Alex Morgan

Lewandowski wins but FIFA’s Best baffles; USWNT’s Lloyd, Morgan honored


FIFA has not followed suit with France Football In announcing its top men’s player of the year 2021.

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has pipped Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi to FIFA’s Best honor, going back-to-back and joining Cristiano Ronaldo as the only players to twice win the nascent honor.

[ MORE: Reyna unlikely to be fit for USMNT duty ]

The Best FIFA Men’s Player was awarded to Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017 before Luka Modric and Lionel Messi won it

Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas claimed the women’s top honors, as she did in the Ballon d’Or voting.

Edouard Mendy won Best Men’s Goalkeeper honors while his Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel as Best Men’s Coach. Chilean backstop Christiane Endler of PSG and Chelsea manager Emma Hayes were also honored as best on the women’s side.

Salah finalist for Best, but not in Best XI

There is controversy in the men’s Best XI as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah was not included despite being one of three players nominated for Best Men’s Player. Cristiano Ronaldo was instead included, as was Erling Haaland, as a group of four forwards included Lewandowski and Messi.

Ronaldo was honored with a career achievement award but apparently, that wasn’t enough.

The midfield was all-Premier League, as Man City’s Kevin De Bruyne was joined by Chelsea duo Jorginho and N’Golo Kante.

Man City back Ruben Dias, Juventus’ Leonardo Bonucci, and Bayern/Real Madrid’s David Alaba form a back three in front of PSG and Italy’s Gianluigi “Gigi” Donnarumma.

But Women’s honor says, “Hold my drink”

How are you the best women’s player in the world but not in the Women’s Best XI? Putellas and Barca would love to know..

UWCL winners Barcelona stunningly did not have a single player in the Best XI while USWNT star Alex Morgan and retired Carli Lloyd were honored by FIFA/

Goalkeeper Endler and the American duo were joined by Lucy Bronze, Millie Bright, Wendie Renard, Magdalena Eriksson, Esterfania Banini, Barbara Bonansea, Vivianne Miedema, and Marta.

Of course this is something tabulated by votes but it’s still something that should theoretically be rectified by logic for the sake of a sort of sensible integrity.

Lewandowski hails Gerd Muller after going back-to-back

Lewandowski’s claimed the last two Best Men’s Player awards, and honored the late Gerd Muller in his acceptance speech.

“If you asked me a few years ago, I would have said it is impossible to break that record and score that many goals in the Bundesliga,” said Lewandowski. “But now he is not with us anymore and I also say thank you to him because this record would not be possible without him. He set so many – and for the next generation of players it was to try and beat it.

USWNT puts six past South Korea in Carli Lloyd’s final match (video)


The United States women’s national team gave Carli Lloyd an emotional goodbye on Tuesday with a performance that featured both the old guard and the new crew in a 6-0 win over South Korea in Los Angeles.

Megan Rapinoe and Lynn Williams had a goal and an assist each in the blowout win, giving the Yanks four wins in five since their stunning loss to Canada in the Olympics semifinal in Tokyo. The USWNT claimed Bronze with a 4-3 defeat of Australia.

Lindsey Horan, who will don Lloyd’s No. 10 moving forward, scored off an assist from young Sophia Smith and Andi Sullivan forced a South Korean own goal as the USWNT took a 2-0 lead to halftime.

[ MORE: Where does Lloyd rank in USWNT history? ]

But moments after Lloyd tearfully subbed off the pitch, removing her boots and then her game jersey to reveal a jersey with her married name, Megan Rapinoe set up an Alex Morgan goal before delivering one of her one off

Rapinoe nearly had a show-stopping assist to Lloyd but pulled an even trickier pass out of her hat to set up Morgan’s goal.

Rose Lavelle then scored off a Lynn Williams pass showing cool control and getting a bit of help from the South Korean goalkeeper.

Williams got her goal after Tobin Heath broke a defender’s ankle with a shimmy and sent the forward into the box.

Alex Morgan: Investment must coincide with biennial World Cup plan


Alex Morgan said increased investment in the women’s game must be part of any plan for a biennial World Cup.

Morgan, a star on the U.S. women’s national team, is part of a FIFA technical advisory group announced this week that is looking into a proposal to stage the World Cup every two years.

“We looked at not only the financial part of it when it comes to the World Cup, but also increasing the number of federations that have women’s teams that play year-round, not only play in qualifiers once every four years — or possibly in the future once every two years,” Morgan said. “So how do we continue to incentivize and put more money into the women’s game? That’s a huge piece of it as well, I don’t think you can have one without the other. You can’t have a biannual World Cup without addressing the financial piece.”

Former U.S. coach Jill Ellis is heading the group, which includes former and current players, coaches, referees and administrators.

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Morgan is open to the biennial plan, but did not outright endorse it Tuesday while speaking to reporters ahead of the U.S. team’s match against South Korea in Kansas City, Kansas.

“Just with the history of the World Cup, I think it’s really difficult to grasp the concept of changing from every four years to two years because historically it’s just what we’ve done and what we’re used to,” Morgan said. “But I also look at the growth of the women’s game and how it could really benefit club leagues around the world, it could really benefit every federation and their players in terms of visibility, in terms of gaining more coverage for women’s soccer.”

FIFA revealed aspirations last month to redraft the calendar of international soccer competitions to accommodate holding the men’s and women’s World Cup every two years.

The idea has been widely criticized. UEFA and CONMEBOL have threated to boycott the tournament and the International Olympic Committee has also come out against the plan. FIFPro, the global players’ union, has also raised concerns.

Morgan said a biennial World Cup is not a done deal, and that’s why the advisory board is important.

“There’s still a lot of discussions to be had, but I think this advisory board was created to listen to the players. So if all players said, ‘No this is crazy, we cannot do this, this will hurt women’s football globally in such a great way that we can’t recover from this’ is (FIFA President Gianni Infantino) and FIFA going to listen? Of course,” she said. “That’s what this advisory board is formed to do, is to have the consensus of the players that are actually going to be affected by this both positively and negatively. It’s not a decision taken lightly.”

NWSL matches resume amid player protests, Portland GM discipline


The eyes of the soccer world have been paying attention to how the National Women’s Soccer League will evolve in the wake of the sexual coercion and harassment allegations against longtime coach Paul Riley.

A game-changing report from The Athletic’s Meg Linehan shed light on the Portland Thorns’ removing Riley from his position and his hiring from another NWSL club in New York before moving with the club to North Carolina.

Widespread outrage over the allegations has had the NWSL front-and-center, and the two alleged victims — Mana Shim and Sinead Farrelly — were joined by former teammate and USWNT superstar Alex Morgan on TODAY earlier this week after this weekend’s postponed league matches.

Matches resumed Wednesday and were paused at the six-minute mark, which saw players gather inside the center circle to note the six years it took for the allegations to surface in the media.

Both the NWSL and the Thorns are having independent investigations conducted in order to review the incidents, which have already caused commissioner Lisa Baird to resign and U.S. Soccer to take away Riley’s coaching license.

Portland players made a list of demands to owner Merritt Paulson that led to general manager Gavin Wilkinson being put on administrative leave from the Thorns, though he reportedly will continue to work for the MLS’ Timbers at the time of posting.

Thorns and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson has posted an open letter on pledging change from within his organization.

The protests were not limited to players, as fans chanted “Protect our players” during the Thorns match against the Houston Dash.

Former players, USWNT’s Morgan speak out on NWSL allegations (video)


Former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim were joined by USWNT star Alex Morgan on NBC’s TODAY show as the fallout from allegations of sexual misconduct against longtime National Women’s Soccer League coach Paul Riley continued Tuesday morning.

The NWSL called off its matches last weekend in the wake of The Athletic’s reporting that former Portland Thorns and Washington Spirit coach Riley sexually harassed and coerced his players, as well as the firing of Washington Spirit coach Richie Burke for the harassment of players.

Shim and Farrelly went public last week with their allegations against Riley, and Shim said that Morgan helped her in placing the 2015 complaint against Riley.

[ MORE: Washington Spirit CEO resigns amid scandal ]

The players expressed sentiments for both public and private support while also detailing feelings that are both grim and haunting.

(continued after the jump)

“I was very, very uncomfortable the whole time,” Shim said. “Every day I showed up to work, every day I practiced, every game I played, I didn’t have confidence and I was scared. The only thing that got me through was teammates. Alex and Sinead, they are two of my best friends, and thank God I have them. Alex was the first person I told who said I will do anything to support you. She was loyal from Day One.

“That’s really the only way I got through it and I’m still damaged. It doesn’t go away overnight what we’ve gotten into this week, and it brings up a lot. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to get these bad people out of the league. It’s not just this team. It’s not just this coach. It’s across the league, across the sport, and we have to do something about it.”

Morgan said she will continue to fight for changes in the NWSL, which is searching for a new commissioner after Lisa Baird resigned due to the scandal.

“[It’s a shame] how wrong they were in handling Mana’s case and complaint and investigation, and where they failed Mana and Sinead and probably many other women,” Morgan said. “When I look back I tried to be as good of a friend and teammate as I could’ve been to Mana when at the time there was no anti-harrassment policy in place. We have now started to put these things in place by demand of players. Something we ask is for the league to start being proactive, not reactive.”

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up v Jamaica? ]

Farrelly acknowledged that her story going public has challenged her in new ways but has also given her a sense of liberation.

“The whole spectrum of emotions,” said Farrelly, adding that she’s been “completely overwhelmed.”

“The support and validation of the story by everyone globally has blown me away and feels like it has given my pain purpose. That’s been a liberation for me that I have not been able to feel for almost 10 years.”

Farrelly wants the world to know the deep and lasting repercussions of the abuse she faced in the workplace.

“The damage to my self-confidence and how I approached life, it seeps into every part of your livelihood and there’s a lot of loss that comes with that and things I will not get back. When we can tap into the emotional impact of just showing up to be your authentic self… it’s bigger than the sport. We all deserve that.”

Shim’s allegations against Riley are severe, and the former Thorns player didn’t mince words.

“He’s a predator,” Shim said. “He sexually harassed me. He sexually coerced Sinead, and he took away our careers.”