Jun 29, 2010

Pia Sundhage calls on three Washington Freedom Players

The United States Women’s National Soccer Team head coach has called up three players from the Washington Freedom to play in two upcoming international matches versus Sweden next month. The U.S. will be hosting Sweden on July 13 in Omaha, Nebraska and July 17 in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Freedom players selected are midfielder Sarah Huffman and Allie Long as well as forward Abby Wambach. The complete list of players selected by Coach Pia Sundage can be found here: U.S. Women’s Roster.

The Women’s National Team is preparing for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup to be played in Germany 2011 (June 26 – July 17). There have been five Women’s World Cup tournaments (China – 1991 & 2007, Sweden - 1995, and U.S.A – 1999 & 2003) with the U.S. winning twice and finishing 3rd their other three appearances. The most recent FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking the Americans held the #1 spot, followed by #2 Germany (host country), and #3 Brazil.

(photos property of: Howard C. Smith | isiphotos.net)

Just because the U.S. Men’s team was eliminated doesn’t mean you will have to wait four more years to see America have a chance to win a World Cup. Come out to a Washington Freedom game to support Huffman, Long, and Wamback as they compete in the WPS against the world’s best female soccer players including: Brazil - Marta (FC Gold Pride) Formiga & Cristiane (Chicago Red Stars), France - Sonia Bompastor (Washington Freedom), Camille Abily (FC Gold Pride), Germany - Shelley Thompson (Atlanta Beat), Japan - Homare Sawa (Washington Freedom), England - Eniola Aluko (Atlanta Beat), and of course many more who will be competing in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.

Jun 25, 2010

Interview with Yael Averbuch of Sky Blue FC (WPS) and U.S. National Team

Yael Averbuch
(photo property of Sky Blue FC)

In January of 2010 at the NSCAA Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, I attended the women in soccer breakfast where I had the chance to hear an amazing speech about the importance of focusing on the journey of success and not merely the end result. The speech was given by Yael Averbuch who plays for Sky Blue FC (WPS) and the U.S. Women's National Team and can be read in its entirety here.

6/24/2010 - Today Virginia Online Soccer News is lucky enough to be able to interview Yael and follow up with her about where her journey has taken her since that inspiring speech.

VASoccerNews: Thank you for taking the time to respond to our interview since I am sure you must be extremely busy in the middle of the WPS 2010 season with Sky Blue FC.

Yael Averbuch: Yes, the season is busy, but I always love talking about soccer and WPS, so I’m excited to be able to answer some questions.

VSN: Speaking of the WPS season how is your second season with Sky Blue FC going personally and as a team?

Yael Averbuch: This season is very different from last season so far. Everything with Sky Blue FC was new last year. No one, including myself, knew what to expect in terms of facilities, level of play, training, and how it would all turn out. Personally, I am a lot more confident on the field this year. I know what to expect and have had a lot of game experience now, which has helped me to make more of an impact for Sky Blue FC. Every season has its ups and downs, but as a team Sky Blue FC has a much better perspective this year. Having been in last place for a while last season and coming back to win the Championship, we are much more able to keep things in perspective this year and learn from each win or loss along the way.

VSN: When you began playing soccer at age 7 did you ever imagine having the opportunity to play professional soccer in the United States and better yet for your home team?

Yael Averbuch: I could not have dreamed of a more perfect situation than I have right now. When I started playing soccer there was no professional league. It was perfect timing when WPS started up right after my college eligibility was finished, and to be drafted to New Jersey (my home state) made me incredibly happy.

VSN: Recently my daughter and I attended a local WPS Washington Freedom game where she was able to meet players and get there autographs, do you enjoy the fact that the WPS is so good at promoting fan interaction?

Yael Averbuch: I think fan interaction is essential to WPS. Our goal as players is not only to provide entertainment to our fan base and to build that base, but to ensure that those young girls in the stands will have a place to play if that’s what they dream of. Without our fans, the league could not exist. We want to be as available as possible to our fans and I always enjoy meeting fans, taking photos, and signing autographs.

VSN: Many athletes in the past have said they should not be seen as role models, how do you feel about having young girls look up to you as a role model, especially those young girls who play soccer and would like to play in the WPS someday?

Yael Averbuch: I believe that all the women in WPS are great role models and SHOULD be seen as that. I can remember watching the Women’s National Team and WUSA games as a young girl, and wanting to be just like those women. For a young girl to dream of playing soccer professionally, they must see us, see our effort on the field, see our skill, and see the way in which we handle ourselves off the field. It is so important that they realize that we are all smart, talented, driven women, and that they are capable of being the same.

VSN: Recently the St. Louis Atletica WPS team stopped operations, what impact has this had so far on the WPS season?

Yael Averbuch: Thankfully, WPS franchises are owned independently, so the biggest impact has been merely scheduling changes. The league has done a very good job of making minimal changes to the schedule, and many of the players from St. Louis have been picked up by other teams. Sky Blue FC was lucky enough to add Kendall Fletcher (a teammate of mine from UNC) to our roster.

VSN: The U.S. Woman’s National team has always been known to be at the top of the list in woman’s national soccer. How much of an asset is having the ability to play in competitive leagues (WPS) against other top international players to prepare for the U.S. Women’s National team for tournaments and more importantly the upcoming 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany?

Yael Averbuch: I think that the experience many American women have gained playing WPS has been very beneficial. Not only does the league provide an environment for weekly high level competition, but it has allowed us to learn from the international players. Each team is allowed five international players, and I’ve noticed that each country represented brings a slightly different style and sophistication about the game. It is great to be able to play with and against these players, and it is great preparation for the U.S. team.

VSN: What are your short term professional goals as a player?

Yael Averbuch: I want to score my first WPS goal!

VSN: Where do you see yourself five years after you have finished your playing career? Do you imagine you may get into coaching and if so at which level (i.e. youth, High School, College, or Professional)?

Yael Averbuch: I want to start a development academy. My vision is to train individuals and small groups, focusing more on the technical aspects of the game.

VSN: Finally, with regards to the “Journey” soccer has brought you over your lifetime and career, what new obstacles have you faced since delivering your speech at the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia? What opportunities have come your way since then? Will there ever be a pinnacle in your soccer Journey where you will finally say “I made it”?

Yael Averbuch: Wow, I could write a whole essay answering this question, but I’ll start by saying that I’m fairly certain I will never say, “I made it.” I truly believe that this journey has no destination, but instead is a continual learning process, which provides me with incredible joy and passion. The more I play, the more I see that every player—no matter how much they have achieved—goes through the same ups and downs. Since my speech, I have gone through periods of low confidence, been sick and had to miss a game, struggled with being subbed out when I didn’t feel I should have…I am thankful to say that none of these obstacles have been gigantic, but they are unavoidable within the process. And the positive opportunities that have come my way have far outweighed any hard times. I have gotten five more caps with the National Team, traveled to Portugal to play, earned a starting spot for Sky Blue FC, and had the chance to play and train with a wonderful collection of people who I learn from every day. Some times it is hard and I get frustrated, disappointed, cry, scream. But this process allows me to wake up every day excited and it inspires me to be the best person I can be. So maybe, in truth, I can already say “I made it.”

VSN: Thanks to Yael Averbuch for and taking time in her extremely busy schedule to answer our questions. Best of luck on your continued success.

Yael Averbuch: Thank YOU!

Jun 24, 2010

What Ever Happened To The Most Famous Bra in Soccer?

By Chris Wimmer 

In the wake of one of the most important goals in U.S. Soccer history by Landon Donovan with his extra-time game winning goal many people are reminded of another (possibly most memorable) goal for U.S. Soccer's past. None other than Brandi Chastain's 1999 Women's World Cup game winning penalty kick.

Well have you ever wondered what happened to the notorious sports bra worn by Brandi during this defining moment in U.S. Soccer? Check out the video posted by Brandi Chastain herself:

Jun 21, 2010

How Controversial Call Might Actually Help U.S. Soccer and Future FIFA Matches.

Unless you are from another planet (some might say Koman Coulibaly IS) you have heard about and seen or not seen for that matter, the controversial call that most likely cost the U.S. Men's national team 3 points for the win versus Slovenia last Friday and maybe even a chance to advance to the next round in the World Cup.

Of course many U.S. soccer supporters may possibly never get over this call by Coulibaly and rightfully so since it was a complete disgrace to both soccer and competitive sports in general. But it got me thinking, is it possible that there may be some positive side effects caused by his critical error and subsequent media storm?

Jun 17, 2010

Traditional vs. new media – Will women’s sports ever get equal coverage?

Very interesting article discussing the lack of coverage of women’s sports is lower than ever in 2009.
Traditional vs. New Media; Will Women's Sports ever get Equal Coverage?. The article is posted by Amanda Vandervort of Soccer Science.

Soccer Science,
The Neurotic Genius of Soccer in the Digital Age, takes a look at the technologies that are revolutionizing the way we see the beautiful game, from the personal perspective of Amanda Vandervort – former college coach, web geek and fan of professional soccer.

Do you feel the discrepancy in coverage is acceptable?

Annoying World Cup Horns -- The Silver Lining

This is a great story to tell all those people complaining about the "anoying" vuvuzelas. Not to mention that TMZ is possibly the last place I would expect to see a story relating to soccer.

Annoying World Cup Horns -- The Silver Lining

Bye the way, what side of the VUVUZELA arguement are you on?

Shopping at SOCCER.COM Helps Your Club

Jun 15, 2010

Has Youth Soccer in America Left Behind the Inner City?

By Chris Wimmer 

I recently came across an old article posted back in 2007 on http://www.davesfootballblog.com/  titled Celtic to Boost Inner City Football.

It made me think that little has changed with regards to soccer being viewed as a "suburban kids" game. Is this due to a lack of interest of soccer in the inner cities of America or the high cost of participating in competitive youth soccer leagues? As a parent of a "travel soccer" player, I can attest to the extremely high cost of participating on a quality youth soccer team.

Along with the cost of being part on a quality team is the added cost of equipment. Add to that camps in the summer and during the season (to stay ahead of the competition) and individual training (position oriented, i.e. Goalkeeper, Striker, etc.). Not to mention cost associated with traveling out of town a few times per year for tournaments. Don't get me wrong, I don’t mind doing this for my daughter or other children in the future if they chose to follow in her footsteps. In fact, I feel it is my responsibility to provide my children with all possible opportunities to succeed at any and all activities they are involved in. This seems to be the same mentality shared by many "suburban" American parents that I know.

This all leads me to the question my daughter asked this past weekend while we attended a professional women's soccer match, "Why are most of the players Caucasian?” Great question. I tried my best to explore with her the possible reasons for this mostly Caucasian ratio only to end up with more questions myself. Why is this case? Is this more prevalent in women's soccer than men's? Are inner city youth not afforded the same opportunity to experience soccer due to the high cost to participate? Is this another example of the growing separation of classes in America? And finally, what could or should be done about this because surely there are just as many quality soccer players in the inner city as there are in the suburbs.

What is your opinion? Do you see this changing any time soon? What can we as coaches and soccer fans to change this?

D.C. United & Habitat for Humanity - Build Days Event


The Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. mission is:
to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness in the nation's capital by building affordable, energy- and resource-efficient homes for people in need.

They are teaming up with D.C. United, and MLS WORKS and are hosting a series of Build Day events during the month of July. You can help by participating as a volunteer or sending a donation. Volunteer spots are limited, so hurry and volunteer today!


Jun 14, 2010

106.7 The Fan shows support @ Washington Freedom

This past Saturday my daughter and I had the TOTAL soccer experience.  For anyone who says Americans do not care about or support soccer, I wish you could have been at the SoccerPlex in Maryland on June 12.

Not only did we get to watch the first USA vs England World Cup match since the huge upset of team USA over the highly favored British team that was 60 years in the making, we also received V.I.P. treatment from Jaclyn Benjamin of the Washington Freedom.

Jun 8, 2010

How to Choose a College!

(reprinted with permission of the author) Todd Hoffard, Founder, www.oneononesoccer.com

This is a question that I get asked A LOT! What is the best way to choose a college for my son or daughter and what are we looking for? Well, I am going to map it out to you in 10 simple steps (although there are certainly a lot more thank 10 things, but this is a good start). The hard part is that you are the ones that actually have to follow through with them. Here they are in order:

Jun 6, 2010

The Beautiful Game, not always so Beautiful at the Youth Travel Level!

By Chris Wimmer

You've surely seen this unfold on a local soccer field near you.  You head over to your kids soccer game prepared to see how much skill and technique your player has earned from all their hard spent hours at practice and not to mention your money and precious free time, only to have to see a game against "that team" or a team with with "that player".

Jun 2, 2010

Concussion in Sports - What You Need to Know

(image property of: http://www.laurafreberg.com/)

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released a FREE online course through there website, the course titled:Concussion in Sports - What You Need to Know, is given the following description on the NFHS site:
Sports-related concussion in high school sports can be serious or even lift-threatening situations if not managed correctly. National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have teamed up to provide information and resources to help educate coaches, officials, parents and students on the importance of proper concussion recognition and management in high school sports. Mick Koester M.D., ATC, Chair of the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and Director of the Slocum Sports Concussion in Eugene, Oregon takes you through this course. In this course you will understand the impact sports-related concussion can have on your players, how to recognize a suspected concussion, the proper protocols to manage a suspected concussion, and steps to help your player return to play safely after experiencing a concussion.