Back when I was a broth of a boy – in the Eighties, for those of you who can’t imagine such a thing – I whiled away the time at soldiering. Or, at least, what we imagined was soldiering; the notion that you could spend a career commuting between CONUS and various unpaved portions of Southwest and Central Asia seemed utterly alien.
Back in those halcyon days the soldering year – which ran from October to October, along with the federal fiscal year – had one very odd feature.
From New Year’s Day to the week of Christmas we worked a regular sort of soldiers’ schedule, a workweek in garrison sprinkled with adventures to various wooded or meadowy places where we practiced shooting at one another.
But, between the third week of December and the first week of January, we had what was called a “half-day schedule”. This involved waking up early and doing our exercises (what we called “physical training”, or “PT”), getting dressed in our tree-colored clothing, and then typically doing housekeeping chores; taking (or teaching) required classes, inventorying, cleaning, and maintaining equipment, or, frankly, just sort of loafing around until midday. Then the married people would go home, and the singletons would kick back in barracks, watch television, read, goof off…
It was a ridiculously idle week or so that we called the “Dead Time”, a sort of no-time/no-place between the end of the old calendar year and the beginning of the new one.
We’re sort of in the NWSL Dead Time now.
The draft is over, the past season a distant memory. The 2020 training camp is probably a month or so away. The news from the league, and the Thorns front office, is reduced to a trickle of random bits and pieces seemingly disconnected with each other.
Is there anything to talk about?
Oh, say, can you see..?
One most interesting newsy bits was reported by Dan Lauletta last Friday, that the league is in the final stages of negotiating with the either NBC or CBS broadcast networks to air next season’s games.
No details of this potential deal are reported. Some speculation in the comments that this will mean a weekend match on NBC or CBS proper and the remainder of the games either on NBCSN, or the NBC Gold or “CBS All Access” streaming services. Apparently this means it’ll coast you about ten bucks a month if you want to catch the matches not on the broadcast feed. I haven’t researched the NBC or CBS streaming services enough to know whether it’s possible to buy in for one-time events only.
Caitlin Murry reports one piece of good news to go with this; whether or not the nets get the deal the league solidly nixed a deal with BeIN Sports. Nothing against BeIN, but I have the big Comcast/xfinity cable package and it doesn’t carry BeIN. The notion of relegating the league to some no-name “sports network” is unacceptable.
I’d like for the network deal to happen, if only for the better exposure for the league. It’s time to get away from rinky-dink little cable channels and into genuine sports networks. A professional league needs to look professional, and that means a big-name broadcast affiliate. If that’s CBS, or NBC, or ESPN (Murray’s thread linked above suggests that ESPN is out, too, unfortunately), whatever.
But hooking up with No-name Network?
Unh-uh. That’s a no-go.
One solid piece of no-news is the Thorns’ reputed pursuit of Kadidiatou Diani. If you recall, this was massively speculated on during the draft period, and Stumptown’s Tyler Nguyen was still hypothesizing about it in early January.
That speculation has gone stone-cold. It’s worth noting that Diani’s still tweeting and talking enthusiastically about her current team PSG. Obviously she or her agent could still be conferencing with Peregrine Sports while she’s “Joueuse au Paris Saint-Germain”…but I’m not getting a sense from anywhere that this is about to be a thing
Does that mean that it won’t happen? Hell, no. Never say never with this club; the pursuit of Amandine Henry went on for a ridiculously extended time, and was stuffed with on-again-off-again reporting.
But there WAS reporting about it, and with Diani, there’s just nothing anymore.
My guess is that the price wasn’t right. Supposedly Diani is making something like $400K with PSG. Since Portland traded $70K of it’s $300K Duffybox away it has substantially less than that to work with, and don’t forget that PSG is unlikely to part with her without a transfer fee.
At this point I’d be surprised to see her here in March.
So…if not Diani, then..?
The Thorns picked up two forwards and a defender in the draft, and traded for an attacking midfielder (who, by the way, just put three past her CONCACAF opponents in two Olympic qualifying matches, so, you get some, Rocky…).
The Thorns also traded away a centerback and a right-wing/forward, lost a right wing/forward, dumped a bunch of international deadwood, and have both their 2019 DMs rehabbing ACL tears.
I think between them Sophia Smith and Morgan Weaver – along with a returning Lussi and Heath, and a hopefully-reinvigorated Horan – will go a long ways towards helping with the attacking drought that killed the 2019 season in Black Autumn.
Now my questions are directed at the defensive midfield and backline.
There’s not a lot of depth there, Klingenberg will be another year older, and there’s a real question at starting centerback. Menges is coming off a couple of sub-par seasons, and will need a steady partner to help her return to her Great Wall level of play.
Thing is, there were a lot of good players left behind after the draft:
Amanda Visco – D (CB)
Ricci Walkling – MF (DMC, MC) – signed with SV Werder Bremen Uchenna Kanu – F (LF, CF) – signed with Sevilla FC
Paula Germino-Watnick – F (LF), MF (AMC)
Stasia Mallin – D (RB, CB)
Natalie Winters – MF (DMC)
Meghan McCool – F (CF, LF)
Andrea Hauksdottir – MF (DMC)
Alli Klug – D (CB)
Walkling and Kanu have already signed in Europe, but several promising players remain that could be invited to the Thorns combine this spring. I’d love to see either Visco and Klug or both, and it would be interesting to see if Winters or Hauksdottir got a look (the latter requiring an international slot, of course…).
Recall that something like 200 players declared for the draft and only 36 were taken.
Of course, there’s the draft-week reports that the FO was pursuing an “international centerback”, but my suspicion is that this may have the same issues as the Diani deal; any truly big name would be pretty spendy, and anyone less spendy wouldn’t be that much better than a good NCAA free agent.
One thing to always keep in mind with this FO; it is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. And it is a supermassive black hole for information. It will not tell us anything until that thing is a thing, and until then will hint absolutely nothing.
The Trump Administration probably wishes it’s internal security was as good as Peregrine’s.
Faster, higher, stronger…
Although we don’t have league play, some of our players are busy qualifying their nations for this summer’s Olympic Games.
Christine Sinclair has led Canada to a berth in the semifinals and in so doing banged in the goal that put her on top of the all-time international goal-scorers list with 185 and counting.
The faint “whatabout”-ism I hear is people talking about how Abby Wambach took fewer games – Wambach put up about 0.7 goals per game to Sinclair’s 0.6 – to get to her 184.
Which elides the fact that Wambach played for vastly better teams than Sinclair ever has. The CWNT has always been assembled to break it’s greatest players hearts. It broke Charmaine Hooper’s back in the Seventies and Eighties, and will never reward Sinclair with the WC or Olympic crowns she has done everything to try and drag them towards.
The level of quality Sinclair has had to sustain to accomplish this is difficult to praise highly enough. We’re talking twenty years at the highest level of international play.
That’s…well, the greatest of all time.
The only way this could have been better would have been for this goal to have been the winning goal in the World Cup Final instead of just a day at the office against a CONCACAF tomato can. But those goals were in there, too; I’ll never forget her heroics in the 2012 OG semifinal against the USWNT, or her lifting the 2003 and 2005 College Cups.
I’m going to use this forum to publicly challenge the City of Portland and the club; build that statue.
Sinc deserves to be immortalized at the corner of 18th and Morrison for all time.
Lindsey Horan had quite the night against Panama last week, bagging three goals on the way to an 8-nil beatdown.
I hope that means that she’s shaking off the funk she was in in 2019.
That said…Panama. Want to ship a crap-ton of crap goals? Play a ridiculously high line against the USWNT and then ensure that your backline couldn’t mark a sleeping housecat and could be timed with a sundial.
I’m glad to see Horan bust goals. But I’ll wait to see if Horan can continue this form against someone who can defend worth a lick before declaring her slump over.
Raquel Rodriguez nicked three goals for Costa Rica in two games, one against Panama, two against the Haitians (who are better than Panama by some distance…)
What’s interesting is that all three were different; the Panama goal was a PK, the first Haiti goal was a powerful header off a free kick, and the second was a pretty finish off a long diagonal cross that found Rodriguez open at the top of the box.
I doubt Rodriguez will displace Sinclair as the Thorns’ designated penalty taker. But if she can be dangerous in the air she will certainly help the frontline with scoring. Again, however, it’ll be worth waiting to see how she does against better opposition – like Monday night against the USWNT…
That’s all the news that fits, but I’ll be back later in February – assuming there’s a deal or deals to report on – with the annual “Drafts and Deals” post.
See ya then.