This week we update some news on the National Team Players Association as it continues negotiations with U.S. Soccer for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, present the U.S. National Team training camp roster ahead of next month's SheBelieve's Cup Tournament in the Northeastern U.S. with England, France and Germany, review the NWSL's new television agreement and last week's Canada-Mexico friendly.
U.S. Women's National Team Players Association Makes Changes in their Lead Negotiators with U.S. Soccer
The U.S. Women's National Team Players Association has elected Megan Klingenberg, Christen Press, and Becky Sauerbrunn as player representatives who will play a lead role in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations with U.S. Soccer. The three replace Carli Lloyd—who did not want to continue as a lead—and Hope Solo, who was suspended from national team activity last fall for six months by U.S. Soccer. Sam Mewis, Alex Morgan, Kelley O'Hara, and Megan Rapinoe will also be on the negotiation committee. The moves, along with the change from Players Association chief lawyer Rich Nichols last December, send a more positive, less confrontation message to U.S. Soccer as the two parties proceed to develop a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The players are operating under the previous agreement and both sides could cancel it with 60 days notice, but the fact that neither has is a another good sign, after some contentious messages last year—particularly from Solo—as well as some threats to strike posited by Nichols.
Megan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns) said in a release last week: “We are more unified and stronger than ever before. This new leadership structure makes the USWNTPA, a best-in class players association, reflecting the mission and goals of the USWNTPA, including empowering and protecting its members while inspiring the next generation of players." Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars) added: “We look forward to our discussions with the federation regarding a new CBA and the future of the women's national team. We believe there is a way for both parties to win, and in doing so, create a sense of new partnership going forward. We are committed to a thoughtful approach and are hopeful that USSF will work with us to create a fair future for the USWNT that emphasizes respect, equitable compensation, and partnership." Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City) added: “We felt really strongly that we wanted to reset the tone of the negotiations, and so we wanted to expand the leadership of the players association that would reflect what the P.A. wants and what our goals are."
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said that he has noticed that the tone of discussions had changed once Nichols left and he is optimistic that a new agreement with the players will be concluded before NWSL starts in mid-April. One point of contention is that the men's national team players work with a much higher compensation structure while on national team duty and for tournaments, but the national team women's players earn a fixed annual salary—part of which is allocated for NWSL play.
U.S. National Team Camp Roster ahead of the SheBelieves Cup
The U.S. Women's National team has called 25 players into camp—beginning February 20 in Orlando—ahead of next month's SheBelieve's Cup with England, France and Germany again participating in the tournament's second edition. All of the U.S. players are NWSL based except for Crystal Dunn (Chelsea) and Alex Morgan (Olympique Lyon), Mallory Pugh (UCLA) and high schooler Brianna Pinto (16-years-old), who played with the U.S. U-17's in last summer's World Cup in Jordan, in which the U.S. did not advance from its first round group behind finalists Japan and Ghana.
There are four uncapped players on the roster: goalkeeper Jane Campbell and midfielders Sarah Killion (Sky Blue FC), Rose Lavelle and Pinto. Lavelle was the #1 pick in the 2016 NWSL Draft by the Boston Breakers while Campbell was taken 15th overall in the second round by the Houston Dash. Killion was part of the squad that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, along with Julie Johnston, Samantha Mewis and Dunn.
The Tournament begins in Philadelphia on March 1 with England playing France and the Americans taking on defending Olympic Champions Germany.
U.S. Women's National Team Roster by Position -
Jane Campbell (Houston Dash)
Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride)
Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)
Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars)
Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC)
Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride)
Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC)
Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars)
Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
Morgan Brian (Houston Dash)
Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC)
Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC)
Sarah Killion (Sky Blue FC)
Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers)
Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash)
Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC)
Samantha Mewis (NC Courage)
Brianna Pinto (CASL)
NWSL Television/Investment Deal with A+E
The NWSL—run by U.S. Soccer—last week announced a new television deal with the A+ E (Arts and Entertainment) network. Not only will NWSL games air weekly on A+E's Lifetime network, but the NWSL and A+E have also teamed up on the creation of a commercial venture—NWSL Media—and A+E will have an equity stake in the fifth-year league, with two members appointed to the NWSL Governing Board. NWSL will televise a regular season game on Lifetime every week as well as the three playoff games, which is at least six times as often compared with just three regular season games aired on Fox Sports 1 (along with the three playoff games) last season. Lifetime, with over 96 million homes, will provide a broad reach for the league. Traditionally Lifetime is known for more reality-based programming such as Dance Moms and Project Runway—though they once carried the Women's National Basketball Association—the network feels that the joint venture between A+E and the N.W.S.L. to manage and market the league's commercial rights and sponsorships may be as important as the televised games. That venture, NWSL Media, will handle all of the league's digital assets, including a redesigned league website; enhanced statistics and live-streaming capabilities; apps for mobile platforms; and control of the league's social media channels. “We're not in the game-of-the-week business, necessarily—we're investing in the N.W.S.L.," Nancy Dubuc, the chief executive of A&E Networks, said. “Broadcasting games is one part of that. But we're motivated to make this successful on every platform."
NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plus was asked “Is it nontraditional?" in partnering with a network not known for sports programming. “I don't actually think so. When you think about what Lifetime stands for on a daily basis, about empowering young women, that is exactly what our league is about."
As a long-time follower of women's professional soccer leagues in the United States, this reporter feels that this broadcasting arrangement is a very good move for the NWSL. The league should receive more of a priority from A + E/Lifetime in promotional support than from a traditional sports network; Lifetime is also much different from the PAX Network which broadcast the WUSA in its second year in 2002, which had a tiny cable presence combined with a weekly spot competing against MLS games, which was effectively useless for the promotion of the league.
Canada Defeats Mexico 3-2 in Olympic Bronze Medal Celebration Match
On February 4th at B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver B.C—the home of the 2015 Women's World Cup Final match—Janine Beckie (Houston Dash) scored a brace and 17-year-old Deanne Rose scored once as Canada defeated Mexico 3-2 in their 2016 Rio Olympic Bronze Medal Celebration Match. The game, played in front of 22,508 fans, was the Canadian National Team's first home game since last summer's Olympic Games. Nancy Antonio (based in Mexico) and Katie Johnson (U.S. born who won a NCAA Championship with the University of Southern California last fall and was drafted last month by the Seattle Reign) scored for Mexico. The Canadian National Team also used the match to recognize long-time national team players Melissa Tancredi, Rhian Wilkinson, and Marie-Eve Nault, who are all retiring from national team play. Forward Tancredi scored 27 goals in 125 caps and started on the bench before coming on in the 76th minute. Tancredi scored twice in Canada's famous 2-1 first round victory over Germany at Rio 2016, the country's first-ever win against the European powerhouse. Nault, a defender, started against Mexico to win a 71st cap. The 34-year-old was an alternate in Rio 2016, but played on the 2012 Bronze Medal team after being called into the side from the alternate list. Wilkinson, also a defender, started the game on the bench, but came on as substitute in the 57th minute to win her 181st cap. The 34-year-old made her debut for Canada in 2003. The roster for Canada Soccer's Women's National Team training camp ahead of the match against Mexico included 19 of the 21 players who traveled to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and seven young additions. Defenders Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence were unavailable for the match due to club commitments with their French sides—Olympique Lyon and Paris St. Germain, respectively.
Carle, Sheridan, Nault were all alternates last summer in Rio while Levasseur has been capped at the national team level while Agnew, Cathro, Huitema, Lamontagne, Stratigakis and Taylor were all awaiting their first cap, but have youth national team experience. Stratigakis started and played 72 minutes against Mexico in the 3-2 win.
Canada Soccer Women's National Team February Camp Roster (in alphabetical order) -
Lindsay Agnew, age 21, from Kingston, ON/ Washington Spirit (NWSL)
Janine Beckie, age 22, from Highlands Ranch, CO/ Houston Dash (NWSL)
Josée Bélanger, age 30, from Coaticook, QC/ UQAM
Gabrielle Carle, age 18, from Lévis, QC/ CS Lévis-Est & Québec Soccer REX
Ashley Cathro, age 16, from Victoria, BC/Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite BC Soccer Rex
Allysha Chapman, age 28, from Courtice, ON/ Boston Breakers (NWSL)
Sabrina D'Angelo, age 23, from Welland, ON/ North Carolina Courage (NWSL)
Jessie Fleming, age 18, from London, ON/ UCLA (NCAA)
Jordyn Huitema, age 15, from Chilliwack, BC/ Vancouver Whitecaps FC Girls Elite BC Soccer REX
Stephanie Labbé, age 30, from Edmonton, AB/ Washington Spirit (NWSL)
Alex Lamontagne, age 20, from Whitby, ON/ Durham United FC (League1 Ontario)
Marie Levasseur, age 19, from Stoneham, QC/ University of Memphis (NCAA)
Diana Matheson, age 32, from Oakville, ON/ Seattle Reign (NWSL)
Marie-Ève Nault, age 34, from Trois-Rivières, QC
Nichelle Prince, age 21, from Ajax, ON/ Houston Dash (NWSL)
Deanne Rose, age 17, from Alliston, ON/ Scarborough GS United (League 1 Ontario)
Rebecca Quinn, age 21, from Toronto, ON/ Duke University (NCAA)
Sophie Schmidt, age 28, from Abbottsford, BC/ FFC Frankfurt (Bundesliga)
Desiree Scott, age 29, from Winnipeg, MB/ FC Kansas City (NWSL)
Kailen Sheridan, age 21, from Whitby, ON/ Sky Blue FC (NWSL)
Christine Sinclair, age 33, from Burnaby, BC/ Portland Thorns FC (NWSL)
Sarah Stratigakis, age 17, from Woodbridge, ON/ Aurora United FC (League1 Ontario)
Melissa Tancredi, age 34, from Ancaster, ON
Hannah Taylor, age 17, from Edmonds, WA/ Eastside FC
Rhian Wilkinson, age 34, from Baie d'Urfé, QC
Shelina Zadorsky, age 23, from London, ON/ Washington Spirit (NWSL)
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribalfootball. His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey
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