The Unused Sub: The Power of Words


This week’s installment has a lot of words for once.


It started last Saturday with The Decision 2.0. Mallory Pugh was on the NWSL Game of the Week pre-show and made it official that she was joining the Washington Spirit and thus embarking on her professional soccer career. I’ll spare you the brief chat I had with someone at my day job yesterday who read about Pugh’s decision. It was the tired trope of, “She should stay in school!”

Naw, kid, get your money when you can, when it’s hot.

Of course, by the time it was made official on television, everyone knew about it. And by Saturday night, people may have forgotten about it because her team the Washington Spirit got absolutely demolished by the Seattle Reign FC. After the Spirit claimed a penalty, the Reign went to 11 and went on a four-goal, ten minute roughshod led by Nahomi Kawasumi who set a NWSL single-game record with four assists. FOUR. To think in the short history of the NWSL, we’ve seen some bonkers lopsided scorelines, yet at best from those games, a player would only have two assists at most. Then you had Kawasumi go gangbusters and claim four for herself.

A lot of eyes are going to be on Washington’s matchup against FC Kansas City this weekend. Pugh likely will make her debut – it’s just a matter of how much time she’ll see on the field. How much of an impact will she bring; will it be immediate or will it take the rookie time? It’s easy for me being on the other end of the country to say this, let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride. Let’s try not to anoint her as the second coming of anything for women’s soccer.

Let’s just sit back and let Mallory Pugh soccer play how Mallory Pugh only knows how she approaches the game. She’s going to do some cool shit stuff, and she’s going to struggle. She might put the Spirit on her back and be enough of an impact to win a match for the team. She might be completely shut out and rendered invisible on a field. We’ll have plenty of time to over-discuss and over-analyze how the professional debut of Mallory Pugh went, if it is this weekend, but the bottom line is it’s going to be an exciting moment for her (most importantly), the NWSL, and everyone that follows it – fan and media alike. So let’s just sit back and enjoy the moment.


When it was announced that Reign FC defender Merritt Mathias was suspended (rightfully) for violent conduct on the field, for some reason it brought on armchair psychologists suggesting she has anger issues and should go see someone about it.

A few of us raised an eyebrow over this apparent diagnosing from Internet comments. Stephanie Yang did a guest piece in Sounder At Heart on the overall narrative that somehow, for whatever reason female athletes are held to some higher standard than male athletes. The idea that female athletes aren’t allowed to get angry, and that it’s a double standard. Oh boy, did some people’s jimmies get rustled at that idea and they doubled-down on that yeah, “Mathias should get her head checked.”

Let me be clear in saying this: STOP. DOING. THAT. PEOPLE.

When Mathias and Stephanie McCaffery or any other female athlete gets angry on the field, it could very well be that they are just getting angry/lost in the moment.

When a quarterback berates a receiver because they dropped the ball, no one ever says that the quarterback “has anger issues” or should “act with more class.” They say the cliche thing of, “Oh he’s just a leader demanding perfection from his teammates.” When a baseball pitcher throws a retaliation pitch because the batter in the previous meeting hit a homer off them, no one suggests they have a problem with holding grudges and “should go talk to someone about it.” They cite “the unwritten rules of baseball” that apparently state a pitcher is entitled to throw a 95 MPH fastball (which science says has the force impact equivalent to a gun) at the batter because “they admired the homer.”

Female athletes are allowed to show as many emotions as their male counterparts do and they should be allowed to display them, without some further discussion as if there’s some underlying element. And if that emotion is negative – let it be. DO NOT SPECULATE THAT IT’S RELATED TO THAT PERSON’S MENTAL STATE ESPECIALLY IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THEM PERSONALLY.

The fact that people doubled-down on it and thought it was okay is just baffling. It’s disingenuous and incredibly dangerous. Seriously, how would you feel if whatever you did for a living was subjected to internet comments and a moment or two where you lost your cool and got angry, those behind a monitor & keyboard, total strangers, were questioning your mental health like that? Not a good feeling yeah?



When you make NWSL history like she did on Saturday night, you get Player of the Week honors. This is the fourth time in her NWSL career that she has won that honor and puts her solely in second place on the all-time list of winning that honor. Crystal Dunn has the most so far in the award’s existence with six. And yes, she won all six of those during the 2015 season – yep, that season from her was that magical.

I’m going make a bold prediction regarding this: Nahomi Kawasumi will surpass Crystal Dunn as the¬†player with most NWSL Player of the Week Honors.

It could be the Japanese international that gets behind the wheel and leads the Reign FC offense the way Kim Little did for the three seasons she was here. Yes, the team as a whole needs to string consecutive performances where they’re an absolute buzz-saw and I think this weekend’s matchup against Orlando will be another one. And I think Kawasumi will play a big factor in that. If Kawasumi goes on a run in the league, last Saturday’s outing against the Spirit could be the genesis of it.

So yes, she’s at four NWSL Player of the Week honors after this week’s announcement and I think there’ll be at least three more weeks where she takes it this season.

If you’re a Reign FC fan, you gotta love the sound of Rollin’ with the Homi to hopefully back into the NWSL Playoffs.


Here are this week’s predictions:

  • Boston Breakers OVER Portland Thorns FC.
  • Sky Blue FC OVER Houston Dash.
  • Washington Spirit and FC Kansas City play to a DRAW.
  • North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars play to a DRAW.
  • Seattle Reign FC OVER Orlando Pride.

That last game is going to be a doozy. I think this is where Seattle strings consecutive performances of being the buzz-saw that people will remember. Orlando will get a goal but in the grand picture, it won’t matter much as Reign will continue to be in onslaught mode. Can I gripe at the Sunday evening start time? It’s cutting into my WWE Pay Per View event watching – I’m going to go write to my congressman about it cramping my style; after I attend the match of course.

Anywho, here’s this week’s music video break.

Song: “Information” | Artist: Eliot Sumner

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