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Messages - Rachael Kriger

1
Soccer / What Team won the NWSL Expansion Draft?
November 16, 2020, 09:26:36 am
The NWSL Expansion Draft happened on Thursday last week for Racing Louisville FC, the 10th club in the National Women's Soccer League. There were certainly some head-turning choices! Here's my thoughts on what three teams won the draft - aka, were spared.

1. Portland Thorns: The Thorns got off scot free, pretty much. Tobin Heath was the selection for Racing Louisville. Since she's a U.S. Federation player, Louisville only took her and were not allowed to make any other selections. How did Christy Holly (LOU head coach) not look at Britt Eckerstrom or Bella Bixby and then pass on them for a player who likely won't even suit up for Louisville? It's head-scratching, for sure.

2. Houston Dash: If you're a Dash fan, you should be smiling. Cece Kizer was a good pick for the newest NWSL club, but Erin Simon is an interesting pick. Yes, she played for Holly before, but Bri Visalli was still on the board. Shame on Louisville for not picking Visalli, who was one of the better performers in 2020. Houston and head coach James Clarkson should breathe a huge sigh of relief that they get to keep Visalli.

3. Washington Spirit: Katie Lund (goalkeeper) and Katie McClure (forward) are good, talented young players. Nothing against them, but Crystal Thomas was certainly rated a bit higher, along with international Kumi Yokoyama. Washington is a super young team, so losing out on Lund and McClure isn't the end of the world. For Louisville, they're good players to build around, but who knows if they'll see significant minutes, especially Lund.

Let me know your thoughts on the Expansion Draft!
2
Soccer / NWSL | Racing Louisville FC Expansion Draft
November 09, 2020, 03:36:20 pm
The Expansion Draft for Racing Louisville FC will be the first NWSL Expansion Draft since 2016. There's a lot of excitement buzzing around the league. Who do you think are three players that can end up in Louisville with head coach Christy Holly making selections this Thursday at 7 p.m. EST?

Here's my top three players heading to Louisville:

1. Celia Jimenez Delgado, OL Reign.
2. Bri Visalli, Houston Dash.
3. Addisyn Merrick, NC Courage.
3
Soccer / Stand outs from the NWSL Fall Series!
October 12, 2020, 01:30:43 pm
The NWSL Fall Series will wrap up this weekend. While they are just friendlies, the women's league in the United States has put on some pretty competitive matches. The Portland Thorns took first place and the Houston Dash took second in the standings, but third place is still up for grabs.

All eyes have been on rookie players, for sure! However, some veteran players — like Canada's own Christine Sinclair — have completely dominated in the competition. Here are my five stand-out players from the NWSL Fall Series.

1. Christine Sinclair, Portland Thorns FC.
2. Shirley Cruz, OL Reign
3. Kristie Mewis, Houston Dash
4. Morgan Weaver, Portland Thorns FC
5. Jennifer Cudjoe, Sky Blue FC
4
Soccer / Hope Solo left off the U.S. Soccer HOF
September 09, 2020, 11:38:03 pm
Hope Solo was up for her first year of eligibility for the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. However, according to the HOF, you need 66 percent of the votes to make it into the HOF. Solo, arguably the best goalkeeper in the world for women's soccer (and, honestly, men's too), did not receive enough votes. This is atrocious to me, but I'm curious to everyone's thoughts on this.

Yes, Solo can be problematic off the field. However, I've never agreed with how U.S. Soccer and the U.S. women's national team handled her "departure" from the team. She called Sweden cowards. Well, a lot of footballers — male or female — have done a lot worse than name calling.

Hope Solo holds the world record for most shut outs, with 102 international shut outs. She is a FIFA Women's World Cup winner and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. How could someone with a resume like her not be a first-ballot HOFer!?
5
Well, that was fun! Olympique Lyonnais won their fifth-straight UEFA Women's Champions League title over VfL Wolfsburg last weekend. Lyon is obviously the powerhouse of European women's soccer, with seven total UWCL titles to the club's name. Can anyone honestly beat them? This season, Chelsea has a pretty stacked squad, but they need to qualify for the UWCL first.

I know it's wishful thinking, but as a native from Russia, I would love to see CSKA Moscow make a decent run in the tournament. A miracle would have to happen for them to face Lyon and make it out alive, though!
6
General Discussion / Re: Sports podcasts
September 02, 2020, 11:40:40 am
If you're interested in soccer by any forms, some shameless plugging for "The Pro Foul Podcast." It's women's soccer based and has some really good insight from, more importantly, my friends R.J. Allen and André Carlisle. I'm on there too, but I'm usually just there for R.J. to make fun of and to laugh at André.
7
Soccer / Who will surprise at the NWSL Fall Series?
September 02, 2020, 11:38:59 am
The NWSL Fall Series is kicking off this weekend! Sky Blue FC is heading down the highway to take on the Washington Spirit on Saturday. The full schedule still hasn't been released, but the first seven matches are out and scheduled.

I think that OL Reign will surprise at the Fall Series. They had an OK showing at the Challenge Cup. However, a lot of the players are still feeling out Farid Benstiti, as this is his first time even coaching in the National Women's Soccer League. I am really excited, personally, to see Shirley Cruz and Raquel Rodriguez (of the Portland Thorns) make history as the first two Costa Rican women's national team players to face off -- hopefully that happens! It was supposed to happen at the Challenge Cup, but Cruz was on the bench for the two sides' meet up.

I wrote about that specifically for Last Word on Soccer: https://lastwordonsoccer.com/2020/07/12/history-at-nwsl-cruz-rodriguez/
8
Soccer / Re: Which USL player should be in the MLS
September 02, 2020, 11:34:57 am
As a native of Pittsburgh and a hardcore Riverhounds supporter, I would have to say Kenardo Forbes. The guy is a beast, and I would hate to lose him in Pittsburgh, but he has proven time in and time out that he's good enough for MLS. Also, I would say Robbie Mertz, one of the newcomers on the team. He has been excellent this year. But he's young, so here's hoping he'll have his chance with an MLS team!
9
NWSL is coming back, and the league is splitting teams into pods. Of note, there won't be a championship-style competition when these pod matches are over. Instead, each "Pod" will play six games, have three teams and that's it. There will be 18 games in the span of seven weeks, airing on CBS, CBS All-Access.

Here are the Pods.

1. West: OL Reign, Portland Thorns, Utah Royals.
2. Northeast: Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit, Chicago Red Stars.
3. South: North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Houston Dash.

Which pod do you think is going to be the hardest? I think it'll be the second pod, the Northeast. These are three teams with very similar situations. They did decent at the NWSL Challenge Cup but weren't really stand-out teams.
10
My dream sports road trip is to see all the Cascadia Rivalry matches in MLS in the home stadiums: CenturyLink Field for the Sounders, BC Place for the Vancouver Whitecaps and Providence Park for the Portland Timbers!
11
I have been to a lot of great areas and stadiums, but my favorite venue will always be Heinz Field. I know, I'm biased since I'm from Pittsburgh. But, my favorite event wasn't a Steelers game — although I've gone to a couple good ones! I got to see the U.S. Women's National Team and the Costa Rican Women's National Team in August 2015 at Heinz Field. While the Costa Ricans got smashed, the best part was seeing Meghan Klingenberg score and wave the Terrible Towel in her hometown stadium!
12
Soccer / Most underrated USWNT Player?
August 09, 2020, 10:24:16 pm
There have been some seriously amazing players on the U.S. women's national team. I mean, the team hasn't won four FIFA Women's World Cup titles for nothing! But, there are some players who have fallen in the cracks and got left behind — or left off the team with no reasonable explanation. For me, the most underrated players on the USWNT are:

1. Nicole Barnhart, GK
2. Whitney Engen, DEF
3. Cindy Parlow (Cone), FOR
4. Sofia Huerta, MID
13
I would say Weston McKennie and Fabian Johnson, because they would be excellent track and field athletes with the speed they produce.
14
The National Women's Soccer League has some pretty terrible referees. And, in all fairness, the fact that MLS has VAR and the NWSL doesn't is a huge disgrace. VAR would significantly improve the women's game, without a doubt. There were certainly some questionable calls during the NWSL Challenge Cup in June-July.
15
Soccer / Re: Biggest Missed Opportunities in MLS
August 05, 2020, 10:13:19 pm
This is a really good topic. I think the biggest missed opportunity in MLS is definitely the Cosmos, but now looking at the current landscape, I couldn't imagine getting rid of the New York Red Bulls, so I would say NYCFC would have to go. Another missed opportunity is the city of St. Louis. Yes, they're on the list for expansion, but the fact that Nashville got a team before the birthplace of soccer in America? C'mon Don Garber!