Now, a word from Coach Tony DiCicco

I was looking for some old research materials this morning and came across Tony DiCicco’s in-depth recap of the US U-20s 2008 campaign, in which they won gold at the World Cup in Chile. The 100+ page report opens with this really great reminder:

However, we cannot confuse our success in 2008 with “everything is right with USA girls’ and women’s soccer.” […] the fact is we are losing ground in the women’s game worldwide.

Emphasis his, not mine. This recap came right after the US won gold at the Olympics and at the U-20 level, and the U-17 won silver in their inaugural tournament.

I have a love-hate relationship with this document. I am not a fan of DiCicco and I don’t like how he handles players, but I don’t think that makes his overall assessment wrong. I really do appreciate how he broke everything down in this document and gave a frank assessment of the team over the course of the year that he had them.

The rest of the links from Day 2 of the U-20 WWC (and today)

ESPN Fail

  • Highlighting this, because halftime on ESPN3 is nothing like halftime on ESPNU. ESPN3 stays with FIFA and the game at hand, even if only to replay the highlights.

Yesterday’s Games

Et Cetera

  • US Soccer, in an attempt not to compound their own shortcomings, did an interview with Kendall Johnson.
  • FIFA previews tomorrow’s games and highlights Brazil-Sweden.
  • There is also a feature on Costa Rica.
  • By the way, did you know Chris Wood was at New Zealand’s first game?
  • Unfortunately, he is going to miss their biggest test, tomorrow’s match against Korea DPR.
  • I think most people interested in US women’s soccer have heard the story of what happened at the CONCACAF U-17 Qualifiers between Haiti and the US team. Bryane Haeberlin followed up with the team from Haiti and brought them to the US to spend some time in Florida.
  • CONCACAF shares video of Haiti’s trip.

Youth national teams round-up for early July.

This Men’s World Cup Final is both boring and endless, so I am sweeping through today’s links. US Soccer likes to hoard the women’s YNT news.

U-17 News

  • I love the Nordic Cup, but I’m used to having one at the U-23 level. This year, the US U-17s are competing in one, using a very different team from the one that went to qualifiers.
  • They opened with a 6-0 win over the Netherlands, including an own goal and a penalty kick.
  • Then they were 3-0 over Denmark.
  • They closed the group 2-1 over Norway.
  • A 2-0 win over Germany secured the championship. I cannot express how disappointed I am that the US won’t be competing in September.

U-23 News

  • As with most women’s soccer, it’s easier to find these results anywhere but US Soccer. But the U-23s, without a Nordic Cup for the second year in a row, are in England for a Four Nations tournament.
  • They opened 3-0 over England.
  • They dropped 2-1 to Norway, essentially off an own-goal by Lauren Fowlkes. She was subbed out soon after that. I’m sure only two other people will find this amusing. The next game is against Sweden on Monday.

U-20 Women’s World Cup News

  • Germany’s Marozsan injured her ankle and is questionable for the opening match, which is already sold out. I think the Germany-France game is sold out as well.
  • New Zealand is prepping for Sweden, and I psyched myself up for that last night…
  • …starting with this video, then a bunch from their U-17 days. I know. That’s a lot. There are more, but I doubt anyone finds that as cool as I do.
  • Then there’s this video from the US team. It has a lot of my favorite keeper and Doctor Quon.
  • Unfortunately, the US U-20s currently have to share the blog with the full national team, and the tagging system is not that convenient. Could the seniors please hurry up thrashing Sweden so we can get back to the important things in life?

How unfortunate was a US-Haiti opener for the U-17s?

Having been in a teaching program, I have been cautioned not to publicize my political beliefs, then listened to discussion after discussion about how teaching (both our practice and content) is and can’t help being a political act. The same is true in writing: as a journalist-in-training, you are cautioned not to allow bias, but every decision that goes into your practice and content expresses bias. Etc.

It’s hard not to feel at least some pressure to talk politics and world affairs during major international tournaments, and sometimes during the smaller tournaments as well. It’s especially hard when you feel the need to examine and pick apart the media–you can’t help letting your biases and beliefs come into play. I can’t, anyway, and I like to be up front about that.

I have a strong opinion on the US-Haiti relationship. I know this colored my perception of the media surrounding the U-17 game. I know this quickly pushed me to ignore talk about game, especially after a brief disagreement with a friend.

I would just like to clarify that I don’t think the U-17 players were disrespectful. I don’t think they ran up the score against Haiti (a 9-0 result). I don’t think it would have been respectful for them to play any differently than they did, and if you look at this game in context with the others, the US beat the other two teams in their group by greater margins (14-0 and 10-0).

But I do think that what the media chose to focus on takes something away from the US-Haiti U-17 interactions on and off the field, and I think that is partly because it undermines the integrity of that experience by overemphasizing one specific story without exploring the greater context of the YNT programs, the tournament, the earthquake, and the bigger-than-soccer and not-so-flattering history between the US and Haiti.

The links below are (mostly) as far as I could bring myself to go in my media consumption outside of watching the game. Some of these rubbed me the wrong way, and some didn’t offend me at all.

Much-needed coffee leads to media musings.

As I mentioned early on, one of the reasons I am here with the Cross-Conference Collector is academic. I have been writing about soccer and sports media for as long as I have been in higher education. I have been bouncing my ideas off of my partner here for nearly as long, and she has been the most indulgent listener (even though I am not always right).

There is an interesting divide in my area of study. There are those who are on a crusade to save as many people and right as many wrongs as possible. Then there are those who are jaded, cynical, and tired of the futile fight against the system. Those who haven’t committed to a side are just biding their time.

I haven’t committed, but I think spending last semester surrounded by crusaders pushed me to take the research I had been working on and do something with it. I have been disappointed that academic/”informed” discussions of women’s sports and media pay little attention to soccer except for Chastain’s shirtlessness in 1999. I have been disappointed in the recent decline in mainstream coverage and US Soccer’s avoidance of the women’s youth national teams. I have been increasingly disappointed by the mainstream approach to college soccer. The Cross-Conference project isn’t meant to be a solution to any of those problems, but it helps me lend however small a voice to the bigger conversation.

In the past year, outside of academics, I’ve been finding myself surrounded by people that are lending small voices to the bigger conversation. A friend is involved in making women’s soccer pages and updates on Wikipedia. This isn’t a platform I am involved with, but I find it inspiring. I love that she is committed to putting (current) women’s soccer information in a place where the public can search for it. She gets frustrated sometimes, and I love that, too; she obviously cares about contributing to this resource and making sure the information is correct. When she gripes about US Soccer erasing old YNT stats and making her calculate those on her own, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling. Someone cares, US Soccer, even though that someone is not you.

Her work on Wikipedia prompted me to move on my own little projects, prior to the opening of the Collector. The U-20 USWNT tumblr is a group effort at aggregating this cycle’s coverage of the U-20 team. This has been a challenge, particularly during the CONCACAF tournament, but I found myself missing the work during the U-17 campaign. I worry that the U-17s’ unfortunate loss will further US Soccer’s neglect of the women’s YNTs, including this year’s U-20s.

If US Soccer had neglected the U-21s or U-20s four years ago, I don’t know that I would have had an opportunity become quite so invested in the players that went on to play in the WPS. I might not have dragged friends to W-League games two or three hours away. I probably wouldn’t have spent so much of 2008 hunting down what coverage I could of the U-20 team that would eventually win the World Cup in Chile.

So I suppose I am on a crusade of sorts. Lack of discussion makes me want to have discussion. Lack of mainstream coverage makes me want to get involved in grassroots coverage. And lack of investment from the higher-ups (in the academy and US Soccer) makes me want to say, “[Forget] you, authority. We’ll do this on our own.”

I had a thought, but then I postponed it.

I love the top searches that bring people to the Collector. It’s as though readers know exactly what I want to talk about– Kelsey Davis, CWNT ACL tears, FC Gold Pride’s changing roster, and the media surrounding the US U-17 women’s national team. These aren’t hot topics, even though they are current.

All day yesterday, I had planned on finally writing my US U-17 entry after the game (without really considering the possible result) but since my Cross-Conference partner has suggested that I cover them in our end of March/beginning of April podcast, I will wait for that.

My apologies to any of my twitter followers that were bombed by my live blogging yesterday, and especially to my Canadian friends. I am sorry that I do not know your U-17 roster better.

Opening windows and tidying up.

The past week has felt like spring around here, so I have been cleaning. I have also been fact-checking, belatedly. A friend pointed out that what I said in the podcast about Lydia Williams filling an international spot was wrong–oops. That doesn’t negate that she has to be a decent goalkeeper in order to have filled a WPS roster spot and have a place on Australia’s senior national team, but I do stand corrected.

Fact-checking also led to finding the mention of Brittany Timko’s ACL tear. Given that I’ve been mostly positive about Canada’s Cyprus coverage compared to how US Soccer handled Algarve, I’m disappointed that I didn’t know about this sooner (on the bright side: that might be my own fault). A little extra searching led me to this:

Sinclair doesn’t particularly concern herself with personal accolades, but admits reaching the century mark was a relief.

“It was exciting,” she said. “In my head I was just thanking God it was all over with. I was sitting on 99 goals for eight or nine months.”

The humble Sinclair describes the milestone goal as anti-climatic. Actually, Sinclair was just as concerned about teammate Brittany Timko being hurt on the play.

“Half the team was cheering for my 100th, the other half concerned with Brit crumpled on the ground,” she said.

The severity of Timko’s injury is unknown and there is heartfelt concern in Sinclair’s voice. This shouldn’t surprise, as Sinclair always has been a consummate team player. Her genuine appreciation of her teammates’ contributions to her success makes it all that much more endearing.

This is unfortunate, but the timing isn’t terrible. Timko could be back in form for the World Cup squad, although she will probably miss qualifiers.

On a related note, CONCACAF’s qualifying tournament for the Under-17 Women’s World Cup begins 3/10 with Haiti taking on the US: “Like the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship in January, all matches from the U-17 event will be streamed live free of charge at CONCACAF.com. Each game will also be available on-demand shortly after its conclusion.”