Welcome to “The Better Half” where I make an effort to try attempting to understand and cover Women’s Soccer. What makes me qualified? Not much — and to let you know how fresh-off-the-boat I am, here’s the inner dialog between two disjointed parts of my psyche.
Smart-er MJ: Hey, I want to write about women’s soccer.
Ignorant MJ: Dude, I don’t know anything about women’s soccer.
IMJ: So, there’s Women’s World Cup the year after the Men’s World Cup, which is unfortunately but understandably called just the “World Cup.”
SMJ: See you’re not that ignorant.
IMJ [feigning humility]: I don’t know about that.
SMJ [sarcasticatly]: Har har! — [seriously]: Did you know that Women play soccer outside the World Cup every 4 years?
IMJ: Like in the Summer Olympics?
SMJ: No, Imeanyesthattoo, but I’m talking about club soccer.
IMJ: Women play on clubs . . . as in professional, pay-them-money clubs?!?
SMJ: Yes, my super-ignorant self. They don’t pay them, like, “non abject poverty” money, but in a strictly literal sense, yes, they are paid.
IMJ: That’s kinda cool! So, I suppose there’s a league in the US. Is that it?
SMJ: There are three leagues in the US/CAN. The Division 1 NWSL along with two Division 2, pro-am leagues: the UWS and the WPSL.
IMJ: Wow, sounds eerily similar to the U.S. Men’s pyramid right now. I suppose England has a Women’s Premier League, too?
SMJ: Well, there is an FA Women’s Premier League (with Northern/Southern Divisions), but they are in Division 3. The FA Women’s Super League 1 & 2 (WSL 1, WSL 2) are the top two divisions in England.
IMJ: Okaaaaaay, that makes sense now that you explain it. [sigh] Anything else?
SMJ [rapidly hurrying, having detected waning interest from my shadow self]:
- Frauen Bundesliga in Germany
- Division 1 Féminine in France
- Damallsvenskan in Sweden
- Also Norway, Finland, Spain, Italy, Australia, Korea, Japan all have their women’s football leagues too
- Annnnd, new this year: Liga MX Femenil in Mexico!
[attempts to catch breath . . . breathing heavy . . . like David Beckham or Ali Krieger just walked into your favorite soccer bar]
IMJ: Um, that’s a lot. Which of these do you want to write about?
SMJ: All of them, but I don’t have that much time — for sure NWSL and WSL 1, the top leagues in the USA and ENG. I’ll figure it out in the next two weeks.
IMJ: Two weeks!? Don’t you have anything for our readers now?
SMJ: Sure. Let’s get to it.
National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)
All ten teams will be in action on . . .
Saturday, May 27 — all times Central, US
The TDIK feature game
3:00 PM Chicago Red Stars (3-2-1) vs. North Carolina Courage (5-2-0)
- Chicago sit in 2nd place. North Carolina are in 1st place.
- Chicago won 1-3 away at North Carolina on Sunday.
- Courage Captain Abby Erceg (NZL) played for the Red Stars 2014-15.
Aside: in February she quit the New Zealand national side in protest.
- The Courage beat 3rd-place Sky Blue FC on Wednesday. This will be their 3rd game in seven days.
- These two rosters have Lynn Williams and Samantha Mewis for the Courage versus Christen Press and Sofia Huerta for the Red Stars, and they compose just the tip of the DiCaprio-Death-sized iceberg.
3:00 PM Houston Dash (2-4-0) vs. Seattle Reign FC (2-1-3)
6:00 PM Sky Blue FC (3-3-1) vs. Orlando Pride (1-2-3)
7:00 PM FC Kansas City (2-2-2) vs. Washington Spirit (1-4-1)
9:00 PM Portland Thorns FC (2-1-3) vs Boston Breakers (2-2-2)
The US may have the strongest league with the best competition, but when it comes to training facilities, locker rooms, stadia, and that romantic allure of foreign travel, Europe is where it’s at.
Women’s Super League Division 1 (WSL 1)
There are four WSL 1 games this weekend, all on . . .
Sunday morning, May 28 — all times Central, US
The first two games feature three Yanks and the top four teams.
We don’t care about the 8 AM games because Americans only care about games Americans are in . . . or . . . or winners . . . or something.
6:00 AM Manchester City vs. Arsenal
Heather O’Reilly will most likely start for Arsenal with a solid game and one goal against Birmingham City.
Carli Lloyd will miss this game, the first of a three-game suspension.
- During an 89th-minute free kick in the previous match, Yeovil Town’s Ann-Marie “Annie Get Your Grab” Heatherson tried to apply a waist-lock from behind.
- As if responding to a creepy bloke at a Manchester pub, Lloyd countered with the standard swim-move-to-spinning-elbow, earning one point for the escape and two points for the takedown.
6:05 AM Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Crystal Dunn will suit up for Chelsea as they take on table-toppers Liverpool.
Olympique Lyonnais could win all the hardware . . . again!
- With 12 goals in 15 games, Alex Morgan has helped Lyon finish atop Division 1 Féminine for the 11th consecutive season.
- Due to a hamstring injury, Morgan sat out Lyon’s Coupe de France victory over PSG on May 19. OL has now won the domestic cup six years straight.
- Before returning to Orlando Pride, Morgan hopes to be healthy enough to play starting minutes in the biggest match in European women’s football.
UEFA Women’s Champions League Final
Olympique Lyonnais vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Thursday, June 1 – 1:45 PM
Cardiff City Stadium
USA and Canada should be able to stream live on UEFA TV’s YouTube here.
- The Coupe de France final between the same two sides was a close 1-1 after extra time, with Lyon winning 7-6 on penalties.
- Paris Saint-Germain has much more to play for, as they will finish 3rd in the league, just outside UEFA Champions League qualification for next year. The only way for PSG to qualify for next year’s Champions League would be to win it all this coming Thursday.
- If Olympique Lyonnais wins, it would be their 3rd UEFA WCL title and their 2nd consecutive year with the treble!
Wow, you’ve made it through the first article of “The Better Half.” I feel better. How about you?