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Exclusive NWSL Challenge Cup content you missed if you aren’t a member of EQZ Extra

Photo Copyright Lucas Muller

Members of The Equalizer Extra get exclusive access to all of our premium content, which features some of the best storytelling and reporting in women’s soccer.

Our team turned out well over 100 articles during the one-month Challenge Cup, from exclusive player interviews to in-depth tactical analysis and rare, on-site reporting from inside the bubble. If you are not yet a member of The Equalizer Extra community, you can start your free, 7-day trial now and get $20 OFF your first year of annual subscription using code “2020” at checkout.

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Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of our favorite articles from the tournament, those which highlight the high quality and vast range of our content:

Kristie Mewis rises again

Let’s start with our most-read player profile of the Challenge Cup,and the type of player-specific content our readers have told us they want more of: Dan Lauletta’s profile of Kristie Mewis, who, after years of being traded around the NWSL and after being dropped from the U.S. national team picture, played her best soccer yet this year. Mewis spoke about her mental and physical struggles throughout the process.

At peace with the past, Kristie Mewis feels better than ever — and it shows

Houston Dash complete the fairy tale

Speaking of Houston, the Dash completed a fairy tale run to win the NWSL Challenge Cup. Sure, it was a short knockout tournament, but the result can’t be overstated when taking into account the historical struggles of the team on and off the field, and the fact that it had become a place players didn’t want to be. This influx of new players changed that narrative entirely. They played with a chip on their shoulders. Jeff Kassouf detailed the run and provided the necessary context:

The magic of the NWSL Challenge Cup: A Houston Dash fairy tale

The heroes behind the scenes

Hardly any reporters were actually at the games in Utah. Hannah Lichtenstein attended a few games for The Equalizer and produced some great content. This story, on Edgar Maldonado and his family cleaning business tasked with sanitizing the facilities used by the NWSL to protect players and staff from COVID-19, was told here exclusively.

The MVP of the NWSL Challenge Cup? A family cleaning business hit hard by the pandemic

Stories which inspired fans to act

Heard of the coffee truck and coffee angels? Jeff Kassouf first reported on the coffee truck that players had provided inside the NWSL bubble, and the small luxury that it was in an otherwise bizarre and stressful environment. After reading about the truck and players’ caffeine addictions, NWSL fans mobilized to pay for teams’ coffees for basically the entire rest of the tournament. Our most-read article from the tournament turned into a catalyst for further fan engagement, which is as cool as it gets and indicative of the incredible women’s soccer community.

But first, coffee: The hottest item inside the NWSL athlete village

First to cover the player stories you need

More player profiles, you said? We’ll keep bringing them. First, Bria Felicien brought you the story of Jennifer Cudjoe’s long journey from Ghana to the NWSL, by way of junior college and open tryouts. Cudjoe soon became an important piece of Sky Blue’s midfield on their run to the Challenge Cup semifinals.

‘It feels like I’m still dreaming’: Cudjoe’s long road from Ghana to NWSL

Katelyn Best also had the exclusive first (and, to date, only) English-language story with Utah Royals loanee and French national team midfielder Aminata Diallo, bringing you the inside scoop on why Diallo came to Utah despite the pandemic. You can thank Katelyn’s fluent French for making this happen.

Aminata Diallo’s American adventure comes under stressful circumstances

Covering Black Lives Matter

Before the tournament, we spoke with several of the NWSL’s Black players about what it was like to play in a predominantly white league. NWSL Players Association co-executive director Yael Averbuch also joined the Kickin’ Back podcast to discuss what the PA is doing to be more inclusive. During the tournament, Pardeep Cattry wrote about player-led efforts to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Claire Watkins spoke at length with Chicago Red Stars players Hannah Davison and Kayla Sharples about the team’s efforts in the local community.

With U.S. sports spotlight to themselves, NWSL players plan acts of solidarity

‘Nobody makes it to this league by being mediocre’: Sharples, Davison on coming together, creating their own moment

The business side of things

Jeff Kassouf wrote extensively about how the NWSL had turned the pandemic into business opportunities by getting creative with signage and jersey sponsorships. Included in this story are exclusive, specific metrics at a team and league level:

How the NWSL adapted to add sponsorship despite shortened season, pandemic

Telling you the WHY

You want in-depth analysis? You got it. We brought you real-time, thoughtful analysis with the context you need from our vast experience covering the league and the sport. The Equalizer started in 2009. Our depth of knowledge and contacts runs deep. You can read all of our analysis here, and check out some particular examples below.

Where do the Courage go from here after their 2017 flashback?

Keeping up the pressure: Analyzing Houston’s new look — and whether it can be sustained

NWSL Beginnings

This series started with the story of how Seattle Reign FC was supposed to be called Seattle Sirens FC, until a perspective-shifting conversation changed that. There are more team-specific stories to come in this series, and this story behind the NWSL logo is one you won’t find anywhere else.

NWSL Beginnings: The untold story behind the league’s logo and silhouette

Podcasts!

The Equalizer Podcast recorded analysis each and every match day of the Challenge Cup, with a variety of different voices. We also brought you several episodes of Kickin’ Back, from speaking with Shea Groom about her new role in Houston, with Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy joining to discuss their investment in the LA expansion team, with Lynn Williams and Sam Mewis having a fun conversation about puppies, Peloton and quarantine.

Kickin’ Back with Aly Wagner

Subscribe, rate and review on Apple, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.

There’s much more to come exclusively for Extra members. If you haven’t joined yet, what are you waiting for? Start your free, 7-day trial today!

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