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Topics - Rachael Kriger

1
Women's soccer is growing in the United States, and that's wonderful to see! In 2022, Angel City FC is already tabbed to make their debut as an expansion club. There's a ton of exciting names behind the launch -- but are there too many names on the list?

Earlier today, Meg Linehan of The Athletic reported that there are investors looking to bring the Utah Royals FC back to Kansas City. Here's some quick history for you. FC Kansas City made their debut with the NWSL back in 2013. Then, they folded in 2017. They got no help from MLS counterpart Sporting Kansas City, who have made it very clear then and now that they don't want to share their stadium, Children's Mercy Park. After FCKC folded, Dell Loy Hansen and the Royals bought and moved the team to Utah.

Now, the team is for sale, due to racist and sexist behavior from Hansen.

This is where the situation with Angel City FC comes into play. Los Angeles is the glitz and glamour city of sports. However, right now, there's too much glitz with Angel City FC. Almost every female actress in Hollywood is part of the ownership group, as well as some legends of the game (Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Lauren Holiday are a few).

This is all great, but it's too much for one club, in my opinion. There are almost a hundred big-name investors and owners. These athletes and celebrities have the money to put a few thousand bucks behind the Utah Royals and keep them in Utah.

The fans in Utah are good, and they usually do get about 8,000 to 10,000 fans in the seats at the Rio Tinto Stadium. It would be absolutely devastating to the NWSL if that team folded and moved back to Kansas City.

My idea/theory: Let the investors in Kansas City build an expansion team, but don't move the Utah Royals. There needs to be some assistance in keeping the Royals in Salt Lake City. One of those millionaires that own Angel City could fork over some cash for a club that needs it. You want to keep the women's game alive? Prove it! Put your money where your mouth is!

Long story short: there are other cities that women's soccer is popular in than just Los Angeles. Stick to your word and support the entire league, not just one city and one team.
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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!
3
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.
4
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
5
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!?
6
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!
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
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.
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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
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Soccer / NWSL Restart: Will another Bubble Work?
August 02, 2020, 11:05:59 pm
As I said before on a Last Word on Soccer Podcast, the NWSL ran so that MLS could walk. Truthfully, when people talk about sports coming back in the United States, it makes my blood boil when people gloss over or just downright ignore the National Women's Soccer League. That was the first league to come back in the U.S. and it was so successful. The Orlando Pride situation got figured out right away, there were no positive tests inside the bubble, and, as soccer fans love, there was chaos. However, many players said that the bubble was boring and that mental health upkeep was tough. Bethany Balcer even left a game due to a panic attack. So... with that said. If NWSL does return again in 2020, do we think that they'll try the bubble again?
11
To me, it's the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders were the reigning champions of MLS, and before COVID hit, they were having a pretty good season. Watching them fall and really get dismantled by LAFC was not fun to watch whatsoever.