Sweden

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Culture shift? Tournament of Nations has three female coaches

1 Comment

An ongoing shift in women’s soccer has been apparent at the Tournament of Nations – not on the field but on the sidelines.

Three of the four teams participating in the international event have female coaches, a rare majority in soccer.

A year ago, the two teams playing for the gold medal at the Rio Olympics were both led by women, Sweden’s Pia Sundhage and Germany’s Silvia Neid. And Jill Ellis led the U.S. national team to the Women’s World Cup title in Canada the year before.

[ MORE: Latest Neymar news ]

Ellis and others in the sport believe that recent events show women are making important and necessary gains in soccer – but there’s more work to be done.

“I think it’s forward-thinking federations that are about hiring competent coaches but also willing to provide opportunities,” Ellis said. “I know we’ve recently hired technical advisers for our academies and they’re all female and I think that’s great. We’ve got to have more coaches out there and more role models for young coaches. I think it’s great.”

The inaugural Tournament of Nations concludes on Thursday night in Carson, California. The U.S. women rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Brazil 4-3 on Sunday in San Diego and will face Japan in the tournament’s final match.

U.S. Soccer hopes to host the tournament each summer that there isn’t a World Cup or Olympic competition. In addition to Ellis, Emily Lima is the new coach for Brazil and Asako Takakura manages Japan. The only male coach in the event is Australia’s Alen Stajcic.

Lima and Takakura are former players who are relatively new to their teams: Lima took over Brazil last fall following the Olympics and Takakura was appointed after Japan failed to make the field for Rio. Both are the first female coaches for their teams.

Another sign of a possible culture shift in the sport: Five of the top 10 teams in FIFA’s world rankings are coached by women.

The trend has not been lost on Moya Dodd, a former Australian national team standout and vice president of the Asian Football Confederation who has been a vocal advocate for women’s soccer.

“When given the opportunity, women coaches are phenomenally successful. All but one of the World Cups, Olympic golds and Euros in women’s football since 2000 have been won by female-coached teams,” Dodd said, adding that’s 11 of 12 tournaments at the sport’s highest level.

[ MORE: Liverpool’s potential UCL playoff opponents ]

However, Dodd said any shift is far less apparent below the senior national team level and at the club level, where female coaches are scarcer.

For example, among the 10 National Women’s Soccer League teams, there’s just one female head coach: Laura Harvey of the Seattle Reign.

Dodd also points to the NCAA, where the number of women coaches has dropped. A recent study of women’s collegiate teams by the University of Minnesota gave soccer a “D” grade with just 26.2 percent of teams with female coaches in 2016-17, a drop from the previous season.

“In the U.S.A., the percentage of female college athletes coached by women has halved since Title IX was introduced. It seems that women face barriers that grow higher as women’s sports become bigger,” Dodd said.

In an email exchange with The Associated Press, Dodd added that she sees unconscious bias as one of the biggest obstacles women much overcome.

“The characteristics that are seen as assets in a male coach – being tough, having strong opinions, or yelling at players (like Alex Ferguson’s famous `hairdryer’ treatment) would characterize a woman as difficult, emotional or hysterical,” she wrote. “Yet if she is motherly and caring, she doesn’t fit the definition of a coach. In other words, gender stereotypes work against her at both ends.”

At the UEFA Women’s European Championship, there are six women coaches among the 16 teams that took part. Of the four teams playing in Thursday’s semifinals – England, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria – one has a female head coach, Sarina Wiegman (Netherlands).

The women’s Euros are played every four years as the premier competition in the UEFA Confederation. In the last edition, four of the 12 teams were coached by women.

Japan’s Takakura gave added perspective when it comes to female coaches: they should be treated the same as men.

“From my point of view I think it’s good news to have female coaches,” she said through a translator. “But as a coach the gender doesn’t really matter; it doesn’t matter if it’s a he or a she. As a coach, you have to educate and develop your players.”

Manchester United unveils Swedish center back Lindelof

@ManUtd
2 Comments

Zlatan Ibrahimovic said countryman Victor Lindelof was “ready for the big clubs” when the defender was first linked with Manchester United in late December.

More than a half-year later, Lindelof is trading red shirts. The 22-year-old center back is leaving Benfica for Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Southampton fires Puel ]

Lindelof has 12 caps and a goal for Sweden, and played 47 matches as Benfica won the Portuguese Primera Liga and advanced to the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

The reported fee has been $39 million with the potential to rise as high as $50 million. Here’s Jose Mourinho, from ManUtd.com:

“Victor is a very talented young player, who has a great future ahead of him at United. Our season last year showed us that we need options and quality to add depth to the squad and Victor is the first to join us this summer. I know that our fantastic group of players will welcome him as one of us.”

Lindelof played every minute of Benfica’s UCL run, and also has experience at defensive mid and right back. He’ll fight to fit into United’s lineup alongside Eric Bailly.

UEFA WCQ roundup: Sweden defeats France; Ronaldo, Portugal cruise

Twitter/@MirrorFootball
Leave a comment

Tensions are high as World Cup qualifying continues throughout Europe and the rest of the world but on Friday it was UEFA’s turn to see which teams would draw closer to Russia 2018.

[ MORE: Giroud scores outrageous volley in France’s draw with Sweden ]

In Group A, Sweden had the day they hoped for a critical win over France at Friends Arena, moving the nation to the top of Group A. Hugo Lloris‘ late blunder cost Les Bleus a share of the points and handed the Swedes a 2-1 win. Things went the way of the Netherlands as the Oranje picked up a decisive 5-0 win at home against Luxembourg, propelling them to third play.

Meanwhile, Belarus pulled off an upset against Bulgaria, which was a great chance missed by the latter to move up in the table.

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to put the entire world on notice after netting a brace for Portugal on Friday in their 3-0 win over Latvia. Ronaldo and Co. remain second though in Group B after Switzerland kept its perfect record alive with a comfortable victory against the Faroe Islands.

Belgium and Greece both remain unbeaten in Group H with four matches left in qualifying, and after Friday’s win the Red Devils have pulled very close to reaching next summer’s World Cup after earning their fifth win.

Here are all the results from Friday’s UEFA World Cup qualifying action.

Group A

Belarus 2-1 Bulgaria
Netherlands 5-0 Luxembourg
Sweden 2-1 France

Group B

Andorra 1-0 Hungary
Faroe Islands 0-2 Switzerland
Latvia 0-3 Portugal

Group H

Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-0 Greece
Estonia 0-2 Belgium
Gibraltar 1-2 Cyprus

Video: Giroud scores outrageous volley against Sweden

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olivier Giroud has shown that he can be a top-quality striker when the mood hits him, and he certainly found that quality on Friday.

The Arsenal goalscorer gave France a 1-0 lead over Sweden in the first half of their UEFA World Cup qualifying match at Friends Arena after netting a curling, outside-the-boot volley that would have any soccer fan speechless.

Unfortunately for the Swedes, Dimitri Payet‘s initial cross wasn’t dealt with in an orderly fashion, allowing the ball to drop at the feet of Giroud, who buried his attempt majestically.

Sweden did get the match back on level terms though before halftime when Jimmy Durmaz tied it at 1-1 two minutes before the break.

USWNT scores in 2nd half, beat Sweden 1-0 in road friendly

Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rose Lavelle scored in the second half, lifting the U.S. women to a 1-0 victory over Sweden in a friendly on Thursday night.

A perfectly timed run from the midfield by Crystal Dunn led to a through-ball for Lavelle inside the 18-yard box. Lavelle, 22, calmly put it home in the 56th minute for her second international goal in her fifth international appearance.

“I pulled out wide, Crystal popped in that pocket, and Crystal was running out the backline and laid an awesome ball to me and I hit it with my right foot,” Lavelle said of the goal. “When I got the ball, I was debating should I play it across the face of the goal or should I shoot it. I decided to be a little selfish.

“It was a good choice this time.”

[ MORE: Iniesta to NYCFC? ]

Earlier, Dunn had a semi-breakaway, but her shot was saved by Hilda Carlen.

In the match at Goteborg, Sweden, Alyssa Naeher got the shutout, with lots of help from Allie Long. Sweden had a dangerous chance in the 44th minute when Caroline Seger got free in the box. Her shot from the left side of the penalty area looked to be going wide before it was blocked by Long. The ball bounced over sliding goalkeeper Naeher, but Long recovered to sweep the ball off goal line.

“It feels good coming in, getting a game against a good opponent,” Naeher said. “I am happy with it.”

The United States is 21-6-11 against Sweden, including 3-0-0 in Sweden.

“To travel this far and get a result, sometimes those games you dominate and some you don’t,” coach Jill Ellis said. “And sometimes you just have to find a way to win, and I think we did that tonight.

“A lot of great lessons.”

The women will play Norway on Sunday to finish their two-game trip.