College Cup a reflection of the year in sports

Jennifer Gordon December 4, 2016 70
College Cup finalist USC boasts one of the more diverse teams in the country. (photo courtesy USC W. Soccer Twitter

College Cup finalist USC boasts one of the more diverse teams in the country. (Photo courtesy USC W. Soccer Twitter)

SAN JOSE, CA. —SAN JOSE, CA. — Reflecting on the year as the clock runs down on 2016, one theme that’s been prevalent throughout in sports has been the discussion of societal issues. Certainly, women’s soccer is no exception with the discussion of equal pay and opportunity in relation to the U.S. women’s national team and Megan Rapinoe kneeling in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick dominating headlines throughout much of the year.

You don’t have to look far to see that societal issues are also interwoven into the fabric of the last major event on the North American women’s soccer calendar. In fact, the very location of this year’s College Cup is the result of a social problem that the nation is currently grappling with.

This College Cup was supposed to be held in Cary, N.C. (after Orlando’s new stadium fell behind construction schedule) but the NCAA decided in September that North Carolina’s H2B law, denying transgender persons the right to use the bathroom of their choosing, contradicted the organization’s anti-discrimination policy. Thereafter, it was a mad dash to find a replacement host and get ready for the event.

In San Jose, there haven’t been many direct references to the reason for the move.  It’s come up  though with people complimenting Avaya Stadium and the West Coast Conference for getting the event together with less than two months notice and in discussions of how an East Coast final would have made for easier travel for most of the participants and their fans.

Beyond the venue change for the event lies other issues that have been at the forefront as of late. On Sunday, the title will be decided between a school with a woman at the helm in Nikki Izzo-Brown’s West Virginia and another with an African American male counterpart in Keidane McAlpine’s Southern California. You don’t have to look at the history books to know that’s a rarity. In fact, it’s a first.

In the final press conference before Sunday’s championship, both sides fielded questions concerning issues of diversity.

[COLLEGE CUP SEMIS: Abam fires West Virginia over UNC | USC pips Georgetown, returns to final]

“Right at the beginning of my career, so to speak, to see him on that stage was important,” McAlpine said of Portland’s former coach Clive Charles, the only African-American coach to win the women’s College Cup. “Hopefully, it will be equally important going forward. For the players, I know as a player myself I was often the only one (African American) on my team. So to have this kind of diversity in a game of this magnitude will do nothing but continue to grow the game because we need it in this country as well as others.”

Before Amanda Cromwell’s UCLA squad brought home the title in 2013, only one woman had won a national title as a head coach, Florida’s Becky Burleigh in 1998.  In each of the last five years, a female head coach had made it to the title game and woman has been the helm of two of the last three national title winners. Izzo-Brown has the chance to join a short but growing list women’s coaches who have won the ultimate prize in the college game.

“It was incredible when Becky (Burleigh) did it,” Izzo-Brown, who was then in her second year as a head coach at West Virginia, said. “…I hope that everyone looks to me as one of the best, especially this year if we do hoist that trophy, but I do think there are role model opportunities for me being a woman and being in this situation…. If there are young women out there questioning if they can or can’t do it, well they most certainly can do it.”

In truth, Izzo-Brown is already a role model, as her current assistants and a number of her former assistants, are former players.

“I do believe that women have a great perspective and we should celebrate it and I’m so fortunate that some of my former players have chosen the path of coaching,” Izzo-Brown said. “I have a lot in the coaching profession but I’m also blessed that two of my former players are alongside of me every day and making me better and that they are going to continue to be some of the great young coaches in this profession.”

Izzo-Brown said she’s faced issues of having to “prove herself” in ways that her male counterparts wouldn’t have. Given women head coaches’ recent record in the College Cup perhaps it should be the reverse especially if WVU is victorious tomorrow. Women make up just over a quarter of all head coaches in the sport. Across the board in women’s college sports, it’s even worse for African Americans, who constitute less than 16 percent of all head coaches in comparison to almost 39 percent for women.

The rosters of West Virginia and USC are also diverse in relation to other women’s soccer programs. While soccer is known as the world’s game, in the United States, soccer is a decidedly suburban, middle or upper class, white sport. For these two programs, athletes of color feature prominently. For the Trojans, Mandy Freeman and Kayla Mills feature prominently. Canadian international Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence, both black, are the undisputed stars.

“People aren’t used to seeing people that look like them on a stage like this,”  Mills said about the diversity of her team Saturday. “They see it and we’re definitely excited – I know I’m excited – about being able to inspire people and open up doors.”

Megan Rapinoe took kneeling for the National Anthem into the women's soccer world.

Megan Rapinoe took kneeling for the National Anthem into the women’s soccer world.

The extensive connection sports and issues that impact our culture on a macro level this year has generated a lot of discussion in a wide array of locales throughout the nation. One such discussion took place between the members of the Southern California women’s soccer team this fall.  

Members of the team wished to kneel for the anthem prior to a game in a nod to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling in protest of police brutality against the African American community. Some wished to kneel while others wanted to stand. In the end, the protest occurred before a game, with each player choosing what to do for herself. McAlpine called the conversation among the team that proceeded the game one his proudest days as a coach.

“To see women sit there and open up honestly, freely and emotionally, there were tears, there was anger, there was all of those things,” he said. “But at the end of it, we were reminded as Americans and as citizens – well most of us  – that we share the ability to have differences in this country and that’s okay.”

The social issues of equality, and diversity that have permeated sports’ headlines including women’s soccer will continue long after the confetti is swept from the grass at Avaya Stadium. What remains to be seen is whether the conversations continue will too or will they be swept away. 

  • Steglitz49

    A lot of this articel seems a reworking of a piece on ESPNW that “Atalba” drew our attention to:

    It is a fine piece of journalism, well researched and written. Maybe it is the same author using different pseudonyms?

  • Gary Diver

    WVU must be favored to win the Final today.

    I am amazed by how WVU, USC, and a number of other colleges have much better scouting and recruiting systems than USWNT seems to have. A number of college rosters show a great level of diversity and the college coaches seem able to chose players that creates a team that plays well as a unit.

    • Steglitz49

      It looks like they are turning over a new leaf — and the Bomb in Brasilia, aka Miracle on Grass, may well act as the ultimate catalyst to launch this to the moon!

    • #1Fan

      They don’t. They just see players differently. Colleges are not recruiting from some huge socio economic strata either. Its the same pool. Look at the U15 – U17 pool. Several non white players. The game IS pay to play and thats the reality, but don’t be filled into thinking the Colleges are not part of it . They are

      • Lorehead

        There is a real problem with the upper class getting almost all the opportunities. One symptom of that is that a higher percentage of the players on the NT are white than in other sports, but that’s because of where black and Latina girls live and how much money their parents make.

        There are black players on the national team, so let’s look a bit more closely. Crystal Dunn is from New Hyde Park, a suburb of New York City that’s 1.3% black and where the median income is three to four times higher than for the nation as a whole. She learned soccer on Paul Riley’s club team in New York, which costs thousands of dollars a year. Christen Press has a white mother and her African-American father came from a family of successful professionals; she also grew up in a nice neighborhood and played on an elite club. Sydney Leroux didn’t grow up in the United States at all.

        So we should remember that there are many different black experiences in America and exceptions to every stereotype. But biographies like theirs are the exceptions that prove the rule. The only player on the USWNT last year whose family was lower-class was Hope Solo, and that has a lot to do with why she never fit in.

        • Gary Diver

          I wonder if anybody has done a study of the financial burdens on families of elite WoSo youth players. I imagine it is much more expensive than more people realize.

          Your point about Hope Solo is very interesting. It is strange that so many people won’t cut her any slack for coming from a dysfunctional family having a very disadvantaged background. It is a “walk a mile in my moccasins before you criticize me” situation.

          • #1Fan

            Of course they have. on a decent club its 6k per year + and they are not really teaching you much at many of these clubs you are paying to be “showcased” Its big business and its not going to change any time soon

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. I read somewhere that if your daughter plays soccer to a high standard it can set you back $10k a year and the minimum you get away with for basement is $3k.

            I wonder how different it really is in Europe? I can’t imagine that the famous clubs are exactly free. Does anyone know? Maybe it varies from country to country and club to club?

          • #1Fan

            its free. Well I know it is at Arsenal. its a business here and mostly parents with little or no knowledge foot the bill. They then think that becasue they pay, they are now experts. So they then start trying to control the process. Again , generalization but largely true.

          • Steglitz49


          • atalba

            It is more expensive than people realize. The travel and time to a family is beyond reasonable. I would contend though, that all clubs I’ve come across focus on technical and tactical skills at a very young age. These high revenue-producing activities; for groups, teams, and individuals. Most teams either have teams their own indoor Futsal facilities, or run leagues and camps though a local facility. Teams often have club trainers work with the team weekly. Some teams have an additional night for 3-4 players to work individually.

            It is vitally important to be seen. So much so that parents and clubs waste money going to tournaments where they’ll gain little-to-no-value for playing; including visibility. If you’re in a lower bracket and are losing, there’s only parents watching.

            On top of the money, normal societal biases rule. Look at any senior management of Fortune 100 and it will also reflect who calls the shots in these clubs. You need to be head and shoulders better to get a fair shot.

          • #1Fan

            I dont know where you are from, but I can speak to some of the top clubs in the country in the North East. PDA do not focus on individual development . One of the biggest reasons these Clubs do not do it is becasue it is a side business that they can offer privately and get paid for. This is fairly normal in this area., You pay to be part of a Club to play games and train 3 days per week. In that time its mostly TEAM development., so the PDA guys can market a National Championship to perspective families. If you want individual skill work, they can help out of hours thru the various training companies they own , but that costs extra. Clubs are a business. They are not in the business to develop individuals as such. Its a cookie cutter, volume in volume out model. Yes there are excep[tions, but not many.

            As far as they USSF go, they have it wrong. They have realized that you cannot rely on the clubs for individual development, but the proposed solution is not going to work either unless they start to understand that they have to be ruthless in player selection. The current model has too many clubs, too many teams and not enough players to make it top class. Not every kid wants to forego HS, just becasue the USSF says so. The current plans are just going to fragment the game more and ensure that the best players are NOT training and developing together in an area. It a mess and I dont see how its going to change.

          • atalba

            What is important is that is varies and that parents even on the same team have differences of opinion of how things work. There’s not one view of anything in this world.

            Top clubs cannot stay at the top without both attracting good players and developing good players. It’s a must. It’s a must in any type of organization. The pity that I see is the non-athletic adolescent going through years of training, technical training; becoming a wiz on the ball; and never having a shot at producing on a full-size field. This is the big business that I’m used to experiencing. C-teams at a young age, with many options to buy additional training; as low as u5. It’s starts early.

            And yes, I’m used to seeing teams with a highly paid technical trainer work with teams weekly. The coach steps aside and let’s the trainer take the girls through individual skills through the entire session.

            In fact, Allie Wagner’s dad was the coach of her teams in the late 90s, and they had a French trainer come in every week. I supported a family member who was not on the teams (two ages – Allie and Sam), but was allowed to train with them on training night. That person went on to coach at a local college, and my family member was recruited there. He currently is the the technical trainer at a large club in Norcal.

            I’m also familiar with a world class (my opinion) technical trainer who specialized in training girls as the technical director of clubs (many throughout the years). He and his brothers were professional soccer players, but specialized in technical training. He has a daughter now playing D1 soccer. I’ve paid him to train my teams at a lower level club.

            The point is I’m only used to teams and players receiving technical training at the youngest of ages – to a fault. Money.

          • #1Fan

            It depends how you define “on top” The ECNL club model for girls has changed that landscape. The 90s were a long time ago. Maybe that was the norm then in cal. Its not the norm in the NE anymore. The top youth Clubs in the US are usually defined by how often they win. Nothing else. Style of play etc are irrelevant. the easiest way to win games at girls youth level is to play direct, take few risks in playing out of pressure and to be physically committed at the back. I dont care how many technical sessions you do a week, if you don not risk losing on game day to get better down the line, then its a waste. I see this mentality all over the Country at every tournament we attend. I saw this with the U17 team in the WC I saw this with the U 20 team in the WC. As far as your non athletic example, may I ask what you point is? I dont want to assume I know and respond incorrectly. Indi Cowie is a whiz on the ball. Not a great player in game.

          • atalba

            She was good enough to play for UNC. What I’m talking about is kids that have little athletic ability, but parents pay for them to learn how to become technical wizards on the ball. They can play a good short-sided game, but could never keep up with the more athletic kids. They hit their prime rather early.

            My examples spanned from 20 years ago until today. It is an opinion to call weekly technical training a waste. The other advantage we have as American is competition. Competitive spirit is both natural and can be cultivated.

            I’ve seen many girls sitting on the bench for the entire weekend. Either they enjoy the camaraderie of that team, or their parents have delusions of grandeur. I wouldn’t waste my money having my daughter ride the bench. It’s a tough balance, but I always made every drill competitive. It’s not hard at a young age to pick out the ones who don’t have that spirit. Some develop it over time. Some don’t. Some have it, and wreak havoc even in practice.

          • Steglitz49

            I have enjoyed this string. Great writing. Keep it up, please.

          • Bruce

            Second that. Love when I learn something here.

          • #1Fan

            not what i said. I said its a waste IF you dont get a chance to put it into practice becasue a Coach is too concerned with results on game day. This fear is one reason we end up with fewer kids on our teams who have the courage and skill to do creative things with the ball. They have been conditioned over time by 100s of results driven games, to fear taking risks becasue failing trumps the benefits of succeeding.

            When you are Jesse Fleming or Deyna Castellanos and you are NOT afraid becasue you are probably going to lose anyways, you try this stuff and get better and better at it, until you are now a difference maker. Its a generalization, but you get my point.

          • Steglitz49

            I don’t like to use male illustrations. Marta and other sophisticated female players have told about the hours they put in to practice their special skills. This no different from stories told by Zlatan and Cruyff.

            Annika Sörenstam told a story of as a 13-14 year old she was practicing her golf and it started to rain and hail. So she called her dad who came and picked her up. As they were driving away she saw some boys practicing and made a comment about it. Her father simply answered: “Nothing comes free. If you want to be the best, you must put in the hours.” She never again called her dad to collect her if the weather was bad. Instead she made sure she had weatherproofs win her bag.

          • #1Fan

            My examples are female 🙂 when you play for the USA at youth level. or a top youth club, the pressure is there to win. and to win by any means becasue you are supposed to. The metrics need to change. We should be applauding Clubs that develop good players with good habits.Players that succeed at the next level. we rarely do. The US culture applauds winners and I get it, but is a kid who coattails a dominant youth player and a strong deep club better than a kid who is out there being double and triple teamed becasue she is the only real threat on her team ? I think its hard to say, but I do know that some adversity is a good thing in development. Not making a team, bit winning can drive teh committed player to work harder. Too many of these kids live in a middle class programmed world where failure is simply met by daddys $$ simply paying for more training, or joining a different Club where Mia can now be the star. Too few of them are told to deal with the failure and work harder.

          • Steglitz49

            Fascinating. Are there limitations on how far away from a club you can live. The reason I ask is because I found this on Chelsea ladies web-site:

            Please note that in accordance with FA Premier League rules, trials can only be offered to players in the Under-9 to Under-12 age group if the player lives within one hour’s travelling time from the Chelsea Academy.

            Trials can only be offered to players in the Under-13 to Under-16 age group if the player lives within one-and-a-half hours travelling time from the Chelsea Academy.

          • #1Fan

            No restrictions in the US. I know kids traveling 2h each way to practice to play on winning clubs. Bypassing good coaches along the way. U.K. Is because it’s free. Local players get priority

          • atalba

            OK. I understand the notion of players being creative. That’s an age-old argument. I’m on the side of passing and spacing; movement off the ball; versus encouraging one creative player to dance on the ball. Again, this is opinion.

            There is a cultural difference that this points out as well. American kids do not practice on their own. They only practice while at an organized sport. Of course, there are many that can’t afford that, and gain a great deal of experience on their own and with small groups of kids. There’s so few that take it seriously to work on their own game in their backyard, driveway, park, living room. My bet is your examples are unique even their youth worlds of Canada and Venezuela.

            I also presume Indie Cowie feels blessed to have the talent and drive to be a freestylist extraordinaire. I would also presume she would be the first to say she doesn’t have the athleticism, and maybe even the competitive drive, to play at the next level.

          • Steglitz49

            I take it that soccer freestyle is to soccer as moguls are to the downhill or (giant) slalom. Those that can ski the downhill and slalom, like Vonn and Shiffrin, and the others do moguls.

          • #1Fan

            I dont define being creative either. Whatever it is, players need a chance to try it in games without fear of repercussions. My point is that there are advantages to being able to develop outside of the spotlight and the pressure of winning. I don’t think those examples are unique

          • Steglitz49

            You probably need to include the element of the chance occurrence — unless you are religious, in which case you would ascribe it to higher power.

            For example, Cruyff’s father died when he was young. He had been a greengrocer. Now his mum went to work as a cleaning lady. One job was to clean in the cafeteria of Ajax. The Ajax headcoach saw his talent. Cruyff was 12 at the time.

            I guess it is different for the ladies. It is such an upper middle-class sport, like figure skating and skiing. Nevertheless, someone must spot you and say: the girl over there, the one with her hair in pigtails, she is someone to develop.

          • #1Fan

            Nonsense. Kids are not “spotted to be developed” in the USA. Parents pay for it. The point being discussed is that the environment you pay for should be one that encourages individual development when young. Not one that focuses on winning. I can win at u8, with one big fast player with limited skill and 7 other kids who i tell to kick the ball as far as they can. Are those kids learning to play the game? Is that a better developmental environment that one that tries to teach all its players HOW to play and risks losing to do so? Of course not.

          • Steglitz49

            Lorehead made that point a day ago in these strings. He used the examples of Crystal Dunn and Christen Press but I guess we can throw Alex Morgan in for good measure.

            Nevertheless, someone must have noticed these better than average players, which took them to the next level.

          • #1Fan

            Good night.

          • Steglitz49

            The 800 lb gorilla you are not willing to acknowledge is that in a country like the US where every WoSo position is oversubscribed 10-fold if not 30-fold, your margin of error as a talent spotter is wider than if you are in Norway or Sweden.

            The head coach of any of the top 30 US colleges subconsciously knows but would never acknowledge, that it does not really matter if he — they usually are males — pick A or B or C or D because even K, L, M and N are (almost) as good. You could probably type-cast — no point applying to –college A because their coach does not pick redheads — college B because he only believes in flatchested players — college C because (insert personal prejudice) …

            It is like being Tutor for Admission to Yale Law School, Stanford Medical School or Harvard Business School. You hope you pick winners while the risk of getting losers is minimal.

          • DNG

            Being creative isn’t limited to fancy dribbling. A quick back heel flick for example can be used to send a oncoming teammate through when defenders over commit thinking they are safe. Chip passes over defensive lines are another example. There are practical uses for creative dribbling as well such as escaping pressure which is a skill most us players can use a lot of work in. Often times the fancy dribblers are some of the best dribblers and have the best ball control. I’d also argue that dribblers like Dunn(not fancy), Heath, and Rapinoe for example are able to manipulate those spaces a lot through dribbling. Rapinoe and Heath(her especially) can fall into phases where they dwell too long on the ball with little hint of end product but I’d say that it’s gotten a lot better recently. Direct dribbling that can pull defenses out of shape is something I think the team should always look for.

            I know we’ve had this argument before but I don’t mean dribblers that can take the ball from one end of the field to the other the fastest without any defenders in front of them. I mean dribblers that can take the ball towards goal with defensive numbers in front of them and with a relative high rate of success.

          • Steglitz49

            Jesse Fleming? Jesse played both in the win against Germany in the group game and also in the win against the Aussies, when Canada had to play with 10 players. Granted Jessie also played in the loss to Germany, the one in which Buchanan gave away a penalty in the first half. (Buchanan did not play when Canada won.)

            In short, Jessie Fleming does not always play on losing teams.

          • #1Fan

            you miss the point. Jesse Fleming clearly developed in an environment where her talent was appreciated for what it was. Not the result. You often jump to the stage well beyond the formative one.

          • Steglitz49

            I don’t miss the point. All I know about Ms Fleming is that she grew up in Ontario and did a variety of sports, including hockey, before focusing on soccer. Then she went to UCLA.

            If you have details about her coach and setup between 9-18, by all means feel free to share it.

          • #1Fan

            so you think Ontario is full of competitive soccer leagues ? Not talking about multi sport, or anything else. Not talking about UCLA either. Just about kids growing up with no fear of trying things because todays win or loss is at stake

          • Steglitz49

            I have not the foggiest.

            Ms Fleming is fast and has stamina, which is a great advantage in soccer, not least WoSo. She has more than average ball skills and knows when to pass.

            I often wonder who coach some of these ladies when they were young. Who coached Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Crystal Dunn etc when small? Naho Kawasumi has told that it was some old geezer when she was a tot and attended games where a sibling played. When this retired player realized that the little one on the sideline had talent, he taught her for fun.

          • Steglitz49

            Tahnks for explaining all this so well. Keep going.

          • Steglitz49

            The performances of the US in U20 was jolly different from U17. The U17s did not get out of their group in spite of a close game with japan. The U20s lost to the ultimate champs by the narrowest of margins and had managed a draw with the other finalist. OK. Not perfect but pas mal as they say.

          • Bruce

            Your experience rings true to me. The parent who thinks that clubs should invest in player development (and we are in the minority) will almost always be disappointed. My daughter’s first year at one of the “top programs” in IL has been more a less a waste of time. She would have been better off going to the field by herself for 8 hours a week.

          • #1Fan

            ty Bruce. I have been around it enough now to know that whilst it does not apply to al. it does to many. Parents want wins to justify the $$$. its ludicrous but true. They would rather the kid play 10 m per game for Club A who is 10-0 than 70m for Club B who is 2-8. Even if the coaching and environment is better.

          • Steglitz49

            People like to win and young girls are no different from adults.

            I can entertain that at the environment might possibly be better at a club which loses 2-8 than one that wins 10-0, but it is a stretch of the imagination.

            Also, if the coaching at Club B is better than at Club A, why are they not winning and why isn’t word getting round?

            If you intend to take your puppy to obedience classes, you ask around and go to the one other dog owners recommend and you certainly don’t chose to the one everybody says is useless.

          • #1Fan

            You are exactly what these clubs rely on to make money. A person who thinks a good developmental club for Youth is the one that wins the most. You can win a lot and teach nothing .

          • Steglitz49

            I typed: you ask around and chose the one people recommend. You do not chose the one with a poor record.

            Results count. Good coaches deliver results. Bad coaches don’t. Granted, once you have made your name, you can pick and chose, like Lagerbäck who coached Iceland’s men for a token fee.

            You never did tell me who coached and developed Jessie Fleming.

          • #1Fan

            They don’t in youth soccer. They don’t count at all. Good youth coaches develop good technique early and provide a foundation for good players. If you think youth records define how good a club is then Im sorry but that is the mentality that will continue to propagate the mess we have now. almost no one teaches, they all just take the shortest route to a win.

          • Steglitz49

            Do we know some names? I never see any of these girls who make the big time praise anyone. “The person who really helped me develop was X.” Or, “When I was 11, I was coached by Y”.

            The nearest I have seen is the story Naho Kawasumi told — but his name was not in because I guess he was an unknown. (Mind you, Sasaki was an unknown till he got going with the Golden Generation.)

          • Steglitz49

            It depends on what you mean as a fair shot. The populations and rough proportion of female players are:

            Iceland : Norway : Sweden : Germany : USA = 1 : 17 : 33 : 300 : 1000

            Thus where Sweden puts together one WNT, the US could assemble 30. That is, well understood, an exaggeration but one solution within the USSF grasp lies in some regional tournament of 8 if not 32 teams.

          • atalba

            You put 3 people in a room, or on a club, and you have politics. Politics rules everything. And you can guess that with politics, there are plenty of biases. That is the reason of Jen’s article. It greatly reflects soccer and American society as a whole. You can’t ignore it. You can’t pretend is doesn’t exist. You can’t deny you’re a part of it. It’s human nature. Checks and balances – not just majority.

          • Steglitz49

            Pia was castigated for the squad of 20+3 she picked for WC-15. When the chickens came home to roost, she learnt a bit. The squad of 16+2+4 she took to Rio was also subject to criticism but she learnt to manage it on the hoof.

            If Pia can be scrutinized, the scrutiny on JE must be 10 times as high if not 30.

            To select the best 20+3 USWNT is to some extent a crap shot. After the Bomb in Brasilia it is even worse because justice would say you turf them out lock stock and barrel.

        • #1Fan

          You are looking a that head of the snake though. I can tell you that they U15- U18 pool has several non white players. I can’t tell you why they do not end up on the full NT. The top player of the 2018 class is black as are several of the top 50. I mentioned above that the game is pay to play. Many folks are making a good living from the youth game. Why will that change ? No one has a vested interest in making the sport free other than maybe the NTs who MAY find those diamonds who can’t afford it. But in reality the CLUBS have to do that. It happens with men because there is real $$ in finding a real player. That is not the case for women so I just don’t see what is going to change the dynamic. Pro sports with real $$ are invented to find players irrespective of their economic background.

          A big part of USSF WoSo pitch is to young middle class white girls who want to cheer for Alex and Tobin. Im sorry but they are not role models to everyone.

          • Lorehead

            In theory, US Soccer is a nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities for every child to play, and to fielding the best possible national team. I agree that the pay-to-play system in the US has strong economic incentives not to change.

          • atalba

            I’m not defending the USSF, but it is a non-profit organization, not funded by the U.S. government. There are thousands of players across the U.S. If you’re going to use your money wisely, you can only focus on the given cream of the crop presented to you by the clubs. The USSF tries to dictate the type of play and structure of play for a damn good reason. Many have complained that they don’t do this. Many have complained that they do it. It is important to “try” to dictate the strategy, philosophy, style, and structure of organizations when you really can only dictate what your money allows.

            They’re not running U.S. soccer, just the national teams. The club environment needs to change to allow access to all players, and find a way to fund player development for all strata. This is the norm that attracts all families; a chance to have their daughters play in college. It’s a huge sacrifice that many families make. Most families think they can’t afford to save for college, but will pump money into their daughter’s soccer career. Obviously, this happens disproportionately with families who shouldn’t risk their money on soccer.

            So not only is access a problem, the risk associated with the cost is not a good return, or a wise decision.

            Despite all of this, sports for girls is awesome. We have many that are playing, and many that have true athletic ability and competitive spirit. It not only should be celebrated, but considered an American advantage.

          • Steglitz49

            I doubt that many minority girls care that Alex and Tobin are white. What they would have noticed, like Simone Manuel did as a kid, is how few of them there are in the upper ranks.

            Simone as a 9 or 10 year old pointed this out to her mum who at first did not believe her but then realized that Simone was right. Anyway, Simone went to Stanford, which has an aquatic center to die for, and won gold in Rio, so the story ended on an upbeat note.

      • Gary Diver

        The American WoSo system is definitely broken. Hardly anybody on this site is happy with the state of USWNT, USWNYT, NWSL, or American WoSo in general. Soccer is a great sport, but a lot of things have to change in America for WoSo to come close to reaching its potential here. The country needs some visionary leadership and a new direction and it needs them soon. What USSF decides to do with USWNT after January 1 will give some indication what the near-future will look like going forward.

        • #1Fan

          The ECNL USSF spat is very indicative of our issues. There are just so many vested interests that one voice will never reign. USSF are very heavy handed. They rub most of the other players the wrong way. They need to develop consensus to make it work and they won’t. They know it all.

        • #1Fan

          And many on this site don’t care . They just want to win . They are not looking below the surface much. These issues start long before WoSo hits the radar of many folks here. Ive tried to focus on the Youth game and younger player to show you guys what is going on at Youth level, but to be honest, the insults make it a waste of time. If you want a better system you have to make changes at the bottom of the pyramid and not only the top.

          • Gary Diver

            Your comments and insights are appreciated by many. It is too bad that some posters want to play one-upmanship instead of having a civil dialogue.

        • Steglitz49

          They were happy enough in 2015, when the US won the world cup.

          The problem in 2016 was that Rio was expected to be a walk in the park. They never got to Rio to step out on the grass in the Maracana. It was those pesky Swedes that got to play there twice to boot — the same Swedes that they underestimated at the disco so they waltzed off with all the hunks.

          Now everyone is sour. Meanwhile, Alex is enjoying the delights of Lyon.

  • atalba

    Fantastic article! 2 great coaches. These social issues are real and impact the games in real ways. Way to go Jen!

    • Steglitz49

      Hera, hear hear! verily and forsooth. Hound’s tooth.

  • fourTurns

    “..African American student athletes feature prominently. Canadian international Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence are the undisputed stars.”

    Mislabelling here since you can’t be American and a Canadian international unless it was a scenario of being born in the US and had dual citizenships but these 2 players were born in Canada. Writer needs to get out her American bubble world.

    • Steglitz49

      The 51st state and all that?

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  • mockmook

    “the right to use the bathroom of their choosing”

    There is no such right.

    BTW, how much time do we have to dwell on these “firsts”?

    As the article says, neither McAlpine nor Izzo-Brown is the first, so what are we talking about here?

    This fixation on our differences is unhealthy. What does it matter what genatalia or skin pigment that you happen to have?

    • Lorehead

      I agree with you that there’s way too much divisive and angry rhetoric out there. People using the bathrooms and pronouns of their choice at the very least doesn’t hurt anybody. At the very least, making it illegal for trans men to use the men’s room or trans women to use single-occupancy bathrooms with locks on the doors doesn’t even serve the ostensible purpose of the bill. So it goes too far, and we ought to live and let live.

    • atalba

      Making assumptions on what the norm is assuming all people are the same. This is simply not true. Acknowledging that diversity exists and it is our strength as a nation is the point. Trying to limit access and at all levels of society is the norm. This is unhealthy. There’s just no such thing as humans seeing each other as humans. We clearly recognize the differences. We are clearly tribal animals. And we instinctively see with bias.

    • guest

      A big difference, clearly

  • Steglitz49

    Seeing how this is about playing Cup ties and Cup finals, here are the results from the FA women’s Cup 1st round proper. The winners receive £800 (ca $1100).

    Radcliffe Olympic 6-0 Sheffield Wednesday
    Sheffield United 2-0 Leicester City Women Dev
    Bradford City 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
    Stoke City 1-1(aet) Liverpool Marshall Feds (Feds won 4-2 on penalties)
    Guiseley AFC Vixens 0-1 Nottingham Forest

    Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-0 Solihull
    Birmingham & West Midlands 0-3 Leicester City Women
    Middlesbrough 1-0 Hartlepool United
    West Bromwich Albion 4-1 Fylde
    Huddersfield Town 0-1 Derby County

    RACA Tynedale 0-3 Newcastle United
    Norton & Stockton Ancients 1-6 Hull City
    Long Eaton United H/W Nuneaton Town
    Brighouse Town 3-2 Peterborough Northern Star
    Southampton Saints 1-7 Gillingham

    Acle United 0-2 C&K Basildon
    Cardiff City LFC 6-0 Larkhall Athletic
    Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Leyton Orient
    Cambridge United 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
    MK Dons 3-1 Hemel Hempstead Town

    Plymouth Argyle H/W Forest Green Rovers
    Lewes 5-0 Brislington
    West Ham United 0-3 Coventry United
    Crystal Palace 1-2 Charlton Athletic
    Luton Town 1-4 Portsmouth

    Norwich City 1-4 AFC Wimbledon
    Southampton Women P-P Swindon Town
    Regents Park Rangers 1-6 Keynsham Town

  • Paul Klee

    Jennifer Gordon does not strike me as a particularly bright person, if you’ve, um, ever, ahhh, heard, um, an, ahhum, interview with, um her, it’s excruciating. She has clearly fallen into the politically correct black-hole vortex, from which there is likely no escape.
    How else do you complain that “only” 16% of women’s college head coaches are black and not acknowledge that the black population of the United States is about 14%.

  • guest

    “Denying transgender persons the right to use the bathroom of their choosing”
    As long the author thinks this subject is important enough, let me just say that I don’t agree that a person has “the right to use the bathroom of their choosing.” If you have a pair swinging between your legs, use the mens room. It’s a policy that’s always worked, and there’s no need to change it now,