Now that the NWSL Challenge Cup is over, women’s soccer in the United States has hit another lull. But international soccer had some highlights, and there’s some news and rumors circulating on both player and coach movement. It’s important to remember that in terms of American players that seem to be going abroad en masse, the United States has had an absolutely terrible response to COVID-19, and while the CC bubble was very much a success, it was also a huge stressor on both the players and the league. Yes, there’s been some discussion of establishing smaller regional bubbles and maybe having some round-robin games among sets of three teams, but that costs money and will require sourcing yet more testing and secure housing, not to mention ask the players to once again go into isolation for a number of weeks. You can’t blame any player who looks at that possibility, looks at another league that seems to be resuming more regular play safely, and decides to go get minutes and money in a country that isn’t shambling towards purgatory. On to the player movement news!
It’s now official that Sam Mewis is headed to Manchester City. Man City’s announcement did not indicate how long the contract will last, although in the NC Courage’s press release, Paul Riley did say, “Most important for Sam right now are competitive games especially leading into an Olympic year and she will be able to play 20 games over the next six to seven months which is hugely valuable.” The Courage do retain Mewis’ NWSL rights should she return to the US, but it’s not unreasonable to think that Mewis will stay in the WSL until the end of Man City’s season before jumping into whatever pre-Olympic camp the USWNT sets up.
Games that are not being broadcast are streamed on the FA Player.
Other player moves:
- Utah’s Gunny Jónsdóttir is on loan for three months to Valur in Iceland for the remainder of the Úrvalsdeild kvenna season.
- Sky Blue FC’s Elizabeth Eddy is on loan to Vittsjo GIK in Sweden from August 1 to November 30.
- OL Reign’s Jess Fishlock will also jump to an undisclosed WSL club for five months. ““The Challenge Cup was huge for the NWSL and it will propel us... but the players in the NWSL are going to need to play games right now,” she said to BBC Sport Wales.
- No more concrete news yet on whether Rose Lavelle might make the jump.
Two big coaching gaps are opening up between Ante Milecic resigning as head coach of the Matildas in order to take the HC position at Macarthuer FC in the A-League (a deal whose timing was derailed by the Olympics being postponed), and Phil Neville announcing his intention to step down from the Lionesses.
Neville’s name has been thrown into the pot for the Matildas job, although given the source is the Daily Mail, perhaps it’s best to wait for further confirmation before giving more credence to this rumor.
As for England, Jill Ellis is a name that comes up frequently, although The Times has Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman pegged as Neville’s successor. England might balk at Ellis’ rumored $900k/year salary request, although given her record on paper, it’s not an absurd ask. (Also consider men’s HC Gareth Southgate was on nearly USD$4M/year before he took a 30% paycut to help the FA weather the current economy.)
Also being mentioned: Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and NYCFC’s Nick Cushing, although both are more likely to be set at their respective clubs.
International leagues are doing stuff
Once again, don’t forget that select WSL games are available (yes, also to US viewers!) on the FA Player.
Wild ideas for continuing soccer
In lieu of NWSL forming regional bubbles, which won’t get the same level of national sponsorship as the Challenge Cup and would probably require cobbling together each team’s local sponsors to help pay everyone, here’s a wild idea: given that there won’t be a USC Convention in 2021, and therefore the usual venue for the NWSL College Draft is gone, the league instead forms a bubble for NCAA players who are out of eligibility or would have entered the draft in ‘21, holds a combine, and then does their own draft.
Would this also cost a lot of money and require testing? Yes! Would it also not attract as much national sponsorship as regional bubbles? Probably! Does it require a venue with at least streaming capability and some kind of commentary team? For sure! Would it be much cheaper and more reasonable to just move any college draft online and kind of do it like the WNBA? Oh definitely.
Listen, there’s no bad ideas in brainstorming, and there’s nothing wrong with soccer nerds idly fantasizing about getting to watch all the best NCAA talent in one place instead of having to piece together streams and Youtube videos of varying quality from half a dozen different conferences in order to properly pay attention to the college game. Say, NCAA, you guys have been making money off the labor of unpaid athletes for years, why not toss some of it at this combine idea?