Hope Solo – Gonna take a mighty swipe at the high hog

Hope Solo, WWC 2007Does everyone remember back in 2007, when Hope Solo watched the USWNT get their asses kicked in the World Cup, then made a statement to the Canadian media that amounted to, “Greg Ryan is an idiot for benching me because I am this US team’s number one GK, and there are no stats in goalkeeping–shut up, Heifetz, I’ll say what everyone is thinking if I want”? Originally, the video of this statement was available online, unedited, but I guess what aired on TV were the incendiary clips that got Solo kicked off the team. Rioting ensued, Solo apologized on MySpace, and she became the major storyline of the USWNT for the next two years.

Now it’s 2010 and Solo has returned to filing complaints in public spaces. This time, however, she is skipping the middleman. Earlier this season she complained about American soccer commentators

I’ve heard the best commentating throughout these wc games! All from other countries. We have a long way to go here in the US! They truly know how to let the game be played and speak for itself. They have funny little comments and then return to the game. And they don’t over analyze!!!! It makes watching the games much less frustrating and much more enjoyable!

WPS reffing and discipline

Here we go again… Protection

What are we the legal system now? Perhaps jail time too? An orange jumpsuit? The guillotine? Trying to make an embarrassment out of people? Should I be laughing! I just don’t know anymore.

Anybody want to join us for some community service? Its a tough task laying out by the pool while trying to put back tasty beverages.

[A/N: The above occurred around a red card incident with Solo’s Atlanta teammate Kia McNeill, who came studs-up (about shoulder height) at opposing goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. This was McNeill’s third red card in two years. The discipline committee reviewed the incident and added two additional suspensions–a total of three games missed–and four hours of community service, which clearly means little in WPS. An appeal was made, to no effect.]

and in response to team/league press releases

Lucky? I don’t think so. When will little old atlanta get a bit of credit. Who writes these press releases?

Most recently, Solo has caused a stir following Atlanta’s 2-0 loss at Boston (which she preceded with a minor rant about officiating).

To all the boston fans and especially the young kids that I didn’t sign autographs for I’m sorry. I will not stand for An organization who can so blatantly disrespect the athletes that come to play. Perhaps the WPS or Boston themselves Can finally take a stance to the profanity, racism and crude remarks that are made by their so called “fan club” To the true fans, I hope to catch you at the next game. Thanks for your support and love for the game.

There is a lot of discussion right now, with Boston’s Riptide defending themselves and both Boston and Atlanta’s front offices talking about making a joint statement. Et cetera. I agree that the issues that have been raised by Solo and the ensuing reactions definitely open the main door on the soccer-and-race discussion for WPS, but since it looks like the “discussion” is about denying racism instead of acknowledging that it is a mainstay in soccer and–founded or not–Solo’s allegations can be used as a chance to combat it early on in the league…

Admittedly, I let myself get distracted by the media issue. One of the things that people have been saying is that Solo should have filed her complaint about the Riptide through formal channels instead of making her accusations in front of 1.8k followers on the internet. She should have signed for the young fans and spoken to the media immediately after the game.

Wait, what?

Solo is not the most PR- or Twitter-savvy player on the USWNT or in the WPS, but she seems to have learned her lesson about speaking to the media (the mediators) immediately following an infuriating match. Regardless of her intentions, not engaging with fans–particularly the young ones that are often clamoring for signatures while wearing the opponents’ gear–immediately following an infuriating match is probably a good thing, considering her temper and opinionated nature.

Solo’s grasp of Twitter and microblogging leaves much to be desired, but she is her account’s sole mediator. She bypassed a more immediate outlet (the fans and press at the field) for a slightly less-immediate outlet where she would have control over expressing her message. WPS established Twitter as one of the league’s legitimate media components from the start, so this platform stands above a statement made on MySpace–I don’t see any comparison between the two except that they are both player-controlled and on the internet. These 140 characters can’t be edited at the source, only posted or deleted. Nearly a week later, nothing has been deleted.

Last year, when Sky Blue FC axed two coaches in mid-season, there wasn’t any transparency. Complaints were filed through the “right” channels and implied in mediated ones. Information from all sides of the story was sorely lacking. We see a lot of this in women’s soccer, so it’s key when the players, especially, take possession of the messages that end up in public.

Even more so, it’s fascinating to see the high-profile Hope Solo adjust her approach to a tension-filled situation in a positive and slightly more controlled manner now that her options for mediation have changed. It’s taking so long for the “right channels” to address this formally that it’s hard to believe the fans ever would have heard about such a serious accusation if Solo hadn’t taken it upon herself to apologize to young fans for her absence.

Edited to include the “joint statement” from the Breakers and Beat, poorly named “Solo statement”:

Westwood, MA (August 9, 2010) –The management of the Atlanta Beat and the Boston Breakers have worked together over the past several days to look into the alleged incidents of fan misconduct and the subsequent post-game public comments of beat goalkeeper Hope Solo during the Breakers-Beat game at Harvard Stadium on Wednesday, August 4th.

After interviewing fans, players, security personnel and team employees, it seems clear that a few individual fans shouted comments towards the field that crossed the line from traditional heckling to abusive language that is neither respectful of the players, nor apppropriate for the family friendly entertainment environment that the Breakers pride themselves on. The Breakers organization extends an apology to all members of the Beat team & staff and to any Breakers fans that were offended by the actions of these unidentified individuals. The Breakers have also pledged to place additional stadium security in closer proximity to the stadium sections adjacent to the visiting bench and goalkeeping areas to further ensure a safe and enjoyable game environment for all participants & spectators.

The coordinated review of the Breakers and the Beat also conclusively showed that at no time was there any organized or coordinated singing or chanting of racially insensitive slogans or profanity by the Riptide supporters group or any other group of fans. The Beat regret that a member of their organization used social media to make public allegations against the Breakers organization and its supporters group without first bringing her concerns to the attention of either club. The Beat and its players understand that the remarks were from a few individuals and not representative of the Breakers organization or the Riptide supporters group.

Both teams look forward to contesting the remainder of this exciting WPS playoff race on the field and to their next head-to-head competition on August 21st, when the Breakers and the Beat meet at Veterans Memorial Stadium in New Britain, Connecticut.

Cross-Conference ‘Cast – Episode 09 – No Touching!

New Episode! We recorded mere hours before the Sky Blue FC coaching change, which actually doesn’t matter considering our general apathy towards the orange.

My co-editor is on vacation, living the life of the rich elite on the East coast, while I toil in middle America. All of this was made very clear in the hour we discussed:

  • WPS Action, including Ashlyn Harris’ coaching debut, Boston’s turnaround, and FCGP’s meteoric… extended stay at the top.
  • USWNT’s two games against Sweden.
  • U20 WWC and how much we looooooooove Mexico <3 <3 <3
  • Shek Borkowski leaves Zvezda
  • W-League update! Pali survived!
  • Utah does a scarf thing.
  • Kelsey Davis wins our award.

Measuring US U-20 WC players in the WPS

Let’s talk about U-20s. The US U-20 World Cup team recently dropped a 2-1 match to Japan and a 3-1 match to Germany. I’ve already expressed my doubts about this squad, and these results have done nothing to change my mind.

No, that’s not true. I am actually starting to suspect that the 2010 squad will fail even harder than the 2006 squad did. In fact, they might not even come out on top of their group. Which is not to say that they have dropped so far as to not come out of their group at all, but I am quickly losing faith.

This might be the worst year yet for US youth national teams. The U-23s have essentially been losing games to U-20s, and the U-17s didn’t even qualify for their world cup.

But enough cynicism! I actually came here to write–in a roundabout way–about the Philadelphia Independence. Having recently picked up Christina DiMartino, Philadelphia now has six former U-20 World Cup players on its roster. Five of those played in the 2006 WC (in which the US took fourth place), and one played in 2008 (in which the US took first). Both of the Philadelphia DiMartinos played in U-20 World Cups, and I would love to hear their thoughts on the 2010 team, given that younger sister Vicki DiMartino will be part of the potential catastrophe.

Here are the rostered former US U-20 players at this point in WPS’ 2010 season:

Atlanta Beat

  • Lori Chalupny (2002)
  • Angie Woznuk (2002, 2004)
  • Manya Makoski (2002) – season ending injury
  • Tobin Heath (2004) – season ending injury

Boston Breakers

  • Leslie Osborne (2002)
  • Lindsay Tarpley (2002)
  • Stephanie Lopez (2004, 2006)
  • Jordan Angeli (2006)
  • Lauren Cheney (2006)
  • Alyssa Naeher (2008)

Chicago Red Stars

  • Kelsey Davis (2004, 2006) – season ending injury
  • Megan Rapinoe (2004)
  • Casey Nogueira (2006)
  • Nikki Washington (2008) – injured

FC Gold Pride

  • Rachel Buehler (2002, 2004)
  • Kelley O’Hara (2006)
  • Carrie Dew (2006)
  • Kaley Fountain (2008)
  • Becky Edwards (2008)

Philadelphia Independence

  • Nikki Krzysik (2004, 2006)
  • Amy Rodriguez (2004, 2006)
  • Val Henderson (2006)
  • Danesha Adams (2006)
  • Tina DiMartino (2006)
  • Gina DiMartino (2008)

Sky Blue FC

  • Kendall Fletcher (2002) – developmental
  • Heather O’Reilly (2002)
  • Keeley Dowling (2002)
  • Yael Averbuch (2004)
  • Meghan Schnur (2004)
  • Kiersten Dallstream (2008)

Washington Freedom

  • Sarah Huffman (2002)
  • Ashlyn Harris (2002, 2004)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (2004)
  • Brittany Bock (2006)
  • Allie Long (2006)
  • Nikki Marshall (2008)

Jill Oakes (2002), Kerri Hanks (2002, 2004), Kelly Wilson (2002), Sheree Gray (2004), Stephanie Logterman (2004, 2006), Sarah Wagenfuhr (2006) have all been rostered in the WPS and are, for various reasons, not with teams this season.

Amanda Poach (2006) was picked up by St. Louis this season but never played for them. Kiki Bosio suggested that Poach might finish her last year of eligibility at Santa Clara this fall. I won’t believe it until she makes it through the summer without an injury.

The current WPS standings are as follows:

  1. FC Gold Pride
  2. Washington Freedom
  3. Philadelphia Independence
    Sky Blue FC
  4. Chicago Red Stars
  5. Boston Breakers
  6. Atlanta Beat

Pretty sure this makes Tiff Weimer my sports media hero.

Technically, I’m supposed to be taking a break from anything related to school, but I want to talk about why I’m so excited about Our Game Magazine. So to be fair, I am going to reference articles without quoting or citing them, and you can find them in the reading list. But mostly, I want to have a fannish dork-out over the potential of this magazine before I have a chance to feel cynical about it.

In case you’re too lazy to click the magazine’s link, I’m going to C&P straight from the page. All copy is good copy.

Our Game Magazine is a women’s soccer magazine created by current and past players for players and fans all around the world.

Khaled El-Ahmad- Founder
Tiffany Weimer- Editor
Kat Galsim
Carmelina Moscato
Alyssa Naeher
Mike LeGates
Olaf Goldbecker
Leslie Osborne
Ryan Wood

The first issue will be web-based, making its debut on June 1, 2010.

No disrespect to any of the other names on this list, but it’s the current and past (women’s) soccer players that get me charged up over this magazine. One of the complaints in women’s soccer–or women’s sports in general–is that men’s teams would never have to [do something like this]. There really isn’t a need for male athletes (in most sports) to create their own media in order to have thorough and relevant coverage. But frankly, it’s the player initiative that makes me excited about this magazine.  This isn’t Fair Game, for those of you that remember that; this is Our Game, spearheaded by one of the best player-writers in women’s soccer.

There was this great study done by some folks at Penn State not too long ago, looking at the narratives surrounding Title IX. If you read the article, it’s easy to look at the majority of the findings and conclusions and get depressed or frustrated with what people are saying about women’s sports. It’s easy to be negative about the fact that the best resistance to mainstream narrative comes from female athletes. It’s easy to say that we [in women’s sports] want a greater percentage of more relevant mainstream coverage, because that is where the money is. My cynical self says I really prefer not to have the mainstream coverage. I prefer not to have that style tainting my enjoyment of my sport.

Money be damned–since the WPS has none–I’d rather have internally-created content that the league, teams, and players have control over. I prefer to have people that are knowledgeable and who give a damn telling me about what is going on in the game I love. I’d rather have the potential for women’s soccer media to build new narratives away from the ESPNs and US Soccer, because women’s soccer is rich with the kind of narratives that can appeal to a large audience. The game has its Davids and Goliaths. It also has armies of players and teams in between. All of women’s soccer deserves greater coverage–and more often than once or twice a year during tournaments.

In the  WPS chat the other day, my co-author asked Tiff Weimer (the magazine’s editor), whether the magazine was born of desire or necessity. I think it is a necessity. But I think if you look at the staff listing, you can see desire there as well. I don’t think I am bringing too much bias, either. Have a look at the mission statement:

The objective of Our Game Magazine is simple. We want to further the popularity of women’s soccer throughout the world. Our aim is to provide a creative, unique perspective like no magazine has ever done before. Soccer is the one game that can unite the world, and we want to aid in the growth of the women’s side of it. The staff at Our Game Magazine is fully committed to bringing you a quality product stemmed from insightful soccer minds and a passion for the beautiful game.

Whenever I talk about my research or women’s sports media, I almost always bring up Weimer. Not because she is a journalism major–you can find other communications/journalism/English/whatever majors in the sport. This is a player that has blogged for various teams at various levels of the sport. Youth national teams, WPSL teams, WPS teams. She is as good a writer as she is a player, and I’m disappointed when she isn’t given opportunities on either front to show how she can shine. She has embraced social media, particularly Twitter, more than any other player in the league–and she knows how to use it. She isn’t just going through the motions. I don’t think I’m giving her too much credit when I say she understands what she is doing when she writes, blogs, tweets, and launches a damned magazine. I think she knows exactly what she’s doing, I think she wants to do this, and honestly, she is precisely the player I expected this of.

So, for once,  I have high hopes. I have faith that if anyone can make a difference and deliver with a media initiative like this, it’s Tiff Weimer and whatever team she puts together. And I’m more than willing to give this magazine a chance even if the first issue has its flaws. I’ve been on the ground floor of a magazine, and I have the patience to see Our Game Magazine grow.

Coin toss, flip throw.

The semester isn’t over yet here, but I just caught this blog entry (via Girls With Game) in my reader and decided to take a break from revisions. I’m excited to talk about narratives, the way article-writing software is proving my point, and the academic crush I have on Lindsey Meân. For now, I’m willing to settle for giving my two cents on the flip throw. Quick disclaimer: my partner in crime at the Cross-Conference disagrees with me on the usefulness of flip throws. Scroll past, my friend.

Last year, FSC commentators were wetting themselves over Natalie Spilger’s flip throw, as though they had never watched an NCAA game, or even that U-20 World Cup tournament that they referenced in today’s broadcast. (Texas’ Leah performed it for Brazil.) Obviously, Kiki Bosio’s  flip throw is the one getting talked up a lot right now, and I have to wonder whether Michele Weissenhofer is ever going to have a chance to use hers. (None of them actually does it for every throw in, although Bosio did in today’s game.) Having played for Notre Dame, Weissenhofer would have one of the most televised (or webcast) flip throws in women’s soccer right now. While hers was good and not over-utilized, I don’t think her flip throw was the most impressive part of the arsenal when the Irish were still a team that capitalized on very exacting set plays. Overall, I think Bosio’s throw has been the most effective in terms of creating scoring chances–both in the NCAA and WPS–but I wouldn’t begrudge any team a gimmick. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge Chicago a scoring chance, if they could find a way to make the flip throw work for them. I don’t think they have so far.

So I’d caution against simply asking who is going to bring the flip throw, unless the aim of that is PR and marketing. Who is going to bring a dangerous one? might be the better question. For me, the question is whether I’m going to have to follow the Australian W-League more closely than I did last season, because if Bosio signs with a team down there, I sure as hell will.

A loss for FC Gold Pride isn’t disappointing; it’s normal.

I want to preface this entry by thanking the friend that went with me to today’s game. Not just because soccer is not her thing, but because she ended up having to drive us in my car. My team lost and we both probably got sunburned. I appreciate that she went along and helped me feel comfortable enough to get growly at the end.

Over the years, I have developed a ritual with games that usually involves arriving an hour before kickoff, staking out a seat, scoping out the stadium, watching warm-ups, switching seats at least once during the first half, wandering at the start of the second, and finding a new seat during the second if I don’t just decide to stay on my feet. Today, we were “late” (my fault) and completely missed warm-ups. There was also some kind of snag at the ticket booth, but it’s interesting to note that the Athletica takes credit or debit! Is $15 general admission still the cheapest in the league? Also, a question: why does Athletica charge $10 for parking when there are so many free options nearby?

Obviously, there is not a whole lot I can say about the game since I wasn’t taking notes (I usually do). I was surprised that Kaley Fountain got the start over Becky Edwards. I wasn’t unhappy, though. They both got to play and did decently. It’s hard to say who performed better–Edwards earned the yellow card, but Fountain did not. Depends on how you take that. I was happy with Edwards’ yellow because we were at that point in the game where FCGP needed to show they were still awake and on earth. Thanks for your efforts, Edwards.

I thought Ali Riley had a good game and is clearly WPS-ready. I think the backline was sorely missing Carrie Dew, though. I was incredibly disappointed with the forwards. During introductions, I commented to my friend that Aluko is the only one that can really score for Saint Louis. Sure, I was being snarky, but ain’t that the truth? It was today.

I saw some good possession and good, connecting passes all over the field for the Pride, but barely any reason for Solo to earn her pay. You have Marta, O’Hara, Milbrett, Sinclair, and Abily, and you let them make runs one at a time without support? Something is wrong there. Especially when the forwards disappear for long minutes at a stretch. Bosio came in for Milbrett late in the second half and put in decent minutes. Kelley O’Hara did score (off a throw in, I think) in the final minute, but the ref called it offsides. I really should not need to rehash WPS reffing for anyone; it hasn’t changed. The only good that comes of it is that Marta throws temper tantrums, and that’s good entertainment.

I am pretty sure the weather report said it was supposed to be in the upper 70s today, but it was easily 85 out there. My friend asked me whether that could have factored into FCGP’s loss, since Saint Louis has been really fortunate weather-wise this year. But I don’t think so. FCGP didn’t look fatigued or emotionally worn like they did last year. The team looked good, except for the forwards. And we had to wonder–inconclusively–whether FCGP will suffer from their poor preseason schedule. Probably not, right? Because a loss for the Bay is normal.

So, as an FC Gold Pride fan, I have to say this was a good game. O’Hara did score. The team showed that they were capable of passing! I feel good about the possibilities for this team. I’ve been a fan of Bay Area teams for long enough to know that, sometimes, you do have to bank on possibilities. Be patient, say a prayer every night for the players’ ACLs, if they still have their ligaments.

Speaking of ligaments, I took a chance on trying to talk to Kiki Bosio after the game even though my friend and I both had things we need to get done tonight. I pulled my usual “Can I talk to you about the Broncos?” as I do with SCU alumni, and I appreciate that the Bronco graduates I have talked to are willing to fill me in on their college team. Apparently it’s not a mistake that Poach is still listed on SCU’s roster. She could still play for them in the fall, since she hasn’t played in the WPS. If she’s healthy, she might even play with the U-23s. Lindsey Johnson is definitely taking her red shirt eligibility. Yay!

I tried to express my happiness over how well SCU did last year, and in that final game against Stanford–and I’m sorry, Bosio, I got caught up in that and didn’t tell you that I’m glad you’re in the league and got minutes today. But hey, thanks for being patient and indulgent. You’ve always been one of my favorite Broncos.

Algarve wrap-up: Is Joan wrong?

So, Carli Lloyd scored in the Algarve Final. Have I been proven wrong yet? I’m not sure. It was her first goal since the 2008 Olympics Final.  Is there some way we can insert her into final games ONLY?  And make sure she never takes a set piece?

Lauren Cheney scored four goals in the tournament.  It’s nice to finally see a Bruin make something of all that potential.

FYI, our podcast is now on iTunes. So very many ways to subscribe to the most important monthly women’s soccer podcast in the world.

To answer the question posited in the title: no. I’m never wrong.