Women’s Soccer

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Olympic champion Semenya signs for South African club

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Like Usain Bolt before her, Olympic champion Caster Semenya is trading her track cleats for soccer boots.

At least for now.

Unable to compete in track if she refuses to take testosterone-altering drugs, the two-time 800m gold medalist has signed for a South Africa women’s soccer team.

[ MORE: USMNT strengths and weaknesses ]

Semenya joined JVW FC, a six-year old club founded by South African women’s national team captain Janine van Wyk (Surely no ego was spared in the naming of the club!).

Here’s the explanation from Olympic Talk’s Nick Zaccardi.

Semenya made this move after a Swiss court ruled in late July that she can’t in her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her. Semenya took that ruling to mean that she won’t be able to defend her world title in Doha in three weeks.

Can she finish? That’s the big question (and we’re also assuming that, like Bolt, she’ll be used in attack).

Here’s what Van Wyk said about adding Semenya to the club (Van Wyk, it should be noted, does not play for the club that bears her initials):

“I am extremely elated to have such an iconic athlete join my football club. I am absolutely honored that out of all the other women’s clubs around the world, she has chosen JVW as the club where she would like to start showcasing her football skills. I welcomed her at her first training with the team on Tuesday, and was impressed to see that she definitely has all the fundamentals. I look forward to her working with Coach Ciara and our First Team where I am sure she will sharpen up and get ready to play in 2020. Although I won’t be here for the rest of the year, as I have just signed with Fortuna Hjorring, I have no doubt that Caster will fit right in, and enjoy her time at the club.”

Women’s World Cup will expand to 32 team in 2023

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The Women’s World Cup is ready to expand, in a move which certainly benefit the confederation which landed seven of the eight quarterfinalists at this summer’s tournament.

The 2023 tournament will include 32 teams, and the short-term results will be more growth of the game worldwide as well as a few more blowouts in the group stage.

[ MORE: Lampard praises Pulisic ]

The tournament expansion also means the end of poor third-place teams getting spots in the knockout rounds.

According to FIFA, “The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; It means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organie their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”

The big winners here are Europe and CONCACAF teams not named USA and Canada.

Ellis stepping down as USWNT coach

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Two-time World Cup champion Jill Ellis is going out on top.

Ellis, 52, is stepping away from the United States women’s national team after 127 matches and a 102W-7L-18D record since 2014.

[ MORE: Gana Gueye joins PSG ]

The Portsmouth, England native won everything but Olympic gold with the USWNT, and was named the 2015 Women’s World Coach of the Year.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer announced that Ellis will stay with the team through the victory tour and then moved into an ambassador’s role. It also says the new USWNT general manager’s hiring is “imminent.”

From USSoccer.com:

“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them. I want to sincerely thank the world class coaches and staff with whom I’ve had the privilege to work – they are quintessential professionals and even better people. And finally, I want to thank the Federation for their support and investment in this program, as well as all the former players, coaches, and colleagues that have played an important role in this journey.”

Ellis sometimes confounded with her lineup choices, but ultimately did a masterful job navigating the deepest squad pool and group of egos in the world. She transitioned the USWNT from a side focused on Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd to a group that utilized a more complete attack, and won World Cups with both Wambach and Lloyd accepting super sub roles.

Who the USSF chooses to take her place will have a gigantic hill to climb, as Europe is investing heavily in women’s soccer and the sport is as competitive as ever. The new coach will also have to help keep the USWNT on track on the field as it battles the federation for equal pay and conditions.

Rose Bowl statue honors Brandi Chastain’s ’99 World Cup win

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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) A statue capturing Brandi Chastain’s iconic reaction to scoring the U.S. team’s winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup has been unveiled outside the Rose Bowl.

Chastain was on hand for the unveiling Wednesday, the 20th anniversary of the historic win which coincided with celebrations in New York for this year’s World Cup champion team.

[ MORE: SMS to Man Utd? ]

This year’s the team sealed its second consecutive tournament win by beating the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday.

The statue shows Chastain at the moment she dropped to her knees in exultation, clutching the jersey she pulled off after cinching the win over China on a penalty kick in the game played at the Rose Bowl.

The moment has been credited as a watershed for invigorating women’s sports.

(AP Photo/John Antczak)

Best Moments of the 2019 Women’s World Cup

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What a tournament.

It’s reasonable to call the 2019 Women’s World Cup the best top-to-bottom showcase of women’s soccer in history, and it’s up there even if it’s not No. 1.

Here are the moments that stood above the pack, and since we’re not going to talk about VAR for a change — and also going to skip complaints about Cameroon’s physicality and American hotel surveying — we’ll keep things short and sweet.

Made-up Marta provides more inspiration

Marta has long been a hero to many young players, but she had three major moments in what could be her last World Cup.

The 33-year-old Brazilian became the all-time World Cup leader for goals and ran her career total to 17, but almost as many people were discussing her choice (two key words there) to wear bright red lipstick on the pitch. Others would follow suit.

But the magical playmaker really stood out in her post-elimination speech begging the girls of the world to dream big.

“The women’s game depends on you to survive,” she said. “Cry in the beginning so you can smile in the end.”

A Baker’s Dozen and Its After-Effects

If there were any questions regarding the USWNT’s desire to bring the proper motivation to defend its World Cup, the Yanks answered emphatically with an opening game 13-0 masterpiece versus Thailand.

Alex Morgan scored five goals. Five!

The storylines that would follow were many. Megan Rapinoe’s leg-pumping celebration came when the Americans put the game to bed three or four times early, and it wasn’t so classy (even if it was understandable. Those aren’t mutually exclusive concepts).

The next match for Thailand, though, saw a more respectable deficit of 4-0 turn into a joyous 4-1, and national team program benefactor Nualphan Lamsam. They finished with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Chile, but this was the moment for them:

We were kinda lying about not mentioning VAR as Argentina stuns, eliminates Scotland

When Erin Cuthbert scored a 69th minute goal to give Scotland a 3-0 lead in its final group stage game, Argentina would’ve been forgiven for climbing into its shell and congratulating Scotland on advancing into the knockout rounds.

That didn’t quite happen, did it? Argentina made it 3-1 five minutes later and got an own goal soon after that to pull to within one.

Stoppage time saw Argentina get a penalty through Video Assistant Referee. Lee Alexander saved the attempt, but was awarded a second when VAR deemed that Alexander left her line too early.

That one was converted, and Scotland went home. Bitter stuff, and the referees didn’t like it either.

Cameroon’s late show extends tournament too knockout rounds

Ajara Nchout scored early in the second half of a must-win match for Cameroon against New Zealand, but both teams looked set to go home early after the Football Ferns leveled the score and couldn’t find a second.

Nchout’s second marker, though, was leeee-git and came deep in stoppage time for one of the most memorable moments in France.

Megan Rapinoe and her pose

Okay, so this one’s easy; When you look back on the name to collect the most headlines at the tournament, what moment stands above the rest for your Golden Boot- and Golden Ball-winning World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe.

And it’s the pose. Here I am: Love me or hate me, I’m getting the job done.

A tournament which saw her create furor with an over-the-top celebration against Thailand before having to deal with a surprising release of unsurprising anti-presidential comments.

Rapinoe and her pink shock of hair were everywhere, and she cemented her status as a world star. What’s next for her is unknown, but what happened this summer won’t be forgotten.

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)