The Lowdown: KC’s risky off-season pays off with title

Dan Lauletta September 2, 2014 58
FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski took risks in building his 2014 roster, and it paid off with a championship. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski took risks in building his 2014 roster, and it paid off with a championship. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

TUKWILA, Wash. — To properly trace the roots of the 2014 FC Kansas City team, you have to go back to last fall, when Lauren Holiday was boarding a bus following national team practice. She received a call from her coach, Vlatko Andonovski. The club was considering a trade to acquire Amy Rodriguez and Andonovski wanted Holiday’s input before he pulled the trigger. Holiday decided to step off the bus.

The conversation went something like this as recalled by Andonovski in the hour after the Blues won the NWSL Championship on Sunday with a 2-1 victory in Seattle Reign FC.

VLATKO: I have to make a decision. You have to say it now. ARod. Yes or no.
HOLIDAY: Oh my goodness, I would love to play with her.
VLATKO: Is she going to score goals with you?
HOLIDAY: She’ll score tons of goals.
VLATKO: I know you’re friends. I want you to talk like a captain, not like a friend.
HOLIDAY: Vlatko, she’ll score tons of goals. She’s awesome.

And with that assurance in his pocket, Andonovski traded Kristie Mewis to Seattle for Rodriguez (Mewis was later flipped to Boston for Sydney Leroux). It seems routine now, and will go down as a stroke of brilliance, but there was an element of risk in acquiring Rodriguez. She skipped the 2013 season to have a baby and by most accounts was heading the wrong way on the U.S. national team depth chart before that.

“She was actually in very good shape,” Andonovski said about his first impression of Rodriguez when she came in for training camp. “We were in close touch with (U.S. national team trainer) Dawn Scott. She probably came hungrier than any time before.”

[MORE: Andonovski’s game plan pays off  |  Seattle misses opportunity  |  Complete coverage]

Lauren Holiday backed friend and U.S. teammate Amy Rodriguez to FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski, and it paid off with a title. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Lauren Holiday backed friend and U.S. teammate Amy Rodriguez to FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski, and it paid off with a title. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

For Rodriguez’s part, when she got pregnant there was never a doubt she was going to come back and play. But she left herself few expectations in terms of how well she would play. “I always had it in my mind that I wanted to come back, I just didn’t know how my body was going to respond. I had low expectations. I think most people had low expectations when I came back from my pregnancy.”

The 2013 Blues played with a style that backed up soccer’s moniker as the beautiful game. Scoring was an issue though. Holiday led the league in goals but did much of her work hitting golazos from outside the 18-yard box. Once Renae Cuellar was traded midseason, FC Kansas City did not get another goal from a forward until Melissa Henderson got one in the playoffs. And when the 2-0 lead evaporated in that semifinal game against Portland there was not much by way of bench options.

“When we went down 3-2 with 10 or 15 minutes to go (in extra time) there was nothing we can do,” Andonovski said about that game. “Who do we bring from the bench to give us that punch? Right now it’s a little different.”

He went on to discuss the forward depth created by the additions of Sarah Hagen and Liz Bogus, but depth only matters when it sits behind quality, and Rodriguez was fantastic in 2014. She scored 13 goals and was in the Golden Boot race until the end, when Seattle’s Kim Little pulled away. Andonovski said he acquired Rodriguez to “score goals” but even his best-case scenario did not include a bakers’ dozen.

“She did an unbelievable job. Was the expectation to score as many as she did? To be realistic, no. But I’m glad that she did.”

Rodriguez had a bit of a star-crossed playoff history in WPS. In 2010 for the Philadelphia Independence she scored a sensational goal in the 119th minute, the only goal of an intensely played semifinal match against the Washington Freedom in blistering conditions. The next year she had more than a few looks at the championship winner in extra time against the Flash before the Independence lost in penalties. This season was different. Rodriguez scored the decisive goal against Portland in the semifinals and the only two goals against the Reign in the championship match. She was a finisher in her element, making the most of limited opportunity.

“One thing I love about Amy is she’s not scoring the 4th goal when it’s 3-0,” Andonovski said. “When it’s 0-0 she scored a big one. When it’s 1-0 against Seattle in Seattle, she scored the first one and the second one. That’s what I love about her. She steps up in big games and makes it happen.”

***

Putting the onus on Rodriguez to come up with important and plentiful goals was not the only risk FC Kansas City took on the 2014 season. From Sunday’s starting XI, center back Nikki Phillips sat out 2013 to focus on starting married life; Kasey Kallman was a rookie playing a different position from college ball; and Jenna Richmond was a rookie asked to step into the biggest void left by offseason departures (Desiree Scott). From the three who came off the bench Sunday, Hagen began the season under contract at Bayern Munich and Amy LePeilbet missed all of last season and part of this one recovering from ACL surgery.

“We had some plans and ideas and we took some risks,” Andonovski said.

Nikki Phillips came back after a year off to be an essential piece of FC Kansas City's defense. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Nikki Phillips came back after a year off to be an essential piece of FC Kansas City’s defense. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

On Phillips (nee Nikki Krzysik), the club picked up her rights in the Cuellar deal last summer, but did not know until the offseason whether she would return to play. “It was up in the air,” Phillips said during championship week. After a stint playing for Poland, she said, “I definitely wanted to come back in and give it another go. When you leave it you miss it. Just being out on the field and being part of a team, you definitely miss being around your friends and making a living doing something that you love.”

Coming back to play was one thing. Doing it effectively was another. Phillips and Andonovski sat down prior to the season and had a frank discussion about expectations. “I said, ‘Okay, I know what you do and I know, that you are not doing it now,” Andonovski said. “If you get it by the middle of the season, we’re going to be good. The middle of the season is where you’re going to play your best game.’ That’s what she did.”

Kallman was the 5th pick in the January draft and spent most of the season at left back. Richmond was the 16th pick—the second straight year Andonovski has put one over on his NWSL rivals after he snatched Erika Tymrak at No. 11 in 2013.

This was not by accident. Andonovski got his interview with FC Kansas City because he was an assistant with the indoor men’s team, the Comets, owned by the same group. The group had little thought he would be the guy until he arrived at his interview armed with reams of research about potential players. Included were detailed notes on several hundred college seniors. This preparation went a long way in landing him the job.

[MORE: NWSL Championship notebook — behind-the-scenes look at the final]

As for Richmond, she was not the best player on the team in 2014, but in one way she was the most important. The offseason loss of Desiree Scott compelled Andonovski to alter the team’s shape and play 4-4-2 out of a midfield that looked more like a diamond. It didn’t work. “It was tough. The things that Desiree brought to our team were not easy to replace,” Andonovski said. “The physical presence, the mentality, and the ability to win balls in the middle, not many holding midfielders can do it.

“We tried something, and as a coach sometimes you try things and they work and you’re a genius. Next time you try and it doesn’t work. I was the first one to admit, hey it didn’t work. We gotta find a way to make it work.”

Enter Richmond. Andonovski reverted to the 4-2-3-1 that played to such rave reviews a season ago. But the move was dependent on the rookie Richmond being able to play next to Jen Buczkowski in defensive midfield. Everyone knew it would not be a seamless adjustment but Andonovski made sure the 22-year-old knew she was not playing for her job with every touch, or even with every game.

“They knew that I trusted them,” he said, referencing Richmond and Kallman. “I told Jenna, ‘Regardless of what happens whether you score or not, whether you play good or not, I trust you and you’re going to be in that position.’ I think that boosted her confidence.

“As much as I trusted her, she trusted me and believed in what I had in mind and it worked out.

“She doesn’t have the physical presence that Desiree has, but she brings more finesse and helps us possess the ball a little bit more and helps connect with Lauren a little more.”

Richmond made her first start on April 26 in Portland. The Blues lost that game, dropping them to 0-2-1. But according to Becky Sauerbrunn, “It was the first time that I had seen the fight that I thought the team lacked last year. I finally saw it. We still lost, but it was a good sign leading into the next few games and I don’t think we lost that (fight).”

***

The trust word was thrown around quite liberally during Sunday’s postmatch media availability. Andonovski called Holiday to solicit her advice about the Rodriguez. And he said he has asked Holiday and Sauerbrunn their opinion on significant decisions throughout their two seasons together. He acknowledged that, “It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m agreeing with what they say or I’m doing what they say, but I want to see how they feel.”

Lauren Holiday and Becky Sauerbrunn receive the NWSL Championship trophy from league executive director Cheryl Bailey. Holiday and Sauerbrunn are FC Kansas City's leaders. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Lauren Holiday and Becky Sauerbrunn receive the NWSL Championship trophy from league executive director Cheryl Bailey. Holiday and Sauerbrunn are FC Kansas City’s leaders. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Holiday and Sauerbrunn have been invaluable resources to Andonovski, who was a relative newcomer on the women’s soccer scene when he took the FC Kansas City job. He credits the oft-understated Holiday as a key reason why the team has successfully integrated younger players into the team for two consecutive seasons.

“When you have leaders like Becky and Cheney (Holiday’s maiden name) they help them out. They welcome everyone on the team. I call Cheney, ‘Robin Hood’, because she’s that type of player that she fights for the underdog. She’s there for the young players and the newcomers, welcomes them to the team and tries to help them out any way she can.”

That said, Andonovski likes to seek out the opinions of all of his players, not just the veterans.

“We all have big egos. You can’t be a coach if you don’t have an ego,” he said. “But I know that I’m new into this. I need to hear what people that have been into this think about it and I’m willing to take advice and talk to players. So far it’s worked great.

“One of the things that helped this team to play like a team is the family atmosphere that we have. I can go and talk to anyone. I can talk to Jenna and Kassey even though they are rookies. It doesn’t mean that I am going to do what they say, but I want to see how they feel. I think the players like it.”

[MORE: FC Kansas City’s 2014 NWSL Championship victory in photos]

In winning the NWSL, Andonovski completed a coaching double destined to be buried in the annals of the niche sports in which he works, but is about as impressive a balancing act as a professional sports coach could pull off these days. In March he led the Missouri Comets—a men’s indoor team—to the MISL championship (they will compete in the newly formed MASL this year). Sunday night, with the NWSL medal on his neck, he said both titles were very satisfying but leaned towards NWSL as being more meaningful because of his relative inexperience.

“There were times when I was questioning myself whether I can do it or not. These girls helped me so much and helped me to become a better coach.”

And the most satisfying part, Andonovski said, is hearing how much the players want to succeed for him.

“When we play games they say ‘Hey we want to win this game for you. We want to do this for you.’ I’m so thankful to have a group like that that want to do things for me. I want to do even more for them.”

  • Diane (DeeG)

    The celebration leap he did after the final whistle said everything about how he feels for his team. Coach Vlatko is a KC treasure. If they’re smart they’ve locked him down for the long haul.

  • guest

    Hagen needs to go to another team where she can start every game. The two-forward trials didn’t work and it’s a total waste having her as surplus on the bench as A-Rod’s backup. Same thing for LePeilbet who is also rotting away. KC’s back line is already set and there’s no future for her there. There are other teams who need a veteran leader on defense.

    KC is going to have a hard time keeping these elite players on their bench next season. Bring on the trades.

    • Steglitz49

      Ms Hagen chose to leave Bayern Munich where she had had an excellent career and was a key to them winning the German Cup a few years back. To which team do you want her to go?

      There is no longterm future on the pitch for Lepeilbet. She is 18 months older than Philipp Lahm, who has retired from international play and will likely hang up his boots soon. With an annual income of about $15m the Magic Dwarf is not well paid compared to many other male footballers. I doubt that Amy earns 1% of Lahm. Reality intrudes. It is high time to consider a life outside the pitch.

      • guest

        Yes, Steglitz, we’ve all heard your rants about putting “old” female players out to pasture. It’s tiresome. Perhaps you’re not aware that this is 2014 and women can choose to keep playing as long as they can make the cut. There is no age expiration date. LePeilbet is only 32 and has returned to great form, there’s no reason she needs to quit. More power to her. Now please go back to your cave.

        • Steglitz49

          Selfevidently players can and do what they like. That is not the issue.

          Guest point was that two players were, as s/he so delicately put it, “rotting away” without a future at KC. I pointed out that the situation was not the same for the two players and their realistic future options are different.

          The business of the NWSL is to build a business, not an old people’s home.

      • lol

        She didn’t “chose”.

    • Titi14

      There is a team by my reckoning that is perfect for Hagen and Hagen is perfect for them . But Hagen going there is going to distort the league even more as the team is Reign.

      Having played European football, Hagen is going to be more comfortable and be the perfect fit as a striker for them. She has got speed, good link up play and speed, scores goals and has physical presence when crossing in the air and also brings the midfield into play. But if Hagen goes there, Seattle becomes even stronger. Am sure they are not going to trade their main players away for her.

      Obviously she does not need to play regularly to be in contention for NT but I don’t see her playing in Sky Blues even though they need a good striker.

      KCFC also needs a really good back up striker and hence I don’t see them giving her away lightly. They essentially need only 2 strikers in their team and having Hagen who can also have physical presence is a big plus for them.

    • wosofan

      I love Hagen but since strikers can command such importance for a team, KC should leverage Hagen’s value. The question is whether to trade for multiple draft picks or to trade for established players. I’m really not sure about LePeilbet’s value – her one start at centerback was that memorable match at Portland.

      • KG

        LePeilbet started more than one game and played in 11 total doing quite well at DM amongst other positions.

      • FCKCEvans

        KC should keep Hagen as they will have a full preseason/season while the NT’s are away to incorporate her in the system. I think KC could get 2nd round pick for LePeilbet from a team that really needs a center back…and it seems several teams will be shopping for one (Boston, Portland, Washington, WNY perhaps) off the top of my head.

    • FCKCEvans

      Why would KC trade Hagen when it’s looking like Arod will miss 1/2 the season with the national team? With Hagen IMO they will have the best forward in the league while the National Teamers are away next season. She won’t be wasted then…and I don’t think she was “wasted” coming into the season so late.
      LePeilbet could be parted with though with this college draft being so defensively strong. But there’s a part of me thinking that She could step right in with Brunn’s absence and lead. It will be interesting to see if/when KC makes any moves…as I would be hesitant until the league officially decides not to expand. I felt like teams that improved their roster got screwed in the expansion process.

      • guest

        LePeilbet is way too good. to be a backup. She should be leading a back line of her own and starting every game. Same with Hagen. That was the point. Of course KC would like to keep these starting-caliber players waiting around on the bench as backups, but that’s selfish thinking. It’s not good for those players or for the league.

        • FCKCEvans

          How is it selfish? KC acquired these players fair and square and terms were agreed upon the organization AND the player.
          I’d be fine with a Lepeilbet trade but not Hagen as I feel though talented, Lepeilbet is easier to replace. I was just saying that players like Hagen and LePeilbet will get a chance to play a lot next year with WWC. Neither player were in KC from the start of the season and that explains why they didn’t play as much as you or I would like. Next year will be different I predict.

          • Trade

            I have no doubt both players are kicking themselves now looking at the season in hindsight. We can only guess what they were promised vs. the amount of playing time they actually got. The point remains that starting-quality players should not be relegated to backup status–not for any portion of the season. Not when there are so many other NWSL teams desperate for their talent on a full time basis. I would guess the agents for Hagen, LePeilbet (capital P) and others in their situation are already working on that.

          • FCKCEvans

            Very well, you are entitled to your opinion. I’m of the opinion that this is a professional league and not a charity. Teams should do whatever they can (within the league rules of course) to acquire the best roster possible because of injuries, expansion, etc. All i’m saying is that “starting level players” KC has will get a chance to prove themselves next year with WWC happening.
            KC may trade Hagen but teams are going to have to pay a big price as she will be the best forward in the league next year with the NT’s away. KC may also trade Lepeillbet but they paid a very high price to get her too (1st round pick and an international slot).

          • They won’t be on the bench next season assuming they both stay in KC. Trust me.

    • john

      Looking shorter term Hagen needs a talk with JE re her prospects for the WCQ roster. If as it appears she’s not in the plans a return to European team where she is the attack’s focus would seem to be in order. The NT, KC, the Euro team all benefit long term so let’s all hope short of a NT about face Hagen makes a loan deal.

      • FCKCEvans

        Agreed. As long as Abby is healthy, I don’t see her having a WCQ spot. A short loan would probably be in her best interest. Good suggestion.

    • The off-season brings many changes. You never know who on the bench will be greatly needed next year.

      And even without the usual off-season roster changes, with the USWNT out for many games next season, you will need a forward to fill in for Arod and a CB to fill in for Sauerbrunn.

  • Rdalford

    Interesting background info on draft research done before job interview (and so far 2 fairly successful drafts) and gathering input from players. More to Andonovski than just the 4-2-3-1 formation, short pass possession style and winning results.

    FCKC does not currently have a first round draft pick (1st round pick went to Chicago in one of their trades), will be interesting to see if FCKC engineers a trade to get a higher draft pick or just continues to uncover good players (Tymrak, Richmond) thru relatively lower draft picks.

    • Steglitz49

      LH brought in foreign mercenaries, who lit up the sky. Vlatko has taken the route of developing north-American talent. Both approaches are useful and American players are known to have played in teams in European countries and Japan, many with great success. Vlatko’s approach benefits the young ladies coming off the NCAA assembly line, while LH’s adds a touch of glamour.

      • AlexH

        I find it ironic that everybody is somehow making Andonovski to be some far seeing genius when what he did was go old school while everybody else was chasing the next big thing. I honor of that, I present USWNT old school formation.

        A-Rod Morgan
        Dunn Holiday Lloyd HAO
        KO Johnston Brunn Krieger
        Solo

        Guest Head Coach: Michelle Akers

        • mockmook

          Your line-up looks very solid, but I’ll try to find fault with it anyway 🙂
          Pinoe for Dunn. Dunn doesn’t seem right (injuries?).
          BTW, look at all the talent you have to leave off the team:
          Press, Leroux, Wambach, (Pinoe), Brian, RVH, Rampone

          • AlexH

            Pinoe is too technical to make my old school roster. I’ll replace Dunn with Chalupny. Nothing screams old school like a concussed 30 year old that is way up the charts in fouls committed and fouls suffered.

        • KCFan

          Okay, for a 4-2-3-1 how about

          Morgan
          Press-Holiday-Tymrak
          Brian-JJ
          KO-Brunn-Rampone-Krieger

          Let’s spruce up those lines! Ha.

          • AlexH

            @KC fan. I think your lineup is better than mine, but mine was an homage to old school. Press and Tymrak are too weedy and “European” to make my old school roster 🙂

          • NYRick

            I really like your lineup. I might go Dunn for Krieger and maybe Press as the lone forward. But I like the players you are putting out there.

    • nwslfan

      Fully agree. the article is a fascinating look into managerial style of VA and leadership style of Holiday.

  • Stay Pressed

    LBR though, who WOULDN’T trade Mewis away…. that’s not much of a gamble.

    (not saying Ando didn’t do well)

    • Steglitz49

      I was not aware that Kozue Ando played for KC. As far as I know she plays for Frankfurt these days.

      • Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

        You know exactly that the OP was referring to KC’s head coach. Stop being a douchebag, if that’s possible.

        • Steglitz49

          I think of him as Vlatko (like Lotta is Lotta and not Char or Schel) but those like FCKCEvans and Slicey who are in KC can keep us right.

  • dw

    Good article. ARod should be moved above Press on the WNT depth chart. Actually, for my money, ARod deserves to be #2 on the depth chart. We could see through the set of friendlies and qualifying if she could stick.
    Notice I am making the case against Abby and Syd. I think Abby is past it, but still deserving a spot on the squad. Syd is a strange case, because LH was not willing to play longball/thruball to her the way ARod was played in in KC by VA’s system. Syd is not a very good #9 in a winger/forward/winger front line. She served much better as a winger in the absence of Pinoe. Ellis has the exact same problem, except she has more redundancy in that position.

    • newsouth

      A-rod will look the same on the NT squad. She will be able to maneuver and muscle Asian teams like she did before her baby. In fact she had 3 goals in 2 games against japan. The big Euro girls will body up on her and watch the shots go every which way. Ellis ain’t Adon, so she will put Arod in the same situations as Morgan and Sydney since her core is more direct like them. I think she dribbles better than Press in the mid-field b/c of her stature/low center of gravity but Press can produce better shots outside the box. One game don’t change a thing. She had the same kind of season in the WPS with tougher defenses, just happen to miss the winning shot against WYN. This time she hit them but Holiday set her up. The difference in the WPS she had to create the scoring opportunity. It will go down that way with the NT again. if she has to create she cant be out the other 3. She look better than Sydney but Sydney can bring the muscle when ellis sends balls forward. A-rid is still #4.

      • AlexH

        Every player has their kryptonite when it comes to matchups (exempt maybe Alex Morgan) but we do have multiple spots for forwards on the roster so I view being able to score 1.5 gpg against Japan as a HUGE plus no matter how she matches up against the Swedes.

      • Steglitz49

        ARod’s goals against Japan was 1 in the 2011 Algarve cup and 2 in friendlies in May before WC-11. ARod did not play in the WC-11 final but I can’t remember why not.

  • VaFan51

    Lovely piece. Thanks, Dan.
    And thanks to KC and Seattle for a quality, exciting final.

  • AlexH

    I wouldn’t call A-Rod for Mewis a big gamble. A-Rod may not have been as good as some in our pool but I don’t think anybody would describe her as a bad player. And there is a pretty good track record of players coming back after having a baby so that wasn’t exactly betting the farm either.

    • wosofan

      She was pretty bad for lots of 2011 and 2012 and her confidence was shot. And coming back from pregnancy is not the same for every athlete. I thought she would score only a handful of goals, though I knew KC was a great place for any striker because they create so many chances. The script might have been much different had Amy not gone to KC

      • KR

        She wasn’t poor in 2011 for Philly. Not the same stats as 2010 and the
        season was kind of disrupted. But she scored some important goals for
        them after coming back from the World Cup. Also IIRC she was played out of her natural position by Pia for a decent portion of that period. When was the last time she really got a chance at forward?

      • Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

        Even if A-Rod wasn’t successful as she was, KC would only have lost Mewis, which is a pretty minor loss. Plus, this was a team in 2013 that finished regular-season runners-up with Cuellar and Henderson as their strikers. Being an improvement over those two wasn’t that high of a hurdle. So, even if she was only average, it would have been an improvement from the previous year.

  • wosofan

    Great piece, Dan. The “outside the lines” story of the relationship between Vlatko and these players is quite remarkable. Tymrak was also recently interviewed and stated that no coach has ever cared more for her personally – he is always in her corner.

    To me Vlatko’s achievements are many, but one stands out: with an entirely American roster, he has produced attractive, aggressive, and attacking soccer. He has done this with rookies and very experienced veterans. He has proven it can be done, to succeed with one and two touch, playing on the ground and out of the back, switching the point, and getting offensive support from outside backs.

    I’ve seen Swanson do it at the college level, Vlatko at the pro level. If Ellis cannot at least get the WNT headed in this direction by next June, then shame on her.

    • VaFan51

      Wow. I could not agree more.
      We know that Lauren Holiday would be fine with the WNT moving in this stylistic direction. Who else?

      • mockmook

        The rest of FCKC 🙂

        But seriously, AlexH’s line-up posted above would be one possibility.

    • kernel_thai

      The difference between Seattle or KC and the USWNT is one person is in charge. They make the decisions and the team executes them. Simple. The problem on the NT goes deeper than the current coach. U need a coach with absolute authority and upper management who back him/her up. Instead, u have a team run by a committee and committees dont make decisions, they table them.

  • NYRick

    It’s amazing that people now feel ARod all of the sudden has become a combination of Marta, Mia Hamm, Lotta and Alex (circa 2012) in one. Has anyone truly analyzed her over 100 caps as a US international? She’s been average to say the least. Now she’s a no-brainer starting forward on the NT??

    Congrats to her on her fine season and clutch showing in the playoffs. She deserves much kudos for her comeback after pregancy. But we really need a little perspective here. On just about any other team in the NWSL she is not putting up those numbers. In fact, I would venture to say she would be challenged to score 5-7 goals for a full year with any of the other teams, including Seattle and Portland.

    I leave it as only my opinion obviously, but if anyone thinks she deserves to ascend above Alex, Press and even Syd in the NT food chain…well, I hate to use the word borderline insanity, but it kind of fits. The talent level of the above 3 is not better, it’s miles better. Abby I’ve leave out of it. We all know she is done but guaranteed a spot. I think KT said it best here awhile ago, if you look at most of ARod’s goals this year they came off of 1 v 1 situations that were set up by Holiday and crew. She beats no one off the dribble to create her own shot. Wake me when she does that.

    • FCKCEvans

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRUQT5KDCug
      Here are some examples of Arod not just scoring on break-aways and creating opportunities for herself. I think what people are saying about Arod is that they are surprised about her improvement. She finishing better than ever, and making more dynamic runs off the ball than ever etc. This may or may not be enough to get some playing time with the National Team but the point is, extinuating circumstances or not Arod was the best US forward in the NWSL this season and she deserves a shot to overtake the untouchables as you say: Alex, Press, and Syd.
      Do I think it’s likely that Arod takes these players spots? No, but she absolutely deserves the opportunity.

      • Steglitz49

        The next step is the 6′ lady goalkeeper. Search out the basketball courts. 6’1″ or even 2″ would be even better. Go find them.

        • AlexH

          No need to search the basketball courts. There are a few of those in my daughter’s U-11 rec league. I’m pretty sure they are even bigger in the club scene.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. WC-19 will bring news though we might have to wait till WC-23 to see the 6′ goalie.

      • NYRick

        In all fairness, as for best season by a US forward in the NWSL, Alex was injured a good part of the season, Press came to CRS after 10 games in, and even Abby was hurt a good part of the season. Syd’s season, which was full, has been discussed as to her low output.

        I’m not disagreeing with you at all in terms of whether ARod deserves an opportunity to supplant any of these players. But that’s not how the program works, and you know that. Also, it’s hard for me to say “poor ARod” since she has already had over 100 caps for the NT and she didn’t exactly light it up as a starting forward. In addition, her 2011 and 2012 seasons were pretty mediocre with the NT. Despite that, she still made the WC11 squad, and the OG12 squad (which she had no business making). These come with bonuses of course, and also allowed for her to be allocated with a CBA as well, even with basically holding a team hostage before announcing her pregnancy kind of late, to ensure that CBA.

        I think there have been plenty of other deserving players who never even get a cap or call up for a variety of political reasons in this program. ARod should have no complaints if she never played another minute with the NT.

        • FCKCEvans

          Yes I’m familiar with Arods history with the National team. That’s the whole point…this appears to be a new and improved version and that’s why some are calling for her to have a CHANCE to prove herself. Quit being paranoid about your perfect, do-no-wrong Press may have slight competition let alone be mentioned in the same sentence as Press. I realize that Arod is challenging for a spot on the bench.

          Most of us can see Arods playing improvements and note her chemistry with a major US play-maker in Holiday. She deserves a chance as much as you want to dismiss her or make excuses as to why she’s currently the most in form US forward.

          • NYRick

            Since by your title you are obviously a KC fan, so the player you should most be pushing for to get a real chance with the NT is Tymrak. She is the one who is being dismissed because she doesn’t have a CBA. ARod doesn’t have that problem. Or maybe you should be advocating Hagen who is probably getting the shortest end of the stick of any of the forwards. She may offer the most versatility to the forward corp as a large target who can actually still run.

            And for the record, this has nothing to do with CP. I personally think that she and Alex should be no-brainers, but CP too has to perform well with the NT from here on to the start of the WC to earn a spot too.

          • FCKCEvans

            Yes my title lets everyone know where my loyality lies…FCKC, but i’m not blind. I can see that Hagen doesn’t have a place on this WWC squad with Abby still around. I can see Tymrak’s unique skills set her apart but the NT is not ready to over-look her short-comings on defense/lack of strength. Do I agree with these assessments by the National Team of Tymrak and Hagen? No. But I also understand it’s not worth arguing over at this point bc this will not change, and apparently these players performances haven’t set them apart enough. IMO, Arod’s performance has set her apart though.
            You can say that you aren’t partial to Press and Morgan but your history on these boards prove other-wise. I guess it’s the high school soccer coach in me (who has to work with the talent given) that helps me see the best in players and how they can be used to help the team. I hate to see players talents be minimalized (Arod) to make our favorites look better (Press and Morgan). Arod deserves a CHANCE, that’s all i’m arguing for.

    • AlexH

      I don’t think it is borderline insanity to tout a player who had a better season in the league than all of her competitors. What would be borderline insanity is to brush aside objective results on the field for subjective opinions about skills. Fortunately the answer is simple. Invite them all into camp and see how the perform head to head. Unfortunately JE has probably made up her mind already…..

    • brdn08

      Totally disagree and your obvious bias against ARod is really nonproductive. To be truthful the at their best, right now the only one I would take is Alex Morgan above ARod. Amy’s runs especially diagonal are devastating; she’s been causing shape problems for all defenses and the final was no exception.If you look back her goals you will also note her finishing looks better than anyone in the league maybe except PInoe or Nadim towads the season’s end.

      • NYRick

        No bias against ARod. That’s your interpretation. I think she is a good player who has improved greatly. I was never that impressed with her in the past, but she has added a nice diagonal run to her repertoire to her credit. But that run is going nowhere without a player of Holiday’s caliber to get her the ball in space. I just don’t think she would be doing this with another team, that’s all. I just think the other forwards ahead of her are better, my opinion. You are entitled to yours.

        As for Alex, we still have yet to see Alex 2012. For that reason, she is still a question mark in form. She may have peaked as a player at age 22/23. Don’t think so, but we don’t know for sure. I would like to see the players on the pitch in best form at the WC. If that’s ARod, I have no problem with that. Problem is that this team operates on reputation more than performance too often.

        • Steglitz49

          During the regular season when they can be compared, thus not including ARod’s 2 goals in the final, the stats of Alex, ARod and Christen are quite revealing:
          — Alex started 13 of 14 games (1135 min), scored 6 goals, had 4 assists and 3 gwg (a stat I do not like), was caught off-side 1 time, committed 5 fouls and suffered 12;
          — ARod played 21/22 (1808) with 13 g, 3 a, 3 gwg, 19 off-side, 15 FC and 16 FS; and
          — Christen 12/12 (1080), with 6 g, 0 a, 1 gwg, 14 off-side, 12 FC and 5 FS.

          Though the numbers are small, there probably is not that much to chose between them.
          — One could argue that Christen’s support is not as good as either Alex’s or ARod’s, which may explain her zero assists (no-one to pass to who could score) and high off-sides.
          — Alex’s 4 assists and 3 gwg stand out and she was only caught off-side once.
          — An odd number is that Christen suffered many less fouls than either ARod or Alex but at the same time committed more. That may reflect time playing in the Swedish league and cup and the Champions League.

          We look forward to next season.