From the USWNT to Rumi Utsugi, from the Red Stars to equal pay — here’s the latest news on the world of women’s soccer.
USA vs. Japan
Over the last week, the USWNT played Japan in two intense friendlies. The first match ended in a 3-3 draw, and today the U.S. won 2-0 after the game was called due to severe weather in the 76th minute. Take a look back at the games and the key notes from this competitive matchup:
Excelle Sports: Ali Krieger’s going to feel that storm the most — Krieger’s still outside looking in on a starting back four spot with Jill Ellis, and not getting another fifteen minutes to prove her worth has to sting. In the meantime, there’s still Washington Spirit matches, but it’s not the same as coming in off the bench and making an immediate mark on the game.
Once A Metro: The formation was advertised as a 4-3-3 with Morgan as the lone striker with Heath and Dunn on the wings, but Press tended to press up higher, converting the formation into more of a 4-2-2 with Morgan and Press up top. Press was an integral part of the attack and created several opportunities in the U.S.’s final third, but the game was called before she could score a goal.
Last Word on Sports: This relatively young squad believes this was a game and experience that will help better prepare them for the Olympics. “Everything that we’re doing right now is to prepare us for the Olympic Games,” Ellis said about moving forward beyond the match. “We learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, it is a tough lesson, but if it helps us down in Brazil, I’ll take it.”
The Equalizer: Press had several opportunities in only her fourth start of the year. Her right-footed shot in the opening minute of the match went off the face of Yamane. Press also put an early second-half opportunity wide of the frame from 20 yards out after Tobin Heath played Press into space.
Equal Pay. Equal Play.
The U.S. women are still battling for equal pay.
Keeper Notes: Going on strike is about exerting the maximum amount of economic pressure on your employer to get them to capitulate to the employment terms and conditions you desire. The USWNT’s best time to strike since 2005 was this last year when the USWNT were coming off all the fame and notoriety that went with being World Cup Champions. However, a strike also has to have an economic impact that is felt by the employer. The Olympics are set this summer in Brazil and a strike would leave the USWNT without its best players before one of it’s two most important tournaments.
Japan meets NWSL
Japan’s Rumi Utsugi is heading for the NWSL. She’ll be joining the Seattle Reign roster. It’s great to see a high-skilled Japanese player headed to the growing NWSL league.
Sounder at Heart: “We’ve had our eye on Rumi since the World Cup last year. She had a terrific tournament and showed she can perform in high-pressure situations against some of the world’s most talented players and teams,” said Reign FC general manager and coach Laura Harvey. “She’ll add experience and depth to our midfield and backline, something that will be very helpful given the number of injuries we’ve been dealing with this season. We’re really excited to have her with the club.”
The Bold: “It is a dream to play in a country ranked number one in the world in women’s soccer. I have decided to challenge myself to play in this country,” said Utsugi. “Seattle Reign FC is a young team with enormous potential. I want to contribute to Reign FC’s potential to go even farther in the league. I’m looking forward to joining the team.”
Chicago Red Stars
Chicago Red Stars’ fans have had their eyes on Julie Johnston and Christen Press in the USWNT friendlies over the last few days, while the team hasn’t played since last weekend, they’re looking to find a balance while their star players are with the national squad. Alyssa Naeher, who is always away with the USWNT was recently nominated for NWSL Player of the Week.
Chicagoland Soccer News: Dames made it clear that he’s looking for leadership when his USWNT players are away on national team duty. “I would say the biggest difference is the standard of play from when they’re here to when they’re not here,” Dames said. “I think we have multiple players that have the ability to do that. One of the biggest issues tonight was nobody did that. So rather than me appointing somebody, I think that’s a natural progression that will play out on its own, whoever chooses to do that.”
DePaul University Athletics: “After playing center back at DePaul, the Red Stars see me as an outside back. They want me going up and down the flank, sending crosses on offense and running back to defend the flank. I get to do more attacking.”
NWSL Soccer: It is the third time Naeher has been honored as the NWSL Player of the Week, with her previous accolades in Week 17 of the 2015 NWSL season and Week 18 of the 2014 NWSL season. It is the seventh time a member of the Red Stars has won the award.