First Annual Cross-Conference Holiday Gift Giving Guide

As David Sedaris wrote, Christmas means giving. WPS teams are in danger this year, but we can still find time to celebrate and give. This is our first year writing the blog, and I thought I would take the opportunity to create a guide for gift purchases this season.

For the women’s soccer fan who can stomach Anson, Book: The Man Watching

For the soccer fan who wants the best book on soccer ever written, Book: The Ball Is Round

For the fan not averse to risk-taking: 2011 Tickets

  • Don’t live near one of the four WPS towns? Donate the tickets to a charity or nonprofit, like GONZO SOCCER.

For any Chicago Red Stars fan:

For the green-conscious or Chicago Red Stars fan: Green Laces

For the national team coach: Flexible Desk-size Vertebral Column Item #: CS85X

For your favorite Chicago Red Stars midfielder: Dep Sport Endurance Gel, Intense Hold, Level 11, 12 oz

For the WCC fan: anything from TearCatcher.com

For your favorite goalkeeper:

For your favorite Swiss forward: Actors on Acting: The Theories, Techniques, and Practices of the World’s Great Actors, Told in Their Own Words, though be aware she actually may be a contributor.

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Episode 20 – Kaley Keeley Kelley

We have a (somewhat) brief episode for this week! This is a chance to discuss the final four before they play this weekend.

Music

  • “Une Americaine a Paris” – Rupa & the April Fishes
  • “Take ‘Em Up” – Shit Robot
  • “Pretty Girl Rock (remix; feat. Kanye West)” – Keri Hilson
  • “I’ve Been Trying” – DJ Shadow

NCAA

  • Georgetown-OSU (2-0)
  • Notre Dame-OK State (2-0)
    • Both goals by a freshman
      • Elizabeth Tucker
  • BC-Washington (1-0 in OT)
  • Stanford-FSU (5-0)
    • 5 different scorers
  • Final Four -1,2,3,4 seeds
    • Stanford-BC
      • BC’s first final four
      • Stanford’s 3rd consecutive
    • Notre Dame-Ohio State
      • OSU are first timers
      • ND’s 5th consecutive, 12th overall
      • OSU-ND have met five times previously, ND winning them all (last in 02)

USWNT

  • Job done, for now
  • Have the necessary messages been received?
    • Did the lineup change? There was no Alex Morgan…

WPS

  • Mark Washo (DC GM) steps down
    • “Washo leaves Freedom to join Playbook Management International as its Managing Partner. Playbook Management International (PMI) is a full-service sports and entertainment agency, founded by former FC Dallas and Pizza Hut Park General Manager, Michael Hitchcock.”
  • Western NY
    • Picks up Kaley Fountain & Beverly G.

Episode 19 – Punishment Is Imminent

In our latest episode, recorded Wednesday, the NCAA D-1 women’s soccer tournament causes tears, exaustion and pain. The US Women’s National Team will play in Italy. FC Gold Pride is gone, but WPS soldiers on.

Action Items:

  • Give us a mystery to solve. Send your mysteries to crossconference@gmail.com.
  • Rate us on iTunes.

Music:

  • “Down By the Water (Skinny Friedman remix)” –  The Drums
  • “All That” – A1
  • “Girl, Here’s Another Lie” – Ultimate Fakebook
  • “Sandcastle Disco” – Solange

NCAA Tournament!

  • Seeds out
    • Maryland
      • Wake is, too – FYI, ACC (conf. tournament finalists)
    • Portland
      • Who’s fault?
        • Mine
        • Garrett’s
        • Everyone’s (for booting Sweeney)
  • Stanford
  • UC Irvine – All the way
  • UND @ UNC
    • Against USC, Notre Dame looked like a real Irish team for the first time this season
  • St. Mary’s senior goalkeeper on SMC’s season and last game against Portland

USWNT

  • Italy trip
    • They’ve never won in Italy
    • Hope Solo says your statistics mean nothing
  • DiMartino, Osborne, Tarpley
  • Everyone is gushing about the performance of the young players on the USMNT against South Africa. Like, you know, DEVELOPMENTAL PLAYERS.
    • Yeah, they were excellent. And 4 years away from the next world cup.
    • This is astonishing and innovative and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen such a thing on the women’s side!

WPS

  • Bye, bye, bye FC Gold Pride?
    • No investors
    • A survivable loss for the WPS. DC? not so much.
  • Chicago?
  • Western New York is a go. Keeping “Flash”
  • I have thinky thoughts about advertising/fan involvement
    • Sort of along the lines of the old WNBA t-shirt design contest, but more extensive than that – like a marketing angle, but the league would have to give the fans access to high-quality images.

Whatever works

So Portland lost in the second round. It was an anxiety-ridden affair. Washington did what they had to do to advance. It’s fine when I don’t think about it, but real misery when I do. The Pilots haven’t reached the Final Four since 2005. There were some amazing seniors on the team. Losing on PKs at home is bunk. It feels cruel, awful, and strangely so familiar.

Keelin Winters, Sophie Schmidt, Jessica Tsao

I’ve been watching a lot more boxing and MMA lately. I grew up watching boxing with my stepfather and practicing martial arts as a hobby. For combat sports, they are very different. This is something very obvious to anyone who’s followed either, but allow me to explain a little bit about the differences to those of you who might not be familiar.

Boxing might be considered the more pure of the two. There are basically two ways to win a fight: knockout or decision. (Yes, this is oversimplification. Indulge me.) Knockout is pretty self-explanitory: clean the other guy’s clock. He can’t stand up or defend himself? Fight over.

Decision is a little harder. You have to go the distance and you have to win enough rounds. To win a round, you have to punch clean, move around the ring well, be aggressive and still keep up your defense.

Plenty of title fights go the distance without a fighter attempting to really earn the belt away from the holder. Anyone who saw Manny Pacquiao’s fights against Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margartio knows what this looks like. You can’t luck your way into winning a fight by decision. You have to work, and if the guy you’re fighting has the belt you want, you have to take it from him. (The issue of taking a title is one we will have to revisit with the USWNT, but another time.)

Diaz vs Noons II

MMA fights can be won and lost like this. Nick Diaz is the current welterweight champion for Srikeforce. He recently defended his title against KJ Noons (who is WAY too pretty for a white boxer, but that’s neither here nor there). Diaz took what Noons could dish out. Noons managed to land punches, stay out of Diaz’ grasp and go the distance, but the question was: did he take the title from Diaz? It was obvious he did not.

While a mixed martial arts fight can be won in the same way as a boxing match, but it also introduced a new element: submission. Getting a fighter to submit involves putting them in a position (usually through grappling) where they cannot see an out; staying in the position would be costly. This is entirely unique to fighting: it means that one fighter can dominate for potentially a majority of rounds, but if they are caught in a split second, in any round, by a skilled grappler… game over. The fight can be lost in a single moment.

On the same night as the Diaz/Noons fight, one of my favorite upcoming MMA fighers, Sarah Kaufman, recently lost her title in a fight where she had to submit. She’s an amazing striker, and is usually crafty (or lucky) enough to work her way out of whatever trouble her opponents can get her in. However, in her last fight, against Marloes Coenen, she ignored the instruction of her trainers and found herself in an armbar. Moments before, she had Coenen on the ground, receiving her fists at a furious pace. Kaufman seemed primed for yet another knockout, but within a few seconds, she had to submit.

Kaufman in the armbar

As a fan of Kaufman, it momentarily felt unfair. As a fan of MMA, that it took so few seconds between Coenen receiving hard punches to the face and dishing out swift punishment of her own was stunning.

Soccer feels like it should be pure, that outcomes should be clear, but it is far more like MMA than perhaps any other sport. The game is not necessarily won by the best team, just as an MMA bout may not be won by the best fighter.  Soccer is described as the beautiful game, not necessarily the fair one. Great teams can be consistently dominant over a season. Smart teams do whatever works for them on the day. Washington did it. Teams will do it against North Carolina year after year.

A game can be stolen away so easily in the sport of soccer. It is incredibly hard to accept as a fan, but without defeat feeling this cruel, I wonder if victory can ever feel sublime.

Interview: Kelsey Davis

I don’t think it’s a big secret that Ruth and I really like Kelsey Davis.  We’ve mentioned it before on the blog and possibly in every episode of our podcast.  When the opportunity to talk to Kelsey came up, we jumped on it, and I worked through the night to make the episode available for you today

Kelsey Davis (Photo by ohhh_yeah80)

Kelsey had a lot to say about the 2006 US team that competed in the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia, which is a particular topic of interest to Ruth and I, and what she said about that team and the coach surprised me.

In a Bleacher Report interview, Kelsey discusses some of her charitable work with the Ronald McDonald House, and we talked with her about that as well. Since the end of the season, she’s worked with teammate Natalie Spilger’s GreenLaces.

Kelsey was a Theology major at Portland, and she explained her interest in the topic quite passionately and eloquently.  Speaking personally, I think I could have asked her to keep talking about religious writers for a good hour.

It’s rare to have an engaging conversation about so many interesting topics with someone you admire. Talking with Kelsey was a real honor and a pleasure and I hope we get to do it again.

Kelsey on Twitter.

Writers mentioned in the interview:
Thomas Merton
Wendell Berry
Brennan Manning
Anne Lamott
Henri Nouwen
Jay Bakker
C.S. Lewis
St. Augustine
Julian of Norwich
(my small plug for David Dark)

Episode 18 – The Integrity of Our Podcast

Spectacular.

It seems that almost any shocking news that could happen in women’s soccer happened this past week. Except for evil twins and secret pregnancies. For now, I think. But we have a new episode.

Music

  • “Sweet Marie” – The Anniversary
  • “Rye Whiskey” – Punch Brothers”
  • “I’m Not Your Toy (DatA Remix)” – La Roux
  • “Need To Be” – Babbletron

Drinks

  • Ruth: Gin & tonic
  • Joan: Rye whiskey + ginger ale + lemon

CONCACAF Qualifying

  • CANvTrinidad
  • CANvGUY
    • N’Sinc
  • CANvMEX
    • Sinc does not need to score for Canada to play well.
  • MEXvGUY
    • HI MARIBEL. Hi.
  • Mexico = muy bueno
  • CANvCRC
  • USAvHaiti
    • 5-0 snorefest
  • USAvGuatemala
    • “ALEX MORGAN”
  • USAvCRC
    • Whatevs.
  • USAvMEX
  • shit sandwich.
    • The US mentality was that they had already qualified. They needed this wake-up call. They didn’t treat this game like a must-win and when they went down early, they had no idea what to do.
    • Tony DiCicco on US development.
    • It was no fluke. Cuellar has stuck with this team for ever, and it’s paying off for him.
  • USAvCRC
    • On ESPN2 and ESPN360: Nov. 8, 2010 @ 6 p.m. ET

NCAA

  • UND vs UConn
    • Mystery Team: Taylor Knaack was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. She remains enrolled at Notre Dame and is on track to graduate in the spring.
  • SCU = WTF this time
    • Lost 2-0 to LMU on Senior Day, lost to Pepperdine today 3-2.
  • Portland
    • Tied SMC 1-1.
    • Still wins WCC
  • PAC-10
    • Stanford clinches.
  • ACC

WPS

Call to action!

Scenarios for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

In our last episode, Ruth and I discussed Women’s World Cup qualifying. I said the US proving everyone wrong, storming through qualifying and winning the World Cup itself was possibly the best way for the WPS to survive. At 45 minutes into that show, Ruth imagined, nay, predicted a scenario in which the US did not qualify outright for the cup. She thought (and thinks) the US struggling and still possibly winning would make for a better story.

I was skeptical. But perhaps she was right all along, for now the U.S. faces some scenarios in order to get to the 2012 Women’s World Cup in Germany.

Qualification

The U.S. will play Costa Rica on Monday, in the CONCACAF consolation match for lamers. Then they must play home and away against Italy.

Should they win these games, they will qualify for the Women’s World Cup. And yet, they would have so much more work to do.

My Forgiveness

This is the harder scenario.

I see really only one way for the USWNT to qualify for forgiveness and truly earn back my love and trust. And that is to perform this song for me:

If they fail in this, there is still a secondary way to qualify, and that is to perform Warrant’s “Sometimes She Cries” then sing three Night Ranger songs of their choosing.