Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, fresh from his revealing MLS player polls, recently put together a grand list of the 50 most important people in U.S. Soccer. It has many of the names you'd expect. The top 5 are, in order: U.S. Sports TV executives, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, MLS commissioner Don Garber, Nike and adidas.
Of local note though are two rather big names. Coming in at No. 9 is Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan of which Wahl writes:
Let's be honest: the 23-year-old Morgan has everything it takes (on the field and off) to become the next Mia Hamm. Just one example of her appeal: Morgan has in excess of a million Twitter followers, more than any U.S. soccer player, male or female.
Young owners who live and die with their MLS teams, Heineman and Paulson are the faces of MLS 2.0 and the league's answers to Mark Cuban. If only every league owner cared as much.
Head over to SI.com to read the full list. Any names missing you think should be on there? Any names on there you disagree with?
Two years ago, Portland Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury teamed up with Ziba Design to help create a special bag as part of Girls, Inc's annual Power of The Purse fundraiser. You can see video of Jack's creation here.
This year, new Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone takes up the challenge in designing a purse. Girls, Inc.--one of the Thorns main Stand Together partners--is an organization that inspires girls, ages 8-18, to be strong, smart, and bold. Via gender-specific programs and research-based curricula, the group provides girls with the confidence and self-esteem to access a bright and economically-independent future.
Cone sat down with Bella, a 7th grader from Da Vinci Middle School and a host of Girls, Inc. Radio, for a special interview where Bella interviews Cindy and then Cindy, in turn, interviews Bella. They talk about their respective background, sisterhood, and inspirations. It's a great listen (scroll to the bottom to hear Cone's interview).
To learn more about the Power of the Purse event and to purchase tickets, visit them here.
The U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Canada at the London 2012 Olympics. That’s really all that needs to be said, but in case you were on a trip to the Outback last summer and didn’t have access to a TV, internet, newspaper or any other form of news media here’s a quick refresher.
August 6, 2012 … Old Trafford … Manchester, England ... Olympic Semifinal
Christine Sinclair gives Canada a 1-0 lead 22 minutes into the match in front of 26,640 fans at famed Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, and the teams enter the interval with Canada grasping a 1-0 lead and a chance to head to the gold medal match.
USA midfielder Megan Rapinoe equalizes in the 54th minute and the match becomes a slugfest with Sinclair and Rapinoe (both former standouts at the University of Portland) trading goals. Sinclair nets her second goal, putting Canada ahead 2-1 in the 67th minute … Rapinoe hits back with her second, tying the score at 2-2 three minutes later in the 70th minute.
Sinclair gets a hat-trick with the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute and Canada carries a one-goal lead into the final 10 minutes of regular time before the real drama kicks in. Canada’s goalkeeper Erin McLeod is called for holding onto the ball for more than six seconds – a rarely enforced rule, but one that awards the U.S. with an indirect free kick inside Canada’s penalty box. On the free kick, the ball strikes a Canadian player on the arm and a penalty kick is called.
Abby Wambach steps up and buries the spot kick to level the score at 3-3 in the 80th minute.
The two sides battled to a stalemate through 30 minutes of extra time, trading jabs before U.S. forward Alex Morgan rose up and looped a header into the goal in the third minute of stoppage time, the game’s 123rd minute to be exact and the latest ever goal scored in a FIFA competition.
Now, catch your breath.
The rematch is coming on June 2 in Toronto as the U.S. Women’s National Team faces Canada in an international (not so) friendly for the first time since that drama-filled Olympic semifinal match. Mark your calendar as several Thorns FC teammates could potentially clash on the field. Clearly, there are no medals on the line, but there's no doubt the intensity will be heightened as Canada will look to repay the USA for the match last summer.
Much like #RCTID, #BAON has taken on an organic, fan-driven evolution. It grew out of a desire to sometimes separate fans’ Thorns Twitter conversations from their Timbers ones. They can certainly overlap and intersect, but on occasion, one is one and one is the other.
But back to #BAON, what’s in a name?
Exactly. For sharp-eyed literate Shakespeare academics, #BAON stands for “By Any Other Name” and is a snippet of a monologue from Romeo and Juliet’s Act II, Scene 2. Romeo, scion of the Montague family has fallen for Juliet, maiden of the sworn enemy Capulets. The famous scene is set is the evening when Romeo comes upon Juliet high atop her balcony. Hidden from her view, he speaks his famous “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks,” monologue singing the praises of her beauty. Her response, which he listens to, laments the fate that should see them be from separated warring families. Were Romeo not a Montague in name, she figures, all her problems would be solved.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! Be some other name:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
In essence, she’s saying, “It’s not the name that should matter, it’s what’s inside that counts.” Juliet is pining for the man, not the name—a romantic wish to be sure.
But for Portland Thorns FC, with their intertwining language and identity with roses and the Rose City being key, the meaning is expanded to become less about the name on the back of the shirt, and more about all being what’s inside the player—the quality of the play and the drive to win.
So be it #BAON or #RCTID, now you'll know where to track your Portland soccer teams' online chatter and discussion.
There's no debating the crossover between music and sports and ESPN The Magazine brings the connection to the forefront with this year's Music Issue. The Mag got creative with this issue, having athletes impersonating various album covers.
Some of the highlights include Oympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte as the swimming baby on Nirvana's iconic "Nevermind" cover, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman as Michael Jackson on the cover of "Thriller" and let's not forget about Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan, who graces the issue as pop star Katy Perry in her "One of the Boys" cover.
The issue doesn't hit the shelves until Feb. 8, but ESPN released some behind-the-scenes video and photos of the creative process.
You can take a look at Morgan's album cover here.
Earlier this month, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) held their inaugural College Draft for the new league in Indianapolis. After a weighted draw determined the draft order, Portland Thorns FC selected University of Florida defender Kathryn Williamson with the eighth overall pick. (Read this feature on how she was engaged only a week before the draft. A busy January for her to be sure.)
While in Indianapolis for the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and the NWSL College Draft, I also had the opportunity to attend the Women's Soccer breakfast at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention (NSCAA). The NSCAA is a massive gathering of, yes, coaches, but also soccer gear manufacturers, leaders, players, and more. There's workshops, panels, speeches and gatherings. Basically, it's everything that is anything that is happening in U.S. Soccer at the moment. The Original Winger has a great photo essay and blog post about the NSCAA and its scope in their Portrait of A Sport.
The Women's Soccer breakfast is a celebration of excellence over the past year in the women's game and while there, I just happened to be seated next to Becky Burleigh, head women's soccer coach at the University of Florida and most recently, she coached Williamson for all of the defender's four years in Gainesville. Burleigh started the women's soccer program at Florida in 1994, won an NCAA national championship in 1998, and helped mentor U.S. national team stars Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash) and Heather Mitts (Boston Breakers) as well as Canada's Melanie Booth (Sky Blue FC).
Following the breakfast, I chatted with Becky for a short while about what type of player Kathryn Williamson is, what she thinks she'll bring to the Thorns, and how the NWSL presents a great challenge and opportunity for recent collegiate players.
The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, Thorns, soccer & culture to explore the unique elements of the beautiful game. You can subscribe to The Backcut on iTunes in the same feed as the Talk Timbers podcast.
A distinguished career with the U.S. Women’s National Team including 158 international appearances, a champion in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup and a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, Portland Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone is now up for another honor: Election to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Voting (which does not include a fan vote) started on Jan. 25 and will continue until Feb. 22; results will be announced shortly after. A player must be listed on at least 66.7 percent of the ballots in order to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Parlow Cone, who last played for the Women’s National Team in 2004, scored 75 goals throughout her international career. Following her debut against Russia in January 1996, the Memphis, Tenn., native, appeared in three Olympic Games (1996, 2000, 2004) as well as the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments. She ranks sixth overall on the Women’s National Team career points list with 185 (75 goals and 35 assists), as well as second overall in career hat-tricks (8) just behind Mia Hamm (10).
“I feel very honored to be on the ballot for the National Soccer Hall of Fame,” Parlow Cone said. “I am so proud and feel so fortunate to have been able to represent the United States on the international stage. Now, as a coach in the NWSL for Portland Thorns FC, I’m really looking forward to continuing the development of women’s soccer.”
On the professional side, Parlow Cone played four seasons in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), all of them with the Atlanta Beat. She was a member of the Atlanta teams that finished as runner-up for the WUSA title in 2001 and 2003.
Other notable players on the Class of 2013 ballot include: Chris Armas, Wade Barrett, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Raul Diaz Arce, Marco Etcheverry, Lorrie Fair, Robin Fraser, Chris Henderson, Angela Hucles, Jason Kreis, Roy Lassiter, Shannon MacMillan, Joe-Max Moore, Victor Nogueira, John O’Brien, Ben Olsen, Ante Razov, Tiffany Roberts, Tony Sanneh, Taylor Twellman and Tisha Venturini-Hoch.
“She’s a nightmare for defenses. Her size was never an issue in college because she’s so fast and so fit. … How do you replace that engine? Who’s going to be as willing to work as hard as Nicolette did?”
Those are the words of University of Central Florida head coach Amanda Cromwell. A former U.S. Women’s National Team member alongside Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone, Cromwell recommended Nicolette Radovcic to Portland prior to the National Women’s Soccer League College Draft nearly two weeks ago.
Parlow Cone, formerly an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, already had a bit of familiarity with Radovcic before the draft. The energetic attacker played 86 minutes in UCF’s 5-4 penalty kick win against UNC on Nov. 20, 2011, helping the Knights reach the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sports writer Jane Havsy of Radovcic’s hometown newspaper the Daily Record (Morris County, N.J.) caught up with Thorns FC’s second round pick, Parlow Cone and Cromwell for a good story.
Just prior to Thorns FC announcing their season ticket information today, owner & president Merritt Paulson tweeted about some interesting stats:
Pricing for @thornsfc tix released today. At 5K+ STH deposits now..more than 2010 USL Timbers. I think we can get to 6K STH and avg 10k/gm
— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 24, 2013
Soccer City, U.S.A. continues to grow.
“It’s a dream come true,” Radovcic said. “You play soccer, you go through college, and you’re like, ‘I really want to play after college,’ but only a few people are fortunate enough to be able to play after college. So to be selected in the draft, to that team, I am just so speechless and so grateful.”
Those are the words of Thorns FC forward/midfielder Nicolette Radovcic who just a few months ago was a marketing intern with the New York Red Bulls helping out at Red Bull Arena's Interactive Zone. The Rockaway, NJ native had 30 goals and 16 assists in four seasons at the University of Central Florida before being drafted by Portland 16th overall.
NewYorkRedBulls.com's Frank Della Femina has a nice profile of the new Thorns pick and how she's excited to jump from the Red Bulls to the new NWSL.