It's Pride month! Last year, USSoccer added some rainbow numbers to the team kits for their June friendlies and almost everybody was happy. Not everyone, but almost everyone.
This year, there has been a full-on organizational embrace of Pride, which is pretty great. See:
So that's pretty awesome. This is the welcoming, accepting world we need to keep building in America.
But don't get complacent. There are tons of stupid laws and ballot initiatives and US Supreme Court decisions that are trying to pull the country back to the dark ages. Even here in Massachusetts, there is a referendum that will appear on our ballots in November that will ask voters to either keep or reject a law passed by the legislature in 2016 that added gender identity to the list of things that can't legally be used as a reason to discriminate against an individual.
This critical law protects transgender individuals, but it's not impossible to imagine it getting overturned if idiotic fear-mongering about trans people finds an audience.
Get involved, always vote in every election and make your voice heard so we can build a future we can all be proud of.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROON!
Your USWNT Captain Becky Sauerbrunn turned 33 yesterday, and had to endure the questionable serenading of her squad:
This doesn't have anything to do with her birthday, but it's a good excuse for you to get a sweet T-Shirt that says BROON and sends all proceeds to support GLAD. This shirt is an example of one of the things that emerges out of the Facebook NWSL Supporters Group. Fun ideas that become reality and frequently combine donations to charity with fun NWSL merch. If you're on Facebook and support the NWSL, go join!
Click the shirt for the Teespring page to get your own BROON shirt and support GLAD. (HerPitch has nothing to do with this shirt, other than that your correspondent's XL BROON shirt will be worn with appropriate pride and modified sleeves once it arrives.)
USA v China
Oh right, there's two games to discuss!
Let's see what USSoccer has to say about it.
Who will we see in Utah and Cleveland? Well, since the roster came out for camp, there have been a couple of changes. Rose Lavelle joined camp, because she's obviously impervious to injury in meaningless friendlies. Going the other direction was Midge Purce, who has looked good in extensive time for Portland so far this season but who somehow managed to sprain her ankle. There are other regulars who are out for one reason or another, but McCall Zerboni and Abby Smith both return on the strength of their club form.
Ellis will have a few interesting lineup decisions to make, especially at fullback. Mathias and Huerta will probably get some decent playing time across these matches, which will be a good experience to see if they're cut out for playing Jill's style next summer.
The midfield is loaded as usual, with one of Ellis' favorites returning despite having barely featured for OL in France this year. Morgan Brian probably has a fair amount to prove to reclaim her locked-down spot in the roster—nagging injuries for the past few seasons have made it difficult to know what she currently can do.
Up top, it's top class. Boston's—er—Sky Blue's Savannah McCaskill offers a completely different style from the usual suspects of Rapinoe, Press, Morgan, Dunn and Heath. Amy Rodriguez is back, and has looked very good for Utah in their first season. She's likely to play on Thursday in front of her home fans.
Abby Smith may also benefit from the RioT Stadium setting, as the Royals faithful have had much to cheer about watching her performances in goal this year. If she gets the start, Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher and Casey Murphy will be ready to substitute or play next week in Cleveland.
Three odd notes from US Soccer (with possible, minor editorialization) about China's Steel Roses:
1. China has only scored more than two goals on the USA once in 56 meetings (a 3-3 draw in the 1995 World Cup) but the USA has scored more than two goals on China 30 times.
2. China last defeated the USA on Abby Wambach's final match of her career in 2015, as every other player in a USWNT kit desperately served the retiring forward ball after ball after ball in an effort to get her one last goal. No dice, it was a 1-0 loss for the USA.
3. Twelve of China's 2015 WWC roster are still in the side, but since the Abby send-off victory, the team has been through two head coaches. Jia Xiuquan, who is new to women's football, will patrol the touchline tonight.
I'd expect a win from the USA in both matches, but I'm excited to see how the players on the roster are deployed, and to see if they'll actually be used. Ellis has recently done a decent job of utilizing players on their home fields (or there hometowns/states), so there's room for optimism that many of the women will get at least some minutes in one of the games. Happy Pride!