NWSL Week In Review: Harris Sounds Off On Orlando’s Troubles

Ray Curren May 1, 2017 84
Sabrina D'Angelo takes a selfie.

Sabrina D’Angelo takes a selfie.

It was a 24-word statement from Ashlyn Harris that got the attention of the women’s soccer world Saturday evening, and we might as well start with that before we proceed (she was talking to WRAL’s Neil Morris):

“Yeah, (Marta’s) a game changer,” Harris said. “But if she’s not putting the ball in the back of the net, she’s not doing much for me.”

At first reading, that’s pretty bad. And ill-timed. And dead wrong based on the match that had just proceeded directly in front of Harris.

Marta, in her first NWSL start, created at least three great chances for her teammates in the first half against the hottest team in the league, none of which were finished. Yes, she didn’t score herself, either, and missed a point-blank opportunity in the 39th minute, although Sabrina D’Angelo did deserve some credit for a fantastic save. Marta looked to tire a bit as the game wore on, but an opponent like Paul Riley and North Carolina is going to know where she is at all times.

Speaking of D’Angelo, she was forced by the Pride to make four saves after having a grand total of one in her team’s first two games. And she didn’t get Camila’s rocket, of course, the first and only goal the Courage have conceded this season.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Lynn Williams and North Carolina were running Orlando silly, as Williams herself tallied 11 shots. Harris had 10 saves, but probably should have done better with the Courage’s opening goal, even if it was a rebound. The final goal, while a fantastic Williams finish, came directly off a Harris giveaway. In summary, a defeat at the defending champs three weeks into the season does not seem to be the opportune time to step on the panic button, and certainly doesn’t seem to be the moment to rip into your teammates when two of the three goals allowed were at least partly preventable by you.

It is important, however, to take Harris’ full remarks in context. For the most part, she’s correct, a goal or two early in the game when Orlando was on the front foot would have changed things dramatically. And if you want to make the playoffs, you have to be able to deal with teams like the Courage. Yes, we would have liked a little more self-deprecation on Harris’ part in light of the final 3-1 scoreline, but such is life.

While it’s understandable that a world-class competitive athlete like Harris is angry after a defeat and now has to answer questions about it minutes later, that comes with the territory of being a professional and a leader (and there’s little question that Orlando is now her team).

A few hundred miles away, Washington goalkeeper Steph Labbe took a little different route after a tough 1-0 loss where she was busy again. Labbe looked like she was headed out of Washington with several others after last season, but ended up staying (whether of her own volition or because Kelsey Wys got hurt in Australia). She’s coming at it from a little different perspective than Harris in that Orlando probably has higher hopes for the campaign, having Alex Morgan and Marta on the roster (eventually) and a big, new stadium that they want people to frequent. Labbe is also not the captain and not expected to lead from the front, so to speak, in such situations.

But Labbe could easily repeat exactly what Harris did, or she could say this, as she did to Jordan Small of Backline Soccer:

“Unfortunately, I’m getting more shots than I hope and having to make move saves than I want,” Labbe said. “But that’s a part of the game and if that’s my role this year, I’ve said it before, I’m ready to take that on.”

By the last question of her interview, Harris had boxed herself into quite the corner. Only she knows if Marta was among those being called out in the previous inquiries, but now being asked directly about her, Harris had two choices: praise Marta and put her above the rest of her teammates or include her in the group that needs to improve significantly. You can’t blame her much for choosing the latter, although with a little more foresight she likely could have prevented herself from being in that predicament.

Orlando has a week to figure it out, and if Harris is a good captain, she’ll get the group together for a meeting before training resumes Monday or Tuesday, everyone will air their grievances and the Pride will move on. However, the bigger problem may be that there isn’t a whole lot so to suggest that Orlando is anywhere near a playoff squad at the moment, even if they did create plenty of chances at Portland and North Carolina.

Without Morgan, Orlando does not have another proven NWSL attacker. Danica Evans and Chioma Ubogagu might eventually be that person, but not yet. The midfield was a weak spot last season and Camila has added a little offensive punch, however, holding the ball (although it had more possession than the Courage Saturday) is not really going to be their thing. The back (which was 75 percent Australian this weekend) should be a strength, but has struggled, no match for North Carolina’s speed. But who in NWSL is?

The Pride are at Kansas City next week before hosting (guess who?) North Carolina in a fortnight. If they don’t win either of those games (and they probably won’t be favored to do so in either), then what? Morgan isn’t due back to Florida until perhaps late June and by then, Orlando’s playoff hopes may be all but doomed. Maybe that’s why Harris felt like she needed to try to speak out so early.

What else did we learn from an NWSL weekend where Boston (yes, Boston) moved all the way up to second in the table?

SATURDAY

Portland 1:0 Chicago (recap)

What Went Down: No rants from the Red Stars, but they can’t be pleased to have two defeats (both shutouts) in their first three matches. In a way, you can say they’ve been unlucky, they probably had the better of the play in both losses, each on the road. But they have shown little in the final third, with Christen Press – who destroyed NWSL two years ago – completely out of form, even beyond the missed penalty last week. The Red Stars also seem to be one complementary piece short, which does not appear to be Stephanie McCaffrey, who was on the bench again Saturday.

Portland is extremely banged up, and although they did not look dominant for any portion of the contest, got three points without Meghan Klingenberg, Tobin Heath, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, and Mana Shim. Even with the resources of the Thorns, depth is a problem for any NWSL team with roster limits, etc. The question is, of course, when all their players will come back. And which ones will be sent to Washington for Mallory Pugh?

Player of the Game: Emily Sonnett – Sonnett has taken a bit of heat for being allocated and is first on the rumored list to be headed to Washington for Pugh. Like Becky Sauerbrunn, she does not play a loud game at center back, and she was excellent Saturday on national television, even mixing it up physically with Jen Hoy and Sofia Huerta a couple of times. It’s important to remember that, in a position where it may take a little longer to gain the necessary experience, she doesn’t turn 24 until after the NWSL season is over. The Thorns have allowed only one goal through three games.

Under the Radar: Adrianna Franch – Yes, she has had trouble with her feet this season, but other than that, she’s been pretty good it must be said. There was still an issue or two with the footwork, but you saw in the limited chances Chicago got why she is a potential national team goalkeeper.

Inside the Numbers: 90 – Minutes played by Hayley Raso, who is normally a spark off the bench for Mark Parsons, but was still running around with the same energy she always brings at the end of the match. In a league where depth is hard to find, she’s been huge for Portland.

Up next: Portland – vs. Seattle (Sat.); Chicago – vs. Houston (Sat.)

North Carolina 3:1 Orlando (recap)

What Went Down: The Courage showed defensive vulnerabilities they hadn’t in their first two matches, even in a dominant win. It makes sense, of course. If you’re going to press as much as they are, especially in a 3-5-2, you’re going to leave holes somewhere and Orlando was able to find them, even if they didn’t score off them. Of course, the Courage may just end up outscoring everyone anyway.

Player of the Game: Makenzy Doniak – It looks more and more baffling why Doniak dropped all the way to No. 11 in last year’s draft and full credit to Doniak for making that so. She gets up and down the right wing against almost everyone, and was constantly creating scoring chances for her teammates with her hard work and precise service. She has become an invaluable member of Paul Riley’s system.

Under the Radar: Jessica McDonald – McDonald’s goal ties her with Kim Little for the most in NWSL history (32), which she obviously will pass with her next one. She often doesn’t get the same accolades Lynn Williams does, but she plays an integral role in both Williams’ and North Carolina’s success.

Inside the Numbers: 94 – Heat index for the afternoon kickoff in Cary, and yet there were no hydration breaks, which has not been adequately explained to me at this point.

Up next: North Carolina – at Boston (Sun.); Orlando – at Kansas City (Sun.)

Boston 3:0 Seattle (recap)

What Went Down: Sadly, Go90 problems made us miss some of the Breakers’ first half heroics, but this was generally an old-fashioned beatdown, with Boston doing the beating for once. Seattle did have a few really good chances here and there, but the Breakers were far better from start to finish. There were so many players standing out, it’s hard to name them all here, and we don’t want to hype Rose Lavelle too much, but she was excellent. Allysha Chapman got the Reign so frustrated they were pulling her hair, and Natasha Dowie seems to be someone who is a legitimate finisher, of which there are not too many, even at this level.

All of this means lots of questions for Seattle, of course. Ironically, Lavelle looked a lot like Kim Little in this match, just running at the Reign defense at will, something Seattle’s midfield and Keelin Winters probably would have been set up to stop in the past, but this year? Not so much. Megan Rapinoe was still dangerous, and Seattle still destroyed Houston last weekend, but it goes without saying that this was not a step forward in 2017.

Player of the Game: Adriana Leon – Leon was out of NWSL and in Switzerland of all places last season, and hadn’t appeared with Canada since the 2015 World Cup when she was called in for recent friendlies. Leon was a free agent, and appears to be a shrewd pickup for Boston. Despite the fact she was an original NWSL member of the Breakers in 2013 (allocated), she’s only 24. Leon was dominant Saturday, finishing with a goal and two assists, and giving Seattle fits every chance she got and nearly scoring a few more times. Can she keep it up? We shall see.

Under the Radar: Abby Smith – We saw a glimpse of Smith’s ability last season in Boston, but it was just that, as her season was ended early with an injury. Now she appears to be the full-time goalkeeper in Boston and rightfully so, and she’s been solid in all three Breakers games thus far and has two clean sheets to show for it.

Inside the Numbers: 2,315 – Attendance at Harvard. The Breakers host first-place North Carolina Sunday night and hopefully there will be a sell-out crowd to see it.

Up next: Boston – vs. North Carolina (Sun.); Seattle – at Portland (Sat.)

Washington 0:1 Houston (recap  |  Gordon)

What Went Down: The Spirit may be gutted, but people that thought they might just roll over this season might be mistaken. Houston dominated the first half and eventually got the only goal it would need on a Kealia Ohai long-range strike. But the young Spirit battled hard in the second half, led by players like rookie Arielle Ship. Alas, there was no equalizer.

While the Dash will take any three points on the road they can get, the problem for Washington is going to be later in the season if their record doesn’t improve. Like Boston last season, they are likely going to have trouble scoring goals (they have just 1 so far, and it was kind of a fluke) and that has a tendency to wear on a team mentally as time goes on. But they should get some players back by then as well, so maybe the two will even each other out.

Player of the Game: Cari Roccaro – There wasn’t really anyone who jumped out at you in this one, so we’ll give the nod to Roccaro, who is basically playing out of position at outside back, but doing an admirable job as the Dash have two shutouts in three games (and would prefer you not to talk about the third game). Roccaro was able to hold off players like Francisca Ordega in the second half and looks to be gaining confidence.

Under the Radar: Kassey Kallman – She hasn’t won as many as she would have liked, but Kallman has now played 43 straight complete NWSL matches and 3,870 consecutive minutes, a league record, and she had another solid match Saturday.

Inside the Numbers: 7 – Number of shots on goal for the Spirit through three games which, unfortunately, is probably not going to get it done.

Up next: Washington – vs. Sky Blue (Sat.); Houston – at Chicago (Sat.)

SUNDAY

Sky Blue 1:0 Kansas City (recap  |  D’Avanzo)

What Went Down: Not a whole lot, as both teams are crippled with injuries and it showed in the quality of their respective attacks. But Sky Blue found a way to get a couple of chances late and made one count off a corner kick when Raquel Rodriguez was able to redirect a ball home. FCKC appeared to equalize at the other end when a Christina Gibbons cross went all the way in, but Brittany Ratcliffe was adjudged to be involved in the play from an offside position. Replays showed she was involved in the play, but probably wasn’t offside, which is a tough break that probably made FCKC feel like it was 2016 all over again.

The good news for Sky Blue is that Sam Kerr should be back next week, as could Christie Pearce, and Leah Galton was able to come on as a second-half sub. Unfortunately, Amy Rodriguez is still going to be out for the season and Sydney Leroux looked a bit lost without much help up top. It might be more disturbing for FCKC fans that in a game where they’re chasing a goal, Erika Tymrak couldn’t get on the field until the 89th minute. Like last season, I’m not sure where the answers are going to come from.

Player of the Game: Kelley O’Hara – There wasn’t too much quality in the contest, but for what there was, O’Hara played a big part, creating something resembling chances on goal. There were rumors a couple of years ago that O’Hara might be headed to Europe and Sky Blue is certainly glad she didn’t.

Under the Radar: Erin Simon – Simon, undrafted last season, did the job when called on last season, and did the same in her first start of 2017 with Pearce out of action Sunday. She’s likely not going to give you anything flashy, but she plays a solid outside back and kept most of the play in front of her.

Inside the Numbers: 0 – Number of goals in two matches for Kansas City since Amy Rodriguez was lost for the season with an ACL tear. If these trends continue, FCKC will obviously not be returning to the playoffs.

Up next: Sky Blue – at Washington (Sat.); Kansas City – vs. Orlando (Sun.)

  • mockmook

    TYMRAK at CF — TYMRAK at CF — TYMRAK at CF — etc.

    Has some similarities with Press:

    Is really good in tight spaces, can get off quick shots through tiny windows

    • President Flip-Flop

      Subbed on with 5 minutes left.

    • Guest

      With Averbuch at CAM, Taylor plugging in to the vacated CB spot, and Moros plugging into Taylor’s vacated OB spot?

      Leroux……….Tymrak………Groom
      ……….Bowen………Averbuch………
      …………………Scott…………………..
      Gibbons..Taylor…Brunn…..Moros

      • mockmook

        Now might not be the best time to put Averbuch in wide open space, she is still apparently getting over a little tweak to her MCL

        And, I’m not sure what the prognosis is on Groom (ribs) is either.

        But, when they are healthy, it is worth trying that lineup.

      • Donnamprice

        My last paycheck was $22500 for working 12 hours a week online.Start earning $97/hour by working online from your home for few hours each day with GOOGLE… Get regular payments on weekly basis… All you need is a computer, internet connection and a litte free time… Read more here
        !sl530c:
        ➽➽
        ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs820WebModelGetPaid$97/Hour ★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫::::::!sl530c:….,……..

  • mockmook

    I have a feeling Harris is being given much more latitude than most players.

    And, I like how the author makes up a meeting (that hadn’t/hasn’t happened) and projects that everything in the meeting goes great.

    Perhaps the author should wait for the meeting and THEN report on it.

    • guest

      Let’s put it this way, if Solo had said even half of what Harris did there would have been endless think pieces about her being a terrible teammate and eventually the 99ers would weigh in with how she’s tarnishing their legacy. Yeah, Harris might be right in her frustrations but, especially now that she’s a captain, having a little tact with the press and not repeatedly throwing her team under the bus (I think this is at least the third time in the last year that I can remember where she’s said essentially the same things) could go a long way towards making her a better leader.

      • x

        Nobody was ever dumb enough to make Solo captain, either, which makes being a crappy teammate worse.

        • x

          ^that came out kind of ambiguous. What I meant is that a captain’s behavior should be held to a higher standard than a random team member’s. So I consider these comments more obnoxious because Harris is captain than I would’ve if they came from someone else.

        • guest

          i’m wondering if kreiger is gonna create lockerroom drama in orlando next?

          • x

            because of Harris or for some other reason?

          • Silver Frost

            Not likely. She is the sub in the relationship.

  • dw

    Totally agree with Harris, even if she is Hope 2.0 (as far as mouthing off goes, at least).

    Marta essentially billed as the savior of the league while WNT stars are in Europe. History of bankrupted US teams in her wake. Orlando next…

    • disqus_hj8dHnhlYK

      You do realize that there is a salary cap for how much a team can pay an individual, correct?

  • Silver Frost

    Why couldn’t Riley have done this at Portland? NC looks to repeat. It’s theirs to lose. Everybody else is just looking in.

    • guest

      Too many big egos in Portland.

    • DNG

      Totally different roster compared to Portland. Not anywhere near as much team speed.

    • guest

      seems a little early to be saying that. I think CRS, in particular, will climb as the season goes on. They’ve been outplaying and out-shooting every team but not finding the net but that will come. I don’t think Boston will hold on for much longer, though I’d love to see it.

    • kernel_thai

      Oddly Portland has chosen more of an USNT approach to building their team…collect a lot of star players and hope they can play together. NC/WNY approach was let’s get players who can play together in the coach’s system.

      • DNG

        I think that would characterize Portland’s teams prior to Parsons but not the current team. It seems like Parsons picked the players he did with the intent of finding players that could work well together. They still have weaknesses of course but none that I would say that are a result of poor team unity/chemistry. NC’s core was largely in place before Riley arrived so I’m not sure I totally agree with your statement. I think Riley just happened to inherit a team perfect for his system and has done a good job adding to it since.

  • Just because I’m a petty jerk, I would absolutely love to see Marta score an own goal and then in the press conference post game say “Harris wasn’t really doing much for me”

    • Bobby

      Thats funny right there!

  • Anton

    Nothing like throwing your team under the bus! And NO Harris is not a professional(maybe a amateur) the True Professional doesn’t do that to her teammates especially with the media! The only True Professional is Stephanie Labbe! Hate on Washington all you want, those ladies played their butts off the second half and made no excuses and nobody threw anyone under the bus! It’s just a matter of time for Orlando!

  • GUEST

    Harris is an obnoxious self-centered whiner. She has a terrible goals against average in the NWSL. Tom will be sorry about making her a captain. She will ruin the chemistry of ORL for sure

    • Frozen Blue

      Well she’s learned from the best.

      • Guest

        I think she was well along her own path long before her mentoring from Hope.

        • Frozen Blue

          I meant Lloyd but Solo works as well

          • Guest

            Yep there are a few who fit the description.

  • TRADE KRASHLYN HARRIS

    Dont wanna say this but Harris is a dumb *itch

    • Nat

      There is so many haters commenting on this page, People should not disrespect Harris just by her speaking the truth, She didn’t insult anybody, she just gave her view as a player and as the captian.. She was responding a direct question from a “reporter” and maybe should not have been honest and hot headed when responding. I think that she’s right
      100 % and see nothing wrong with her answer. The Pride has all the weapon to make it in the playoffs or at least to have a better outcome on the final score board on the past 3 games. I think Sermanni is not being a good coach by playing players that should not be starting, or players out of positions. If the Captain doesn’t step up and demand more out of all the players then the Pride will not make it too far. These are the changes that I would Make:

      1. Bench Spencer
      2. play a 4-4-2
      3. Our Midfield needs reinforcement, would play with 4.. 2 attacking 2 defending with Krieger and Catley attacking up on the Flanks.

      Harris
      Krieger Alleyway Kennedy Catley

      Monica Weatherhoult
      Camila Edmonds

      D.Evans Marta

  • brdn08

    WOSO fans are such hypocrites. You cant have it both ways. You either want a player to defend their teammates or you dont. You cant say Solo’s statements were wrong and say Harris’s were wrong as well. They are diametrically the opposite sides of the same issue. Where was all of this support for standing up for your teammates when Solo did it at the Olympics?

    • DNG

      They are not the same thing at all. Solo was not supporting her teammates so much as she was insulting the opponent. While I don’t agree with Solo. Harris’ statements are worse.

      • brdn08

        The problem is no one wants to admit that both Solo’s and Ashlyn’s statemwnts are correct, Solo moreso than Ashlyn. My problem with Ashlyn’s statement is that it seemed as if she felt that the team was somehow letting her down. Any time I hear an athlete say what they can’t do, I worry about that player’s leadership ability. A true GK leader would take ownership of the defense and believe that wven when the team plays awful that the GK can make every save. Ashlyn doesnt seem to believe that she can make every save and that insecurity is most troubling.

        • guest

          sweden players really were cowards?

          • brdn08

            Their style of play in that game and in general, the bunkering strategy is a cowardly enterprise in football. It shows a fear of being drawn into a wide open game and a lack of confidence in attack prowess or ability to hold possession. So in short, to answer your question, yes they were cowards. They were dropping into a 50.

          • DNG

            Complete nonsense. Organized defending is every bit an established football strategy as any other. Making a smart tactical choice to give your team the best opportunity to win is not cowardly, it’s common sense.

          • #1Fan

            the notion that a team playing the USA should simply play a wide open game is a headscratcher

            it a team is poor in possession and will allow you good chances in transition, you defend deep and let them hang themselves.

            Tactics 101

          • DNG

            Any team that willingly opts for a wide open game with the USWNT is foolish with maybe one exception.

          • brdn08

            Established strategy and cowardly play aren’t mutually exclusive, and in Sweden’s case, both applied.

          • DNG

            Never said they were. Doesn’t change my opinion on Sweden’s chosen play style. I don’t find it cowardly at all and therefore found it unsporting of Solo to make that claim.

          • Silver Frost

            Good riddance to Solo. Cry baby.

          • brdn08

            Its a personal taste. I hate watching the US play anyone but Brazil, Germany, France, Australia and to a lesser extent England. I just am not a fan of watching a team play 10 behind the ball for 75+ minutes.

          • DNG

            I don’t like watching teams who play 9-10 players behind the ball either but I don’t think that tactic makes a team cowardly. It’s the other team’s job to break them down, score and not get scored on. An early goal for the US changes the match.

          • #1Fan

            any team that gets 10 behind the ball when they dont have it and options ahead when they do is doing something very right. The game is played in more than one phase.

            I actually find it boring when a team HAS the ball for long periods and cant do anything with it.

          • DNG

            Personally, I also dislike it when a team purposefully does nothing with the ball for long periods of time to hold a lead but much like sitting deep and defending, it’s part of the game.

          • #1Fan

            Having the ball, does not make you brave, what you do with it does.

          • Tic-Tac

            I guess the commies should have come out into the open to be massacred by the Americans in the Vietnam War. They didn’t, and won. Strategy is important.

          • brdn08

            Hope’s full statement said just that. Well, not the commies and Vietnam but she did explicitly make the point that Sweden’s strategy worked. She also was sure to note that Pia used the same strategy as coach of the USWNT. Everybody just jumped on the coward part though.

          • Guest

            Cowards who weren’t baited into playing the way Jill or Hope wanted them to play. Pia picked a strategy that is well within the range of how teams play and they moved on, not us. They certainly aren’t cowards.

        • WoSoFan

          You say they can’t both be wrong because they’re opposites, but then you say they’re both right. By your own logic, that wouldn’t be possible.

          • brdn08

            Two different arguments. The first is whether the comments are appropriate or in good taste. The second and completely separate argument is whether the statements are factual. Both statements are factual. I dont think Ashlyn’s were necessarily wel thought out or appropriate as I described. Their is no dissonance in my logic.

          • Guest

            They’re both loudmouths and unprofessional, they aren’t opposites.

        • FlyingSquirrel42

          Maybe there’s some sort of rule that exactly one American female goalkeeper has to be causing controversy at any given moment and Harris just never got a turn before because of Solo.

        • Guest

          She’s the CAPTAIN and in Goal so she should be watching everything. The Captain should take responsibility for the results and if she has a problem with any individual she should handle that in locker room not at the microphone. Incredibly unprofessional. She whined at DC, hasn’t shut up about all of the resources and attention she now has at Orlando. Has the players surrounding her that she needed. Hits a rough spot and throws her teammates under the bus.

      • #1Fan
        • DNG

          Just a quick word before I start reading the article. FCKC looked a lot better with Arod.

          • #1Fan

            That Leroux is now left as the sole offensive hope is also concerning for FCKC. Though she’s had success with the USWNT, Leroux has never performed particularly well on the club level. FCKC is her fourth NWSL team, with stops in Boston, Seattle, and Western NY before coming to Kansas City. Leroux missed most of the 2015 season, when she was with the Flash, due to surgery, but prior to that she was mostly ineffective as a member of the Reign. Without much support, Leroux could easily fall into the same kind of funk again

            The passage above is what sparked me thinking and relates abit to my comment above re individual.

            I think you can make the same comment abuott MANY of the USWNT. The question is why ?

            my point on individual is that most of these players as individuals on Club teams do not display a level of consistent performance that one would expect form the best of the best. The individual performances their reputations are build on are largely for national teams. Thats i markedly different for almost every other team sport.

          • DNG

            Your last paragraph is a good point. On just about every NT in the world selection and the history of ones career is based on club performance. On the USWNT it is different due to the club realities of WoSo. NT performance becomes the story of ones career.

            The one thing I will say in defense of some players is that soccer is not just about a player fitting in with teammates but also the philosophy of that team. With a rookie draft and without free agency players can get stuck into teams and systems that do not allow them to be the best versions of themselves. So even though I would agree that that excuse could only go so far I am a little more understanding of some players who might not perform as well with their club teams. The biggest reason I think many NT players don’t have as consistently great performances in the league is because they are not as far ahead(some not at all) of the other players in the pool as we have been led to believe.

            I’m going to disagree with the author a little bit. I think Leroux did perform well when she was playing for Boston. She was obviously a poor fit in Seattle and never really played in WNY. I think Vlatko will be able to figure out something that works for Leroux but he will have to organize the team around her strengths. She is not a very versatile forward.

          • #1Fan

            The biggest reason I think many NT players don’t have as consistently great performances in the league is because they are not as far ahead(some not at all) of the other players in the pool as we have been led to believe.

            I agree with this. That is why its so galling to hear the individual agendas and to see some elevated to levels financially that are far from the rest.

            The reason you get NT reputations is because barring a few games, it is a lot easier to be successful. Its not becasue they become better players. The competition gets worse.

          • DNG

            “I agree with this. That is why its so galling to hear the individual agendas and to see some elevated to levels financially that are far from the rest.”

            This is definitely a problem, but it’s a problem where I don’t see an immediate solution. It seems as if, for the moment, US Soccer sees the USWNT as a platform to make money. Enough money apparently to justify the new wages. I think that fight for those lucrative and limited contracts breeds ‘selfishness’ among players. Some players are able to put this behind them and focus on the team but other probably are not, especially if their place in the team is in question. Lloyd being allowed to stat chase, for example, is just a ridiculous misuse of NT minutes in an off year. It’s hard for me to see other veteran being okay with that kind of preferential treatment either.

          • Guest

            Do you honestly believe that most NT players care nearly as much about the NWSL as they do their NT play. Of course they aren’t going to be the same players when with their clubs. It’s a necessary evil for some of them, but they aren’t dedicated to their clubs. Carli, Alex ….

          • #1Fan

            are you saying that they are justified in not doing so?

            Of course they aren’t going to be the same players when with their clubs.

            Why not ?

          • Guest

            Because most clearly don’t care as much about their club and therefore aren’t going to put in the same level of effort. Carli barely even showed up for training at Houston, she had a minor sprain before the Olympics that was magically better just as the Olympic camp began. Most aren’t as disengaged as Carli, but many see the NWSL as a necessary evil.

          • #1Fan

            Again, do you think that is justified ?

          • guest

            hopefully that will change in the next contract
            #uswntpaytoplay

    • Guest

      What on earth are you talking about. They were both extremely unprofessional. That’s the common thread. Harris should apologize to her teammates. After all she’s the CAPTAIN and sees the whole field. If her teammates are organized she’s at fault right? She supposedly also has a great backline anchored by her best bud. Quit the belly-aching, be a professional an get back to work.

  • #1Fan

    a large part of the US WoSo marketing is built on individual > team. Im never shocked when someone takes it too far anymore

    • DNG

      I don’t really think this is exclusive to WoSo and it doesn’t seem to stop quite a few of the USWNT player from putting the team first.

    • Bruce

      The NWSL would do better to promote individuals more, not less. That’s the basis of most successful sports marketing and a huge missed opportunity for the League.

      Comments like this drive interest and emotional attachment. Like it or not.

      • #1Fan

        I have no issue with individual promotion when coupled with huge success. I have an issue with it when the individual is promoted excessively without it OR when individual focus detracts form a the team.

        Not sure I agree with you re the relevance of the basis of most successful sports marketing, I dont think that in the NWSL case that promoting individuals more would increase the success.

        • DNG

          I’m with Bruce on sports marketing. Most of the casual fans in all sports seem to be drawn to star power. Even in American Football where non QB stars have to fight for more exposure. I think it’s most easily seen in the NBA where stars drive attendance of teams and view ratings on networks.

          As far as promoting individuals who have not achieved success or who’s relative success is not as impressive as one would think it was, that’s always going to be a bit tricky here. The big three shoe companies are always looking for that next start that can drive shoe and apparel sales. They don’t mind taking big risks on players that might not pan out. US Soccer is largely the same because Gulati knows that it’s the of stars that sell and if you can control the narrative the degree to which a certain player is a star doesn’t matter much.

          • #1Fan

            Im not. its a blanket statement that cannot be applied to all sports. It certainly cannot be applied to sports at different stages with different structures. NBA or NFL examples do not resonate with me given the massive differences in the profile of the sports.

            The stars that sell., I would argue its the Stars and Stripes that sells .

          • DNG

            For US Soccer maybe. I don’t think National pride extends too far beyond the World Cup and Olympics. So when I see 15,000-20,000 fans showing up to matches in off years, I think it’s something more than just national pride.

          • #1Fan

            so why do the same stars not draw similar crowds in league play ?

          • Lake

            I IPromos and advertising aren’t nearly the same? And people maybe are most likely to pay for a bunch of starts that they know will players?

            Star power has huge influence. Maybe you dont See it directly in crowd size, but you see it in sells, merchandise, social media noise.

          • #1Fan

            ty

          • DNG

            The NWSL doesn’t have anywhere near the national exposure that the USWNT does. There is one team that does though but I think it’s a lot harder to get people to come out to 10+ games than it is to get them out for one. There’s also the fact that not every NT player has the same pull to get fans into the stadium. Alex Morgan for years has had a positive impact on away attendances for example. There are other issues that make it difficult for the NWSL teams such as venue locations and financial backing.

  • TsovLoj

    Wait, is Mana hurt/missing? Is that why we didn’t see her?

    • BarcaSiempre

      Muscle in her foot.

      • TsovLoj

        🙁 That makes me sad.

  • Jennifer Brady

    Harris’ statements weren’t wrong, but she shouldn’t have made comments about her team to the press. Comparing her comments to Labbe’s though is ridiculous. Labbe’s got no skin in this game, she wanted to leave Washington, her team traded away or has injuries from nearly every major player – they are unlikely to win. She’s got nothing to be angry about from their performance. She has no choice but to accept it because her situation isn’t changing anytime soon. She’s the Canadian starter until McCleod is fully recovered. There’s no indication that Herdman really cares that much about her NWSL performance.

    Harris on the other hand actually expects her team to win. They should be better than last year. They aren’t capitalizing on their chances, they are letting too many shots in against her (though she should take some responsibility for her organizational abilities) & she needs to look better. She’s more than aware that she’s not the Ellis favorite & these games aren’t helping her any. Their situations are vastly different, not to mention their personalities.

    • FlyingSquirrel42

      Orlando must have the biggest gap right between strength on paper and weak results so far. Marta, Kristen Edmonds, Harris herself, a backline of Krieger plus the three Aussie NTers, and they have 1 point in 3 games? (And that against a Washington team that had an offseason fire sale?)

    • Guest

      Harris is a cancer, Tom will regret making her Captain. As far as professionalism goes Harris is not even in the same Universe as Labbe. Harris is always playing the Martyr never taking personal responsibility. Good luck Orlando.