At 18, how good is Jessie Fleming already?

Harjeet Johal February 4, 2017 157
Jessie Fleming enjoyed a dominant freshman season at UCLA. It was so good that John Herdman says the college game is too easy for her. (photo copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

Jessie Fleming enjoyed a dominant freshman season at UCLA. It was so good that John Herdman says the college game is too easy for her. (photo copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

VANCOUVER, B.C – Jessie Fleming is back with Canada Soccer after dazzling on the pitch with the UCLA Bruins as a freshman. Fleming contributed 11 goals and 5 assists while delivering in the clutch with her new team. It was a new opportunity for the London, Ontario native, and one she certainly excelled in.

“It was good,” said Fleming, “I really enjoyed my teammates, and the school. I think it was a good opportunity for me to get into a different team. It gave me different challenges, and it forced me to play a bit differently than I’m used to. I really enjoyed it.”

Fleming picked up a few well deserved accolades that don’t usually happen for a freshman. She earned, NSCAA All-America honors, Top Drawer Soccer’s Freshman of the Year, First-team NSCAA All-Pacific Region, First-team All-Pac-12 and All-Freshman selection. Spoken like a true veteran, Fleming wasn’t about to take all the credit for her achievements.

“It was definitely a good first year,” said a modest Fleming. “I think we just had a really good team. We were really connected in our midfield, just a lot of good players. They make it so much easier for me to play. We just had a good season as a team.”

{MORE CANADA: Wilkinson, Nault friendship almost never happened | Labbe, Chapman excited to be back on Canadian soil}

Fleming’s quick ability to adapt to her new life with UCLA is quite impressive when you realize that she missed part of preseason last summer. You’ll have to excuse her because she was busy helping Canada earn a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Once she did join up with UCLA, everything started to click and she fit in perfectly.

“I guess I didn’t expect it (UCLA) to be such a seamless transition,” said Fleming. “I’d never met them before. When I got in, they’d already been in preseason for a month. It was just so easy to play with them. Honestly, I just really enjoyed the soccer.”

Canada coach John Herdman though, is not sold on the college experience for a young player as good as Fleming.

“I think it’s just easy for her there,” Herdman said of UCLA. “I don’t think there’s really any progression at the college level. I think the college system is an easy ride for these players. I wish they were playing in more competitive environments. Even at 17, 18, like the Germans, French, and English do.”

Asked of he thinks Fleming should go to Europe now Herdman added: “I would just love to see our young players playing professionally earlier, and managing academics at the same time.”

It’s crazy to think that Jessie Fleming is still only, 18 years-old. She played for Canada at the 2015 World Cup, and has 36 international caps, and 3 goals to her name. The sky is the ceiling for Fleming, and her success with UCLA will only continue to grow. How did she get so good, so fast, and which new position helped to pile up the goals?

“I think part of that has to do with the level of defending,” said Fleming. “International defenders are at a different standard. I was playing the false nine for most of the season at UCLA. That helped, I was a bit higher up the pitch. I definitely want to find a way to score more goals for Canada.”

  • wosofan

    UCLA with Pugh, Sanchez and Fleming next year is going to be so much fun to watch.

    • Forgedias

      Marley Canales as well. The team is going to be very good next season.

      • Breakers fan

        Not to mention all the other good, non-Freshman Bruin players returning – those referenced by Fleming in the article. Anyone who saw UCLA play a lot knows that it was a productive year for Fleming, that though very, very good, the competition was good enough to challenge her, especially perhaps in her own team practices. After the first few games she didn’t really score that many goals, but you can tell that she’s not a selfish player by nature, which I like. May help her to be a little more so, going forward. She impressed me very much – she’s better than I thought she was before the season began.

        • Forgedias

          Yup totally agree with you. Annika Rodriguez who played the 10 role for UCLA in the beginning of the year and gave way to Fleming later on is more of a play maker. Add that you will have Rodriguez, Fleming and Canales as the attacking mids and Sanchez and Pugh up top and you have a excellent core to build from.

          UCLA also play a 4-4-2 and with both their top forwards graduating this year. Sanchez and Pugh have starter roles immediately.

          UCLA also love to play small ball football. Small one touch passing. A lot of programs like to preach they are a possession team but true possession teams rely on using passing to break teams down, not holding onto the ball more then the other team through better physical players.

          And agree with you on Fleming. She isn’t selfish but isn’t afraid to try to carry for her team if they need her too. Teams started to keep a player on Fleming all the time and sometimes would keep 2 players daring UCLA to try to score without fleming. But in return started adapting to this pressure by taking the ball and dribbling right at defenders forcing them to take her down with fouls and she would get plenty of spot kicks near the 18 yard box.

          Smart and adapts to what the other team is doing.

          • Breakers fan

            Well-said about Fleming. I really grew to like her a lot over the course of the season. Another player I like a lot who you didn’t mention is Zoey Garolski. Sunny Dunphy looks promising too. Sister of Dodger star Joc Pederson, Jacey, is intriguing as well, – a very tough, physical player even as a Freshman, and we haven’t even named their very, very good young defenders – Kayla McCullough and Hallie Mace. MacKenzie Cerda I didn’t get a great sense of. Midfielder Claire Winter, from the little I remember, I also thought was good.

          • john

            And this is why you end up with 100 players you like in a 40 player draft πŸ˜‰

          • rkmid71

            Note that in the NFL, many undrafted have gone on to become Hall of Famers. The big difference is that in the NFL and other pro men’s sports there are huge financial incentives for the undrafted to keep trying. Not so much in the NWSL.

          • Breakers fan

            There are degrees of “like”. And since there are 4 years worth of college players, it’s not surprising to like ones strewn throughout all 4 years. And who says 40 is the magic # for “good enough to play in the NWSL” every year? That said, I wouldn’t draft all those UCLA players. I was talking about the college game.
            I know, or I think, you’re bummed about the way your Spirit team handled the draft – talk to Gabarra about that. And it still remains to be seen how Kallman, Mewis, Agnew, Dougherty-Howard, and Castleberry do for you, plus whether you get to use that 1st distribution slot.

          • john

            I was just teasing you because you seem to add a player or two every time you watch a game. Actually, hats off to you. You put in the effort to do your own scouting. I’m well aware not every draft pick works out and that special players go undrafted. The next fun period is seeing who shows up in the different preseason camps. As you note we’ll get our answers over time.

          • Breakers fan

            Thanks. I do perhaps err on the side of positivity and praise perhaps. I know – rare here. What I do is see who I think is good, then refine that over time. The more you see the more you get to know players and can sort of rank them, at least in your own mind. Good luck to your team. You have now my 2 favorite Breakers from last year. I think you’ll enjoy having them.

          • john

            I’m interested especially in the K Mewii aspect. She is essentially replacing Nairn. Gabarra got a player who can pass and shoot over distance (although Nairn has been more accurate) and also more versatile. To date Nairn has only shown an ability to fill one role. Of course, Mewis seemed to kill Boston’s possession and offensive chances by her quick trigger. I really want to see how she fits in and if she’ll trust her forwards.

          • Breakers fan

            K. Mewis shot a LOT less last year. I don’t think you have to worry about that particularly. I saw her for 4 years at BC and then her Breakers years – in only 1 of those years did she take a lot of shots. Plus, she should take some shots, so don’t freak out if you see her doing so on occasion. πŸ™‚

          • Steglitz49

            Mewis, pleasse. Her name is Mewis. Ends in an”s”, like Blackstenius, the bane of the USWNT in Brasilia.

          • guest

            I think Rodriguez is an over hyped YNT player who is too slow for the top level game. Then they overhyped her sister on the u17s.

          • Forgedias

            Whoa have you seen her play last year? She came back from an ACL injury so she might have been under the radar but she was good for UCLA. She can dribble, she can hold the ball up and she was playing the 10 position for UCLA in the beginning of the season until near the end of the season when Fleming started to take over that play making position.

            Rodriguez was good and she isn’t afraid to take tackles as well. Showed some good toughness out there. Didn’t have many goals but she had a lot of assists which is really what you want a play maker to have.

      • rkmid71

        Hate to be a curmudgeon, but don’t they say this every year?

        • Forgedias

          Well… yes. Your right people have hopes that the new players will become stars. And sometimes they do and other times we put too much expectations on them and they don’t match them.

          But if you watch UCLA all year like I did. You would of noticed that that team did not have enough talent to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament or win the Pac12 title. They do have good pieces right now.

          Annika Rodriguez, redshirt sophomore. Playmaker with good technical skills.

          Jessie Fleming. Probably the star of the team since she more then proved that she can carry UCLA forward with her abilities. One of the best technical players in the nation. Beautiful dribbler, great vision and so smart with the ball at her feet.

          Hallie Mace. Played centerback. Another good technical player. Will sometimes just take the ball forward and do what Sauerbrunn does sometimes. Attack with the ball, dribbling through defenders from the back line.

          Zoey Goralski. Speedy wingback. Loves to go forward and can dribble at defenders and create space to send crosses into the box.

          After this you just didn’t have many other pieces because Darian Jenkins broke her leg early in the season and there wasn’t enough talent after that. But you then add in players like.

          Ashley Sanchez and Mallory Pugh who will replace the outgoing senior forwards. Marley Canales who will be an upgrade for the midfield and since UCLA plays in a 4-4-2. Canales will be an attacking mid with Fleming and Rodriguez.

          You then now have a very exciting core that can challenge the perennial powerhouse Stanford in the Pac12.

          Fleming will take the 10 role and lead the attack. With Sanchez and Pugh to feed balls too. The offense looks to be much more stronger this year then it was last year. Fleming had to contribute to the offense because it really was only Jenkins and Fleming for the most part scoring goals.

          • rkmid71

            I think you’re saying other teams are or have been more talented overall or UCLA doesn’t have as much overall talent as others (i.e. all those recruiting rankings are wrong). I agree with you. Everyone has a different definition of talent. I like the Belgium 6 factors which they believe a top player requires: A winner’s mentality; Emotional stability, Personality, Explosiveness, Insight in the game, Ball and body control. 


            And how those players work together as a team will make a big difference in winning and losing. Somebody is going to have to play defense.

          • #1Fan

            so far all i read are attacking players 442? with 3 CAMs ? that will be interesting. Pugh and Sanchez up top in a pair? both are 2nd Strikers to me so not sure that works well. Time will tell.

          • Steglitz49

            Fleming is Canadian.

          • DNG

            I’d guess that we’d see Pugh on the wing but I agree with the skepticism that you can fit 2/3 second strikers into the same lineup and just expect fireworks because of talent.

          • Forgedias

            UCLA run a 4-4-2 formation. Diamond midfield. So 2 forwards and 3 attacking mids and one defensive/holding mid is the usual formation.

            Some of you are saying its great to have all these players but they still have to fit in and have chemistry. I agree but watching Fleming last season. She fit in. She ended up taking control of the squad because the squad needed her to step up and become their leader when Jenkins went down to injury.

            Will having so many new players on the roster be seamless? Who knows but if Fleming is given control and captains the squad like I think she will. Then things will be alright. Fleming really handled things for UCLA so I am confident things will be alright.

          • #1Fan

            Not trying to labor tactics , but i have never heard of a 442 diamond with 3 cams.. you would get killed . the CDM would get isolated and overrun. Its usually one CAM.. 2 Box to Box and a CDM. ..Call it 41212.

          • DNG

            Sanchez and Pugh would be forwards in that formation no? They can still play with 2 B2B and a CDM behind.

          • #1Fan

            Sure. But that is not 3 CAMs is it ?

          • DNG

            You’re right. I didn’t read Forgedias’ comment closely enough. Surely they will not play with 2 forwards and 3 cams.

          • #1Fan

            Would be an open game that’s for sureπŸ˜‰

      • Breakers fan

        Canales is unknown to me just because she was played hardly at all in the U20 World Cup, but just making the team she has to be good to some degree. And who knows who else is in that incoming recruiting class. It’s basically certain there are other very, very good players we just don’t know about yet. UCLA only recruits who they see as the very best of high school players.

    • Movement

      Yes they are. The Pac 12 Networks would be stupid not to televise EVERY single UCLA game for their entire time together at UCLA.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4hwN8CmdsU

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    • newsouth

      they’re all under 5’2 or something. i’d back the box with big girls, and force them to take corners and set pieces.

      • rkmid71

        Last and only time UCLA won a National Championship was in 2013. The coach convinced Courtnall to play that season as I think she had quit soccer. She ended up the Outstanding Defensive Player in the College Cup.

      • Steglitz49

        Hear hear! Size matters.

    • sudeep das

      Yeah. Pugh vs Sullivan in Bruins vs Cardinals later this year will be spectacular to say the least.

      This article from last year says it all

      http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/the91stminute/2016/08/the-ucla-women-are-12-months-away-from-breaking-college-soccer/

      • rkmid71

        Please link something other than topdrawersoccer. After the YNT debacles, I’ve stopped reading.

        • sudeep das

          Actually this article was from mid 2016 before the YNT debacle in successive WCs. In fact like you I’ve also become less enthusiastic about Topdrawersoccer and their predictions about college players.
          Come to think of it I partially agree with Herdman’s views on the standard of play in US colleges {although Mexican U20 may not agree}.

          • rkmid71

            I’d be interested in Herdman’s views of the standard of play in the NWSL and the US YNTs — and his own team. The YNTs being particularly poor in recent years. And it’s not like the Canadian Women’s National Team has been all that stellar. I think a significant factor holding back standard of play in college are the sub rules (need to be closer to int’l rules) and compressed schedule (need to be more spread out to allow recovery).

          • mockmook

            TDS seemed to do the best job of weighting college players for the 2017 NWSL draft.

          • #1Fan

            Th article is more TDS hype. It says nothing

    • Movement

      Scary thing is, Penn State still has the better team next year, because they have the better defense and goalkeeping.

      They have pretty much the entire U-20 WWC starting defense, potential future USWNT goalkeeper in Rose Chandler. They add in super star freshman Frankie Tagliaferri, and they bring back other goal scorers like Frannie Crouse.

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      • #1Fan

        Penn State are way overrated. Just because you play for the US does not make you great.

        • Steglitz49

          No but in US NCAA games, it gives you a head start.

        • guest

          Totally agree. Penn State did get one of the best Attacking players in Tagliaferri, but their defense is only meh. Ogle as a 6 is really weak.

          I said a while ago that Flemming was remarkable. You didn’t think so much. What I think is at another level over all US players except possibly Heath is her ball skills. She has control and first touch that none of the US players are currently displaying. I have seen youth players who may have a ceiling like hers, but they might get pushed over by the US type straight ahead players and show up only briefly if at all on the YNT/WNY radar.

  • Calci0

    β€œI would just love to see our young players playing professionally earlier, and managing academics at the same time.”

    The Tourney along gives the players a pretty competitive environment. I just don’t see the talent in Euro leagues being leaps above the NCAA. Are a select few teams well above the NCAA standard? YES! But I’d say half of the French, German, English, and Spanish teams are pretty close to NCAA talent levels. And once you get out of those countries, it’s probably closer to 3/4’s.

    • #1Fan

      we are far too focused on the games in this. Its not about who she plays against. Its about the environment she is in every day as a pro vs college and the work she has to put in to continue to excel.

      For the record I belive she should do whatever she wants, but I agree with Herdmann that from a solely soccer POV she is not challenged as much as she would be in a pro environment.

      • Steglitz49

        The young lady should go to college. Period.

      • Calci0

        Depends on where she plays abroad. A “pro” team in Europe may well lose to many NCAA teams. Not everyone can join Lyon or PSG. Joining a mid-tier team in Sweden may not daily challenge her as much as competing against Pugh, and Sanchez. And UCLA defenders may well equal the caliber of most Bundisliga defenses.

        • #1Fan

          well yes, where she plays is a factor. I dont think development is all about who you play against in practice.

  • rkmid71

    If Herdman thinks it was such an easy ride and not competitive, why did UCLA finish 4th in their conference?

    • DNG

      I didn’t actually get to see UCLA play last year but I’ll take a stab at this. I don’t think he means competitive it terms of winning and losing games for UCLA. I think he’s talking about the competition specifically for Fleming and would prefer her in a league where she wasn’t one of the best players already. He probably sees that she scored 11 goals and had 5 assists in 16 matches and of those 11, 4 came against Stanford, West Virginia, Penn St, and North Carolina. I assume he thinks she should be playing against professionals who might push her more in order for her to progress more quickly.

      • Silver Frost

        She’s 18. What’s the rush?

        • #1Fan

          I hear you, but Rooney was playing int the PL by then. A top player on the Mens side is well integrated in a pro environment by then. Im not saying that the Womens is the same, im just pointing it out.

          • Steglitz49

            At 18 Mana Iwabuchi played in the WC-11 final and Saki Kumagai started playeing for the Nadeshiko at 18 though Saki was 20 when she banged the last nail into the USWNT coffin in Franklfurt.

      • Breakers fan

        Screw Herdman and his ideal scenario. This is about what Fleming wants. Nothing against your comment, but that’s how I adamantly feel about this topic. UCLA soccer and who they play against is plenty good enough.

        • DNG

          I’m perfectly fine with your and Silver Frost’s pov here. I was just trying to put for my best guess of why he said what he said. Fleming is of course free to do what she wishes.

          • Breakers fan

            That is why he said it. And it was completely self-serving.

        • Forgedias

          Agreed plus at UCLA Fleming needed to step up and become a leader and she wouldn’t get that chance at playing Europe since she either would be sitting on the bench or playing only a few minutes.

          As soon as Darian Jenkins went down to a broken leg, the team became Fleming’s and she stepped up and got clutch goals for them. That is something you don’t learn sitting on the bench. Plus the other teams were constantly trying to foul her and take her down. The maturity and growth Fleming had to go through under that kind of adversity just at 18 years old to have that pressure of the team relying on you. Its a massive experience boost for Fleming.

          She became the veteran on the roster and now this coming season, she is going to be the leader for UCLA going forward. Really great to see her growth this year.

          • Breakers fan

            Great points! Ones which tell me that even from a soccer perspective she probably grew a lot more than she would have playing and hanging out with women a good deal older than her and who maybe spoke another language, over in Europe.I (not sure how good Fleming’s French is). I bet Herdman didn’t consider the things you wrote. Plus we know he hates the U.S. and that’s where Fleming chose to go.

            Will be interesting to see the dynamic and interaction on the field between Fleming, Pugh and Sanchez and those 3 vis-a-vis the rest of the team. My sense is that none of the 3 are egomaniacs and so they will naturally work well with their entire cast next year. I think they’ll make it work well.

          • Forgedias

            Yeah and consider that in Europe if a team is trying to push for a top 2 spot in their league so they can qualify for the Champions League. Fleming was going to be a bench player while the players that know the system already get the time.

            Coaches wouldn’t trust a new young player with starter minutes and Fleming would of been on the practice squad. They pretty much have huge squads in Europe so they can keep players out of the line up. Regardless of the experience a player would gain from playing at a large club. Its playing on the pitch consistently and against good competition that forces a person to grow.

            I don’t think Pugh and Sanchez are diva players and I know Fleming isn’t judging by her interviews which have been very modest on her part. The fact that Pugh and Sanchez were already on campus after the U20 World Cup was done allowed them to watch Fleming lead the team into the NCAA tournament. So there already should be some camaraderie with the players.

          • Steglitz49

            Stina Blackstenius was still only 20 when Montpellier signed her. Flemming is not so much younger and has 3 years of senior WNT experience.

          • Breakers fan

            Right on. Fabulous points made here; I agree with you entirely about all of what you wrote.

          • #1Fan

            why would she be a bench player.? One could argue that in the right role and IF she had been brought up in that system, she would be a star in it.

          • #1Fan

            My sense is that none of the 3 are egomaniacs and so they will naturally work well with their entire cast next year. I think they’ll make it work well.

            Please define work well..

          • Steglitz49

            Work well = Nadeshiko 2011

            or, Sweden WNT 2016, come to think of it

        • #1Fan

          development is more than just who you play against.

          • Breakers fan

            Is your position that she is doing the wrong thing by going to UCLA? That the 4 years there will stunt her soccer development to a point where she should forget all of the rest of the appeal of being with her peers from ages 18-22 and also the educational setting to go Europe to focus in a perhaps more intensive way on soccer with *those players*?

            And I agree that development if more than just who you play against. But could you elaborate on what development is to you (beyond just who you play against)?

            And “work well” ? The normal meaning. I can’t map out the sequence of passes that will occur over the next 3 years between them but what I mean is that you won’t see a ball hog among them. If anything I think they may err on the side of passing too much so as not to come across as being selfish. Is that a good enough explanation? Not sure why the phrase is unclear. What is unclear about it to you, in specific soccer terms?

          • #1Fan

            Of course not. My opinion is she should do whatever is best for her in the broadest sense . Its not about stunting is it, becasue we see female players play well past 30 and be successful. She will be fine, but I agree with Herdmann that to maximize her talent, a pro track would be better IF THAT WAS ALL THAT COUNTED. we all know it isn’t

            With all this UCLA hype, I think you have to define work well. Is the bar winning a C Cup with all three of them playing major roles ? Or is playing pretty soccer and scoring some nice goals enough? Aside from Fleming, all these girls are well know in the area thru Club soccer and many of the girls they play against have competed favorably against them for years. California is a very closed soccer mkt, not too many ins or outs at the top end.

          • rkmid71

            Work well to me means playing as a team. Defending as a team. Attacking as a team. The bar for any team is winning. That’s why you play the game. If I was coach of any team, I would also strive to play the game like UConn women play basketball. Beautiful, unselfish, consistently winning team basketball That would be the Holy Grail. But sometimes you have to show grit and win ugly — even UConn.

          • #1Fan

            I get all that, but I saying what is the bar for this group. Work well is fine, but we can argue they worked well this season just gone. I assume you are expecting more than that

          • rkmid71

            Yes. It’s not about outsiders like us making judgments. If I was their coach or one of those players, I would set a very high bar. I doubt they achieved their own goals in 2016. If that’s true, from their own point of view they did not work well enough. I would be surprised if tied for 4th in the PAC12 was their goal.

          • #1Fan

            This gets back to the single elimination vs league argument. I dont believe the C Cup winner is necessarily the best team in the Country. I think its harder to win the ACC or the PAC -12. I dont know how the coaches view it, but we glorify the C Cup winner far more than the Pac-12 champ. I would consider them winning the PAC -12 a big achievement. Schools in ACC/ P-12 are at a massive disadvantage becasue they have to be on top form to win games. The FSU streak was amazing to me. Lets see if UCLA can put together a run like that. There are lots of very talented Cali players coming in to College soccer over the next 2 years.

            In the US , we love single elimination. We love playoffs to crown Champions.

          • rkmid71

            How is having to be on top form to win games a massive disadvantage? ACC teams with losing conference records still often make the NCAA — I assume that’s because even if they only win about 1/2 games in conference incl. a few wins against top teams, their RPI is still relatively high. The only challenge I see is the wear and tear of regular season is higher than average. That’s why they like the big rosters and liberal subs. Some ACC teams don’t have as much depth though.

          • #1Fan

            Because come tournament time many of the kids are spent. Every game is really tough there are no soft spots.

          • rkmid71

            That’s why I wish they would spread the season out. Fewer injuries, less need for liberal subs, better quality soccer, etc. That every game is tougher is ok as long as it’s more like 1 per week.

          • Breakers fan

            I too love watching the U Conn women. I’ve only seen them once this year, though – the game against Baylor early in the year. Impressed by this largely new group, by, as you say, how good they are and how well they work together. This post-season should be great in women’s college hoops.

            I do think this U Conn team is unselfish but let’s also keep in mind how many 3 point shots they’ve taken this year – to me that’s the soccer equivalent of a shot from some distance or one of some amount of risk. Obviously the % of even 3 point shots that go in in basketball is going to be way higher than soccer shots – my point is that even the most beautiful, unselfish basketball teams have players hoisting up long-range shots with a good amount of regularity……SO…when we see players in soccer taking shots that aren’t gimmees we shouldn’t jump all over them. I don’t think you do that, I’m just saying that taking shots isn’t necessarily a bad, wrong thing to do. Each one has to be “judged” in terms of whether it was right or wrong, but it is after all the only way you get to why you play. We don’t often in hoops anymore criticize a player for a taking and missing 3, though I think we could at times and that also happens. In the age of Steph Curry, though, the 3 has become more accepted as a strategy to play the game. My guess is that U Conn tends to take good 3’s by and large – is that what you’ve observed?

          • rkmid71

            UConn’s ball movement and movement away from the ball is exceptional and they spread the floor and don’t usually take many bad shots. They go inside, outside. And play high intensity team defense which leads to a lot of easy baskets. In basketball, you don’t want players that shoot low % from 3 point line taking many of those shots. UConn is shooting 41% as a team from 3 pt line and 3 of 5 starters are shooting 43-44%. Much higher than opponents which are 26% from 3. Team overall FG% is 52% versus opponents 35%. I would guess that opponents are taking many more contested 3s while due to UConn’s ball movement they are taking more uncontested or open 3s. They’re averaging 23 assists per game versus 10 for opponents.

            In soccer, you have to take at least some outside shots when teams are sitting back,but again preferably your players that are getting a reasonable % SOG and perferably from spots more in front of the goal and really testing the GK. Otherwise, it’s just a turnover. Also, you don’t have a shot clock in soccer and can afford to be more patient. Btw — I’ll be watching upcoming game versus South Carolina.

          • Breakers fan

            Well-said. That’s an amazing team 3 point shot FG%. Seems that way, for an entire team, from my knowledge of 3 pt. %s. And theirs dwarfs their competition’s = speaks to what you wrote. What amazes me the most about this year’s U Conn team is how well players have moved into the lineup and done so well so quickly. I know they get the best in the nation in terms of recruiting, but to date there just hasn’t been much if any drop-off in quality – doesn’t usually happen like that with teams who lose several key, KEY Seniors as U Conn did.

            I plan to watch that South Carolina game too – next Monday. Will the streak end??

          • rkmid71

            They’ve had different players really step up. I don’t think Coach Auriemma even expected it. They played a bunch of top 10 type teams early and survived.

            At home, with 100 on the line, ESPN, I don’t think UConn loses. I’ve watched SC in a few games. They’re capable, but doubtful in that game <10% chance. I wonder whether the cumulative pressure to get all the way through NCAA tourney plus the streak is too much to expect. Very hard to just put that out of mind. That's why I suspect Auriemma would have preferred they lost early. If they pull off another undefeated season, it will be amazing. Their game vs. Maryland was amazing. 18k fans in College Park, MD. This game in CT will be a sellout. Not sure what capacity is.

          • Breakers fan

            I heard Auriemma say, after the Baylor game, just that – that he kind of hoped they had lost early – and maybe that’s one reason he made the early-season schedule so tough – but he always does that, i think. I wish I’d seen that Maryland game. I hate to say this because it’ll be fun if the streak is alive come Tourney time but I have some weird, sneaking feeling that South Carolina’s gonna beat ’em, even on the road. I hope I’m wrong but that’s my prediction. Part of that is based on what you said – the cumulative pressure getting to them. What’s the name of the great Freshman player – blond hair, tall? I think she was the #1 recruit in the country last year, if memory serves.

          • Breakers fan

            Thanks for the clarification of your views – glad you see beyond just soccer, as I thought you would. I think it was wrong of Herdmann to even put that out there for maybe Fleming to see and perhaps to feel some guilt about. Not cool. Not good. He knows Fleming doesn’t live in a vacuum, so to present some ideal soccer scenario for an 18 year old – one that, I’m sure just by complete coincidence, would benefit him personally the most (is the sarcasm thick enough?) is just tacky to me, to say the least.

            “Hype” to me can be a somewhat tricky word. It seems to imply that the “noise” is misled, that it’s wrong, that people are ill-informed. And I agree that that can be the case. Here with this UCLA team I prefer the word “excitement”. I do think the goal with those 3 is to win at least 1 College Cup with all 3 playing major roles. That’s what it is in the mind of a fan in Boston. Let’s start with that. I’m not going to say 2, or 3 yet. But of course even the first 1 happens through “playing pretty soccer”. I could definitely see Stanford beating them both times they play, if indeed they play each other twice, so I’m not totally ga-ga about them for next year either. But goals should be lofty and I think with those 3 AND the rest of their team,(that’s really who I think makes this goal reach-able, that supporting cast who I like) who I name-referenced in another post, the notion of winning a national championship is reasonable.

            But I’m interested in what you said about how others in that region have done well against them for years. That will of course add to the competition. UCLA lost about 5 or 6 good Seniors, however, so by no means do I think they’re a shoe-in to make even the final 4. One loss in the tourney , as Stanford saw this year to Santa Clara, and the season is over, no matter what you did all season long. So, that being said, if they had a great regular season but somehow lost in the tournament in good close games to other excellent squads, if they got beat, vs. beat themselves I could still say they had success……but there’s still something irreplaceable about winning the Championship that maybe makes everything less not totally palatable.

          • #1Fan

            Like i said , I think Macario is better than both Pugh and Sanchez as a forward. She is Brazilian but apparently is getting US citizenship. If she was from the US you would hear far more from the hype machine

          • Steglitz49

            Like we do not hear a lot about Blackstenius.

      • rkmid71

        Isn’t winning and losing games for UCLA what’s it’s all about? Or whatever team she chooses to play on. If she’s one of the better players, how is she making the team and the players around her better. it’s not about her personal stats or only what she thinks is best for her personally. it’s about UCLA winning. Of the 4 games you mention, they lost 3. I was impressed with Buchanan, Lawrence at WVU this year … though USC put them to the sword in the end. Of course, Herdmann only cares about his team. I believe that if Fleming (or Pugh, Sanchez, or whoever) can learn to get it done as a team at UCLA, that it will translate to the CWNT and the USWNT or YNTs. It’s kind of like in NBA trying to stack a team to make winning easier. But then the Spurs beat them anyway. Those players have had many chances already on YNTs and haven’t gotten it done. At some point, either you accept losing or we need to find other players with more character. It’s not about what someone thinks the potential might be.

        • Breakers fan

          Just out of curiosity, how many UCLA games did you see last year? They were good. 15-5-2 and 4 of their losses were by 1 goal. WVU beat them on PKs. Only Utah (better than you might initially think) beat them by 2 goals. I saw them play a lot of games – about 7 I would say. That’s a very good conference – the Pac-12. Fleming is a very good, unselfish team player. I do think she makes the players around her better. That’s why I brought up if you’ve seen them. If you had you’d be able to answer these questions about her for yourself. As I wrote here elsewhere she’s naturally an unselfish player, perhaps too much so at times, but I wouldn’t want to altogether change that team feeling she plays with. She’s a calm player too – I think that probably has a good effect on those around her.

          I do think it’s unfair to foist “getting it done” in the sport of soccer on 1 or 2 players. Think about it. Think how strong an entire team has to be to become champions in soccer. I always come back to Sayers and Butkus never having played 1 playoff game during their Bears careers when I consider the topic of: Can 1 or 2 players lead their team all the way? It’s just not humanly possible. The field is too big, there are too many other players on the field, the ball elsewhere too often for 1 or 2 players to single-handily win a world or NCAA championship for a soccer team. I could see your point if Pugh and Sanchez hadn’t contributed in those efforts but they did, to a marked degree. Others have to sufficiently pull their weight too, of course.

          • rkmid71

            Not too many. I saw them versus WVU. I was impressed. On the road, tough conditions. They could easily have won that game and if I recall it was WVU that scored late to tie and then won in PKs. And I compare 15-5-2 versus last year versus 8-10-1 in 2015. I suspect the improvement was some combination of contributions from new freshman recruiting class (Fleming at top of list), transfers, others on existing roster stepping up their game and a renewed focus on defense.

            Agree about Butkus and Sayers. Butkus being about the toughest, meanest, most insane linebacker in NFL history. And Sayers, before the knee injury, being probably the most dynamic NFL player in history — a more graceful version of Barry Sanders. He had one year, 1965, where he had 22 touchdowns in 14 games. Rushing, receiving, punt returns, kickoff returns. Unstoppable. But — UCLA women’s soccer is in a very favorable position from a recruiting perspective. I can see top players on other college teams being in a similar position to Butkus and Sayers, but not Fleming or any other player at UCLA women’s soccer. They are hugely advantaged both in terms of recruiting, depth, and the college rules. Btw — I think similarly about the YNTs — they have huge advantages vis-a-vis other countries. No excuse for the dismal display we witnessed.

            With UCLA, I wonder about the chemistry, recruiting mostly offensive players and not so many talented and skilled defenders. Even last year, defensively they were very average even looking only within their own conference. Not a recipe for success come tournament time. Those offensive players will be limited (or perform well below potential) as long as UCLA is weak in the back and has difficulty possessing the ball. Similar to Pugh on the YNTs.

            I really liked what Forgedias wrote above about leadership and some of those intangibles. Priceless experience. I don’t know what Herdman is smoking.

          • Breakers fan

            Thanks for your reply. Happy to hear that you too are very familiar with Butkus and Sayers. Well-said about them. I read Sayers 1st autobiography a couple years ago – good read, called “I Am Third”. Just an amazing running back, and, as you pointed out, kick and punt returner. Teams don’t do that anymore. That knee injury of his was one of the most tragic in NFL history, I think one has to say. Still, I’m happy we did get a few great years of total health from “The Kansas Comet”.

            Just so you know, my “takes more than 1 or 2 players to win it all” comment was really about Pugh and Sanchez on the YNTs. Though I agree that we should have done better, I don’t blame those individuals.
            I agree about what you said about UCLA – the advantages they have. Still, it’s not easy to win the national championship in a single-elimination tournament, especially in soccer where a team can dominate and lose. They are improving. Next year everyone will expect them to win. I’m already excited to see their games against Stanford!!

            Do you get the Pac-12 network channel? If you do, try and check them out next year more often. I honestly don’t see them as being weak on the back line, though I guess some stats betray that belief. Check out, if you watch them next year, McCullough on the right and Hallie Mace in the middle.

          • rkmid71

            First re: YNTs. It’s not about blaming anybody. It’s simply a situation of a team and the players and coaches on those teams not rising to the occasion repeatedly. Pugh, Sanchez have to own it just like everyone else on those teams. Similar to UCLA, they are not like Butkus and Sayers. USA YNTs have the same advantages as UCLA.

            In NCAAs, they can make the odds a lot better by first winning the PAC12, getting #1 or high seed, home field advantage, less travel in early stage, etc etc. Two years ago, Duke was a relatively low #3 seed (finished 4-3-3 middle of the pack in ACC) and didn’t play in ACC tournament because only top 4 played in 2015. Therefore got two weeks rest and then went on a run to get to College Cup and made final and nearly pulled it off. But the injuries eventually took their toll and they weren’t at full strength for final.

            It really becomes a war of attrition. You have to be lucky for all players to stay healthy throughout a very compressed season. Teams with deep benches have a big advantage as they can keep their starters fresher (by playing them less minutes and through the liberal sub rules) and still win. Many teams have to play their starters almost all the minutes to win. With closely spaced games, that becomes very difficult if not impossible as those players don’t have enough recovery time. It’s often not the case that the team’s starting XI talent is any or that much better. It’s the next 10 players. Like S49 says about Sweden. If Sweden loses a key player, they are affected. USWNT not so much just because the subs are often as good as starters.

          • #1Fan

            In my opinion Macario is better than all 3 of them

          • Breakers fan

            I’ve been meaning to tell you that this player, since you first mentioned her, now intrigues me greatly. Thanks for the name,. Will seek out footage of her. Hope youtube has some. What’s her first name again?

          • #1Fan

            Catarina

          • #1Fan

            I should qualify, as a Striker

          • Breakers fan

            Checked youtube for her and there’s a nice 41 minute video of her goals from a San Diego club team when she was 12/13. I’ve started watching that. I can’t find anything more recent though, which strikes me as extremely odd. So she’s 17 now, going on 18 – has she committed to any university yet, do you know? I will watch more of the 12, 13 year old video. So far she looks good but the competition in some of these clips is pretty awful so it’s a bit hard to get a feel for just how good she is. Very glad to hear about her though and happy to hear she will become a US citizen – she definitely seems like a good candidate for the national senior team someday maybe not that far away if she’s as good as you think she is.

          • #1Fan

            Stanford. By the way the clips you see of most kids that age are filled with poor competition πŸ™‚

          • Breakers fan

            No doubt. I had that thought. Not her fault, of course.

            Stanford, eh? Wow. Not really surprising. Entering next Fall or in 2018?

          • #1Fan

            next fall. Hardly a sleeper, she is TDS #3, but again I take them with a huge pinch of salt. Kulhmann is rated higher and from what I saw in Jordan, not accurate. Sanchez is rated 1.
            So Stanford have the 2 and 3 players , both forwards going there They will be no push over for USC or UCLA.

          • Breakers fan

            USC is to a large extent obliterated after losing: Mills, Andrews, Freeman, Prudhomme, Johnson, Levin, maybe others. Unless they have an amazing incoming class I see them dropping maybe significantly in that conference.

            I know Stanford’s team well. I was higher on them this past year than I was on UCLA, especially UCLA w/out Jenkins. I predict Stanford wins that conference next year. They lost far fewer good Seniors and my guess is that their incoming class is as good as or better than UCLA’s. Is that accurate, do you think?

          • #1Fan

            See above. I think its better. remember Charles Haley ? Cowboys D End, his kid is going there as well. She was hyped big time by US Soccer and then fell away. Rumors of some issues between the two sides. Great athlete though. the USC coach is a good recruiter, he will be ok.

            as far as attracting kids, yes an no. There is only one ball and so many spots where you can go in and have chance to play. I would not advise a kid to go there if she was an attacking player.

            PAC 12 is a tough conference , full stop.

          • Breakers fan

            I do remember Haley – thought he was a 49ers D end. maybe he played for both. Anyway, she’s going to Stanford, right, not USC? Wasn’t totally clear in your post…

            And …later in your post – you wouldn’t advise an attacking player to go to…..UCLA? Stanford? Thinking UCLA with this.

          • #1Fan

            Stanford . He won super bowls with both teams :)Not to UCLA. You suggested that Pugh, Sanchez , Fleming would be attractive, I dont think so if you are an attacker. I dont think you would get a fair shot to play

          • Breakers fan

            Gonna be tough to get on the pitch at Stanford next year. They didn’t lose many Seniors…the pre-season training sessions would make for great viewing, as would UCLA’s. Just at forward they will have returners Carusa – who I love – Collins and Tran, Malatskey if you count her, though they moved her back on the field last year for the most part, I thought. But I think Marcario and Kuhlmann could, probably will leap-frog over Collins and Tran but I don’t see Carusa not starting. What position does Haley’s daughter play? (thx for the info about her Dad – we were both right!)

          • Breakers fan

            Kuhlmann — wow, #2… but honestly I didn’t get a good sense of her in the WC – which I guess means to some extent she didn’t impress me that much. But the truth of the matter is that I would need to see her play A LOT more to have any ability to really judge her abilities.

          • #1Fan

            In my opinion Kuhlmann needs to get in to better shape. She is able to bully many weaker teams , but at teh next level I dont see that workling. You saw a glimpse of it at u-17 level. Hat trick vs Paraguay, nothing else the rest of the way.

          • Breakers fan

            Will see if her hat trick vs Paraguay is on youtube. I think I missed it at the time. Interesting about her needing to get into better shape…..I agree that top fitness will be required at the next level and my guess is that it’s pretty unavoidable at Stanford.

          • #1Fan

            Its Paraguay πŸ™‚ not worth seeking out

          • #1Fan

            Th TDS link above is a fantasy draft. Its pretty funny knowing what we know now to look at.

          • Breakers fan

            In the jumble of posts, this question of mine seems to have gotten lost: What position does Haley’s daughter play? Thanks!

          • #1Fan

            another foprward πŸ™‚

          • Breakers fan

            Wow. So let’s say you’re a Stanford forward who could very easily start for 100s of D1 teams but you find yourself riding the pine pretty much all the time next year, when you played a solid amount the previous year . You note that 3 incoming Freshman forwards have beaten you out (here it would probably be Kuhlmann, Marcario and Haley). So that taste you got last year is slipping away in your memory. You foresee a future of mostly being on the bench for your final 2, 3 years at Stanford. Do you transfer? How often do players in that situation transfer?

          • #1Fan

            I refer you to Niki Driesse.

          • Breakers fan

            Driesse was at Stanford? I’ll look it up. All the Stanford, UVA et. al bench players – gotta be kind of disappointing to be a very good high school player and then just not really play in college.No doubt a fair amount transfer that we don’t hear about. I know BC has some recent transfers. I just wonder how common it is to do – transfer if you’re on the bench even if you go to a “lesser” program, simply because you want to play.

          • #1Fan

            Fsu then penn state

          • Breakers fan

            How’s UCLA’s incoming class next year, in addition to Sanchez? Somehow I have the feeling you’re not going to say “terrible”. πŸ™‚
            Any other names you recommend keeping in mind? I have to think that word of those 3 coming led to other top players deciding to go there.

          • #1Fan

            as I said, Cali is very self contained ( well not 100 pct accurate. better to say the West Coast is)I think the Stanford class is better. Just my opinion.

          • Breakers fan

            You just answered one of my questions below…

            Stanford of course has that superior academic appeal too, and the whole So Cal vs. Bay Area question is one that probably separates recruits by the nature of the person to some extent as well.

          • #1Fan

            they are all good schools.

          • Breakers fan

            Agree. So, how about a couple more names of incoming Freshman from UCLA and/or Stanford for me/us to keep a lookout for? But only if you want. I don’t want to put you in an uncomfortable position…. your call.

          • #1Fan

            Im all in on Macario. I think she has something that no one else in that group has.

          • Breakers fan

            Is it accurate to say she is the next in that profile (that is prized right now) of: Lynn Williams, Jessica MacDonald, Darian Jenkins, Abam, and to maybe a little less extent Ifeoma Onumonu? Tall, fast, skilled (fo some degree) forwards? Onumonu’s skill level I need to see more of…

          • #1Fan

            much better. Much more skilled and to me more explosive first step.

          • Breakers fan

            Very high praise. Quite exciting news.
            However, I think you may be underestimating Jenkins and maybe Abam too, – do you feel you’ve seen those 2 enough to really have a good feel for them?

          • #1Fan

            nope. Seen them both. I rate macario much higher.

          • Breakers fan

            Ok. Just to get all the facts on the table though, in the interest of “a complete investigation”, πŸ™‚
            how many games have you seen Jenkins play? How many Abam?

          • #1Fan

            probably 3 each. i dont need to see much πŸ™‚ Im all about ceiling.

          • Breakers fan

            I respect your viewpoints. Let’s see how they end up stacking up to each other – will take about 5-8 years to tell as she’s 4 years younger than Jenkins and 3 than Abam, but we’ll eventually know. Hope they can all stay healthy.

          • #1Fan

            I dont like TDS , so take this with that in mind

            Catarina Macario, San Diego Surf

            There are few players in club soccer who stop you in your tracks and basically force you to watch. Macario is one of them. The Surf forward with a golden foot is nearly impossible to stop when she’s on her game, and the Brazilian-American has that Carioca style blended with American athleticism that makes her such a dangerous marker.

            The peril, though, was a recent injury that severely set her back and imperiled her ability to vie for the 2016 TDS title on the girls side. She played in USYS competition to help get back to speed, and in limited minutes in the ECNL this year she’s been nigh unstoppable.

            It’s blindingly clear that Macario is back.

            That was never more evident than at the ECNL Playoffs in June in Oceanside. Playing with her Surf U17 side, the No. 3 player in the 2017 class was as good as advertised. After scoring 13 goals and providing nine assists in just 12 regular season matches, Macario scored an almost impossible six goals in four games, all of which were wins. The Surf outscored all four, including a stacked PDA team, a combined 15-3 to qualify for the ECNL Finals in July.

            Macario was the best player on the field every time she stepped across the chalk. With her college commitment still up in the air, one of the best players in one of the best top-to-bottom classes in recent memory is making extremely good use of her junior year.

            https://www.topdrawersoccer.com/club-soccer-articles/fantasy-drafting-the-top-girls-prospects_aid39157

            No idea if you can read the latter

          • #1Fan

            8. Brianna Pinto, CASL U17

            Crystal Dunn’s emergence as a lethal threat up top for the USWNT has intensified the look teams give to those strikers who not only possess incredible straight-line speed but who can finish from 20 yards if necessary. At least for now, Pinto looks to all the world like the next Dunn, usurping that title from a handful of other burners with incredible finishing instincts. Pinto, too, is versatile, and the fact that she’s committed to UNC won’t dull the Dunn comparisons. You can’t teach this kind of speed and comfort in one-on-one situations.

            My personal favorite.

            a. not fast
            b. not a forward

            hate to say it but being black and going to UNC is about all she has in common with Dunn.

            Journalism at it s finest.

          • Breakers fan

            Yeah, when I’ve seen Pinto I have NOT thought of Dunn as a point of comparison. Haven’t seen Pinto all that much and of course she can still be great but Dunn is a rare type of player. Hard to find really close comparisons to her that I can think of anyway. Can you think of anyone you’d compare to her?

          • #1Fan

            Im interested that you think Dunn skill set is so rare. Amy I as k what you think is rare ?

          • Breakers fan

            Dunn – for me, first the absolutely elite quickness (explosiveness you might call it) and that combined with a shiftiness – the ability to maneuver this way, then that way, then back this way if need be very quickly – and these qualities importantly connected to a fierce mental drive and determination to succeed that she has I think is quite rare at those levels. (I still await a good compariosn, from anyone) Then, the power/strength she has, the ability to ride pressure and emerge still balanced and in control – her low center of gravity here helps. Her technical ability is derided by some to some extent but when she does well in this area – maintains the ball at the speed at which she is going, gets by defenders with some good dribbling it’s rarely noted. Last, she has a lot of power in both legs and has hit a lot of excellent shots — see her NWSL goals of 2015, and all of her NT goals. The combination of all of that in one player I think is rare. Plus, she’s a good team player – she looks to pass a lot, as we have seen in her altered NWSL role last year and her NT play.

          • DNG

            What I see when I look at Dunn is elite level athleticism and explosiveness coupled with pretty good dribbling technique(which happens to be better than many americans). I just don’t see the consistency in maintaining control when she dribbles at pace though. She loses her touch while dribbling often enough for me to think it a part of her game. She is very good at going past defenders 1v1 but she gets past players primarily because she has elite athleticism and explosiveness that not many other can match. She’s also very good in space where a few long touches are unlikely to deride her attacks. She does ride challenges very well 1v1 too but I don’t think she moves the ball that intelligently or effectively when confronted with a numbers problem she can’t just run through or past.

          • Breakers fan

            I agree with a lot of this, we say a good amount of the same things. How would you define the word “athleticism”? By itself it’s a totally abstract word.

            Difference in our thinking: I think she’s a better passer than you give her credit for, though I acknowledge that she sometimes gives the ball away, acts too quickly at times. You don’t reference her mental nature, which I think is important to do, – I don’t think many others are as fiercely competitive and determined as she is. Also she has above-average power and skill taking shots with both legs, I feel.

          • Breakers fan

            Good to see this description of her. I don’t mean to minimize her – just know that I’m really high on Jenkins and …Abam i’ve only seen in 1 and 1/2 games but I’m quite intrigued by her potential as well.

            Bummer – I can’t get to the link – I think I need to subscribe – become a Premier member – do you know much that costs? Is is worth it? It’s a fantasy draft ….for the NWSL – done before that draft happened?

          • #1Fan

            dont. its not worth it. I did it when my kid stared her recruitment. wish I had not bothered.

          • #1Fan

            yes, a fantasy draft as if teh NWSL could draft any kid now. Order as

            1.Pugh 2 Sanchez 3. Davidson 4. Spaanstra 5. Macario 6. Kuhlkmann 7. Canales 8. Pinto 9. Ivory 10 Deza

            I copied the Pinto blurb for you below. . As you can see, its really accurate:) She tends to be a holding or box to box CM .

          • Breakers fan

            Do you rate Canales this highly? What’s she like as a player? And: Ivory and Deza —- new names to me. Spannstra I like but not sure she should be #4 here. I do like her….but at pick #4?

          • #1Fan

            Not that it matters, but she hardly played in the U 20 WC and given how we were crying out for a CM….Ivory is probably the top non College GK prospect. Shes good but not tall. Deza not seen play enough. Spaanstra was playing wing-back for the U 17s at one point. Versatile,

          • Breakers fan

            Actually, Ivory I’ve heard of – just don’t know how good she is, what her profile is.

          • guest

            Macario tore her ACL I think about 2 years ago. She is an early maturing big kid. I havent really seen her since she came back from the ACL. Has her technically ability kept pace?

          • Breakers fan

            Read #1Fan’s comments about her. She’s brand new to me and I can’t find anything on youtube past the age of 13 for her, sorry about that.

        • DNG

          First I’m not saying I agree with Herdman. I think it’s hard to say exactly how the best college soccer teams compare to the NWSL teams. I don’t happen to this there is this huge gap between the best college teams and lower NWSL teams. I do think the NWSL game is probably a little faster overall though.

          Making players around you better is one skill that defines some great players. Others who are individually brilliant can also be great though. The current version of Ronaldo is more or less a poacher who finishes chances but does little in the way of making them. Also there is only so much an attacking midfielder can do to make her team and teammates better. She can put chances on a platter for teammates and they would still need to be able to finish those chances. At the other end, a player like Fleming probably has little effect on the team’s defense. Personally, I think that bringing up a weaker team’s(I wouldn’t say that UCLA are a weak team) level as a result of a player being that good is also a form of development. I also don’t think it’s completely wrong for Herdman to think that she could develop more or faster in a professional environment playing against the best the sport has to offer.

          Obviously it’s her choice whether or not she want to stay in school and finish her studies. The one thing I would say if she decided to leave school would be to make sure she’s playing for a club where she will play all the time against good competition and chose a club that fits the type of player she hopes to develop into. Situations like possession oriented player like Morgan Brian being stuck in a direct counter attacking team like Houston are not ideal for a player’s development.

          • rkmid71

            “There is only so much an attacking midfielder can do to make her team and teammates better. She can put chances on a platter for teammates and they would still need to be able to finish those chances.”

            True. It’s not an AM’s job to decide who’s on the field. That’s the coach. An AM’s job is to pass to the open player and combine with forwards as an attacking unit to score and create goals. An AM can’t decide they would rather not pass to a certain player because they think they suck or some other reason. That makes the team worse. It’s less critical for a forward like Ronaldo. The ideal scenario is an attacking unit like Messi, Suarez and Neymar who work together to create goals (passing, assisting or scoring as the situation demands).

            Re: speed of play, as the overall speed and athleticism increase, the players that can most easily adapt are the players who think fast, have a quality first touch and high level ball skills.Because you just don’t have as much time or space. Obviously players have to be athletic “enough”. The athleticism advantage is more or less neutralized at the highest level.

            Herdman thinking that Fleming could develop more or faster in a professional environment, I think is more because her full time job would be playing, training. Just that many more hours dedicated to perfecting the craft. And obviously playing and training against other good players is better for some parts of development (I’m thinking tech skill). But NCAA college has a lot of good players and certainly at UCLA and development of intangibles (leadership, etc) is likely better in college.

            “Bringing up a weaker team’s level as a result of a player being that good is also a form of development”. It might be the best form of development, because a great player in that situation is forced to play many different roles (become more versatile) to give the team the best chance to win. And leading and inspiring and giving belief to teammates. Like Buchanan did versus TCU in the Big 12 championship game. TCU was up 2-0 for much of game and Buchanan moved to forward, scored tying goal with 1-2 minutes left. What I liked most about that game was how composed and persistent Buchanan (and her teammates) were in that game under serious duress — after getting the lead TCU was defending great (and nearly scored a 3rd goal). But Buchanan and her teammates stayed patient and just kept at it and eventually it paid off.

            Agree about Morgan Brian. But isn’t the USWNT a direct counter-attacking team? Sweden took that away and they were lost. I guess they’re trying to evolve into a more flexibile group. I’m surprised Brian didn’t look overseas, particularly France or Germany. Maybe because she’s still somewhat of a newbie?

          • guest

            Rodriguez wasn’t good enough to support Flemming in the attack. At first Cromwell had Flemming cutting in from the left. Then switched her centrally especially after Jenkins went down.She was on an attacking Island then. She’s the tallest i think of the 3 at 5’4″ , but she’s really good in the sir. Great vertical, brave and great timing.

            Having two more real attacking threats for the defenses to contend with will free Flemming from double marking and reveal even more of her abilities. Will be fun to watch. Cromwell better do something with all of these tools.

          • #1Fan

            you sound like you think she wont

      • #1Fan

        I agree with you. i make this point all the time. Winning a losing is more about depth and the bounce of the ball than top end talent. In the UK, the top girls are essentially pros by the time they are 15. This is the boys model. In the USA you dont have this. You have pay to play Clubs and College soccer. In the UK, if you are paying to play at 15, you are not top level.

        So many of the top kids on the girls side actually developed outside this environment. they play in it, but it was brothers, older sisters, families etc where they really started and then they took it to Clubs. I believe the top kids are giving far more to the Clubs than they get back. Most Clubs coach to the average. Thats how you keep most happy. Very few Coach to the best player and work form there.

        I agree 100pct with Herdmann. She would be a better soccer player elsewhere, but there is more to it than just that so all good.

        • Steglitz49

          You can’t compare with Europe because there is no NCAA and Title IX in Europe. Therefore, you do not know what the European landscape for WoSo would look like if there were.

          What we do know is that Lyon according to you are paying Alex Morgan 25,000€ per month. That must mean something, must it not?

        • DNG

          I said below that I think leading a team is another form of development but I do generally agree that players advance the most when they are pushed by their environment. So from a pure playing perspective, I think she would develop more as a player playing for a professional club that could best accommodate her in terms of play time and style. But I also think she may have things she can learn from in terms of leadership playing for UCLA although they are going to be adding a couple of equally touted and similar players next year.

          I wouldn’t have had a problem with Pugh going to Portland last year if that was what she wanted either.

    • Ashley C

      This comment is pretty dumb, though. She’s only one player. I watched most of UCLA’s games this season and you can tell she’s miles ahead of a lot of players. Often she’s thinking ahead and the end product isn’t always there for her. It’s like Pogba at United, where he’d have far more assists if the finishing was there from other players. She works her tail off.

  • Som Termanni

    Deanne Rose scored early, but Canada needed a Beckie brace to beat Mexico 3-2. Beckie’s game winner was a PK to go up 3-1 after a foul in the box on Sinclair. Labbe and backup Kailen Sheridan each gave up a goal to Mexico. Attendance was 22,508 despite snowfall: https://www.thestar.com/sports/soccer/2017/02/04/canada-defeats-mexico-in-soccer-friendly.html

  • john

    Does Canada have any players not developed by college soccer? With the exception of Horan hasn’t the top ranked team been brought up that way? Given the imbalance in European leagues I can’t see how that helps. If a player is exceptionally tall, strong or fast I can see the need for a different environment to force them to not rely on just their physical gifts.

  • guest

    Not good enough to carry Canada. I don’t think any combination will be able to beat a front line of Pugh, Press, Heath and Dunn in France 2019.

    Yeah, I left out Morgan on purpose.

    • inthatcase

      Hopefully Press and Heath don’t break up before then or if they do it is amicable.

    • Steglitz49

      All 4 played when the USWNT bombed in Brasilia. They could not stop the Miracle on Grass.

  • John

    I live in England and have been watching Jessie since I first saw her play in the 2015 World Cup in Canada. An amazing player with great touch, technique and vision. At 18 years of ago has already proved she can mix it with the best, her performance at the 2016 olympics in Brazil just one example. Jessie should follow her international team mates and move to a major club in France or England she will develop quicker with the use of better facilities and playing full time. Has the potential to be the best female player in the world which, in my opinion she will fulfil.

  • Ashley C

    Fleming looking like the best player vs Denmark in this first half. Much like in college, Denmark midfield has no idea what to do with her at times.

    I think what sets Fleming apart is her technical skill and her football IQ. She’s always 5 steps ahead of everyone and already knows what she wants to do with the ball once it’s at her feet. Sometimes you can’t really teach IQ like that. Reminds me a bit of how Mkhitaryan plays through the midfield. She’s fun to watch and creative. I think she can have more goals if she plays a little more unselfish at times. At her age she can only get better and during some games with UCLA you can tell how much experience/skill she has vs other girls her age. I’m also glad she chose college because I think that training environment is great for her.