The Lowdown: NWSL rings in 2017

Dan Lauletta January 4, 2017 67
NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush. (Photo Courtesy NWSL)

NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush. (Photo Courtesy NWSL)

The NWSL is about to embark on a fifth season and with the draft a little more than a week away, you can expect a flurry of news tidbits to start trickling out. Until then, here is a look at some of the storylines to follow around the league as the sun rises on 2017.

Will there be a mass exodus to Europe and elsewhere?

Alex Morgan might be a bigger name than Crystal Dunn, but the latter’s move to England was a much bigger blow to NWSL than Morgan’s. And they are not alone. On the day Dunn’s move to Chelsea Ladies was announced, Paris Saint-Germain officially introduced Canadian wunderkind Ashley Lawrence. Another Canadian, Kadeisha Buchanan appears headed to Lyon. Several people close to the league also believe Savannah Jordan will wind up somewhere other than NWSL. That is three 1st round picks potentially taking themselves out of the mix, plus two major stars heading overseas.

Could there be more? Time will tell. But there are a few reasons that Dunn’s departure is more jarring than Morgan’s. One is that Morgan still has designs on returning to Orlando after Lyon’s season finishes—no later than June 1. Dunn, on the other hand, told the Washington Post she will not be in NWSL this season. That is despite her new club, Chelsea, being reduced to friendlies and the FA Cup until the new fall-spring calendar gets the league rebooted. That means she could have played the season for the Spirit before moving to Chelsea for a run at the 2018 FAWSL title and possibly the Champions League.

Instead she hightailed it out of Washington right behind Ali Krieger, Christine Nairn and others.

Dunn is quoted in the release by Chelsea Ladies: “I have only been to London once before but there is something that grabbed me about Chelsea. The whole family culture – the unity, the morale – is making it feel just like home.”

That may or may not be an indirect dig at the Spirit, but every indication is that whatever the 2017 plan turned out to be, Dunn was never going back to play in Washington. None of Tuesday’s developments did anything to alter that idea.

I’m not ready to be alarmed just yet. If more players like Amandine Henry come, it will more than help offset the loss of some of the best U.S. players in NWSL. And this could very well be a perfect storm offseason to be offset in a few years by a mass arrival of quality players. Besides, NWSL needs to figure out how to succeed without leaning on any particular star or star system. Sure, having Morgan and Dunn in the league helps drive exposure and ticket sales, but the creation of dedicated fan bases who will stick around no matter the personnel is what will allow the league to achieve real credibility and sustainability.

About that pesky CBA

The collective bargaining agreement is expired, which essentially means nothing because neither side has started the clock on opting out and/or enacting a work stoppage. That means the uneasiness remains. The USWNT Players Association announcement that they were changing lead counsel with just a few days left in the agreement was an ominous sign that whatever meetings took place in December did not lead to much progress.

Whenever a new agreement does get hammered out, it will certainly include NWSL. The USWNT PA release about (lawyer) Rich Nichols departing even went so far as to mention the league. That may sound trivial, but the league was formed during the last round of CBA negotiations and no national team player mentioned it on any format until Abby Wambach’s Ballon d’Or acceptance speech nearly two months later.

The general fear is that NWSL currently sits right in the middle of what appears to be a vast chasm separating the players and US Soccer, and that eventually one or either side will use it as negotiating fodder.

NWSL will absolutely survive the new CBA, and eventually will have to break free of its guardianship arrangement with U.S. Soccer. The hope is that its tweaks position the league well for growth as it prepares for its fifth season and beyond.

Will the league itself develop more of a presence?

NWSL recently hired Amanda Duffy to its operations department. In a WoSo rarity, the move was met with almost unanimous praise. Duffy previously ran the W-League and had risen to become president of Louisville FC. The league though, declined to comment on the hiring and does not intend to put out any official announcement. Only the farewell release from Louisville FC alerted the masses to Duffy’s hiring.

So what gives? Could Duffy’s hiring be part of a larger restructuring to be announced down the road? That is certainly possible. But given the league’s track record for silence deference over directness, the autopilot response is to be skeptical. And remember, expanding the league office is usually considered a good thing, and a prominent, popular woman being hired to a position of importance in the league office is worthy of being shouted from the highest mountaintops.

Beyond the coy response to the new hire, the league continues to respond to every crisis by turning off. In other words they issue a bland statement and then go on media lockdown. They have not teased the schedule or home openers, or even when it might be announced. Promises of other good news during the weeks after the NWSL Championship have also been followed by deafening silence. There have not been any comments about CBA talks or assurances that league business will not be impacted by them.

When MLS season starts, try to watch a full weekend of games without seeing or hearing from commissioner Don Garber. NWSL has the opposite scenario. Good luck getting even a sniff of a league executive either on camera or in any effort to keep the flow of news and information heading in the right direction.

What happens on the field?

The offseason is long enough that you can sometimes forget the idea here is to have competitive soccer teams on the field. Things have been somewhat stagnant outside the Spirit trading away or otherwise losing a solid chunk of their near-championship roster. But there are several burning questions leading into the draft. My top four would be…

1) Will the Breakers use the number one pick or trade it? In a draft with so much uncertainty at the top and the first time since 2013 when we are not dead certain who will go first, the Breakers’ decision and the pick will go a long way in shaping the rest of the day.

2) Is the Washington Spirit’s allocation ranking for real? Someone affiliated with the Ali Kriger trade told me then it was “total BS.” Since then the Spirit moved up again to the top spot. Who could they get with the priority? Last year the Thorns sent the No. 3 pick to Boston to move up and grab Mallory Pugh only to have Pugh change her mind and opt for UCLA (and then redshirt her freshman year to play in the U-20 World Cup). Landing a major player here could offset much of the Spirit’s hemorrhaging of players and win back some of their eroding goodwill with the fan base.

3) What direction will the Flash take? The Flash tore their team to bits in the 2014-2015 offseason and remarkably, put five players drafted in 2015 in the starting lineup the day they won the 2016 NWSL Championship. As of the time this article was published, they held the No. 2 and 7 picks next week. Additionally, sources have indicated the deal to sign recently acquired Rosana is a formality and that fellow Brazilian Debinha is also expected to join the club. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, winning the title will alter the mentality. Do they use the picks or move them for either more veteran help or something to cash in down the road? Either way, I would be quite surprised if the Flash don’t announce a trade before the draft.

4) Paging the Portland Thorns: Last offseason it seemed like the Thorns were adding an internationally capped player every week. This time around they have been eerily quiet. Of course, the team they left off with in October was pretty good. So they likely don’t need more than a few tweaks. If there was an area of weakness though, it was team speed, something the Flash exposed in their semifinal victory. As the biggest, strongest club in NWSL, the Thorns move the needle whenever they do something, whatever it is. They have as many detractors as fans. Hoping for some Thorns news in the not-too-distant future.

Extra time

-Here is a question: If the CBA is still viable, then why are Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn suddenly free to go to Europe on what appear to be free transfers? And as posed by Twitter follower @kraxydevil, can Chelsea at any point turn around and loan Dunn back to the NWSL club of her/their choosing?

-My next NWSL personnel question is whether Christie Rampone will play. Not only is it a blessing to have a connection to the 1999 World Cup team still active and another blessing to be able to watch the 41-year old glide around the pitch, her decision will be important to Sky Blue, who can build several parts of their roster off of her presence at center back.

-I’ve heard from too many different people that I do believe there will be some changes to how and where NWSL matches are distributed this season. Stay tuned.

-Look for Tiffany Weimer to end up in Boston.

-There are now more NWSL MVP winners playing in England (2) than in NWSL (1). Dunn and Kim Little will be in FAWSL, while reigning MVP Lynn Williams remains in Western New York. The fourth, Lauren Holiday, is retired.

  • Gary Diver

    “Last week the NWSL announced the Amanda Duffy would become the new managing director of operations for the league. Duffy joins the NWSL leaving a great position at a rising USL franchise, Louisville City FC. As the only female president of a U.S. men’s professional soccer club, Duffy oversaw tremendous growth in the organization.”

    http://the18.com/soccer-news/nwsl-league-office-makes-big-addition-teams-remain-quiet

    “The NWSL is about to embark on a fifth season and with the draft a little more than a week away, you can expect a flurry of news tidbits to start trickling out.” We will see. I am very surprised about the lack of media coverage of any WoSo stories other than players going to Europe. Little about USWNT CBA negotiations, no January camp, no USWNT Friendlies other than SBC, no discussion about next week’s NWSL college draft, little discussion about the lack of NWSL expansion, little discussion about the invisible and ineffective Jeff Plush, no discussion about the Hermann trophy candidates (winner to be announced in two days in St. Louis), no discussions about US youth soccer, et cetera. Does anybody out there care about WoSo?

    • Steglitz49

      Players going to play in Europe is big news not least when we see the clubs mentioned — Chelsea, Lyon, Montpellier and PSG — and in the case of Alex Morgan the alleged pay.

      There was a time when WoSo players came in droves from around the world to play in the USA. No longer so.

      • Gary Diver

        As I mentioned before, 2017 could be a year of transition for American WoSo. But a transition to what?

        • Steglitz49

          The risk is that it will be a bad year.

          In 2013 they came off the success in OG-12 and survived Pinoe and Tobin in France, Hope out because of an op, and ARod pregnant. In 2017 they come from the debacle that was OG-16, a copule of the very best US players abroad and two top Canadians gone too (though before the draft at least).

          In 2017 WoSo looks forward to Euro-17, the Champions League final and the FA cup final, not necessarily in that order. What can north-America look forward to?

          When I am in my most paranoid state, I worry about UEFA collusion to neuter the NWSL. When commentators again start to denigrate Alex and praise another player, where is US WoSo going? Not forward, it seems.

          • Gary Diver

            I share your concerns, and to be frank I fear that WoSo is becoming a toy to be played with by the male hierarchy that rules soccer. “He who giveth can equally taketh away (without notice).”

          • Steglitz49

            The money into WoSo in Europe has several threads not all voluntary. At the same time, the clubs seems to have realized if they can get attendances at ladies matches up, they can make even more money from their main stadia.

            To some extent the FA are forcing that by insisting that matches in the FA women’s Cup must be played on natural grass.

          • guest

            “If they can get attendances at ladies matches up, they can make even more money from their main stadia.” WTH are you on about?

          • Steglitz49

            “Money makes the world go round. Money, money, money!”

          • Som Termanni

            No idea, as usual. WSL, for instance, barely charges for tickets. Most sell for fewer than £5, even for the major teams. They don’t make a significant amount of money from attendance, and despite the low prices still don’t draw significant crowds. Perhaps greater demand would allow for more profitable tickets, but for now gate receipts are negligible compared to the US, where even the Spirit will charge north of $30/ticket for uncovered bleacher seats.

  • Gary Diver

    Was the picture of the “Invisible Jeff Plush” accompanying this article about 2017 NWSL an inside joke?

    Is NWSL commissioner a full-time job? Is there a more ineffective commissioner of a North American major sports league than Jeff Plush? I don’t want to sound too negative, but can anybody point to any accomplishments that Plush has made in the past two years? Has there been any comments out of Plush’s office about a possible NWSL expansion in the next two years? I’ve noticed that NWSL announcements tend to be leaked to the media ahead of time. That is a bad sign. NWSL’s marketing is nearly non-exist. It is not surprising that when USWNT had their ticker-tape parade in New York, Plush was not invited to share the spotlight. If Plush died we wouldn’t know for months. NWSL needs a dynamic, visible commissioner, which they currently don’t have.

    • kernel_thai

      If Plush died tomorrow his pall bearers would be four interns.

      • Steglitz49

        Six, surely or eight. Maybe he does not weigh much once the hot air has escaped.

  • sandrae gunter

    Now that Phil Rawlins is not Orlando’s President can we get him to be commissioner? Or please find someone, anyone…. will be better than Jeff Plush

    • Gary Diver

      Does anybody know what Jeff Plush does during the day? In the past his defenders have said he works behind the scene. If so, he must be working so far behind the scene that he is on another planet.

      • kernel_thai

        Plush is still working hard on that promised tv deal for the league. Today he has meetings with Nickelodeon and the Food Network

        • Som Termanni

          I’d just as soon see teams be able to strike regional deals. The Breakers/NESN deal falling through over national rights when neither Plush nor Fox had an intention of putting the Breakers on TV across New England would’ve been a massive failure by the measure of any other sports league, but in the NWSL it didn’t even make the top 5 screwups of 2016.

    • Steglitz49

      Mrs Bill? Condoleezza Rice? One of DJT’s brood?

  • smallchief

    The US should do something to keep some focus on woso until the next big show at the 19 WC.

    How about forming 2 national teams: team A and team B? . Not to play each other, but to play invited teams, either national or club, before or after the NWSL season. (That idea probably won’t fly with the present national team members who would see a dilution of their stardom and income.)

    Or, how about a post-season touring NWSL all-star team? Invite NTs or clubs to play a friendly match or two.

    Or, maybe the NWSL will continue its glacial progress toward feasibility….I hope so…a longer season for 2017….24 games?

    • Gary Diver

      Since the OG16 debacle, the big stories in American WoSo have been the firing of Hope Solo, the kneeing of Megan Rapinoe, and the flight of Americans to Europe. Somebody needs to change the negative storyline.

      • Steglitz49

        When Lyon wins the Champions League or Chelsea the FA women’s Cup, there will be positive news. Canadians can bat for both Lyon and PSG, while WNY fans can cheer for Montpellier.

        Given how agog everyone is about the Australian League, why not some thought for the Europeans? Katie Stengel must wonder why she is better known for messing around down under on the beach with kangaroos and koalas compared to doing the Double with Bayern Munich and being their lead goalscorer to boot.

        • guest

          Positive news on the FA women’s Cup? Are some regional London newspaper really reporting about it. Or are the news limited to the Steglitz family and the poor readers here which will be bothered by your comments about it?

          • Steglitz49

            Ellyse Perry majored on her cricket. It paid off. She became considered the female Ian Botham. Then she got married. Life goes on for those who try their utmost.

        • guest

          This is not a global women soccer site but a site limited to “english speaking soccer nations”. Deal with it

          • Steglitz49

            “Oh, why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?
            “The Norwegians are taught their Norwegian, the Greeks their Greek.
            “There are even places where English has almost disappeared.
            “In America they have not spoken it for years.”

            Put that in your pipe, “guest” — whoever you are — and smoke it!

    • Steglitz49

      Why not form 4 regional teams and play a little SheKnowsCup?

      They could go one bigger and make it 8 regional teams and have a SheKnocksUpCup.

    • Som Termanni

      22 rounds in ’13, 24 in ’14. If there aren’t at least 24 rounds in ’17, the league had better have something else up its sleeve, like a parallel club cup similar to the Open Cup, a CONCACAF club tourney, or more international club friendlies like the Reign-Arsenal game (which, this year, would be rather amusing to see Kim Little put the torch to her old team).

  • kernel_thai

    As to the Spirit allocation ranking…wow have things gone down hill fast. There was the theory that local talent Andi Sullivan would either come out early from Stanford or be designated a potential allocated player and be available for the Spirit to retool around. Her injury pretty much kills that idea. There was also the notion that Canada might allocate Buchanan and Lawrence, allowing them to enter the league thru the UFI system but both seem destined for France. There was also speculation another federation might be allocating players into the league but it seems at in the game for that to happen this year.

    • guest

      not finishing your stanford degree to go play for the Spirit seems like an awful idea.

      • Steglitz49

        Hear hear! Asinine forsooth.

    • CED

      There is absolutely no reason to leave college early for any female team sport, especially not from a top university. . There is no big pay day waiting like in some male sports….bball, football, baseball, hockey.

      • DNG

        Tennis?

        Edit: I obviously need to learn to read team sport.

        • Steglitz49

          Both Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sörenstam went to Arizona State but the WoSo colleges are all high academic places, reflecting the background of WoSo players and what it takes to make the college grade. It is different from ladies basket, for example.

          • CED

            Please stop talking about stuff you know nothing about, which is what you love to do. The notion that “Woso colleges are all high academic places” is laughable. WVU was in the final, calling it a mediocre university is being kind, it’s one of the bottom schools in the worst academic conference of the big 5 conferences.

            Second, if you knew anything on the topic you would know soccer is one of the least intrusive sports on academics b/c of the short season and how they schedule games.

          • Steglitz49

            If we relied only on 2016, we would not rate the USWNT very highly, would we?

            Taking the average over the past 5-10 years may be worth a consideration. Maybe 16 years with reference to 1999-2015.

          • CED

            Again please shut up you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you actually knew anything about US Colleges, you don’t on the topic as a Swede. You would know that if you look at the top 10 or 20 or 25 ranked schools in Woso any year there are about as many dud universities as good ones.

          • Steglitz49

            We are getting a bit hot under the collar, are we not? Droll, Chief Executive of trolls.

            Name them!

            I list 5 as a starter: Stanford, UCLA, Duke, USC, UNC, Berkeley, and I daresay there are more

          • CED

            Why do you insist on making initially absolutely ignorant comments and then double down on your ignorance. You know nothing about the US in general, soccer proven daily,US universities and insist on talking about all three in post. WVU #2 is a hill billy dump university, FSU has been to 5 of the last 6 college cups and is poor academic university, Auburn #8, S Carolina #5 in polls have poor academics. You keep going thru the top 25…Utah, Arkansas, Colorado, NC State, etc..

            Btw, you do know Berkeley is not a top soccer program, they produced a couple of good players. They have 1 conf title ever and just 3 college cups all about 30years ago.

          • Steglitz49

            Berkeley produced Alex Morgan. That is good enough for most healthy vigorous people.

            As for the rest, ignorance is bliss, did you not know, Droll Chief Executive of trolls?

          • CED

            You once again proudly put your ignorance on display and are duly embarrassed. Go away and spread your BS in Sweden, you’re the resident idiot on this DB.

        • CED

          It’s been a long time , like 25 years since any top female tennis player has gone to college. Top tennis players go away to be specially trained by Nick Bolettelli and others at like 10 yrs old. College retards their development in taking up too much time and poor competition at collegiate level. Also, even a modicum of success can lead to pretty to decent endorsement deals. Everyone in the top 50 is sponsored by some company, sometimes just on the prospect that they will be great eventually.

      • Bruce

        Endorsements can make a difference. If Nike threw a million dollar multi-year contract at Pugh, I’d expect her to leave.

      • Lorehead

        There was for Lindsay Horan.

        • Steglitz49

          The Emir shook things up for sure and rattled some cages with his largesse. Now he has Lawrence but after college.

    • Happy

      My heart is broken. I had it set on getting Kadeisha Buchanan to replace Krieger. And on the concept that the Spirit had some actual plan in mind.

  • Som Termanni

    > NWSL will absolutely survive the new CBA, and eventually will have to break free of its guardianship arrangement with U.S. Soccer.

    Is the USSF management agreement tied to the MOU? The audited financials don’t mention it, but it goes to some lengths to note that the NWSL is not part of the USSF LLC, that it’s owned by the team owners, and that no members of the NWSL sit on the USSF’s board (despite people constantly leapfrogging Plush to petition Gulati, and Gulati willing to hold forth on tying player wages to perceived fan base deficiencies).

    In any case, USSF management holds the league back. I’m hoping the Duffy hiring is not only a great addition to the front office, but also a step toward eventually replacing Plush (too weighed down by his MLS ties) and becoming a fully independently managed entity.

    > why are Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn suddenly free to go to Europe on what appear to be free transfers

    How do we know they’re free transfers? Has anyone bothered to contact the clubs or the players’ agents and asked? If so, did they provide information, or offer no comment? We don’t even know if the people involved declined to provide details, and that’s a mighty assumption based on an information vacuum.

    • Steglitz49

      Transfer fees. Traditionally, a player gets 5% of the transfer-fee if s/he has not asked to be transfer-listed but s/he gets 0% if she asked to be listed.

      It depends on what their contracts were. Lyon paid Göteborg a princely sum to get her but most WoSo transfers occur when players are out of contract. It is possible that FIFA has introduced some clauses to protect and recompense weaker club like exist for the men, but I have not heard of it.

      In short, provided Alex and Crystal were coming to the end of a contract cycle, they were freely available.

      • Som Termanni

        Considering the opacity of allocated players’ terms with NWSL teams, the only thing we know for certain is that the only way the NWSL teams don’t get a transfer fee is if the players’ contracts are terminated. That’s Solo and Engen. If the MOU is still in effect and those players were transferred, the MOU implies–but doesn’t make it explicit–that the teams would be eligible to request a transfer fee. But without any actual reporting on the deals themselves, none of us plebes without press credentials can know until Dan’s many and all-knowing sources decide to break their arbitrary embargos. Or he’s talking out of his ass. Flip a coin.

        • Steglitz49

          I daresay that the information can be found if someone is willing to ask the right questions and dig around a bit.

          In Lotta’s case Lyon allegedly paid Göteborg a year’s salary to get her but Rolfö, Harder and Blackstenius were all at the end of their contracts in which case their club Linköping probably did not get anything (unless there is some FIFA/UEFA compensation clause).

          • Som Termanni

            > I daresay that the information can be found if someone is willing to ask the right questions and dig around a bit.

            Like, say, a journalist? Perhaps one who works for the #1 source for women’s professional soccer news?

            Either Dan knows the transfer terms, can’t get anyone on the record, doesn’t want to admit that, and instead finds a leading point to make–or he doesn’t know, but can’t stand to omit making a leading point for the hell of it.

          • Steglitz49

            I sprinkle the word “allegedly” liberally.

            Anyway, don’t these players have to declare tax?

  • CED

    People going to play in europe this year is no surprise, it was long expected. There is absolutely nothing of importance until Wcup quals the end of 2018. The original CBA/MOU was made in such a way to allow players to go abroad in these gap years. NT players were never concerned about NWSL, just read the CBA/MOU, playing in NWSL was the chore to be on NT(club teams). In the 3rd and 4th years of cycles with Wcup and OG they get to miss 1/2 of NWSL season and are training in extended camps with NT often during NWSL season. These off years, 2017/2018 they will have to play all of NWSL season. Any NT player with a decent foreign offer would be wise to play abroad in 2017, they are missing nothing.ie…the possible big pay years from bonuses for OG/wcup. 2017 is a yr of worthless friendlies and probably low double digits by what USSF has done in the past in 1st years of a cycle.

  • guest

    Meaning of “how and where NWSL matches are distributed this season” unclear to me.

    • Happy

      Broadcast/TV, I think.

      • Som Termanni

        Could be. I was hoping it meant a change to the four-match derbies between regional rivals from last season that let WNY sneak into the playoffs and Williams run away with the boot. Perhaps the league will experiment with regional divisions to prepare for expansion in 2018S.

  • By the Shore

    “My next NWSL personnel question is whether Christie Rampone will play….”

    In November 2016:

    …Olympic Gold medalist and World Cup champion, is talking about her next step: opening two Jersey Mike’s Subs shops in Toms River with her husband, Chris….

    http://www.app.com/story/money/business/main-street/2016/11/25/christie-rampone-jersey-mikes/94065784/

  • Arcie Tillydee

    The Thorns are likely to more-or-less stand pat, I think. While I don’t disagree that they could add some speed (although that’s not what lost them the semi…but the less I say about that, the better), I don’t think it’s a crippling weakness. The roster is kind of ridiculous in its depth as it stands. I coudl see them making a move to get a very early draft pick, but I also think that’s less likely than it was only a few days ago. With Buchanan and Lawrence opting out, the draft choices worth trading a player on that crazy roster for are pretty thin on the ground. I’d love to see them maneuver to get Rose Lavelle, but beyond a couple of deep depth players (who wouldn’t get them a top-three pick), who would they give up for her?

  • Rdalford

    Dan/EQ
    re ” … means she could have played the season for the Spirit before moving to Chelsea for a run at the 2018 FAWSL title and possibly the Champions League”

    Chelsea Ladies, as runner-ups to Manchester City in this (2016) years FA-WSL, are already qualified for the next (2017-1018) Champions League cycle which starts at end of summer (fall for teams receiving byes). FAWSL 2016 title winner and runner-up (MC & Chelsea) both receive bye’s into the 2017-1018 UEFA WCL round of 32. So Dunn and Chelsea will be participating in Champions League cycle starting fall 2017.

    If Dunn/Chelsea win FAWSL 2017/2018 title (and/or Chelsea are runners up again) then Chelsea would again qualify for next (2018/2019) Champions League cycle and receive bye into round of 32 starting fall 2018. Depending on when Dunn’s contract ends (June 2018 or Dec 2018) and also perhaps on WC qualification/prep conflicts then Dunn may not participate in that 2018/2019 WCL cycle

    no quibble with your larger point
    – Dunn could have played part/most of 2017 NWSL even with move to Chelsea –

    but did want to clarify that Dunn/Chelsea will be participating in next (2017/2018) Champions League cycle starting with round of 32 in the fall.

    • Steglitz49

      There is also the FA women’s Cup with its final at Wembley and also the Conti Cup to play for in England.

  • Bruce
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  • Som Termanni

    Morgan officially arrives to Lyon: https://twitter.com/OL/status/817093423182344192

  • southbayfan

    I admire NWSL’s media low profile. Keep up the good work guys. It’s about the players, not you.

  • Lorehead

    I’m not a lawyer, but US Soccer did release the full text of the MOU as part of its filing on February 3, 2016. What it says is that players had the option to either:

    (A) Play in Europe in 2013–14 and in the NWSL in 2015–16 “if there is still a viable league,” or
    (B) Commit to play in the NWSL in 2013–14 and have the option to play in Europe in 2015–2016.

    It says nothing about any obligation to play in the NWSL after 2016. That said, Alex Morgan just presented US Soccer with what her new teammates would call a fait accompli.

    By the way, the wording is very sloppy, and could have created a lot of headaches if Megan Rapinoe had ever gotten into an argument with US Soccer about whether her half-seasons with the Reign while she was still under contract with Lyon met her obligation, or the year Amy Rodriguez took off to have a baby. In practice, nobody wanted to fight over it, and the USWNT probably doesn’t want a fight with Alex Morgan now. I hope the new lawyers do a better job of drafting a contract clear enough to keep everyone out of court, though.

    • Steglitz49

      A simple explanation is that the wording was sloppy on purpose to allow leeway in interpretation.

      • Lorehead

        Not how it works. If both sides want to agree to make an exception, they can. The last thing they want is real uncertainty about who would win if both sides took a dispute to court.

        • Steglitz49

          Good grief. Why can’t you stop batting on a losing wicket?

          Leeway is always good to have, as every statesman knows. In these matters it is always useful to be able to stretch the envelopes to accommodate alternatives.

          ARod told NWSL that she was pregnant after she had been allocated and papers signed. It is difficult to believe that she was not aware of her state before but the USSF did not challenge her version of events.

          There is no way that USSF can quarrel with Alex. The USWNT needs Alex more than she needs them. She proved that in 2014. Ask TS.