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Friday, June 07, 2019

OT Soccer Thread - Baldrick Reports Live

Sum-sum-summertime thread.

June 7 (that’s today!) - Women’s World Cup.  BTF correspondent Baldrick is on the scene (link takes you to his preview of the tournament)
June 14 - Copa America begins (no Neymar)
June 15 - Gold Cup begins
June 18 - US first Gold Cup game
June 21 - Africa Cup of Nations begins
July 7 - Women’s World Cup Final/Copa America Final/Gold Cup Final - Can we get some discussion about the ridiculousness of the WWC being just one of a series of finals on the same day? Of note is that the Copa America final is the exact same time as the WWC final. 
July 19 - Africa Cup of Nations final

Jose Goes to Absurd Lengths for 50K Posted: June 07, 2019 at 12:22 PM | 1414 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off topic, soccer

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   1001. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5859935)
There's a pro league, right? Surely the exposure will cause a few more eyeballs to tune in for that what its season starts. The only way to ever make as much money is to attract as much advertising revenue.
By the way, if people want a data point anecdote, after watching the WWC, my wife and I did buy tickets to a NWSL game (for the first time — we had to google to see if there was even a team in our area).
   1002. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:25 PM (#5859939)
Baldrick or one of the Europeans here might be able to answer 999, but I don't know enough about it.
   1003. Sean Forman Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:31 PM (#5859941)
David,

The clubs in Europe are true sporting clubs in the sense they have many different teams. Barcelona has soccer, basketball, and roller hockey (not joking). Bayern Munich has basketball, etc etc.

Therefore for them having a men's team and a women's team is a very natural extension of their brand and it's a very natural extension of your fandom to support Atletico Madrid men and women. North American sports are more centered around the leagues, so this crossover effect just isn't at play.

Of course it could be. The Boston Red Sox should be extending their brand to other sports. If i were John Henry I'd buy the revolution and an NWSL franchise and name them the Boston Red Sox.

   1004. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:32 PM (#5859943)
Women's soccer is rapidly professionalizing. 5-10 years ago you would commonly see national leagues won by independent women's teams run on a shoestring, like NWSL teams. Now the big clubs have decided to throw some of their massive money at women's teams too, thinking it will help with female fans and general prestige. They can do it just by buying the name of an existing well-run women's team. Juventus didn't even have a women's team 3 years ago and now they've won the league.

2013-14 Women's Champions League: last 16 teams are Arsenal, Lyon, Wolfsburg, Barcelona, Zurich... and then Glasgow City, Zorkiy Krasnogorsk, Birmingham City, Fortuna Hjørring, Tyresö, Konak Belediyesi, SV Neulengbach, Rossiyanka, ASD Torres, and Turbine Potsdam. Half of the teams aren't even associated with men's teams, or not teams you've ever heard of.

This year: Lyon, Barcelona, Wolfsburg and Zurich again. Slavia Praha and Brøndby. And Atletico Madrid, Ajax, Fiorentina, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea have appeared. The only teams left that aren't attached to popular men's teams are Glasgow City and three teams from Scandinavia.

You may also notice that Apollon Limassol, who were in the round of 32 in 2014, are still in the round of 32 under their new name, Barcelona Women's Football Academy, located in the beautiful Mediterranean town of Limassol.

Edit: It's impossible to link to many Wikipedia articles here as far as I can tell. If they have apostrophes in the URL it doesn't work. Add an apostrophe and it should work.
   1005. Sean Forman Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:37 PM (#5859944)
this is what happens when the European men's powers tell their fans that they should support the women's sides.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/17/sport/atletico-madrid-barcelona-womens-football-record-crowd-spt-intl/index.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2019/03/24/juventus-women-break-attendance-record-serie-game-fiorentina/

I follow the sports business pretty closely and when I see all of the money being poured into

e-sports (many X what is in women's sports)
racing like the electric SUV racing series
Drone racing
3-on-3 oldtimers basketball
flaky NFL alternates

I feel pretty confident that the lack of investment in women's sports is a lack of creativity caused by sexism. The big 4 American leagues were money losers for a pretty long time before they turned into what they are now. No reason a big investment in women's soccer or basketball couldn't pay off similarly well. You just have to assume there are sports fans out there still to be made.

For example, did anyone see an NWSL ad during the World Cup? Maybe they were all local, but why didn't US Soccer require that as part of the rights deal?
   1006. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5859946)
I'm afraid the big crowds at those women's games is only happening because they are branded as offshoots of big clubs that already have lots of fans. Which wouldn't work in America. New York Yankees Ladies FC?

A less rosy article. Established teams are not seeing increased attendance.

People in places other than the US and Scandinavia are big fans of their women's national soccer teams now. A definite improvement. But maybe not pro teams.
   1007. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 08, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5859953)
Edit: Sorry, I see above that you suggest Boston Red Sox WOULD work as a women's soccer team. Why haven't they tried that with any other niche sports? Whenever there's a lacrosse league or World Team Tennis or something it's always brand new tenuous franchises with new names. Even Arena Football never had NFL branded teams, I don't think.
   1008. Sean Forman Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5859959)
Sorry, I see above that you suggest Boston Red Sox WOULD work as a women's soccer team. Why haven't they tried that with any other niche sports? Whenever there's a lacrosse league or World Team Tennis or something it's always brand new tenuous franchises with new names. Even Arena Football never had NFL branded teams, I don't think.


Yes, that is what I mean. Tell Red Sox fans they should be supporting this other team because they are Red Sox too.
   1009. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5859972)
I keep seeing that Real Madrid are going to offer 150 million pounds for Paul Pogba. Do they not have televisions in Madrid? That is completely bonkers.

Also, in other mega transfer news, Neymar seems to be creeping closer to Barcelona. Griezmann has been fined by Atletico for not showing up for training. This one is confusion because I was under the assumption they would be happy to let him go for his release clause. They've already spent the money! They seem to be mad that Barcelona tapped him up but Atleti are the masters at tapping up so I'm not sure what's really going on there.

Very quiet in Spurs land. Tielemans signed for Leicester on a permanent deal which seems good business for them. I was impressed by him last season. Man U will offer them double the money they just paid next summer, I'd bet.
   1010. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:47 PM (#5859977)
Edit: It's impossible to link to many Wikipedia articles here as far as I can tell. If they have apostrophes in the URL it doesn't work. Add an apostrophe and it should work.
You have to use link shorteners (such as tinyurl).
   1011. SteveF Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5859981)
In case some of you aren't aware, you can watch every NWSL game via the Yahoo sports app or on their website (for free). You can also watch a number of WNBA games on twitter (for free, @WNBA).

I'm not making any argument. I'm just providing information.
   1012. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 08, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5859982)
The clubs in Europe are true sporting clubs in the sense they have many different teams. Barcelona has soccer, basketball, and roller hockey (not joking). Bayern Munich has basketball, etc etc.

Therefore for them having a men's team and a women's team is a very natural extension of their brand and it's a very natural extension of your fandom to support Atletico Madrid men and women.
I understand what you're saying, but they're a for-profit enterprise, no? They're not going to have a team just for the sake of branding. (I mean, they don't sponsor a professional baseball team, do they?) Although frankly I think I'm getting sidetracked here. The issue isn't whether they have a women's soccer team; we know there are professional women's soccer teams in Europe. The issue is whether (how much) they invest money in it. There's only one of three reasons (that I can think of) that they would: (1) making some sort of political statement about women's sports; (2) as a loss leader; or (3) because they think they can get a ROI on spending.
   1013. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:05 PM (#5859985)
Yes, that is what I mean. Tell Red Sox fans they should be supporting this other team because they are Red Sox too.
I don't understand why you think this would work. Or to be less confrontational about it, I don't understand why this would work; it kind of takes the concept of rooting for laundry to an extreme. You're rooting for a team in a sport you don't even care about just because it has the same logo as a team in a sport you do care about?

The closest thing I can think of to this in the U.S. is college sports. But even if people are nominally rooting for their college's water polo or fencing teams, I don't think they call these things "non-revenue sports" for nothing.
   1014. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:07 PM (#5859987)

Sorry, I see above that you suggest Boston Red Sox WOULD work as a women's soccer team. Why haven't they tried that with any other niche sports?
What's in it for the Red Sox?
   1015. the Centaur Nipple Paradox (CoB). Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:13 PM (#5859989)
Sorry, I see above that you suggest Boston Red Sox WOULD work as a women's soccer team. Why haven't they tried that with any other niche sports?


Seriously, they could totally rock the nascent "American Cornhole League"!
   1016. bunyon Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:18 PM (#5859991)
College sports fill exactly the niche of "Athletic Clubs" and is why pro teams in the USA won't, can't try to compete there.

While Title IX has the effect of sending a lot of young women to school and producing a lot of exceptional female athletes, it probably results in a market nearly saturated for women's athletics, without much (or any, depending on POV) money going to the athletes. There IS a (smaller) market for women's athletics in the USA that isn't met at all outside of athletic clubs in Europe. So it makes sense, to me, that those clubs would have teams and that they'd find a market.
   1017. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:30 PM (#5859993)
Tielemans signed for Leicester on a permanent deal which seems good business for them. I was impressed by him last season. Man U will offer them double the money they just paid next summer, I'd bet.


They were foolish not to sign him this summer.
   1018. Dr. Vaux Posted: July 08, 2019 at 04:50 PM (#5860002)
So various kinds of investors have identified an emerging market and are investing in it, in various ways. We all wish them the best of fortune. Certainly there's no reason why there should be any less potential interest and potential revenue in women's sports than men's sports. Like so many things, it's all a matter of marketing. If there were professional women's baseball, there'd be no question that I'd watch it. (And if there is, and I don't know about it, well, that makes the point about marketing.)

And that's the only way for it to happen, not by telling people they "should" support something in which they don't have an existing interest. That has worked out beautifully in my industry (sarcasm intended). (Off-topic aside: My industry also has political forces working against it in a real way for the first time (in the form of policy authored and passed by Democrats, by the way), but since long before that, it has showed almost no creativity in marketing, or even any significant attempt to market itself at all. In recent years it is making attempts, but so incompetently and short-sightedly that those efforts effectively amount to anti-marketing.)

Co-branding is an interesting idea. While I think it's unlikely to work for sports that are less established in a market, it seems worth trying. (Although the NBA appears to have made a conscious, pointed choice to not do it with the WNBA; possible reasons could be speculated to include wanting the teams in a different set of markets from those with NBA teams--though clearly with overlap--and wanting the league to have its own identity overall, rather than appearing to be viable only with the support of the men's league. That second reason seems especially significant, and soccer investors might think similarly, having perhaps done similar analysis of the U.S. sports market.)
   1019. spivey Posted: July 08, 2019 at 05:07 PM (#5860012)
I seriously think Leicester could gate crash the top 4 this year. Everton will be knocking on that door as well. Especially if Man U were to sell Pogba.
   1020. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 08, 2019 at 05:44 PM (#5860033)
I didn't watch that much of the World Cup but I did watch the entire final and it was pretty compelling soccer. I also wasn't even sure if there was a women's professional league in the US until I started reading about the various US players on Wikipedia during the tournament. I can't recall seeing any ads for the league, like, ever.

Then again, maybe I'm not the target demographic, as I don't follow MLS and I only make it a point to watch the big matches in Europe/international play. Still, at least I'm aware of it, and if I had kids I'd definitely take them to some games.

Maybe that will start to change now -- post-WC I'm following a number of the players on social media and I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm sure I'll have more awareness as a result.
   1021. Sean Forman Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:07 PM (#5860044)
What's in it for the Red Sox?


I'm arguing money is in it for them. I'm not arguing that people "should" support the NWSL or that it's an obligation. I'm saying that I think there is a big opportunity there that for whatever reason is a blind spot in american sports scene. This is where you tell me to put my money where my mouth is, but unfortunately I don't have that much money.
   1022. Baldrick Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:18 PM (#5860052)
Baldrick - why does the USWNT need to be called in for such long periods. Do they do more training than other WNTs or the USMNT? More tournaments or tactics planning? I guess women probably have more time as all of the top women pros play in the Olympics, right?

Why do they need to? They don't. I mean, they just won two World Cups in a row so maybe they know something we don't, but it's mostly just that they don't care about the NWSL.
1. Most European coaching is considered superior to most American coaching. If you take moving to a different continent/culture out of the equation (which obviously should not be ignored), it's going to be better for your development to play across the pond if the money is equal.

Broadly true, but not really a factor here. Some of the best coaches in the world (in the women's game) are in the NWSL. They're all Europeans, but I don't know that there are many folks in Europe that will get more from their players than Paul Riley, Mark Parsons, Vlatko Andonovski, or Laura Harvey.
Baldrick -- on your Best XI .... I'm surprised that you didn't find room in your midfield for Ertz. Curious to know if she was close to making the cut.

She was on the shortlist. I actually rated Mewis slightly ahead of her for the US (along with Lavelle), but they were very close. Ertz didn't get pressured nearly as much as she should have been (again, coaching is bad), but certainly did her job well.
Am I wrong about that, or are people just predicting that will change, or are people suggesting that European men's teams will start more heavily subsidizing unprofitable women's soccer teams?

Yeah, I'd definitely say it's some of both. There has been a lot of social pressure to start women's programs and almost all (Dortmund is the biggest exception, once Real finally take over their new team) of the mega teams are now running them. They probably don't anticipate making money soon (or maybe ever) directly from the women's side. But it's certainly a market with a lot of growth potential which can be entered fairly cheaply. And these clubs trade on prestige. It's not going to be a huge deal if Chelsea or Bayern have a completely crap women's team, but it's not going to be a great look for their brand either. And if everyone else is investing a little, you certainly don't want to fall behind and make it that much harder to catch up if things do start growing at a faster rate.
   1023. Dr. Vaux Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:19 PM (#5860053)
Then again, maybe I'm not the target demographic, as I don't follow MLS and I only make it a point to watch the big matches in Europe/international play. Still, at least I'm aware of it, and if I had kids I'd definitely take them to some games.


It was the same for me. I didn't know there was an NWSL. And we are members of a potential target demographic--people who have ever watched a soccer game. Marketing as widely as possible is the key to growth.
   1024. Baldrick Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:26 PM (#5860056)
For example, did anyone see an NWSL ad during the World Cup? Maybe they were all local, but why didn't US Soccer require that as part of the rights deal?

Chicago ran a bunch, but I don't know if any other teams did. There certainly were no national ads. Why didn't US Soccer require it? Because they don't care about the NWSL.
Then again, maybe I'm not the target demographic, as I don't follow MLS and I only make it a point to watch the big matches in Europe/international play. Still, at least I'm aware of it, and if I had kids I'd definitely take them to some games.

You're definitely a target demographic. The league has grown a very small amount trying to get girls-and-parents, and is finally starting to realize that they might make some headway selling themselves as the best women's soccer league in the world. Obviously, they'll want to get anyone they can, but it certainly wouldn't be a terrible outcome if a bunch of casual soccer fans to start thinking of the NWSL as one of the competitions worth checking into for big matches.
   1025. Baldrick Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:30 PM (#5860059)
Anyway, I'm here all the time and always happy to talk NWSL. If you're considering following at all, and have any questions or just want to chat about what games might be fun, or anything else, hit me up.
   1026. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:40 PM (#5860063)
@1019: If United could actually get the rumored 150 million for Pogba, they should sell him. And I like Pogba. He has his weaknesses, and he needs a competent midfield around him to make up for them, but United don't have that midfield right now. For 150 million, they could create one.

Re the NWSL: If they had a team in Los Angeles, I'd go to the games. I'm not sure why they don't.
   1027. Baldrick Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:56 PM (#5860069)
Re the NWSL: If they had a team in Los Angeles, I'd go to the games. I'm not sure why they don't.

It's certainly coming. Maybe as soon as next year.
   1028. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 06:58 PM (#5860071)
I hope so. They've been promising that for a while now.
   1029. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: July 08, 2019 at 07:01 PM (#5860074)
Yeah, Los Angeles is an obvious fit for a NWSL team. The LA Galaxy has girl's teams for their academy so maybe they will add a NWSL expansion team at some point?
   1030. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 07:27 PM (#5860083)
I'd rather LAFC add a women's team (though both would be ok). In contrast to the Galaxy, LAFC actually know what they're doing.
   1031. Fourth True Outcome Posted: July 08, 2019 at 07:45 PM (#5860087)
Marketing as widely as possible is the key to growth.

As someone who has been an NWSL ticket holder since the league's inception, this point has always seemed obvious to me, and never seemed to be a league priority. They have pretty clearly been following the USSF WoSo playbook of advertising to families with soccer-playing girls, rather than promoting the league to adults. I'm hopeful that the new Budweiser deal marks a turning point, but we'll see. (The league has also been somewhat hampered by small-time owners, something that is better than it was but still an issue.)

The deal with Lifetime was thinking large but in a wrongheaded direction, as Lifetime had zero idea how to market or produce soccer. I hope this year's post-WWC ESPN coverage grows into a full-season deal for next year. I think putting as many games on national television as possible, ideally combined with more advertisers, is the biggest way to grow the league.

I agree that the league really needs a California team, and an NYC-area team would also be really useful. (I don't count Sky Blue as NYC, because come on, they play at friggin' Rutgers)
   1032. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 07:55 PM (#5860089)
SoCal poses problems for a start-up team, but it's been a hotbed of girls' soccer for 25 years. Seems like the market should be there.
   1033. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: July 08, 2019 at 07:56 PM (#5860091)
Anyway, I'm here all the time and always happy to talk NWSL. If you're considering following at all, and have any questions or just want to chat about what games might be fun, or anything else, hit me up.


Based on his twitter, he really is here right now because he's stuck waiting to fly back to the US. So now's the time to pepper him with questions!
   1034. Baldrick Posted: July 08, 2019 at 08:20 PM (#5860097)
Three more hours until I can board! Then it's just a quick trip to Lisbon (3 hour layover) and then Boston (3 hours layover) and then Dallas (3 hour layover) and I'll be back home in Brownsville just...28 hours from now.
   1035. bunyon Posted: July 08, 2019 at 09:28 PM (#5860148)
I was 29 hours door to door but just one 8.5 hour layover. Got a nap, had a meal.

Buen viaje, Baldrick.
   1036. puck Posted: July 08, 2019 at 09:29 PM (#5860149)
Do guys who want NWSL teams nearby watch the MLS teams near you? It's been a while since I've been in the soccer thread but people rarely used to talk about MLS here. I've run into plenty of fans of European club soccer or the national team who don't watch their local MLS team. Given that, I am not sure how many people are going to watch NWSL, it would seem to have similar issues.

That is interesting what people are saying about ads for the NWSL during the World Cup. Come to think of it, I didn't see any ads either here in Colorado.
   1037. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 09:32 PM (#5860150)
I used to have season tickets to the Galaxy, but gave them up a while ago. I should be going to LAFC games, but haven't yet. My main focus is the EPL, partly because I don't like the style of soccer played in MLS.
   1038. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: July 08, 2019 at 09:40 PM (#5860163)
I’m not interested in watching mediocre men’s soccer, but I am interested in watching good women’s soccer.
   1039. the Centaur Nipple Paradox (CoB). Posted: July 08, 2019 at 10:36 PM (#5860211)
From The Ringer

Were we all wrong for criticizing USWNT manager Jill Ellis during the tournament?

Tynes: Jill Ellis watched half her team bleed out on a pitch, let old players take up starter time, let hurt players onto the pitch, stifled young talent, kept the best midfielder in the world off the pitch in crucial minutes, and never played the best lineup possible in any of the games USA won. It’s all smoke for her, title or not.
   1040. Fourth True Outcome Posted: July 08, 2019 at 10:41 PM (#5860215)
I pretty much 100% agree with that Jill Ellis take!

I expected when I bought my season tickets to the Thorns for there to be a knock-on benefit of also paying more attention to the Timbers. I'd lived in Portland for a few years then and been too a couple of games per season and enjoyed them. I found myself instead blissfully apathetic about the Timbers and have remained so, as I've already got my local team. I also find the NWSL game more aesthetically pleasant than MLS, and to some degree the women's game over the men's, but more than that I just don't need to closely follow two teams in the same sport.
   1041. aberg Posted: July 08, 2019 at 10:54 PM (#5860227)
Is there such a thing as a credible revenue projection for either this year's WWC or last year's men's WC? Just curious.
   1042. the Centaur Nipple Paradox (CoB). Posted: July 08, 2019 at 10:55 PM (#5860229)
It's like what I said about watching Aaron Boone manage this 2019 Yankees team, "it's like watching a child drive a Ferrari".
   1043. Topher Posted: July 08, 2019 at 10:59 PM (#5860233)
Might want to skip over this post. Bit of navel gazing here, sorry .... this post is a bit too long. I think there might be something in here worth sharing; I might be wrong in thinking that.

I find these posts about NWSL demographic growth interesting. I would like to be proven wrong, but I think it's unlikely that I'll become a dedicated fan of the league over the next decade. And I say that thinking that I probably check off a lot of the boxes that would make me a candidate for NWSL fandom than your average person. I'm 41 years old and I have zero recollection of a life where soccer wasn't a huge part of my life. As I sort of hinted at on the previous page, I grew up in Kansas City. Not exactly a hotbed of talent so I was good enough by the mid-90s Midwest standards to be on a traveling team and the high school team. I reffed soccer for 15 years. The summer that I graduated high school was the first year of MLS and thanks to Lamar Hunt, one of the initial teams was the Kansas City Wiz. I had season tickets and attended every game until it was time for me to head off to college. I returned home to work over the summer my first two years of college and I think I went to every game when I was there for the newly rebranded "Wizards". I've spent my adult life living elsewhere but I typically still make it home to visit family at least a handful of times each year and most years I catch at least one Sporting KC game.

I think my baseball fandom is similar to a few folks here: absolute fanatic as a kid, way too obsessed with rotisserie in my early adult years, and now I've shifted from the guy that could easily rattle off 200+ of the 240 starters in baseball to somebody that doesn't know too many players that haven't had a stop in Kansas City over the past five years. I've been in the Twin Cities for over a decade so I do know the Twins lineup, but not much beyond that.

I watch 75% of the Sporting KC games thanks to the wonders of streaming. I can't tell you the full starting 11 for Minnesota United, even though I've been to a half dozen of their games.

That's a lot of words to get back to women's soccer. I've attended USWNT games for close to two decades now and watch most of their matches online. As I mentioned on the last page, I went to Canada to attend the last World Cup. So when the NWSL started and Kansas City got a franchise, I was pretty excited about it. Less so when watching a game meant that I had to watch a crappy youtube stream, but I did do that on occasion. I want the league to succeed and I spent two or three years listening to the Mixxed Zone podcast trying to keep up with the league. I stopped listening because it became abundantly obvious that I was listening more because I felt obliged to support the women's game and keep up with the league but my heart wasn't really in it.

I did keep of with FCKC. But it never overtook any of my preexisting fandom. Which meant that if FCKC was on at the same time as another one of my teams, I probably wasn't going to watch. It didn't help that by miracle of all miracles the Royals managed to be kinda good for a couple of years and they were my primary focus by far.

And as I mentioned on the last page, I gave up on the NWSL when KC lost their team. Something that I've learned about myself is that I really am going to struggle to pay attention to your team/league unless it has a connection to my hometown. I don't pay attention to the NBA since the Kings left for Sacramento when I was a little kid. (I did attend the last Kings game and fans two sections over started a pretty good sized fire in the stands and I've rarely seen my mother so terrified thinking a riot might break out and her little boys would be caught in the middle.) While I don't pay attention to the NBA, I do pay attention to the vastly inferior Big 12 basketball since Kansas City is a host to a variety of Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri (former Big 12) fans.

So if I'm going to try to get back on the NWSL bandwagon, my "team" would be ... ummm ... Chicago? That's only six hours from where I currently am. If I were to choose based on my current favorite players, it would probably be Utah but (1) most of my favorites are approaching or on the wrong side of 30 and (2) I don't see myself choosing a team where I know I'll be unlikely to ever go to more than one game. It's a lot easier for me to root for the USWNT -- that's my team, I'm American. If I support a NWSL team, I'm supporting somebody else's team. My team folded a couple years back.

I realize some of us grow up in an area without a team to call their own, but most folks live within proximity of a city that is close enough to have a team in one of the "big leagues". But if you want to be a NWSL fan with the current 9 team setup, most of the country is not within proximity of a team.

Something that I think is interesting is that most of us here have identified with a Premier League team. Most American soccer fans do that. And I think it's kinda easy to pick an English team because all of them are so far away. It's more likely than not that you won't ever attend one of your team's games so choosing a team that's not from your city is easy enough. The distance between here and there is big enough that you aren't cheating on your hometown when you support an English club. It's not like at the drop of a hat you are going to book a flight across the pond just go to to a pub and watch your favorite team play just because they made it to the Champions League final.

So that's probably about 1,000 words to say what I could have instead said in just 12: I'm unlikely to support the NWSL until my hometown has a team.

Maybe I'm really the oddball here. But I suspect I'm probably not. Which means that if the NWSL is going to succeed, it needs to be in a lot more than just 9 cities. Of course, that brings up the chicken and egg problem. The league likely can't support expansion if it doesn't get more support. But it won't get that support unless it expands more.

And I think the league is also in an uphill battle to get new fans to prioritize it over their existing fandom. In that sense, the league might be smart going after the young girls. If FCKC had a decade head start in the Kansas City market over Sporting KC, I probably would support the women's team equality to the men's if not more so. But I spent three of my formative years going to a few dozen Sporting KC games so that team always is going to take priority over FCKC.

tl;dr I think it is going to be hard for the NWSL to gain new, long-lasting fans.
   1044. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 11:04 PM (#5860235)
@1039: They say a lot of stuff about other players and teams that I don't agree with, but that's an accurate summary of Ellis. But it's also true, as discussed earlier in this thread, that Ellis does well at player management.
   1045. the Centaur Nipple Paradox (CoB). Posted: July 08, 2019 at 11:05 PM (#5860236)
   1046. Mefisto Posted: July 08, 2019 at 11:07 PM (#5860239)
Lots of good points in 1043.
   1047. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 09, 2019 at 03:39 AM (#5860249)
What's in it for the Red Sox?

I'm arguing money is in it for them. I'm not arguing that people "should" support the NWSL or that it's an obligation. I'm saying that I think there is a big opportunity there that for whatever reason is a blind spot in american sports scene. This is where you tell me to put my money where my mouth is, but unfortunately I don't have that much money.
It's more of me just thinking you're in underpants gnome territory here.

1. Red Sox establish women's soccer team.
2. ?????
3. Profit.

There isn't much revenue in women's soccer currently. I just don't see how the Red Sox establishing a team changes that. Why are significantly more people going to watch the Boston Red Sox FC on tv and in person than they would the Boston Dash? (Yes, I realize that's Houston's team. Not the point.) I guess there might be a bit more awareness that the team actually exists, which can't hurt,¹ but based on the link above in 1006, it doesn't seem as if the gnomes are doing any better with the strategy in Europe even if that's a standard sports business model there.


¹As I mentioned, I had to google the other day just to see if there was a NWSL team in my area.
   1048. Baldrick Posted: July 09, 2019 at 04:40 AM (#5860250)
It's a tough subject. Sports is entertainment, and at a certain point you can't make yourself commit time and energy to something just because it seems like you should. Topher's essay is a nice illustration of this effect.

At the same time, it's not like the habits that we develop emerge out of nothing. Taste is intensely felt, but is also clearly shaped by experience and culture. So if you grow up in a society that devalues women, people of culture, etc. you're going to have taste preferences that also devalue the work of those people. Which is really bad! It's not anyone's fault individually and it's certainly not something that most of us are wired to just change on a dime. Again, the point of entertainment is to entertain. If it feels like work, it's not going to stick, no matter how much you want it to.

So I think the best we can do is identify locations where we've been pushed into a cultural cul de sac, and try to identify some ways to re-create the constructive experiences that generate excitement--watching with friends, sharing something with your kids and taking joy from their budding enthusiasm, etc. Basically: figure out what makes known quantities so sticky and see if you can recreate it in a new form. Try to make it something that will start to generate its own stickiness, not a task to be fulfilled.

Entertainment which comes from different places also has different flavors which might not be as immediately appealing if you aren't trained for them, but which can be really rewarding once you start to speak the language, as it were. I know that for myself it's very easy to fall back into 'comfort food' experiences, and I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with that. It's nice to settle into something you know and love. But some of the most enriching cultural experiences I've ever had (this last month for example!) have come because I decided to push out a bit and try on some new experiences. Not everything is going to stick, and we can't beat ourselves up about it too much. But it's certainly worth continuing to push a bit, not just because it's the 'right' thing to do in some larger normative sense, but also because it's good to keep growing as a person.
   1049. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: July 09, 2019 at 07:36 AM (#5860252)
Watching the Champions League final in a bar, I met a few Liverpool fans who chose their team because they are in a way Boston Red Sox FC. Or at least owned by Fenway Sports Group and managed on the Red Soxian model of lots and lots of data mixed with lots and lots of money. Of course those people were probably looking to get into European soccer anyway and chose Liverpool because of a combination of factors, the Red Sox connection being one of them.

But it would be interesting to see if any of that carried over to a reborn Boston Breakers called Red Sox FC. The league's total team salary cap is under $500K, i.e., less than the MLB minimum for a single player, so in a "if I had all of the dollars I would do this" scenario, i.e., if I were John Henry, I'd love to get an expansion team, set them up someplace less dreary than that stadium in Allston, call them Red Sox FC, and see what happens.

(It would be harder to do this with the New England Revolution because of the games being played in Foxborough. I think you'd need to move the team to a stadium at least in Chestnut Hill or somewhere like that if you want to call them "Boston" and not "New England".)

I agree with the comment somewhere above that college sports largely fill the role of the multi-sport athletic club in America. (I was a women's soccer fan in college because I went to UNC during the Mia Hamm/Kristine Lilly/etc era. They had precisely one loss and one draw during my entire college career. It was fun to go see people wearing the right laundry regularly beat the #### out of their hapless opponents. I also automatically had favorite volleyball and wrestling and tennis teams, even though I didn't watch a second of volleyball, wrestling, or tennis.) One thing that's notable about New England is the lack of well-supported college sports programs. So if there's a place it might work it would likely be Boston.

All this said, I wonder if the summer NWSL season (and MLS season) would alone be enough to derail the dream of AC Red Sox, because soccer teams on the American schedule are necessarily in competition with MLB. It's hard to see an NWSL team, or even a Boston-based MLS team, ever having an effect on Red Sox attendance, but TV ratings might eventually be a different matter.
   1050. manchestermets Posted: July 09, 2019 at 07:42 AM (#5860253)
I understand what you're saying, but they're a for-profit enterprise, no?


Across Europe, it varies. Barcelona, who are the team mentioned in the post you were replying to here are not - they're a membership organisation whose leadership is elected by the socios - the club members. There's no owner of the team who takes a dividend out. This model is replicated widely (but isn't exclusively present) in Spain and Germany (and possibly Portugal, but I'm not sure about that). In the UK, teams are almost exclusively run as for-profit enterprises (albeit unsuccessfully in the vast majority of cases). The membership structure is unknown amongst top professional clubs, and exists only in a few instances at low-level semi-pro clubs.

I'm not sure about the rest of Europe. I think Italy is mostly for-profit.
   1051. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 09, 2019 at 08:40 AM (#5860257)
   1052. spivey Posted: July 09, 2019 at 08:53 AM (#5860259)
We won the title, but I do think Ellis has to answer for why Iron Man couldn't get a game in at center back.
   1053. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 09, 2019 at 09:05 AM (#5860260)
We won the title, but I do think Ellis has to answer for why Iron Man couldn't get a game in at center back.

They should probably move Kobe Bryant a little farther away from the team...And where's Larry David? Fail.
   1054. I am going to be Frank Posted: July 09, 2019 at 09:47 AM (#5860266)
I can't imagine a MLB team starting a soccer club - they can't even pay their minor leaguers well enough. The NFL stopped funding a developmental league when NFL Europe shut down because it was losing too much money and that seems a clearer way to get some ROI. There are several NFL owners who have bought MLS franchises, not sure that's ideal - the Krafts make the Revolution play in Gillette Stadium because they own it and that's not a great experience.

News people keep referencing the ratings for the women's final. It did beat the men's final last year... but the US men weren't playing in that final and never will in my lifetime.
   1055. Topher Posted: July 09, 2019 at 10:02 AM (#5860269)
For those of you that live in a NWSL market, are those games on local television?

I'm willing to stream a NWSL game (as long it is KC!) but sports are meant to be broadcast on a proper television.
   1056. Mefisto Posted: July 09, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5860280)
@1047: I think you're overestimating the profit motive when it comes to sports ownership. Lots of franchises lose money. The owners are willing to do that because they see less tangible benefits like status or just hanging out with the stars.
   1057. bunyon Posted: July 09, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5860281)
Topher, surely you have a proper TV with an HDMI port?
   1058. Topher Posted: July 09, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5860289)
Yeah, I'm good bunyon. I wasn't asking for myself.

I've been streaming for such a long time that (1) it's not a barrier to me and (2) I'm used to what at times can be less than stellar quality when you are watching a live stream. A cable or over-the-air broadcast is still a superior option.

I was asking the question because a fair number of folks I know are perfectly capable of streaming but at times will not due to the "barrier". Those barriers are low but sometimes a low barrier will still stop somebody. For example, my best friend streams down in the basement media room but his wife doesn't let him stream upstairs because she doesn't like the aesthetic of cables/boxes/etc.. My mom has the technical know how to stream (and is a soccer fanatic) but she won't do it because she has no patience when the HD stream slows down and starts to pixelate.

So I was just curious if the local media markets broadcast the games or if even the local audience needed to watch via computer or streaming device.
   1059. bunyon Posted: July 09, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5860309)
Got it.

I'm sure that mostly depends on one's IP. Ours is good enough that streaming at home is usually superior or equal to our satellite.
   1060. Fourth True Outcome Posted: July 09, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5860312)
There are no local broadcasts in Portland. A few bars in town will show Thorns games, but other than that you have to do the HDMI-to-tv dance. The NWSL, rightly or wrongly, seems to have prioritized getting a national deal over regional sports networks.

I agree with a lot, maybe all, of 1043; one of the biggest reasons I think the league needs to be easily findable on tv is to lower the friction for low-commitment local fans. Currently the NWSL only really benefits if a fan goes to the game. There needs to be a way to easily watch your local team, certainly on air when the game is happening, but ideally also the highlights on your local news/ideally ESPN/etc. Most NWSL teams don't have the ability/financial wherewithal to play in centrally-located stadiums, and I think Topher is right that the barrier to casual watching needs to be as low as possible. The NWSL needs diehard fans, but it also needs casual fans who watch some/most of their team's games and attend a couple per season.
   1061. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 09, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5860325)
If the Jersey team played in Newark instead of Piscataway, I would go to games. As it is, it's just too hard for me to get to games and back home again. Too bad they can't share Red Bulls Stadium and attract the New York market. (And, selfishly, I could just walk to the games from my office.)

On a side note, I wonder what my wife would think if I suddenly became a fan of a woman's soccer team. Would it be weird if a middle-aged man with no children started following a team of athletic, young women? These are things I never had to think about before in my sports fandom. I don't want to be the creepy old guy at the club!

In addition to LA, I think it's weird there isn't a team in San Francisco. Couldn't they get Kezar Stadium rigged up for soccer? It seems like the demographics in SF are just about perfect for women's soccer (wealthy, lots of immigrants, lots of potential corporate sponsors, gay friendly, etc).
   1062. Baldrick Posted: July 09, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5860428)
23 hours of traveling, and I'm sitting in Logan airport waiting to board my flight. Got a Diet Coke (yay America! no more Coca Cola Sans Sucre!) and a terrible Potbelly sandwich (boo America!). Still have eight hours to go...
For those of you that live in a NWSL market, are those games on local television?

Chicago, yes. Utah had a deal but it got yanked for reasons that were never really clear at the end of last season. I believe Washington have a few games on local TV.

There will be 14 games on ESPNEWS (ugh) and ESPN2 over the rest of the season. See my article linked on the previous page if you want more details. Or just google it. The production quality of those games will be MUCH MUCH higher than on the streams (which honestly are very amateurish and a massive letdown compared to the quality of the players), so those will be the ones to check in on if you want a taste.
   1063. Sean Forman Posted: July 09, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5860459)
It's more of me just thinking you're in underpants gnome territory here.

1. Red Sox establish women's soccer team.
2. ?????
3. Profit.


MLS teams have yet to turn a profit. It's called investment. The only reason we have MLS or MLB or NFL or NBA is because a bunch of rich people they wanted to lose money for a long time for the prestige owning a team. You are ignoring the dozens of years of middling or no profits all of these leagues went through at the start. Richie Rich's want to buy NFL teams, so NFL teams get investment and see growth.

I tend to think that a sports team with a gender diverse, family-oriented, wealthy audience might be able to cross-sell that same audience on another sport.
   1064. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 09, 2019 at 05:42 PM (#5860464)
MLS teams have yet to turn a profit. It's called investment.

Neil deMause at Field of Schemes calls it a literal Ponzi scheme, that MLS continues to expand to anywhere that will build them a soccer-specific stadium (although that's negotiable) -- not because the market is demanding MOAR SOCXER (witness the amount of papering they're doing to get people into the stadium), but because the only way anyone's making any money on the grift is by recruiting new marks owners into the club who are willing to pay big expansion fees for the privilege. Nice work provided you have a chair to sit in once the music stops.
   1065. Fourth True Outcome Posted: July 09, 2019 at 06:28 PM (#5860467)
Oh, that reminds me that the other reason I think that the NWSL needs better tv coverage is that the MLS/SUM bundling of US Soccer games with MLS games really helped the league get established nationally. While the situation with the NWSL is different in a number of ways, I find it pretty galling that the USSF feels no need to similarly support the NWSL, despite continually taking USWNT players for overlong camps that start before international windows. I know USSF and SUM are "technically" separate entities, but it still irks me.
   1066. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: July 09, 2019 at 08:50 PM (#5860502)
MLS teams have yet to turn a profit. It's called investment. The only reason we have MLS or MLB or NFL or NBA is because a bunch of rich people they wanted to lose money for a long time for the prestige owning a team. You are ignoring the dozens of years of middling or no profits all of these leagues went through at the start.
Wait a minute; you can't argue that the Red Sox ought to do it for the money and then when I question how that's supposed to work move the goalposts and start talking about the prestige of ownership and how they're going to lose money for decades.
   1067. Sean Forman Posted: July 10, 2019 at 09:42 AM (#5860650)
I just wanted to apologize to the rest of the board for littering the thread with what in the end was purely a debating exercise. That was not my intent.

David, you win on points. I'm soundly defeated. I won't bother discussing this anymore.

Back to transfer news.
   1068. Sean Forman Posted: July 10, 2019 at 11:06 AM (#5860685)
Rodri looks like a great signing for City. Exactly what they need at DM behind Fernandinho.

I know they are still in on Cancelo and resigned Angelino from PSV for fullback depth, with Danilo maybe leaving. Walker and Mendy remain.

They need to replace Kompany and maybe Otamendi so one or two center backs to go with Stones and LaPorte. Maybe they have a youngster available as the fourth CB. There has been talk about Nathan Ake.

It's Silva's final season at City, so I'm assuming the plan will be for Foden to step in for him. Was some talk that Gundogan could be leaving.

I'd let Gundogan leave and then use dSilva, DeBruyne, Foden, Zinchenko as the free 8s.

They need Sane to re-sign. And then Sterling, Mahrez, B. Silva, Sane as the wingers.

Aguero and Jesus as the strikers. I always feel like they are one striker short as Jesus and Aguero get injured a lot, but a false 9 might be their best backup there as minutes will be hard to come by.
   1069. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5860691)
Won't all this depend on the coach? Maybe Pep stays, but his track record suggests otherwise.
   1070. J. Sosa Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5860704)
Re: Ellis

I think I said much the same the last cycle, but I am pretty baffled by the intensity of the criticism from hard core followers of the team. Ellis is an ego manager, which can be an incredibly tough thing to do. Ask any Brazil manager. Sponsors, politicians, diva players. It sucks, not a job I would want. Ellis is very much in the Zidane/Big Chief Triangle mold.

It can be frustrating sure, but she managed to get a superstar team to pull together. She deserved better than what she gets. Emotional intelligence and getting star players to work for you is far more important for a a USWNT coach. We are Brazil.

Re: NWSL

I hope the league is successful. But I think my definition of success is a lot different than what some others are endorsing. The WNBA has been around for over two decades. The limiting factors have less to do with gender (IMO) and more to do with why the NBA is more popular than MCBB. I personally prefer college, but that is not the position of most.

As noted by others, the MLS is not exactly a smashing financial juggernaut. All of the limiting factors for MLS are present for NSWL to an even greater degree. If twenty years from now, all league players can make a full time living in NSWL with no danger of the league folding I would consider that an outstanding outcome.

Re: Griezzman/Barca transfer shenanigans

IIRC Barca tried to open negotiations for paying in installments rather than the reduced release clause. After reaching terms with Griezzman in February. While waiting for the release cause to drop. Soo...

   1071. spivey Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5860708)
I feel like the amount of transfer shenanigans this year are way higher than normal. It seems like almost every major team besides Liverpool has had or is wanting major shakeups.
   1072. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2019 at 12:58 PM (#5860738)
@1070: I have 2 issues with Ellis. First, her lack of tactical acumen nearly cost us in 2015 and even this year we had to survive close games with France and England that shouldn't have been close. Second, I want the US team to play attractive soccer, Man City or Liverpool soccer. Ellis insists on playing long balls to the front line or short passes to the outside backs. There is no "build" option for her, notwithstanding the fact that the US has the best midfield talent in the world.
   1073. Jeff Frances the Mute Posted: July 10, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5860746)
As noted by others, the MLS is not exactly a smashing financial juggernaut. All of the limiting factors for MLS are present for NSWL to an even greater degree. If twenty years from now, all league players can make a full time living in NSWL with no danger of the league folding I would consider that an outstanding outcome.

In my mind, the big question of NWSL vs. MLS is does having the best players in the world matter? If having the biggest and best stars does matter then it is plausible that NWSL has a higher ceiling in the US than MLS. Of course, US Soccer seems focused on wasting the huge head start and all the advantages that US women's soccer has.
   1074. J. Sosa Posted: July 10, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5860816)
Re: Barca

To elaborate more fully, Barca allegedly can’t meet the release for Griezzman despite waiting until the clause dropped. So they asked Atleti to accept some Italian style skint installment payments instead. After (as Shooty pointed out) Atleti spent the money. After Barca baldly tapping up (even by soccer standards) Griezzman for months. Who knows if is true or not given the source, but there are suggestions that Barca was late on payroll to staff. Mes que un club indeed.

It is a very short list of sporting events I enjoyed more than the Anfield 4 nil. A very short list. The truly humorous part is that Barca now find themselves needing to flog off Dembele but the two clubs that would be most interested and have the money hate Barca’s guts because of past Barca behavior.
   1075. kubiwan Posted: July 10, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5860820)
I have 2 issues with Ellis. First, her lack of tactical acumen nearly cost us in 2015 and even this year we had to survive close games with France and England that shouldn't have been close.


See, it is things like this that convince me the anti-Ellis crowd has simply settled on "Ellis bad" as a religious belief and nothing she or the team does can change that. In 2015 we won all of our knockout games in regulation, all but one by 2+ goals. This year, amid a much-talked-about women's soccer Renaissance in Europe, we had to play 4 European teams in the knockout rounds in EUROPE (including vs. France in FRANCE), and again won them all in regulation (admittedly, all but one by just 1 goal).

If you really think that getting a different coach would allow the USWNT to turn every single game into a 3+ goal rout even when playing Top 5 teams (and even on the road), I just dont know what to say . . .
   1076. Mefisto Posted: July 10, 2019 at 06:13 PM (#5860826)
The problem in 2015 was the group stage, not the knockout rounds. By the knockout rounds Ellis was forced to make changes to the midfield, most importantly giving starts to Morgan Brian. Brian was sensational and should've won the Golden Ball that year. Had that change not been forced on Ellis, the US might well have lost in the knockouts. If you go back and read the contemporaneous commentary, virtually everyone was freaking out that the US was so shaky.

As for your second point, the issue is whether the US is playing to the level of its talent. It is not, because Ellis doesn't make proper use of her midfield. In previous years she not only refused to play a #6, she outright said that the team didn't need one (Narrator: it did). This year the US talent is concentrated in the midfield and she still set up the team so that it didn't utilize that strength. (You can see the pass map, showing how the play from the back mostly went out to the wings, here).

I don't know whether proper use of the midfield might result in a series of 3-0 results. Nobody can know that without trying. But winning by 1 goal isn't much of an accomplishment if you see the US as Brazil (Jose) or as the '27 Yankees (me earlier in this thread).
   1077. kubiwan Posted: July 11, 2019 at 08:00 AM (#5860906)
The problem in 2015 was the group stage, not the knockout rounds.


I focused on the knockout rounds mostly to ensure that only matches against "quality" opposition were used, but I dont think it changes much. It is true that the US was worse in the group stage (relative to the knockouts) in 2015, but the opposite is true this year.

But winning by 1 goal isn't much of an accomplishment if you see the US as Brazil


I couldn't disagree more. Brazil should be ecstatic if they could obtain an unbroken series of boring 1- and 2-goal wins in the World Cup knockout rounds: it would be far better than what they have been doing! In the last four World Cups, their differential in each knockout game is +3, -1, +3, -1, 0, +1, -6(!), +2, -1. Also, by the time the next World Cup rolls around, Brazil will have won it twice in 50 years; against that, winning twice in 5 years (Ellis's exact record) seems amazing.

Perhaps even more on point, the USWNT has NEVER** done what you think they apparently should do. The fabled '99 squad won their knockout games by +1, +2, and 0. In the three World Cups between that and Ellis's appointment, the knockout differentials were +1, -3, +3, -4, 0, +2, 0. For that matter, basically no other champion really has either. In 1995, Norway won their games by 2, 1, and 2. In 2003, Germany's margins were 6, 3, and 1 (aet). 2007's Germany went 3, 3, and 2 (perhaps the closest to what you envision). Japan in 2011 was 1, 2, and 0.

In the end, it is soccer. Close games are a near-inevitable fact of life when playing good competition and expecting any team to simply rout everything before them is not realistic, and denigrating any coach that fails to do so seems massively unfair.

** OK, the 1991 squad sort of did, winning games by +7, +3, and +1, but I feel safe in saying the conditions under which that event were held will not be repeated again as the women's game matures.
   1078. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 11, 2019 at 08:27 AM (#5860910)
My criticisms of Ellis would center more on style of play than results. Of course, you can't argue with the results! (Though we shouldn't get too carried away. I didn't think after 1999 it would take 16 years to win another.) My daydream about the USWNT is that they hire Bielsa and see if they could just completely murder teams in the next WC. That would be fun to see. I think the US women are fit and technical enough to handle a Bielsa system and I think it would just ruin the opposition. And Bielsa is going to kowtow to any star players as he's too much of a weirdo to give a shit. Can we start a petition to make this happen? I've completely talked myself into this. The USSF can afford him and he's just eccentric enough that he might take it on.
   1079. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 11, 2019 at 08:41 AM (#5860913)
Also, I just now realized that we don't yet know where the next WWC will be. This seems kind of dumb. FIFA should do what the Olympics do and make a big deal of the current host handing over responsibilities to the next host to start the hype machine running. Instead we won't know until next March who's hosting! (Based on who has applied to host, my money is on Australia.)
   1080. Mefisto Posted: July 11, 2019 at 09:11 AM (#5860918)
It is true that the US was worse in the group stage (relative to the knockouts) in 2015, but the opposite is true this year.


The particular stage affects the timing of complaints about Ellis, but it's otherwise irrelevant. As I said, she made a forced change in 2015 and that solved the problem. In 2019, in contrast, she made weird substitutions in the knockout stages (especially benching Horan, her best player). They nearly lost twice. See this article.

Brazil should be ecstatic if they could obtain an unbroken series of boring 1- and 2-goal wins in the World Cup knockout rounds


Brazil has to play in a much more competitive environment. Put Brazil in CONCACAF and see what results you get.

That doesn't mean I think the US would beat England or France that handily. It does mean I think those games shouldn't have been nail-biters.

As I said before, and as Shooty says also, while it's partly about making best use of available talent, it's partly about the style of play. I don't think it's justified to point to results alone, particularly when the US has such a dominant team.
   1081. spivey Posted: July 11, 2019 at 09:27 AM (#5860925)
The truly humorous part is that Barca now find themselves needing to flog off Dembele but the two clubs that would be most interested and have the money hate Barca’s guts because of past Barca behavior.

Dembele really could be amazing. I've been highly impressed when watching him play at Barca. Griezmann is healthier and a harder worker, but I'd take Dembele's next 5 years over Griezmann's. Dembele can also operate in different spaces than Messi, which I'm not sure is true for Griezmann.

All this said, there's a bunch of posturing going on right now. I think a Dembele + Coutinho + some cash for Neymar could make sense for all parties, though Barca's wage bill would be through the roof. Issue is Barca seem to want it to be Coutinho or Dembele. But I don't think Dembele is worth more than they bought him for, and I don't think they're prepared for just how big of a bath they're going to have to take on Coutinho. For me, with Coutinho's lack of athleticism and defensive capability, he's a total luxury player.
   1082. J. Sosa Posted: July 11, 2019 at 09:50 AM (#5860931)
Pretty much. Spivey. If Dembele is over his alleged Fortnite addiction, I have him down as the second most talented young attacker in the world. Two footed, pace, power, has everything. Only question is the off field dedication. If it checks out a cash plus Dembele deal would be incredible. PSG is smart to get rid of Neymar if they can. Very talented, but injury prone and insanely expensive. They should be building around Mbappe anyway.

There was an article that came out in the Spanish press after the Coutinho transfer that clearly had a source on the Liverpool staff. The club is obsessed with sprint recovery, essentially Coutinho is literally physically incapable of sustaining a press. It also went into great detail about why Barca wasn’t getting what they thought they were. He is a tweener. Talented player that did some great things for Liverpool, but the fee was twice (at least) what he was worth. On that topic:


Coutinho
   1083. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 11, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5860944)
I thought Spurs had signed the English kid with the worst possible hair cut in Jack Clarke. I was wrong. Mega clubs win again.
   1084. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: July 11, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5860946)
Even the worst haircuts of today don't compare to the peak of the "Mohican" / Mohawk trend IMHO.
   1085. kubiwan Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5860950)
Brazil has to play in a much more competitive environment. Put Brazil in CONCACAF and see what results you get.


I am bit confused by this; I focused strictly on World Cup knockout games for everyone specifically so that only games against "quality" opponents were looked at. Unless you mean something like "the men's game is more mature and thus has greater depth/more dispersion of talent/etc". I would agree with that, which is why I also looked at past WWC champions, and noted that, outside of 2007 Germany, every one has at least one close game, something that is likely to get even more pronounced as 1) the women's game matures/becomes more professionalized and 2) champions now need to survive 4 knockout games.

That doesn't mean I think the US would beat England or France that handily. It does mean I think those games shouldn't have been nail-biters.


Could you define *exactly* how you think they should have have done in those games? I tend to view any 2-goal win as "handily" since soccer is such a low-scoring game, while any 1-goal game is, sort of by definition, a nail-biter. I dont even see those games as particularly nail-bitey for a 1-goal match: the US never trailed at any point, and, combined, was actually in the lead for 153 of the 180 minutes.

And again, these are spectacular opponents! France came in 2nd in the 538 rankings, 4th in the FIFA ones, while England was tied for 5th/3rd, France was playing literally at home and England was very close to home. If you really think EVERY game like that should be a cakewalk devoid of any nervous moments for the US, I think we just need to disagree.

As I said before, and as Shooty says also, while it's partly about making best use of available talent, it's partly about the style of play. I don't think it's justified to point to results alone


I dont see a way to know if someone is "making the best use of talent" other than actually looking at the results. For style, yeah, if her style infuriates you or whatever, I cant argue against that other than to note there is always a chance that a different, more attractive, style might lead to worse results (to my eye, there is certainly more room to drop than to gain).
   1086. Sean Forman Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5860952)
Coutinho strikes me a bit like Ozil. A bit of a luxury player who probably has the most value as the best player on a r16 Champions League team. Might be a good fit for a Valencia or Sevilla.

BTW, Arsenal is soooo screwed. And to think it could have been worse if they had re-signed Alexis.
   1087. kubiwan Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5860953)
Of course, you can't argue with the results!


And yet, people are! Strenuously!

(Though we shouldn't get too carried away. I didn't think after 1999 it would take 16 years to win another.)


This is what I cant get my head around. The US had 3 straight "failures" to win the World Cup, two of which involved complete wipeouts (3-0 and 4-0) in the semis, and, as much nostalgia as the '99 team brings, they were hardly a juggernaut (twice falling behind against Germany, needing PKs against China). They then hired Ellis, and fairly easily (never trailed in any knockout game, won half by 2+ goals, no PKs or even extra time needed in the others) won 2 straight World Cups, so the obvious conclusion is that Ellis is a crappy coach? How does that compute?

My daydream about the USWNT is that they hire Bielsa and see if they could just completely murder teams in the next WC. That would be fun to see. I think the US women are fit and technical enough to handle a Bielsa system and I think it would just ruin the opposition.


That might well happen! Or doing so might cause the whole thing to collapse! My view is that when you are clearly at the top, a big change has a much better chance of making things much worse than making things even a little better.
   1088. spivey Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5860954)
I only watched part of the England/US WWC game, and even then it was on a replay, but I think we were outplayed.

xG was even, and then decidedly in their favor when you count the penalty (which should count period, but also prevented a very high xG opportunity from open play). The best non-xG chance created was England's offside goal that was called back by VAR. England had more possession, a higher pass accuracy. Equal shots on target, the US had a couple more total shots. IMO, that all adds up to we were outplayed, though within the error bars of a soccer match that can often go to the team that was slightly outplayed. We should not be getting slightly outplayed by England.

The France match I'm more ok with as they were the home team and 538 seems to rate them as significantly closer to the US than England.

But yeah, I kind of expect Brazil/Man City level dominance. Even when Brazil exited in the last WC, they massively outplayed Belgium in xG, creating tons of high quality attacking chances. Similar with City - they don't win every match, and as you say that's not realistic. But they damn near come close to winning every match in xG, creating loads of chances. That should be the bar.
   1089. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5860955)
Reports in Spain that Lo Celso to Spurs is getting close. Personal terms with the player are done and the clubs are close on a fee. I have never seen him play but this still isn't close enough for me to waste my time watching highlight compilations. I like to wait for L'Equipe or the BBC or The Guardian for that.
   1090. Topher Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:29 AM (#5860956)
To add to what Mefisto said about 2015 .... I'm exaggerating when I say this, but the 2015 World Cup was set up to be to the farewell celebration for Abby Wambach. And it was pretty clear to all observers that she had lost a step and wouldn't be in the starting lineup if not for the fact that she's Abby F'n Wambach. It would have taken some guts and a fair amount of resolve not to start Wambach. It also was clearly the proper thing to do and it took Ellis way too long to realize it.

I was in the stands for the first two games in 2015 so I don't have the best perspective of those two matches. But I thought the US came away with a 3-1 scoreline against Australia that was flattering to the US; from my seat Hope Solo made 3(?) big saves that held Australia to just one goal. Maybe on television, those saves weren't as impressive as they seemed to me. Either way, Australia had plenty of good chances.

The second game I attended was a boring 0-0 draw against Sweden. I want to say the US was probably the better of the two teams, but honestly a draw was far and away the proper result. I looked up the match stats to make sure my memory was completely wrong, and yeah, this game was pretty even. And maybe Solo's saves in the first game weren't as impressive as I remember, but she did have five of them.
   1091. bunyon Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:45 AM (#5860960)
But yeah, I kind of expect Brazil/Man City level dominance. Even when Brazil exited in the last WC, they massively outplayed Belgium in xG, creating tons of high quality attacking chances. Similar with City - they don't win every match, and as you say that's not realistic. But they damn near come close to winning every match in xG, creating loads of chances. That should be the bar.

And that's what we're doing.

The point the Ellis critics have to address is odds of what a coaching change does. There simply isn't much room for improvement. There is a chasm of room for decline. The overwhelmingly most likely effect of a coaching change is down.

Hell, the overwhelmingly most likely move for the USA is down. Or do we assume we'll coast to three straight World Cup crowns? I get it, you don't like Ellis or the current style of play and...that's fine. But, man, the idea that Ellis has done a bad job assumes that, with a different coach - and not a specific coach, but basically anyone, the way the posts read - we'd never even come close to losing. That assumption is made even while it's acknowledged how unrealistic it is.

This is, almost certainly, the high water mark for US women's soccer. If you're convinced the mark could've been higher, you'll almost certainly never be proved right.

And I'll echo what others have said about Brazil: Brazil would be ecstatic with the results the US women have had. Brazil isn't really Brazil. You're thinking Germany.
   1092. Mefisto Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:55 AM (#5860968)
Unless you mean something like "the men's game is more mature and thus has greater depth/more dispersion of talent/etc".


That is what I meant. To take that a step further, we can't take results on the men's side as indicative of what the US women should achieve against generally weaker competition.

If you really think EVERY game like that should be a cakewalk devoid of any nervous moments for the US, I think we just need to disagree.


I don't think the England or France games should have been cakewalks, though I wouldn't describe either opponent as "spectacular". I do think the games would have been more comfortable if the US had played to its best. As it was, England had more xG plus a penalty. France simply failed to generate good chances despite winning the midfield. That's a French problem, not a US success.

I dont see a way to know if someone is "making the best use of talent" other than actually looking at the results.


There probably isn't one in single elimination tournaments. It's in the longer run that the weaknesses become apparent. But even here I've shown that the US came very close to losing in games where it failed to play its best players and adopted weak tactics.

The US had 3 straight "failures" to win the World Cup, two of which involved complete wipeouts (3-0 and 4-0) in the semis


It's entirely possible to believe that (a) Ellis is not a good tactical coach; and (b) there have been worse ones (April Heinrichs and Greg Ryan were terrible).

   1093. Topher Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:57 AM (#5860969)
I do think it should be pointed out that the rumors were that Ellis became coach in the aftermath of Tom Sermanni getting fired. The rumor (was it more than just rumor?) was Sermanni lost his job in large part due to having lost the confidence of a clique veteran players.

Ellis seems to have done a fantastic job regaining the confidence of the veteran players. And, as noted, you can't argue with her ultimate results. But I do think it's a bit weird when Alex Morgan can't start over Abby Wambach in 2015 and Lindsey Horan can't find a starting spot in 2019.
   1094. Mefisto Posted: July 11, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5860971)
Hell, the overwhelmingly most likely move for the USA is down.


I agree with this. If the US fails to get better coaches than Ellis, the other teams are going to catch up. That's the whole reason for my criticism.
   1095. J. Sosa Posted: July 11, 2019 at 12:03 PM (#5860972)
Lo Celso is quite good. I don’t think he would have the impact of NDombele N’Dombele Ndombele N’dombele because Tanguy is both awesome and fills a desperate need, but he is good. He was good despite playing out of position at PSG and flourished when placed in a more fitting role. Type of player Poch will get a lot out of.

Re: USWNT

As I have said before in the past there are valid criticisms of Ellis. But I have always also maintained that the Ellis out crowd vastly underestimate how difficult the personnel/media relations/sponsor relationships are to manage. Vastly underestimate. Maybe Chuck Daly should have pressed more and I didn’t really care for Barkley elbowing Angolans, but in the end, the job was done.

I mentioned Brazil for a reason. Take a look at how much influence sponsors have had on team selection over the years. The Wambach thing irritated me too, but there are niceties to be observed for coaches in that position given outside influences. As I said, a thankless job I would not want.

As Kubiwan has pointed out, it requires a very ungenerous historical reading to assume the team could have done better. As far as the style of play, sure. But as I have said in the past it is an open question whether complexity is practical or even optimal for national teams. I also think some of the criticisms don’t allow for enough consideration of game states. I think Spurs probably out played Liverpool for much of the final, but Liverpool got a pen in the first minute and have a spine of Fabinho, VVD, and Allison.

Game management plays a role. Yes we were fortunate here and there at times in winning consecutive World Cups, but wow... Tough crowd.There is room for criticism, but the severity of the criticism has always seemed unfair to me.
   1096. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 11, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5860976)
I think aside from the arguments of whether Ellis is good or bad, I think the US should hire a new coach. I think 3 cycles is too much for any national team manager and you run the risk of the coach wanting to stick with their favorites and for the players to start tuning out an overly familiar voice.
   1097. J. Sosa Posted: July 11, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5860977)
Pep and Klopp both think so Shooty. A lot of coaches in a lot of sports think there is a shelf life.
   1098. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: July 11, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5860983)
Even Jogi Low bombed at his third World Cup. Del Bosque started to struggle at the end of his reign at Spain, too. Complacency kills.
   1099. the Centaur Nipple Paradox (CoB). Posted: July 11, 2019 at 12:26 PM (#5860987)
If you had a NWSL team and needed a coach (and really, actually, wanted to win), would you hire her?

I wouldn't.
   1100. J. Sosa Posted: July 11, 2019 at 12:38 PM (#5860992)
Re: Arsenal

Yeah Sean, it does not look good. Ozil, team captain downing tools, can’t get a deal done with Celtic for an obvious need...

I also really don’t get why they are after Zaha. He is expensive and Palace is in a strong position. To me they should do what Liverpool did. Buy a bunch of guys that were not quite the right age or talent profile but were borderline top four caliber players and were proven. Bournemouth should be the new Southampton. Take a chain saw to the wage bill, get rid of some high wage earners (even some of the productive ones) and go after Wilson, Brooks, Fraser.

People made fun of Liverpool, but Clyne, Lallana, Lovren, etc put the club in a position to move to the next tier.
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