Whew. That felt like a long off-season. I had some personal stuff going on that has kept me from pontificating about various league or USWNT topics anywhere besides on Twitter, but that's about to change.
Coming soon: More player interviews. More long reads. More insight into the lives of the women who play the sport we love, with a look at some of the businesses started by players. I'm excited, so I hope you are too.
If you're a fan of the postgame videos that I've done, you'll be pleased to learn that YouTube has, in the wake of the "American Dumbass Goes to Japan and Makes Light of Suicide Forest" saga, decided that unless a channel has 4,000 hours of viewing or 1,000 subscribers, they'll stop allowing channel owners to have ads on their videos. Sweet. That's $2.85 I won't be making this season. Unless, of course, you and 999 of your friends subscribe before February 20th (click the link at the top right of the page). Fun times.
Seriously, this is the type of crap that even the Men in Blazers can't top. #SaveHerPitchYouTubeEarnings
We won't get to do any postgame videos until late March, so let's look at what's new coming into the 2018 NWSL Draft. You'll be able to watch all four rounds live at the very convenient hour of 10:00 AM Eastern on Thursday via Facebook & YouTube, plus on the NWSL App and the league website. Ali Wagner and Marisa Pilla will anchor the coverage, with ALL THE GOOD INFO from Jen Cooper and additional reporting from Jordan Angeli. Look Ma! No dudes!
Why, you might ask, can't Lifetime TV be bothered to promote one of the more important events of the league it partially owns instead of airing, no joke, a 10-year old rerun of Unsolved Mysteries (the host of this episode, Dennis Farina, passed away in 2013). Have they seriously not solved that mystery yet? I can think of at least one brand new unsolved mystery after checking my Lifetime network program guide, can you?
FC Kansas City is GONE; Welcome to the League, Utah Royals
Yep, in a very quick succession of events, the owners of Real Salt Lake became the owners of a new NWSL team called—well, it was a bit of a wait for the world to find out what the team would be called. But it's the Utah Royals. Barring any trades, the Royals and their new coach Laura Harvey (who has moved south from Seattle only to be replaced as Reign boss by former FCKC boss Vlatko Andonovski) will make their first ever NWSL Draft selection at #14 overall in the 2nd round. But wait, there's more!
NWSL Gets a New Commissioner!
Yeah, no. Sorry. Nope. Someday, maybe.
Players are Moving Rapidly This Week!
Just in the past couple of days, there have been several trades ahead of the draft.
On January 11th, original Portland Thorn Allie Long was sent north to Seattle in exchange for the rights to Australian Caitlin Foord and a 2020 2nd round draft pick. Hold on, didn't Sky Blue have Foord's rights? You're right! See, they'd just sent those very rights to Seattle, trading for New Zealand defender Rebekah Stott and forward Katie Johnston. It was a busy day to be a native of the southern hemisphere with an unconventionally spelled name.
Did you catch your breath?
Just one day later, Houston sent Andressinha to the Thorns and welcomed Savannah Jordan to Texas via the swap. No draft picks to include in the deal? Boring.
Then, on Tuesday, the Washington Spirit got involved in the fun, shipping the rights to Crystal Dunn to the NC Courage in exchange for Ashley Hatch and Taylor Smith. But they weren't (groan) DUNN yet (sorry), offloading Lindsay Agnew and the #6 overall pick in Thursday's draft to Houston while collecting the #3 overall pick as compensation.
Probably, by the time I wake up and get on the train to Philadelphia, there will be 14 more trades. Check the Twitter.
The League revealed the broad outlines of the schedule on Tuesday, which is nice. Except they maybe could have mentioned something about it to the players first, considering they might need to know these things. The NWSL Players Assn. took appropriate umbrage.
Excited for the upcoming season but VERY disappointed that we as players have to find this out on Twitter. That has been our single request of the league. Please have the courtesy to send us this information before it goes public. https://t.co/5KPYPMxN5M— NWSL Players Assoc (@NWSL_PA) January 16, 2018
Just like last season, 2018 will feature 24 games per team, with 12 home and away fixtures. Opening weekend is March 23-24, and once again go90 will have the opportunity to deliver a passable broadcast product. Fingers crossed. The League will also stream the games on its website, and offer international fans streaming coverage on the NWSL app and website.
Following the end of the regular season on September 8-9, the playoff semi-finals will be held on September 14-16, with the NWSL Championship to follow on Saturday, September 22nd. Using some numerology, and noting that September is the 9th month (Breakers were 9th on the table last year), and 22 is 20 (the number of players on Boston's roster) plus 2 (the position where the Breakers will pick in the first round), I think we can all agree that Boston is a lock for that final.
Lifetime Game of the Week returns on Saturdays, hopefully NOT during the most brutally hot hours of the day. But, as no timing for the GotW was announced, it's probably the same as last year. Who needs water breaks?
So the draft is here. Four rounds of 10 selections per round will add players to already full rosters. But after all of the trades, who is on which team? Glad you asked. Jen Cooper has you covered, in her awesome and always updated spreadsheet.
What about the draft order? Who picks when? All the updated details are here, from the NWSL.
Have I heard of any of the players to be drafted? Oh wait, Andi Sullivan is a lock to go first, right?
About that. Andi Sullivan is NOT on the draft eligible list currently. It's conceivable (perhaps even likely) that she's going to be an allocated player this year, which would make her able to skip the draft and end up at the Washington Spirit anyway by way of the allocation, as they sit at the top of both queues. Or, maybe Olympique Lyonnais will come calling, as they have for both Amandine Henry and Morgan Brian.
Here is the League's list of women who have registered for the draft. You can expect to hear names like Savannah McCaskill, Michaela Abam, Rebecca Quinn, Gabby Seiler, Indigo Gibson and Dörthe Hoppius early in the day. Wait, I mixed up my lists. Dörthe Hoppius is the first overall AWESOMEST NAME IN THE 2018 DRAFT, because, obviously, the umlaut. I'm not sure where her future lies, but as long as she's got that umlaut, she's on her way to the top. I need an umlaut. They're scarcer than Bitcoins, and more valuable.
I'll be tweeting from the draft hall and will share as much as possible live from Philadelphia. The 2018 NWSL Season is here!