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2021-22 News Thread

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Heck of a career for Bale, despite how it went over the last few years. He'll go down as a legend for both Spurs and Wales and he certainly made an impression on his banker.
And his agent…

Men in Blazers tweeted that he was almost released by the Southampton academy in the midst of an 8” growth spurt at age 15. As is common for that big a growth spurt, he lacked control of his body and pace. But he made his senior debut at 16 years, 275 days. Clearly, his coordination caught up to his new height.
 
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jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
NWSL has announced corrective action with regard to their massive misconduct investigation, the results of which were published during the World Cup.

Former coaches Paul Riley, Christy Holly, Rory Dames and Richie Burke are permanently banned. Craig Harrington and Alyse Layhue are suspended through 2024 and can return in 2025 based on set conditions being met. Red Stars were fines $1 million, Louisville $200K, Carolina $100K and both OL Reign and Gotham $50K. In addition the league is requiring Thorns to complete payments towards a pledge of $1 million, earmarked to pay for the NWSL Public Safety Office ... which has been established in the meantime. This was all negotiated between the league, US Soccer and the NWSLPA. All parties seem pleased that this established a clean sheet so they can move forward.

Oh, also ... Debinha has reportedly signed with KC Current. She was one of the players who was released from a loosely established rights deal this off season to become a free agent. Standard NWSL contracts signed before the new CBA went into effect had an automatic extension of rights for 12 months after contracts expired. That was one of the things that the NWSLPA went to the mats on during the CBA negotiations as it restricted movement for pretty much everyone under 30 years of age. NC Courage will receive no compensation. At least this keeps her in NWSL, as it had been widely speculated that she would be moving to France or England in this signing window. Both Arsenal and Man United cleared a lot of veteran contracts early on in January, and are reported to be looking to raid that unexpectedly huge NWSL free agent list ... although not much of that has actually happened. English press doing their usual thing, dontcha know.
 
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andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Considering their former coaches were perma-banned, the disparate amounts the Red Stars, Louisville and Courage were fined is odd.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Considering their former coaches were perma-banned, the disparate amounts the Red Stars, Louisville and Courage were fined is odd.
It's totally based on how much they participated in the investigations. Chicago's owner is the kind of idiot who not only participated in the weird abusive behavior himself, he's still not sure that Rory Dames did anything wrong. He fought the process every step of the way. Louisville tried to play the old stick your head in the sand and pretend we don't have a problem trick, but otherwise acted like actual humans once they got with the program. Carolina's management team was open and did whatever was asked. It makes sense in context.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
NWSL draft went down last night, which is always accompanied by a slew of other moves. Since Andy and I are are the only ones who engage in this, I'll still with Courage news.

The Courage once again reacted to a rookie striker having immediate success as a goal scorer by trading her away. Diana Ordonez got shipped to Houston for picks, an international slot and some allocation money. This is a virtual carbon copy of what they did when Ashley Hatch has a ridiculous rookie season. Honestly, Houston over paid, but without a player coming the other way it won't feel that way ... at least until they use the international slot to sign an impactful player. One this is consistent, Carolina has decided that foreign internationals are cheaper than the US version.

On the upside, the Courage had amassed four first round picks for this draft and they used them all on mature college players. Striker Olivia Wingate from Notre Dame, defender Syndney Collins from Cal, midfielder Clara Robbins from FSU and striker Hailey Hopkins from UVa. I've seen the ACC players a little bit. Wingate and Hopkins are college scorers on pretty much the same level as Ordonez was when she was drafted. Wingate has played for the US in age groups and is the kind of versatile forward the Courage have liked in the past. Hopkins is more of a classic, in the box No. 9. Robbins is very good as well, although it usually takes longer for midfielders to find their footing in NWSL. She's a more skilled version of Emily Gray, the first rounder from 2022. FSU's program has been great and it's largely built on strong midfields.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
The Spirit sent defender Emily Sonnett to OL Reign for 2 draft picks. I saw the Spirit play the Thorns in August, that team peaked at the Challenge Cup. How a team with Sonnett, Trinity Rodman, Ashley Hatch and Andi Sullivan could be that bad is mind blowing. Lots of internal issues, new ownership, 3 coaches, etc.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah, it was a mess in Washington but that team was terrible in the back. Honestly, I've never understood what exactly it is that people see in Sonnett, for starters, because she's kind of a terrible one on one defender for somebody with her credentials. But that team just got carved up in transition all the freaking time, and really struggled with containing outside attacks. And NWSL is not a league where that can be your defensive weakness. And as good as the Spirit were/are at the lightning counter, they struggled to maintain control of possession against quality opponents. Just not a well built roster, which speaks to the multiple changes in the front office I think. It'll be interesting to see what they chose to do with that high end attacking group as they restructure the roster. As good as Rodman is, they could use the resources they'd get from moving her to re-work the back 4 or to add a possession minded midfielder or two. Hatch and Gonzalez give them plenty enough attacking oomph as a baseline.
 
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jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
More details on that NWSL trade that sent Diana Ordonez to Houston. NC GM Curt Johnson said that the deal was initiated by Ordonez. She's a product of Dallas area youth programs and has family in Houston. Plus, as a Mexican national team player, she's got a personal and financial interest in playing in a market with a much bigger Hispanic community. Johnson won't say it out loud, but the Courage have taken the approach that when players ask to leave, they'll do what they can to make it happen. It's partly a response to the Paul Riley situation, but also a strategy for for survival for a small market team with limited cash resources. The Courage feel like they'll never attract quality talent if they don't bend over backwards to treat those players like partners more than employees. Honestly, their days of dominating the NWSL are over anyway, as the ownership groups in the bigger, newer markets can and will spend them under the table. So, they're trying to stand out in other ways.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
More details on that NWSL trade that sent Diana Ordonez to Houston. NC GM Curt Johnson said that the deal was initiated by Ordonez. She's a product of Dallas area youth programs and has family in Houston. Plus, as a Mexican national team player, she's got a personal and financial interest in playing in a market with a much bigger Hispanic community. Johnson won't say it out loud, but the Courage have taken the approach that when players ask to leave, they'll do what they can to make it happen. It's partly a response to the Paul Riley situation, but also a strategy for for survival for a small market team with limited cash resources. The Courage feel like they'll never attract quality talent if they don't bend over backwards to treat those players like partners more than employees. Honestly, their days of dominating the NWSL are over anyway, as the ownership groups in the bigger, newer markets can and will spend them under the table. So, they're trying to stand out in other ways.
The new CBA could be the beginning of the end. The Courage lived off National Team players whose salaries were subsidized by US Soccer. Those days are over, they have 1 player left in the National Team pool, keeper Casey Murphy. Malik has attracted one celebrity investor, tennis champ Naomi Osaka, but she’s taking the year off because she’s pregnant. He doesn’t have the cash to compete, he took the Men’s team down to USL League One, he managed to alienate a good many of the fan base by re-signing Jaelene Daniels and it showed, they finished 10th in attendance, with a 10% year over year decrease, 2nd worst in the league, where 7 of the 10 existing franchises saw increases. And his new stadium remains a pipe dream.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
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Yeah, without a cash infusion I could easily see Malik taking the Courage down to the NWSL development league when it finally gets off the ground. I could also see the Courage getting sucked into Dave Tepper's operation down in Charlotte. I know inquiries were made last year. He's wealthy, but not throw $1-2 million into the team annually to stay competitive wealthy.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
NC Courage have used that international roster slot they got in the Ordonez trade on Danish forward Mille Gejl Jensen. At 23 she's emerging as Denmark's starting striker and has a good scoring record with club teams in Denmark and Sweden. She's coming into her prime and could be a big time addition to the Courage front line if she can forge an effective partnership with Kerolin. This is in keeping with NC's new-ish strategy to pursue internationals from other countries rather than the US to add spice to a lineup largely built on US players who played their college soccer in the Southeast. Look ... it's a way to go. Not sure you win a lot of hardware that way, but they've been consistently entertaining if nothing else.
 
I was listening to someone talking about Jhon Duran and they brought up a point that I didn't realize because I don't follow the MLS (build a stadium in Boston or at least that's T accessible from Boston you coward!). MLS has turned itself into a very attractive league for young talented Latin American players due to teams having training facilities on par or better than most European clubs even and also the MLS being a very physical league which helps players prepare for the physicality of bigger leagues. Adding more "young designated player" exceptions might not be a bad idea as truly establishing itself as the pipeline from Latin America to Europe would be incredibly profitable for the league.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
I was listening to someone talking about Jhon Duran and they brought up a point that I didn't realize because I don't follow the MLS (build a stadium in Boston or at least that's T accessible from Boston you coward!). MLS has turned itself into a very attractive league for young talented Latin American players due to teams having training facilities on par or better than most European clubs even and also the MLS being a very physical league which helps players prepare for the physicality of bigger leagues. Adding more "young designated player" exceptions might not be a bad idea as truly establishing itself as the pipeline from Latin America to Europe would be incredibly profitable for the league.
That's been the strong trend for the last 5 years or so. European clubs are correctly shy about expending too many resources scouting South America, but it's closer and cheaper for MLS clubs. Plus their contract structure limits risk. Also, the Mexican league is a mess right now so that's largely taken a competitor off of the table. The older Euro "stars" might be the ones selling tickets for MLS clubs, but it's the younger skilled dudes who have made the league MUCH more enjoyable to watch in recent years. I've always followed MLS, but I've really enjoyed it more the last couple of years. The level of play is wildly improved across the board, even with the recent expansion rounds.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Brian McBride will not be retained as GM of the men’s national team. Like Gregg Berhalter, his contract expired on 12/31. You have to believe this is related to the investigation the Federation is conducting into Berhalter’s conduct.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
Juventus was whacked with a 15 point deduction in the current season after an investigation into their transfer dealings conducted by an Italian soccer court. The points deduction dropped Juve from 3rd to 10th in the table, 12 points from Champions League qualification. The court also imposed bans on 11 current and former club directors from holding office.

 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Juventus was whacked with a 15 point deduction in the current season after an investigation into their transfer dealings conducted by an Italian soccer court. The points deduction dropped Juve from 3rd to 10th in the table, 12 points from Champions League qualification. The court also imposed bans on 11 current and former club directors from holding office.

Italian football never fails to deliver.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Brian McBride will not be retained as GM of the men’s national team. Like Gregg Berhalter, his contract expired on 12/31. You have to believe this is related to the investigation the Federation is conducting into Berhalter’s conduct.
I did a little rooting around and most of the media who pay attention to this stuff seem to think this makes sense. I've never been clear on the job description distinctions and overlaps between McBride and Stewart, but McBride CLEARLY didn't handle himself well during the WC/Reyna drama and didn't protect his coach and the team ... which is a core job of the GM.
 

andyt

Canes Moderator
Staff member
The NWSL fallout continues. The Portland Thorns fired head trainer Pierre Soubrier and assistant coach Sophie Clough. Soubrier provided medication containing Codeine to 2 players at the NWSL semifinal against San Diego, in one case without informed consent. Clough gave a player an unwanted kiss on the neck during the team’s championship celebration.

Soubrier’s wife is Crystal Dunn Soubrier and his position at the Thorns was one of the driving forces behind the Courage trading her there. We’ll see what happens with her now. He’s virtually unemployable in professional sports after this.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yeah, I'm not sure fallout is the right word here. There's a decent chance both of these things would have been glossed over in the past, but in the current era they came out in the open and got dealt with. It's going to take a while for the league to transition from the amateur hour free for all that it was for the last 10 years, and it's probably going to look messy.

Speaking of messy, NC Courage continued their lightning rebuild by shipping out Captain Abby Erceg and LB Carson Pickett to Louisville for USWNT fullback Emily Fox. Erceg was disgruntled with all the changes and I believe she was tossed into this deal because of it. Erceg had a signed a new contract only a couple of months ago, but was pretty public in her complaints about trades. Fox and Pickett are virtually like for like, although Fox has a higher profile and is a bit younger. Erceg was not good last year, and Carolina's D was their biggest issue. Speaking of bad D, they also foisted Merritt Matthias on Angel City for a squad player. Matthias had lost her job and was vocally not happy about it. She also was never any good at actually defending. Which is an issue.

Bottom line ... NC is continuing their "if you want out, then have a good time somewhere else" policy. Which is fine, except for the part where you tick off your fan base even further. Then again, the fan base seems convinced that they were supporting a good team. They weren't. They made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth in 2021 and missed them altogether in 2022.
 
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