Amber Brooks has officially left Bayern Munich to play in the NWSL, where she’ll most certainly play with Portland Thorns FC, who own her rights and keep teasing that they have an announcement of a big U.S. player signing but are yet to confirm it is Brooks.
But what’s interesting are Munich manager Karin Danner’s parting words, found here in German. Loosely translated, the Munich boss say she cannot understand why the United States wants their players in the NWSL, but that Bayern did not want to put obstacles in the way of Brooks’ move.
UPDATE: Brooks tweeted clarification on Friday night saying she chose to come back stateside for personal and career reasons:
Just to clarify, I chose to come back to NWSL for personal & career reasons, nothing to do with external pressure. Excited for 2014 journey.
— Amber Brooks (@abrooks22) December 14, 2013
There are plenty of conspiracies regarding U.S. Soccer forcing the issue of having its players in the NWSL. Though there is little hard evidence to support that, you can bet U.S. Soccer would like its player in the league it is helping fund. I spoke with Sermanni about this at the NWSL final on August 31 regarding Erika Tymrak’s loan move to Bayern, and he had this to say about players in Europe vs. at home:
“It’s a balance. The answer to those questions is not 100 percent one way, 100 percent the other way. I think for a player like Erika, going and getting the experience of playing in a different environment, a different style of soccer and a different culture. Being away from home, out of your comfort zone, all those things, I think, are good for players.”
There is, however, an attempt to “reverse” the trend of Europe being perceived as the place to be for women’s soccer, as also found in that article.
Conspiracy theorists will be up in arms about all this, and I’m not saying they’re wrong, but there is a player element to it. Could there be pressure – direct or inferred – from U.S. Soccer? Absolutely. But players on the fringe of the national team are intelligent enough to know they’ll be seen on a weekly basis in the NWSL versus on tape or in the NWSL offseason if they stay in Europe. And they will surely be sharper in camp when it means a short flight or bus ride versus, say, 23 hours of air travel, as some of the Tyresö players did to get into the October camp after flying from Sweden to Paris for Champions League and then connecting over to San Antonio, Texas. They are trying to make a World Cup roster for one of the deepest teams in the world.
Does anyone think this doesn’t happen elsewhere — in the men’s and women’s game? It wasn’t long ago that WPS featured zero German players in the buildup to the 2011 World Cup. Most of the German players stayed in the Frauen-Bundesliga for very similar reasons: To remain together in the buildup to the ultimate goal of winning a World Cup (which went horribly wrong that year on home soil, but that’s another story).
Also, specifically in Brooks’ case, Portland is a very appealing place to play – from the soccer culture, to the fans and that championship they just won.
Speaking of the Swedish trio, Tyresö had posted to the club’s Facebook page earlier in the week that Christen Press, Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen would stay with the team until the 2014 summer break in June, and that they were hopeful to keep Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris around.
That post seems to have disappeared, but a source revealed Thursday that the length of their stay in Sweden in Sweden in 2014 will be heavily dependent on Tyresö’s run in the UEFA Champions League. Press said all along she would like to see out the Champions League campaign before the move stateside. The details of all this remain between the players and U.S. Soccer.