The Lowdown: Burning questions to start NWSL preseason

Dan Lauletta March 14, 2017 51
Thorns coach Mark Parsons has already said Allie Long is a midfielder in Portland. (Photo: David Blair - Portland Thorns FC)

Thorns coach Mark Parsons has already said Allie Long is a midfielder in Portland. (Photo: David Blair – Portland Thorns FC)

NWSL preseason is underway at 10 training camps around the country. Here are three on-field and two off-field points of interest with less than five weeks until opening day.

Will Vlatko have to adjust his formation?

When FC Kansas City burst onto the scene in 2013, a then unknown Vlatko Andonovski installed a 4-2-3-1, and the Blues played beautiful soccer pretty much immediately. The shape became a trademark of the club which was the only one to reach the playoffs each of the first three seasons. A spate of retirements and pregnancies did them in last season but with a few exceptions the team stuck to the script—it just couldn’t score.

As the team convenes for the 2017 season, a look at the roster suggests a shakeup will be needed. Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux are both returning from maternity leave, and neither one is particularly well suited to playing anywhere other than up top. Throw Shea Groom in the mix and for the first time, Andonovki has three viable forwards to select from.

When I spoke to Andonovski around the NWSL Draft, he kept his cards close to the vest but did say he was willing to change things up if necessary. And the truth is that there have been some variations to the 4-2-3-1 over the years, some of which have worked and some of which have not.

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A closer look though suggests FC Kansas City’s attacking personnel might struggle to fit into the same puzzle. Looking strictly at the strikers it may make the most sense to put Groom underneath Rodriguez and Leroux. That sounds like a dynamic trio, but then what to do with the midfield, particularly Erika Tymrak whose game is not well suited to a 4-3-3?

Andonovski has upgraded at outside back, which could allow for Brittany Taylor to move back to her favored central defense spot and push Yael Averbuch back into midfield. Combining Averbuch with Desiree Scott and Mandy Laddish could be a workable trio playing behind a Rodriguez-Groom-Leroux combination, but that leaves Tymrak as the odd woman out.

These are just ideas. I’m sure Andonovski, who tends to operate a step ahead of most as it is, has spent far more time mulling this over than anyone else has. But looking ahead of opening day, FC Kansas City is the team I’m most curious to see in terms of how they play and who they play where.

Will anyone dare to play 3-5-2?

When the SheBelieves Cup ended last week, players began addressing whether they would welcome using Jill Ellis’s new 3-5-2 lineup when they get in with their club teams. All gave the politically correct replies, but will any NWSL coach dare to put it to the test?

It would not be revolutionary to the league. Jim Gabarra installed a 3-5-2 for the NWL Championship and was seconds away from being hailed a genius for it. (That begs the question, why is Ellis treating the formation like it might take the U.S. two years to learn it? That’s not for this space, but my friend and colleague Chelsey Bush addresses it in this review of the U.S. backline from SheBelieves.) Laura Harvey also used it for a spell in Seattle near the end of last season. And Andonovski rolled one out on opening day last year, though he later admitted it did not work and kept that club in the bag the rest of the year. The 2015 Thorns tried it with disastrous results.

Mark Parsons has already more or less dismissed the notion of doing it in Portland when he told reporters Allie Long would play in midfield. That leaves Emily Menges and Emily Sonnett to return as the central defense pairing. With Meghan Klingenberg and Katherine Reynolds to man the outside back posts, it just makes sense for the Shield winners to stay as they were.

{NWSL PRESEASON: All 10 clubs announce preseason rosters}

Julie Johnston centered the three-back for the U.S. against England, but the Red Stars are too good and too consistent to think Rory Dames would give any serious consideration to adjusting his traditional 4-4-2—certainly not by taking away a defender.

So would it make sense for any team? The Spirit no longer have Ali Krieger, who was integral to them doing it in the final. Not to mention Gabarra was specifically trying to isolate Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald. He is not averse to experimenting with his formation though, so I wouldn’t entirely rule it out. That said, the Spirit don’t have any players in the national team pool so there is less of a direct correlation. Krieger is in Orlando now, but the Pride don’t have enough team speed to leave themselves so exposed.

One intriguing team is Sky Blue, especially since it doesn’t look like Kristin Grubka will be back in New Jersey. And a three-back at Yurcak could utilize Kelley O’Hara as a wingback for a quasi audition for Ellis. The Courage roster is loaded with attackers and they might be the fastest women’s team ever assembled, so on personnel it could make some sense. But they just won the championship playing four in the back, and it was Paul Riley who tried the three-back in Portland two years ago without much to show for it.

If there is one absolute certainty in soccer, it’s that coaches will surprise us. And for the moment it would take a pretty big surprise for any NWSL team to switch and commit to playing three at the back. But so long as Ellis is running it with the national team, expect it to be near the forefront of any discussion on formation.

Breakers already set on roster?

1st round pick Margaret Purce with NWSL Managing Director, Amanda Duffy (photo by Brad Smith, ISI Photos)

1st round pick Margaret Purce, left, with NWSL Managing Director, Amanda Duffy (photo by Brad Smith, ISI Photos)

Matt Beard spent the offseason overhauling all three of his outfield lines, and it now seems like he’s about set on the team he wants to go to battle with in a month. Beard has only 22 players in training camp to fill out a roster that will land at 20 players. Three are goalkeepers, which means that unless someone else comes in, Beard will be dropping one goalkeeper and one field player between now and April 10 when final rosters are due.

{THEIVAM: Breakers set course for future with four 1st round picks}

Is this a good move, or is Beard stretching by having the smallest camp roster in the league? On one hand many of the players were specifically targeted by Beard, so in a sense he’s gambling on himself. On the other having 22 players in camp reduces competition and doesn’t even allow for any 11-v.-11 scrimmaging (the Breakers have 19 field players and one of their keepers, Libby Stout, is injured.)

The Breakers have the makings of a team on the rise, especially from an attacking standpoint (3-5-2 anyone?), but insulating the training camp roster seems to be passing up on a chance to infuse preseason with a healthy dose of competition.

The streams…are buffering

I was talking to a friend of mine last week who is not a cable subscriber and therefore does not currently have access to Lifetime. There is no doubt this friend will do whatever it takes to see as many NWSL games as possible this season. The only problem is, with 32 days until kickoff, she is currently stuck. She is stuck because NWSL and its new media partner A&E have yet to announce details for how non-televised matches will be distributed. In the meantime, she and others are worried about whether or not they will have to pay, whether matches will be available as readily and as flexibly as they were on YouTube (which has not been officially ruled out as a partner) and for international fans, whether they will be available at all.

{KRONICK: Can offsite announcing crews connect with local fans?}

This is not meant to be alarmist. The announcement will come eventually and even if there are some alterations from what we’re all accustomed to, the games will be available. But more than five weeks since the grand announcement in New York City, the only sound emanating from league headquarters has been radio silence.

What impact will the new commissioner have?

By all accounts it appears that Managing Director Amanda Duffy is calling the shots since Jeff Plush announced he was stepping down as commissioner. At the time of the announcement, the league said a national search was underway to find Plush’s replacement. We’re not holding our breath.

All that said, whoever does land in the commissioner’s chair will be joining the league at an exciting time and have a unique opportunity to help push it forward. The A&E deal, whenever the finer points finally get ironed out, will open many new doors for the league. For the first time ever in women’s soccer, ownership groups are clamoring to get in rather than scrambling to find escape routes. Whether or not Marta winds up in Orlando, the mere idea that she and the Pride are in serious discussions about a move out of Europe and back to the U.S. speaks volumes about where the league is compared to when it launched.

Unfortunately, unless there is already work going down behind the scenes, the new commissioner won’t have much say over the short-term distribution of the rank-and-file league matches. But NWSL is in a position to trail blaze a bit in terms of how its product is distributed. Chasing deals with major sports networks makes for a good headline and a few quality broadcasts, but engaging fans in ways they will be consuming sports for the next 5-10 years and longer will serve NWSL better than a six-match contract with FOX Sports.

We have no idea who the next commissioner will be or even what realm they will pull him or her from. Will it be a business person? A sports executive? It may even be some sort of hybrid type. Personally I believe there are pros and cons to all of those options. I also believe that NWSL is at a critical juncture and that the opportunity for growth is here. Thorns owner Merritt Paulson has said via his Twitter account that the league has “the wind at our backs.” If he and his fellow owners can find a commissioner to harness that wind, NWSL has a great chance to arrive in the next decade as a firmly viable and stable sports option.

  • Som Termanni

    I’m sure Merritt is giddy, but can we stop making him the go-to face of the league just because he’s a compulsive Twitter user and the league front office declines to have a public rep? Because outliers really don’t make great reps.

    When was the last time anyone talked to Sky Blue’s owners, btw? Or got Dan Lynch on the record for a media org that his team president doesn’t own?

    • Andy

      He’s the go-to face because he puts himself out there, and he does it well. He hypes things up. He also seems to promote the entire league, not just his one team. Whether this is best, one can argue. But there’s reason behind the rhyme.

      • Som Termanni

        Fine, but that doesn’t mean the media has to use him to represent the league. Just because Merritt, who stands in front of a wind machine running the Thorns, says the league has “the wind at our backs,” that doesn’t mean it’s true, or true for every team.

        Meanwhile, the fans of the teams seeing the steepest ticket price increases haven’t heard jack from their owners, and nobody in woso media is bothering to ask because those people don’t volunteer nonsense on twitter to save them the effort.

    • Guesting

      Funny! I thought he was the “go-to face” for the league. Certainly a league success story and one you want to keep in the spotlight to help promote the league.

  • Som Termanni

    Regarding the ongoing Marta rumors, we can throw the Swedish citizenship wrinkle out. She’s officially Swedish now: https://t.co/vYzBnU8S6L

    > It has been going on for a long time, but now it is clear. Sydsvenskan can reveal that Rosengårds Brazilian Marta is now also Swedish.

    > – It makes it easier for me. And I feel so very well in Sweden and could imagine staying here in the future also for the career. Then it is so much easier when I’m Swedish too. I’ve lived here so many parts of my life, Marta said before the Sydsvenskan.

    > She picked out the proof of citizenship on Tuesday morning and celebrated by immediately run off the weight training.

    • Steglitz49

      Verily the greatest. There is WoSo BM and WoSo AM.

    • Reality

      Good catch! I thought she was on the verge of attaining citizenship since it coincided with her residence time in Sweden. We’ll see if she finishes out her club career there.

    • guest

      with Swedish citizenship now in hand Marta, assume Marta is no longer impacted/restricted by residency requirements and thus now free to consider other playing options (as long as offers also address her current under contract status)

  • Bruce

    Pretty good podcast recapping SheBelieves just published by Jen Cooper, featuring Aly Wagner.

    https://cms.megaphone.fm/channel/HWL4693619618?selected=HLR6708698154

    • Steglitz49

      Why dwell on disaster? Why rub salt into wounds? Leave it alone and fans will think it did not happen.

      • Guesting

        Well you seem to do a pretty good job of rubbing salt into wounds when it comes to USWNT.

        • Steglitz49

          The USWNT brought it on themselves and they have never shown any humility let alone contrition for having failed their fans.

          Salt will be provided!

          • Guesting

            And well deserved! Could you be getting 2nd thoughts about Ellis?

          • Steglitz49

            As a WC-winning coach, JE deserves her chance to defend that WC.

            The USWNT may have to resolve their issues internally.

          • AGuest2

            Her “fait accompli” in the 2015 WC will end up her “coup de gras” 2019. Unfortunately for US soccer she got lucky in 2015, but her luck will run out in the next WC. She is proving to be no match against top European coaches.

          • Steglitz49

            There is much more money in WoSo in EU countries with rich men’s leagues than 5-6 years ago. The turning point seems to have been WC-11 but may also have been that Lyon started being successful as the club spent more on their ladies. The well attended ladies Champions League final of 2012 and Euro-13 probably helped too.

            Thus, the US still has an advantage in the number of young ladies that play soccer but other countries are getting bigger pools and the resources from the rich men’s clubs in some countries are huge. The benefit of the college scene is being off-set by the club scene.

          • Diane (DeeG)

            “Failed their fans” is a bit harsh. They played with heart and until the end, so long as they do that they will not fail this fan.

    • Thanks for sharing.

      Really nice analysis of the tactics, the execution, and the players. I like that she points out many of the variables, not just one shortcoming or downfall of the current USWNT.

    • mockmook

      Too much happy talk.

      And, didn’t ask important questions like:

      — Is Long appropriate at CB?
      — Why was Lavelle out wide?
      — Should Lloyd be on the bench?
      — Is JE the right coach for this team?

      Also, had some cognitive dissonance:

      — They want to convert attackers to WBs, but criticize the use of Heath and Dunn as WBs

      — They want an “in-form” striker, but then fail to address the missing Jordan

      Finally, how does Cooper not ask Wagner her opinion of Ohai as a solution at WB? (Especially with Wagner begging Cooper to give her some names for potential WBs)

      • Bruce

        Whoa. Hit a nerve.

      • DNG

        Yeah I agree that they didn’t really touch on any of the “hot” issues but Wagner did at least say that Lloyd was MIA the whole tournament.

        I think they were talking about converting attackers to overlapping outside backs which I would be okay with in certain circumstances. KO is a pretty good example of the type of conversion I’d look for.

        Maybe they see Ohai as more of a wing/forwards IDK here.

        • I thought they touched on all the hot issues.

          Questioned Ellis’ coaching tactics and abilities. Questioned her player selection. Said Lloyd shouldn’t have been playing or should have been subbed earlier. Said maybe Lloyd only stayed on the field so long because Ellis inexplicably wanted her out there. Said the 3-back is a failed experiment. Said Ellis should have given up the 3-back months ago. Said Long should not be used in a 3-back.

          They weren’t mean, but they definitely didn’t sound like they think the team is headed in the right direction or making good use of their camps or their matches.

          • DNG

            I might have exaggerated a little but they really only addressed the surface of those issues. I think they could have been way more critical and it would have been deserved. I also don’t think Ellis has gotten enough criticism for her choices and team management. I think it’s time to start asking if she’s the right person to be coaching the team. I don’t think this team has played very well collectively more than a couple times in years. This team deserves a coach like Vlatko Andonovski, not the mess we’ve seen from Ellis.

      • Um, they hit on ALL of those topics.

        1) Aly said she likes Long on the field for the NT, but not at CB.
        2) Talked about Lavelle playing TWO positions not natural to her and that she was a player who looked the best out there. May be the solution for the middle, if she was actually played there.
        3) Said Lloyd had a terrible tournament and should have been subbed out way before the 70+min, if on the field at all.
        4) Questioned Ellis’ need to try one formation for 6 months when other coaches try it for one or two games and know whether it works or not.

  • Bruce

    Jen Cooper just reported that Portland preseason tournament games will be streamed.

    Anyone have details?

  • Frankly, for KC, I’d put Tymrak on the bench and start Groom behind Arod and Leroux. It might takes some tests to see who is most capable to link up with the strikers. Whether that’s Groom, Laddish, or Averbuch doesn’t really matter, as long as someone is capable of making those connections. Heck, it may even be Desiree Scott sometimes. She is able to make attacking runs as well. I have no problem with Tymrak on the bench if the on-field formation works best without her.

    Maybe only 2 of the 3 forwards start and the 3rd is a super-sub. It will be very interesting to see how it all plays out, but #InVlatkoWeTrust.

    • DNG

      I was thinking that vlatko could possible play Arod underneith Leroux as a second striker in a 4-4-1-1 so I might still keep Tymrak on as one wide player with Groom as the other. Then use Laddish and Scott as the two CMs. I think Arod would make a pretty good second striker and she’s not an bad playmaker either.

      • She would be good at cleaning up loose balls, I think.
        She’s good with her back to goal, so she could maybe poach some from that location or even hold up play and serve to Leroux.

        • DNG

          Yeah I’ve always thought Arod’s hold up play was pretty good, in fact I like a lot of things about Arod as a forward. She just isn’t always the most consistent finisher. Vlatko seems to know how to get the best out of her though.

    • smallchief

      I’m no expert on KC, but I think Groom’s natural position is center forward. I think the starting position is hers to lose. Arod and Leroux have to prove they’ve still got it. Either or both of them could play on the wings.

      It would indeed be interesting to see Arod and Leroux as wingers. Speed to burn. That would make Tymrak expendable. Or a super-sub, as you said.

      With that combination, KC might improve on its anemic offense of last year.

      • That would be some scary speed to go up against!

      • Guest

        Plus if/when HAO returns

  • Steglitz49

    The burning question for WoSo is that though UEFA paid out huge amounts to BroSo clubs in 2016 because their players played in Euro-16, UEFA will not pay one red cent to the ladies clubs for Euro-17. This is a disaster for small clubs and the clubs of countries without rich men’s leagues.

    Not one cent of UEFA to help the ladies. F**k WoSo, it seems.

    • Diane (DeeG)

      Do you have a reference for that? I don’t seem to recall them addressing performance bonuses for Euro 17 yet. The Euro regulations say:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d49c2ddaa8b9ba2f4a07bb989acd010c919b60dda68117015115b2939d99de0c.png

      All I’ve seen is a tweet with no source listed, saying they were increasing them drastically.

      • Steglitz49

        There is a lot of criticism by smaller European clubs directed at UEFA and FIFA. For example, this year European clubs have to release WoSo players for international duties for about 30 days more than the men’s clubs had to in 2016. In most if not all countries in Europe, clubs are not reimbursed by the Federations for the time that players are on international duty. Rich men’s clubs take this in their stride for their WoSo sections but not so poor clubs, including WoSo alone clubs .

        The money I mentioned related to central money that UEFA gave the clubs for their players participating in Euro-17. It had nothing to do with bonuses for reaching certain stages. The money came from the TV-rights (maybe also the gates at matches but I don’t think so). Because the TV-rights (and stadium gates) are trivial for Euro-17, UEFA is not paying out anything. The women contend that some payment is justified for the good of the game.

        • Diane (DeeG)

          Do you have a reference for that? I’ve researched and can’t find anywhere that say UEFA is giving teams nothing. A simple link will do. Thanks.

          • Steglitz49

            http://www.dn.se/sport/fotboll/herrklubbar-em-ersatts-med-miljoner-damklubbar-far-0-kr/

            The article is in Swedish and using Google translator it reads roughly:

            Altogether UEFA shared out close to $160 million to clubs as a recompense for that their players took part in 2016 summer’s European Championship finals in France, as well as for qualifying for it. Of the Swedish teams, Malmö FF got most ($500k) followed by Hammarby ($450k). This is a system that has been applied in the past few male Euro championships, based on how much playing time the players have and how highly ranked league is that they play in. The money comes mainly from TV revenue but also some main sponsors.

            But on the women’s side the clubs will get not a dime in this summer for the players participating in the European Championships in the Netherlands July 16 to August 6. Nothing. Nada. Njet.

          • Steglitz49

            You can amuse yourself, Diane DeeG, by naming the players in the photo. They are left to right: Kosse Asllani, Lotta Schelin (in #8, L8), unrecognizable (possibly Pauline Hammarlund), Caroline Seger, Nilla Fischer (#5), Linda Sembrant and Olivia Schough (#22, whose goal against Holland a year ago took Sweden to Rio).

            Olivia and her sisters sing with fine voices. At an international friendly in Sweden last year, having played the visitor’s national anthem, the sound system crashed when the Swedish started up. The situation was rescued by Olivia leading the NT in singing the anthem and because her sitsers were in the stands they led the ca 8,000 who had showed up. WoSo à capella, you might say.

          • Diane (DeeG)

            Thanks, I guess I need to google in Swedish. I hadn’t read that anywhere else, but have to say I’m not surprised.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. The language of honor and heroes.

            A Swedish TV program alleges that of UEFA’s profits 99,8% go to the men and 0.2% to the ladies. If it was shared out based on financial criteria the men would get 98% and the ladies 2%, that is the ladies would get 10 times more while the men would lose a trivial proportion.

            In many ways Sweden was the cradle of WoSo back in the 1950s and early 1960s. Several of those clubs have long since vanished and gone bankrupt.

            Norway too were in relatively early and Norway with it WC and OG gold have scaled higher peaks than Sweden even if the Swedeish lasses have not done too badly for themselves all things considered.

  • Ron Rocha

    Imagine! The audacity of any of the NWSL coaches actually designing and implementing a system that fits their athletes! How un-national team like!

  • let’s make a deal

    So the PA changed the lawyer and the leadership and there has been nothing positive since Gulati assured us there was a better vibe.

    • Steglitz49

      The path of least resistance?

      The USSF realizing that WoSo does not matter because the money is in the men’s game?

      It is up to the USWNTPA to make the deal happen. In short, they need to bend over.

  • Rdalford

    Beard/Boston Breakers announce hiring new assistant coach
    “(March 14, 2017) – The Boston Breakers announced today that Paul McHugh will serve as assistant coach for the 2017 NWSL season.
    McHugh, 44, holds a UEFA B License and has previously coached for Minneapolis United, East Durham Football Academy, Sunderland AFC Academy, Newcastle United Football Academy, and in the Peru National Team youth system.”

    The full employment policy for ex-pat Brits continues (Beard, Billiard, McHugh, GK coach Caine and Performance coach Haigh are all ex-pat Brits) but remains to be seen whether this group can produce improved results in Boston.

  • smallchief

    I would say a burning question is: How long can Sky Blue stay in the league with such measly attendance?

    The average in 2016 was 1,982 in 2016, nearly 1,000 below that of the second-place finisher, the Chicago Red Stars with 2,926 average fannies in the seats per game.

    I hope both teams can improve their attendance. Both are selling a good product — and are in major markets.

  • Arcie Tillydee

    Allie Long as a midfielder? Parsons > Ellis.

  • Bruce

    We’re about 30 days away from the start of the season and the NWSL appears to be in a media blackout – with virtually no content published in the last five days besides the preseason rosters. The splash page put up when the Lifetime deal was signed is still there and no word on roster rules, salary caps, streaming, allocations, etc.

    Is *anyone* in charge?

  • Bruce

    The Internet is an amazing thing. Here’s what about ten minutes of searching taught me about unpublished aspects of the NWSL / A+E partnership (NWSL Media).

    It appears that the NWSL / A+E Networks deal has been in the works for almost a full year. Evan Silverman, the EVP of Digital Media at A+E followed just about every WoSo journalist, NWLS coach/club and NT member on twitter in March/April 2016. He’s now a member of the board of NWSL Media – an organization with no employees listed on LinkedIn. No other A+E employee even mentions the NWSL on their LinkedIn profile and Silverman himself is tweeting out job postings, so the new joint venture may be a one-man shop as of today.

    Despite the 12 month lead-up, it’s pretty clear that NWSL Media won’t even be staffed to do a *minimum* of league promotion prior to the start of the season. They have just recently posted job listings for the website/streaming app manager (aka product owner) and the associated digital designer. They also are looking for a sponsorship sales director and social media manager. Besides media/content production, there aren’t many more seats you would need to fill just to have a bare-bones marketing department for a league.

    Lifetime has been traveling around the country shooting media that will be used to highlight key players to supplement broadcasts. Besides that effort, they have not produced even one piece of marketing/promotional content since the press release announcing the joint venture 45 days ago. AFAIK, there are no promotional spots currently running on the network (correct me if I’m wrong).

    The fact that the product owner job profile carries the dual responsibility of managing both the website and the streaming platform (mobile apps, etc.) really points to the fact that the league is going toward a closed / semi-proprietary platform for streaming (like FoxSportsGo). You don’t combine those job functions if you are going to use YouTube as a streaming option or if you are looking to stream via an off-the-shelf solution. It will take a good amount of time to build this capability and key hires are not even on board yet. If A+E pushes back against YouTube streaming, I would not be surprised if we start the season with no available streaming options.

    ALL of these marketing jobs are being sourced in NYC, where A+E is headquartered. The NWSL is based in Chicago. There should be little doubt who “owns” all forms of marketing moving forward. If A+E becomes disinterested or the NWSL wants to break ties after year 3 of the deal, the league will likely have to rebuild marketing from scratch.

    This is Jeff Plush’s legacy.

    • Som Termanni

      Yeah, these are all things that I’ve been harping about since the deal came out. Not much of it is “unpublished”, it’s just not showing up in woso/soccer-specific reporting because everyone’s falling over themselves to fluff it as some sort of miracle solution to the league’s media problems. Games on TV! Better production values! No more WNY/SBFC potato cams! Pre-/post-game shows!

      But you have to go to the WSJ (25% stake source), NYT (year run-up source), SportsBusiness (year run-up source, platform sources), local media (local media crew cuts source), job sites (major positions open and remain unfilled since NWSL Media was announced), and sift through rumors to deduce anything critical about the deal. Very little actual journalism from woso reporters happens about this deal that doesn’t piggyback on someone else’s more mainstream work.

      > If A+E becomes disinterested or the NWSL wants to break ties after year 3 of the deal, the league will likely have to rebuild marketing from scratch.

      You haven’t dug enough. A+E’s stake is 25% and includes 2 board seats. Even if the NWSL dislikes what A+E does on TV, A+E can still influence where the TV deal goes next more than any team—and still gets more of the TV money from the result than any team.

  • Som Termanni

    New Lifetime promo for the NWSL leans heavily on local announcer calls from 2016, mainly Ann Schatz. Still no official word if any of them will be retained for the off-site studio calls—and still no official word about how the 100+ non-TV matches will be made available. https://twitter.com/lifetimetv/status/842405364985352193