plenty of excitement now that the league has a full and proper TV deal. This partnership with A+E Networks with a NWSL Game of the Week being on Lifetime every Saturday is exactly what the NWSL needed. I’m of the belief that “if it’s on TV, people will watch.” And it’s not just a one and done. A+E invested in the league for multiple years and one can assume, considerable money on the table. For a league very much in its infancy, this is exactly what it needed. The idea of the NWSL celebrating a 10th year I think is no longer a pipe dream and its foundation is being made.
ABOUT THAT FOUNDATION – NO ONE SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE EASY WORK
Yes the road to today’s announcement of the streaming platform was dumb and ugly but it shouldn’t be viewed as a deal breaker like some insinuations would have you think with the tone of their screaming from the hills. I have no idea how those meetings went when it came to finding a vendor, nor working out the logistics of the rollout and quality assurance. I can only safely assume that it wasn’t easy. Things take time. Could the league have been more transparent with that and say something to the effect? Possibly, but it could easily open up follow-up questions from the incredibly impatient. It’s easy to say should have, could have, would have, etc but I’d like to think the radio silence wasn’t intentional. Let’s not go Tin Foil Hat County (too much salt in the food, let’s be real) and weave a thread that the league is messing up on purpose because they want to make life harder for themselves and all parties interested in the growth of women’s soccer. The NWSL is entering it’s fifth year, still a lil’ one. Yes we live in a 24/7 world, but it’s not like it’s eradicated growing pains. We will see how the go90 streaming platform goes this weekend. Knock on wood it all goes smooth whether you’re a Sky Blue fan watching from New Jersey or a Houston Dash fan tuning in from England. And if there are problems, let’s have faith in the people behind the scenes on making the necessary fixes so week 2 of the 2017 NWSL season goes without a hitch as far as streaming a match.
BOSTON WILL BE BETTER AND NO I AM NOT HIGH
For the past two seasons, the Boston Breakers finished last in the league standings. This season I think they break that dubious streak. A full offseason and better college draft later and I think Matt Beard has identified his core players and how everything in the NWSL works. While I don’t think Boston is a playoff contender this year, I think they will do enough that they can influence the playoff picture. I think one NWSL team’s playoff hopes will be thwarted because of the Boston Breakers this season. Matt Beard’s squad will show growth on the field, likely led by NWSL Rookie of the Year contende Rose LaVelle and make considerable noise that come the 2018, this could be a dark horse pick of a playoff contender. Again, I am not under the influence of any narcotic at the time of writing this.
PAUL RILEY WILL GET TOSSED BECAUSE LIFE IS RICH LIKE THAT
The only question is, will it be because he twerked into the fourth official like last year in Orlando? WELL HOLY CRAP, THE NWSL IS A VENGEFUL GOD AND TOLD RILEY TO SIT DOWN FOR THE FIRST TWO GAMES of the season because of his tomfoolery in the playoffs last year. That said, I don’t think this will be the only time Paul gets a time out. I will never get tired of a twerking Paul Riley.
A NEW AMERICAN HEROINE WILL RISE & JILL ELLIS WILL NOTICE, ACTUALLY PLAY HER
If you were to tell me that say Beverly Yanez, Haley Kopmeyer, Sofia Huerta, or a Katie Naughton could have a banner 2017 for their respective NWSL club that US national team head coach Jill Ellis gives them a call-up, I would not be surprised. Any of these could do something special in 2017. Now would Ellis actually give them minutes in an international match is another topic of discussion for another time.
FURT WILL LIVE FOREVER & ALWAYS…
However I think with a new season there should be some new inside joke terminology to describe some schadenfreude. Not necessarily a word made up because of some hilarious coloring of half a word for a snazzy banner image, but maybe we bring back a word into popularity. I’m borrowing a word from a friend across the pond (hi Kieran Theivam) and going with gazump.
The NWSL Media Association asked all members to fill out a poll as to where the teams will finish this season. At the risk of exposing myself to ridicule, I’ll share with you how I filled out the poll. Keep in mind this is where I think teams will be at the end of the regular season. Ask me about predicting the NWSL Playoffs when the field is set and then ridicule me for getting those wrong too.
- Chicago Red Stars
- Portland Thorns FC
- Sky Blue FC
- Seattle Reign FC
- Orlando Pride
- North Carolina Courage
- FC Kansas City
- Boston Breakers
- Houston Dash
- Washington Spirit
And with that, cheers to the new season ahead, try not to be Mad Online too much about your team, and remember salt kills snails & slugs. So unless you got some major beef with them, don’t be a monster and just pour salt on them for kicks.
Got a question, a reaction, something to say? Yes, I’m serious, @ me on Twitter: @jacobcristobal. Me answering a question or two only helps the word count in future posts and it’d be fun to answer them.