U.S. women’s national team: What are they doing?

I figured it out. The USA is playing a 4-3-3 formation with fluid interchanges in midfield. No, wait — it’s a 4-5-1, with one target forward and two traditional wingers. Or maybe it’s a 4-2-4, with Carli Lloyd and Lauren Holiday as the only actual midfielders. No, no. I’ve got it. It was Col. Mustard with the lead pipe in the conservatory. In some senses, the Jill Ellis Way isn’t all that complicated. At least, it wasn’t in Monday night’s rather routine 6-0 rout over Haiti that clinched first place in their World Cup qualifying group and moved the team … Continue reading U.S. women’s national team: What are they doing?

Single-Digit Soccer: Why play travel? What you think is wrong

You’ve seen plenty of skepticism in this space — and at U.S. Youth Soccer — about separating “travel” players from “rec” players before the age of 12, much less the age of 10. But the skepticism isn’t about the idea of having “travel” experiences — being paired with good teammates and good coaches, playing similarly skilled teams, and actually traveling more than 15 minutes away … on occasion. On the contrary, my sense for now is that “travel” should be open to more players and less exclusionary. If you can make a strong case for or against that argument, please meet … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Why play travel? What you think is wrong

Turf questions: Not just scrapes, but cancer?

NBC’s Hannah Rappleye poured a lot of research into this piece on artificial turf, finding an alarming correlation between soccer players, particularly goalkeepers, and cancer diagnoses. As exhaustive as NBC’s research is, it can’t really answer the question of whether artificial turf is to blame. That’s not NBC’s fault. The science just isn’t there. Most studies are in the “well, we couldn’t find a link, but more study is needed” camp. That’s somewhat comforting. The follow-up questions aren’t just scientific but statistical. How many people have played soccer, goalkeepers in particular, on artificial turf? How many have been diagnosed with cancer? Now … Continue reading Turf questions: Not just scrapes, but cancer?

Oly roundups: Oct. 6

The roundup of the Olympic sports roundups for the week: Team USA Sports Scene: U.S. women win world basketball title, U.S. Army wins Warrior Games, lower-level competitions in diving and figure skating. Universal Sports video: Lot of synchronized swimming, some volleyball. Frontier Sports: World Gymnastics, Oslo 2022 withdrawal fallout, IAAF Athlete of the Year controversy (Gatlin nomination), The Guardian on USA Rugby (!?), UK’s new badminton league, progress on women’s Tour de France, Usain Bolt celebrating Oktoberfest in lederhosen. Repeating: Usain Bolt celebrating Oktoberfest in lederhosen. Continue reading Oly roundups: Oct. 6

‘Enduring Spirit’ epilogue (sort of): An August snapshot

Sometime during the NWSL season, it occurred to me that people might be interested in an epilogue to Enduring Spirit, summing up the team’s successful second season. Perhaps they would be more interested in that than they were in the book on the first season. Perhaps I’d even recoup a bit more of the money I lost writing Enduring Spirit. Circumstances have conspired against that work being completed. I was sick for a while, and a couple of injured fingers (one broken, one badly sprained) cut into my productivity on the computer keyboard. And the people involved aren’t racing to … Continue reading ‘Enduring Spirit’ epilogue (sort of): An August snapshot

Whither the Winter Games? A study in arrogance

The Winter Olympics aren’t that expensive. Not if you already have most of the infrastructure in place — a sliding track, ski jumps, a solid Alpine skiing area, and maybe four or five arenas ranging from 3,000 (curling) to 15,000 (figure skating). Russia spent $51 billion, allegedly, to stage the 2014 Games. That’s Russia. That’s the hubris of building things from scratch and the corruption to get it done in haphazard fashion. Sochi will host some other stuff, from the (men’s soccer) World Cup to Formula 1 to the Magnus Carlsen-Vishy Anand World Chess Championship rematch, but we’ll have to see … Continue reading Whither the Winter Games? A study in arrogance

MLS, USA and Canada 2022: One vision

One vision of how professional soccer could look in eight years: The 2022 MLS season kicked off with all 24 teams for the third straight season. The teams are divided into two conferences. Each team plays its conference rivals twice and then each team from the other conference once, for a total of 34 games. The league is also in its third year under a new collective bargaining agreement. The 2020 edition replaced the salary “budget” (which most people called a “cap”) with a “luxury tax,” akin to what has been seen in Major League Baseball for years and was adopted … Continue reading MLS, USA and Canada 2022: One vision