From Rapinoe to Solo to Lloyd, a wild week for the NWSL

IMAGE, MLSSOCCER.COM

by TOM SLATER

This past week, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action was rife with all the dramatics deserving of a stretch run for the league’s four playoff spots.

Nadia Nadim’s hat trick led Portland to a blowout win that halted a Thorns’ losing streak. Yael Averbuch connected on a goalazo from outer space to give FC Kansas it’s first comeback win ever over Sky Blue FC. Chicago spotted Seattle a two-goal lead and then stormed back to win an important point to hold on to their playoff spot. Kelsey Wys stood on her head to make 12 saves for Washington to preserve a 1-1 draw and send the Spirit into the playoffs for the third straight year.

All very nice —  but most of the league’s fireworks this week came off-the-field, or nearly so.

To put it mildly, it was a weird week for the NWSL.

Here’s a look at what happened:

Monday, August 29: Houston’s Carli Lloyd reports back to her Dash team after everyone else on the United States National team did. She did an interview with Corey Roepken of the Houston Chronicle and sort of put out when the reporter questions why she needs more time than two weeks following the OIympics to return to her team. Lloyd said it was a personal commitment that was “none of anyone’s business.”

Tuesday, August 30: Hope Solo, already suspended from the United States National Team with contract terminated, announces she will sit out the rest of the season with the Seattle Reign. The Reign, the league’s Supporter Shield winners a year ago, are currently fighting for their playoff lives in the NWSL but will be without their top goalkeeper as well as one of their top drawing cards.

Wednesday, August 31: Solo extended her news cycle by claiming her dismissal was due in part to the goalkeeper’s role in demanding equal pay from the US Soccer folks.

Thursday, Sept. 1: Long time United State veteran Heather O’Reilly announced her retirement from international soccer. O’Reilly, a fan favorite and long-time USWNT member, was basically ignored by coach Jill Ellis in the 2015 World Cup, was left out of several camps and was ultimately named an alternate for the 2016 Rio Games. She will still play for FC Kansas City

Saturday Sept 3: Houston and Orlando meet for the fourth time this season. The Pride have won all three previous attempts but the Dash lead this one, 3-1, as Orlando attempts a last-minute comeback. That’s until a crazy fan leaps the gate and rushes the field trying to get to Alex Morgan — presumably to get an autograph and a selfie. Luckily, the fan is blocked by one of Morgan’s teammates and carried out of BBVA Compass Stadium where is sure to be banned for life.

The ‘fan’s’ buddies complained on social media that he was a really nice guy and was only trying to get Morgan’s autograph — just like any crazy fan would do.

Later that same evening, after Houston held on for a 4-2  win, Lloyd wouldn’t talk to the media until Roepken left the media area, which he did. The NWSL gave a statement that said they are aware of the situation and will work with the Dash to resolve this.

Sunday, Sept. 4: Before any games were played, it was announced that US international and former FC Kansas city midfielder Lauren Holiday would need brain surgery after she gives birth in the next six weeks. The surgery is needed to remove a benign tumor. Although the prognosis for recovery is good, it’s always scary news and her former teammates used social media to extend their best wishes.

Before the Seattle-Chicago match, Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to show her support for Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem before his team’s games to protest the treatment of blacks in America.

John Halloran of American Soccer Now was there to talk to Rapinoe.

“It was very intentional,” said Rapinoe, she told Halloran. “It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.”


 

The upcoming NWSL schedule is packed this week with a rare mid-week and weekend schedule. While the playoff races will only get more interesting, the off-field antics this week can’t come close to what happened last week.

Can they?

  • Gutterpunk

    Rapinoe had no problem playing for the U.S. in the World Cup and Olympics. If she really had any principles she would have refused to play in order to make a real statement. I guess her principles and outrage only go as far as not to inconvenience her career.

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