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2019 Women's World Cup

The best stories from The Equalizer in 2019

USWNT World Cup
Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

The Equalizer in 2019 celebrated 10 years of covering women’s soccer. We started out as a small blog with a clear goal but an unknown destination: soccer is soccer, and the women’s game should be covered as such.

We’ve evolved significantly since then, and in early 2018 we made the necessary decision to switch to a hybrid paywall model. Even today, there’s very little, reliable money in advertising around women’s soccer. Combine that with the wider media industry’s struggle with the ad-based model, and subscriptions were the only path forward for sustainability.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it plenty more: The Equalizer would not still exist today, as the longest running media outlet with regular coverage of women’s soccer in the U.S., it it weren’t for our subscribers. So, I encourage you to subscribe to The Equalizer Extra if you care about the sport and how it is covered. If you already do, thank you. Maybe you’d like to give someone else a gift subscription, too.

We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our subscribers. In some ways, that is explicit. We had several writers in France for the 2019 World Cup. We had several writers at the NWSL Championship. We commissioned articles from freelancers. None of that is possible without your subscription. You’re funding much more work behind the scenes, too, like the hours of work that go into reporting out stories via the phone and other resources.

So, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite stories that we, as a team, produced in 2019, in part to reiterate what you, the subscriber, have helped create and mostly to celebrate some darn good work.

For the sake of ease, we’ll go in chronological order:

We started the year out breaking news, which we did a fair share of in 2019…

Sources: Orlando Pride tab Birmingham City’s Marc Skinner as next head coach

We’re more than just breaking news, however. We pride ourselves on bringing you the story behind the story. Too much of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ gets lost in our sport.

How a chance meeting at the U-17 World Cup brought Vero Boquete to the Utah Royals

And we have a pulse on what’s going on in the league even before it truly bubbles to the surface:

Watkins: The perception of inactivity hurt the NWSL at the 2019 College Draft

Chelsey Bush tackled an important question in January, one which still needs answering.

Where are all the female coaches? Still navigating an unequal landscape

We continued to track the ongoing power shift in the NWSL (which the Reign would double down on by year’s end):

What Reign FC’s changes tell us about the future of NWSL independents

In March, we introduced Players’ Week, bringing you first-person perspective from players themselves. Five players took part in our inaugural initiative, and each told their story spectacularly. Among them was this moving piece from Emily Menges on losing her brother to cancer:

Soccer is my (insert adjective here) place

Our media world of hot takes often lacks nuance. If there’s one thing about me that I hope is reflected in this site’s work, it’s finding unique ways to tell stories. This one, by Katelyn Best, took the story of a 13-year-old phenom and looked at the more realistic realities rather than the flashy headlines which gushed over the player signing a Nike endorsement.

The need for perspective around 13-year-old Olivia Moultrie

Sophie Lawson brought great perspective to EQZ this year on stories from beyond just the U.S. This one she wrote combined the scope of both worlds:

Winners…on how to win: Inside the psychology of successful teams

We wrote plenty of player profiles in 2019, and this one from Neil Morris, on the dichotomy of Lynn Williams’ spectacular NWSL form and absence from the U.S. women’s national team, was spectacular.

Lynn Williams’ USWNT absence is a mystery — even to her

Neil also wrote this profile on Jess McDonald, which is equally worthy of your time.

Part of the value of what we do is bringing you news and insight well before it becomes official. EQZ broke this news on the Nike-NWSL extension almost three full months before it was officially announced.

Casey Short first spoke to EQZ’s John Halloran about the heartbreak of being left off the United States’ World Cup roster.

Casey Short hopes to turn World Cup roster letdown into growth opportunity

Erica Ayala spoke to players on the U.S. women’s national team about its lack of diversity. The piece includes a particularly powerful quote from Christen Press.

A more diverse USWNT — and a long way to go

We roughly tripled our usual monthly output in June, in large part thanks to this World Cup series we dubbed “The Influencers,” looking at a player to watch from each country. The goal was to, where possible, avoid the totally obvious star players and bring you insight into players who either could break out or who quietly are the heartbeat of their respective teams. We got some right and we got some wrong, as these things always go.

This profile of Becky Sauerbrunn from Dan Lauletta was a great depiction of a player who has never been the star of the show, but has long been an integral part of the U.S. women’s national team:

Becky Sauerbrunn is almost perfect

And this one from me, on the evolution of Alex Morgan’s game, brings you fresh insight into a player who is written about ad naseam:

Alex Morgan is not the player you think she is

This piece about U.S. team administrator Molly Downtain was one of the cooler, more unique stories that I wrote. In the end, the World Cup was all about Megan Rapinoe. Dan Lauletta wrote about her following that inevitable U.S. triumph.

And, among the news EQZ broke this year, the biggest was that Jill Ellis was stepping down as coach of the U.S. women’s national team.

From there, we tracked Kate Markgraf’s hiring process and reported throughout that Vlatko Andonovski was the favorite. Once he was hired, we produced this piece which I’m particularly proud of, on Andonovski’s rise to this point and why he is ready for the job.

Vlatko Andonovski is prepared for the USWNT job

And when I talk about stories that took literally months to become finished products, this one I wrote on the demise of the Boston Breakers is atop the list.

How an era ended: The mysterious final months of the Boston Breakers

We tracked the impeding departure of Sam Kerr from the Red Stars for weeks. One of the best pieces we wrote about on this topic was from Claire Watkins:

Sam Kerr, all grown up

We had several people at the NWSL Championship and produced over a dozen stories from North Carolina.

And even as the lull of the offseason set in, we continued to bring you in-depth updates on what’s going on with the league and with happenings like Reign FC being sold to the OL Groupe.

Exclusive: Bill Predmore on why he’s selling Reign FC to Olympique Lyonnais

I hope you enjoyed 2019 as much as we did, an I encourage you again to subscribe if you don’t already. What’s really helpful for us going forward is feedback. So, what were your favorite stories from EQZ in 2019? Tell us in the comments or on social media.

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