Women's Soccer

Follow the money Team USA

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 4:04pm
Cliff Pfenning
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As America celebrates its heroes from the Women’s World Cup, the real key to the month of success on the soccer pitch will be on the fields of the U.S., in such towns as Kansas City and Atlanta.

Now that Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and company have dominated the world on behalf of the nation, it’s time to see if anyone will show up to see them when they’re not repping for the Stars and Stripes.

This is the challenge that’s truly bigger than the world, too, because it’s the future, in the attendance figures of the National Women’s Soccer League.

The nation fell in love with Team USA’s players as a unit, but will that translate into more paid ticket sales and sponsors for the league the players star in?

Getting better or even equal pay from the U.S. Soccer Federation seems very logical for the top players, but getting better pay for the breadth of the NWSL’s players will be the greater success of the World Cup win.

One of those keys to success has actually happened, too - the NWSL has a beer sponsor.

As the U.S. was beating The Netherlands in France on Sunday, the league announced Budweiser had become its first beer sponsor and will attach its name to a host of elements such as the championship game.

A check of the league website shows Budweiser adds a significant sense of legitimacy to the league along with Nike. The three other NWSL sponsors are Cutter, which is an insect repellent, Thorne, which produces supplements, and Lifetime Network, although it doesn’t seem to have much if any involvement in airing league matches. ESPN will air matches on ESPN2 and ESPN News for the remainder of the season.

Budweiser is a step the NWSL has needed, and the Team USA players should address directly because that’s where the future of the professional games lies. And, women need to recognize that because equal pay requires equal results within capitalism. Kansas City can be a valuable asset in this arena. Atlanta, too.

During the World Cup final the FOX broadcast switched to a party being held in a public section of Kansas City that attracted a reported 10,000 fans. It was a wild atmosphere worthy of such an event. Kansas City officials used the party to promote the city as a host site for men’s World Cup headed for North American in 2026.

Kansas City is a great soccer town, evident by 10,000 fans showing up to watch Team USA win the World Cup. But, where is the town on women’s soccer? It had one, but it folded and its players moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to form the Utah Royals FC.

Atlanta joined the MLS in 2017 and immediately set the soccer world on fire with its raucous crowds at Mercedes Benz Stadium. The team led the league in attendance its opening year and set a record of 53,000 fans per game in 2018 on the way to winning the league title. Atlanta does not have a team in the NWSL.

And, moving across sport lines, Portland has some women’s equality issues to deal with, too - in basketball. For all his wealth, the late Paul Allen didn’t have much passion for the Rose City in terms of women’s sports. Allen owned the Portland Fire in the early years of the WNBA, but folded the team after only three seasons (2000-02) because of economics. It was an era when the Blazers were losing a tremendous amount of money due to luxury tax issues, and Allen’s company was on the way to filing for bankruptcy from just running the Rose Garden.

A women’s team in the WNBA would seem like a solid economic gamble these days considering the University of Oregon and Oregon State have some of the best attended games in women’s basketball these days, and win on the court regularly. Would Portland’s basketball fans support the Portland Fire the way its soccer fans support the Thorns? Portland would be a great market for the WNBA, and in the process serve as a step forward for women’s pro sports if it works economically.

Team USA can beat the world in the World Cup and in the Olympic Games, but can its players survive as professionals within their own league? It requires fans in seats.

Of the NWSL’s nine teams, only Portland and Utah, which features Team USA players such as Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press, average more than 10,000 fans per game. The other seven teams aren’t past 5,000 fans per game even though they also have Team USA players on their rosters.

Fans in seats, eyes on screens, sponsors on jerseys and beyond.

Team USA’s stars have earned some celebration time in the very near future, but they need to capitalize on this momentum to make the NWSL a stronger league, which is how women’s soccer, and women’s pro sports, will truly win going into the future.

Thorns open season in style

Allie Long powers a 4-1 win over Boston with a pair of goals
April 11, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND - The Portland Thorns opened their third season with a dominating performance, highlighted by a pair of goals by Allie Long on the way to a 4-1 win over Boston Saturday at Providence Park.

Long pounded home a pair of close-range shots midway through the second half after Boston had scored to get within 2-1.

Portland finished the game with a 23-10 edge in shots, and heads to its second game against Western New York at 1-0-0, 3 points.

Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly scored in the first half for the Thorns in front of an opening-game crowd of 13,386.

The game with Western New York is set for Sunday, April 19.

 

Portland shows off its Thorns

A record crowd cheers on a 1-0 victory over Houston
August 3, 2014

Midfielder Verónica Boquete tallied the game-winning goal, while goalkeeper Nadine Angerer recorded a clean sheet as Portland Thorns FC earned a 1-0 victory against the Houston Dash in front of a National Women’s Soccer League record crowd of 19,123 fans at Providence Park on Sunday night.

Thorns FC (9-7-6, 33 pts) broke the previous NWSL attendance record of 17,619 set at the team’s 2013 regular-season home finale against FC Kansas City on Aug. 4, 2013.

After limited chances in the first half, Portland broke the deadlock in the 54th minute of the match. Defender Steph Catley played a cross from the left flank as Boquete made a run into the box. The Spanish international finished with a shot in stride at the back post, tallying her fourth goal of the season. The assist was Catley’s fifth in the last six games.

Portland tallied its third consecutive clean sheet against Houston, winning all three meetings by a score of 1-0 this season. Thorns FC earned a pair of shutout victories on the road against the Dash on April 12 and May 14. Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer tallied a clean sheet in all three wins.

The shutout was the second for Portland at home this season and the first since the team’s 2-0 victory against Washington on June 15. Thorns FC allowed just five total shots in the match, the fewest by an opponent this season.

Portland and Houston combined for six shots in the first half and just one shot on goal. In the second half, Thorns FC were on the front foot with a 12-2 advantage in shots, finishing the match with a 15-5 edge. Portland tallied eight shots on goal in the match, including seven in the second half.

Thorns FC remain in the hunt for one of two remaining NWSL playoff berths. Seattle Reign FC has clinched the top seed, while FC Kansas City secured a playoff spot as well. Portland is currently in fourth place with 33 points, while the Washington Spirit sit in third place at 34 points and the Chicago Red Stars are fifth with 28 points.

Portland plays at Boston, Aug. 10, then closes out the regular season at home against Seattle, Aug. 17.

 

Concordia is a national champion

The women's soccer team beats its past for first title in four tries
Dec. 9, 2013

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - Fourth-ranked Concordia finally got the title it has longed for - women's soccer, Saturday in the NAIA tournament.

The Cavaliers snapped a three-match losing streak in the national final with a 1-0 win over No. 2 Westmont (Calif.) to claim its first-ever national crown in the 2013 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship.

With the win, the Cavaliers became the 12th program to claim a national crown in the 30-year history of the event.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling really,” said Concordia head coach Grant Landy. “I just think it was our year this year for a number of reasons. I think we had a special group and they proved it this week in Orange Beach. It was a total team effort. I know they wanted his for me, but really it was all the hard work they put into the season. They have a really special bond and it showed this week.

Prior to the match, Concordia was 0-3-0 in the championship final – its most recent trip coming in 2011 – and had been outscored 8-0. Conversely, Westmont had arguably been one of the most dominant teams in the final match, boasting a 5-0-0 record prior to tonight with banners in 1985, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Concordia dominated possession the entire match, but failed the break through until the 65th minute when Hannah Scott netted her third goal – all game-winners – of the 16-team tournament. The senior forward, who has been a terror to opposing defenses throughout the championship, took the shot from just outside the penalty area and buried it into the upper left-hand corner of the net. Scott was named the Select Sport America-NAIA Championship Outstanding Offensive Player for her effort throughout.

The Cavaliers kept the Westmont defense under siege for the entire 90 minutes, boasting a 24-4 lead in shots, including a game-high five shots by Bobbi Eckler and Ashley Ames, and a 7-1 edge in shots on goal. Concordia also held a 5-1 advantage on corner kicks.

Concordia goalkeeper Olivia Brock made one save en route to her 12th shutout of the season. The clean sheet marks the 18th time in championship final history that the match has ended in a shutout.

Concordia ends the year at 22-1-1 and improves to 26-11-3 all-time at the national championship.

Westmont, who was appearing in its sixth all-time national championship final, falls to 17-2-5 on the season and 30-7-7 all-time in 16 trips to the national championship.

Pilots fall to No. 7 SDSU on reunion Sunday

Portland rallies, only to lose 3-2 as 2002 NCAA champions get together
Oct. 7, 2012

The 23rd-ranked Portland Pilots showed some great spirit after falling behind 2-0 Sunday at Merlo Field, but eventually dropped a 3-2 decision to San Diego State in a non-conference somen's soccer match Sunday.

Amanda Frisbee and Taylor Brooke scored in the first half for Portland to rally from two early goals by the Aztecs, who entered ranked No. 7 in the nation. Frisbee's goal, which came on a penalty kick, was here team-leading seventh of the season.

San Diego State scored the game-winner in the 75th minuteand improved to 12-1-1.

Portland fell to 6-3-2, heading for a road match against West Coast Conference fow Gonzaga Thursday.

At halftime, 16 of the 19 members of the 2002 NCAA Champion team were honored at midfield as the reunited for the first time.

The Pilots play host to No. Brigham Young on Sunday, continuing its 12-game home schedule.

 

Beavers making soccer waves

Opening with four wins has the team ranked again
Aug. 31, 2012

Oregon State moved into the national rankings and then rallied for a second-straight 2-1 victory Thursday night in Fullerton, Calif.

Led by freshman Sammy Jo Prudhomme's 13 saves, the 21st-ranked Beavers beat Cal-State Fullerton, 2-1, and improved to 4-0, with a home game against UC-Irvine Sunday.

OSU headed to Calif., off victories at Portland and Portland State last week. The Beavers upset Portland just three nights after the Pilots had upset No. 4 North Carolina at home. OSU beat PSU last Friday with a pair of second-half goals after falling behind 1-0.

Jacy Drobney and Marissa Kovac scored for the Beavers, who can complete of sweep of the in-state schools Nov. 2, in their Pac-12 finale at Oregon.

 

Concordia's women carry Oregon's soccer hopes

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 4:18pm
Cliff Pfenning
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They’re ready to thaw out, the players on the Concordia women’s soccer team.

That’s what you would have gotten from their final practice before the trip to Decatur, Alabama that starts Friday.

The Cavaliers, ranked No. 1, will be chasing the university’s first national championship in a team sport when they arrive for the NAIA National Championship tournament at the Jack Allen Recreation Complex.

Concordia, 19-0-2, plays Hastings, Neb. College, Monday in the 16-team tournament. No. 2 Lee University of Cleveland, Tenn., plays Monday as well.

The Cavaliers won’t meet Lee until the final if the two continue to win. If it happens, it’ll be the third straight year the teams will have met either in the final or the semifinal. Lee won both, in the final two years ago and the semifinals last year.

The wins have put that school on another level in women’s soccer.

The Lee roster includes an international cast with two freshmen from South Africa, and one each from England, Scotland, Denmark and Norway.

Katrine Korsgaard, the freshman from Denmark, scored two goals Saturday, and two other international players also started Saturday.

The team’s top player, though, Jamie Achten, is a junior from Franklin, Tenn.

Concordia’s answer to their Southern/international rival is a roster of West Coast players led by senior midfielder Kaitlyn Tebbs, from Bend High, and Alex Thomas, from Camas, Wash. None of Concordia’s players are from towns East of the Rockies.

Tebbs scored 11 goals and dished out eight assists, while Thomas has eight goals and four assists. In 21 games, the Cavs have scored 55 goals.

The team’s real strength, though, is defense, having given up just five goals all season. Opposing teams converted just five of 60 shots on goal against goalkeeper Tori Talbutt and Marie Burn, and had a combined 27 corner kicks.

Lee plays conference rival Mobile, it the beat just 2-1 two weeks ago, in its first game in Decatur.

Azusa Pacific, which handed Lee one of its two losses back in September, is also in the Lee half of the 16-team bracket. Lee’s side has five teams with two or fewer losses.

On Concordia’s side, there’s just one team with fewer than three losses: William Jewell of Missouri, and it gave up four goals in an 8-4 win Saturday. Martin-Methodist of Tennessee, which has won two titles in the past five years, is in Concordia’s side.

Those facts are just meaningless points of interest, though, especially for a team that needed to rally from behind to win its first-round playoff game, 2-1, against Simon Fraser Saturday.

They won’t just have the opposition to worry about, but the rain and mud, something with came up as a big factor from last year’s drive to the semifinals.

 

 

Ah, those crummy stats

Mon, 11/15/2010 - 3:20pm
Cliff Pfenning
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As soon as the match reached the shootout, it had the feeling of disappointment, especially with that one, big glaring stat on the scoreboard – shots.

Portland 27, Washington 6.

And they weren’t just shots from Portland, but a lot of really good shots, forcing Washington’s keeper, Jorde Lafontaine-Kussman, to make a number of spectacular saves – 13 in all during the match.

So, Washington entered the shootout with a hot goalkeeper with nothing to lose as the host Pilots were a big favorite playing on their home turf Sunday in the second round of the  NCAA women's soccer playoffs.

Ugh, that scoreboard.

The Huskies were superb throughout the shootout, hitting near the posts on either side for all 11 rounds, missing only once wide to the left. Lafontaine-Kussman stopped one – hit directly in the middle of the goalmouth and got a hand on another to her left. The Pilot seemed to fear going all the way to the post, where any goalkeeper cannot make a save, but they only did that about half the shots.

As the rounds kept moving along, five, then six, then seven, eight, and the Huskies kept hitting just inside the post, the pressure just kept building, with that miss just waiting to happen. Then, in round 11, it did. Season over.

The Pilots have an exceptional group of underclass players, so they’ll be strong again next year, but that’s a season too late for the current group of seniors. They’ll be remembering the pressure of the shootout and that stat on the scoreboard – so many chances that didn’t did get fulfilled. Now they’re program alums.

 

Sportsland, Oregon: 11/8/2010

Fri, 11/12/2010 - 1:55am
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Back after an extended break, Los and the gang start off a packed show by remembering the great Maurice Lucas on the day of his memorial.  They also delve into the Oregon Ducks National Championship chances, the Portland Pilots Women's Soccer National Championship chances, the Blazers' start to the season, and some NFL talk.  Check it out at blogtalkradio.com/oregonsportsradio, sportslandoregon.blogspot.com, or in the nifty player on the right.

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