When U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati announced the start of a new eight-team women’s professional soccer league, he conceded most of the details were still being worked out. Markets, scheduling, and some particulars on player funding and allocation were discussed, but most of the nitty-gritty about how the thing would be run was left unaddressed. The league didn’t even have a name.
But as of yesterday, we at least have one name to put to the league. Cheryl Bailey, who had previously served as general manager of the U.S. Women’s National Team, was named the league’s executive director.
From U.S. Soccer’s announcement:
Bailey served as General Manager of the U.S. Women’s National Team for five years from 2007 through 2011. A long-time athletics administrator who led the support staff for the U.S. team during the 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cups and the 2008 Olympics, she was in charge of all areas of Women’s National Team administration including team travel, payroll, liaising with clubs, and working with FIFA, CONCACAF and other Federations.
“Cheryl was a highly regarded employee for U.S. Soccer during her time with the Women’s National Team and she has the perfect skill set and experience to help get this league up and running,” said Gulati. “Cheryl was one of the many pioneers for intercollegiate women’s athletics and was immersed in the inner works of elite women’s soccer for five years. We’re excited to have her on board.”
“It was a wonderful experience to be a part of the Women’s National Team for five years and see first-hand the impact that women’s soccer players can have as role models,” said Bailey. “The new league is another extension of that and a vitally important part of the continued growth of the sport in the United States. I am dedicated to ensuring that this league is set up with the best possible business model that emphasizes sustainability above all else while giving players a competitive environment in which to play and creating something special for young girls to aspire to.”
What else do we know about Bailey? Parsing through U.S. Soccer’s statement:
- She is the former Athletic Director at Denison University (Ohio).
- There she served as an assistant professor, teaching History of Sports, Psychology/Sociology of Sports, Ethics of Sports, Lifetime skills & Activity Classes.
- She also served as Senior Associate Athletic Director and the Senior Woman Administrator at the University of Wisconsin for 15 years.
- She had stints as the chairs of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and the Women’s Soccer Committee.
Now we know who’ll run the dang thang. Next up, a name (unless “dang thang” works for you).
Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.
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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”
Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:
“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.
“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.
Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.
[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]
Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.
Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)
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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.
That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.
One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.
[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]
Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.
Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.