Last Week in Review: NWSL Semifinals, NWSL Expansion News, Is It Vlatko? (21-Oct-2019)

Things that happened last week (October 14th-20th):

  • NWSL Semifinals:  NC Courage and Chicago Red Stars Advance
  • NWSL Expansion:  Louisville Announcement Expected, Sacramento in “Advanced Talks”
  • The Next USWNT Head Coach:  If Not Vlatko Andonovski, Then Who?


NWSL SEMIFINALS

The North Carolina Courage and the Chicago Red Stars advance to the NWSL Championship after defeating Reign FC and the Portland Thorns, respectively, in the playoff semifinals, which were held on Sunday, October 20th.

The NWSL Championship match is this Sunday, October 27th, at 3:30 PM (TV: ESPN).

NC Courage 4, Reign FC 1 (a.e.t.):  On Sunday, the North Carolina Courage and Reign FC faced off in the first semifinal, which was scoreless until the 88th minute, when the Courage’s Heather O’Reilly converted from the penalty spot after the Reign’s Lauren Barnes was called for a clear handball while sliding to block a pass.  During stoppage time, Ifeoma Onumonu equalized for Reign FC.  As the match tied at the end of regulation, thirty minutes of additional time was played.  A sweetly-executed Debinha free kick goal (99′) was the game-winner.   The Courage added two more goals in extra time:  A deflected own goal, which was quickly followed by Crystal Dunn sliding in a second insurance goal from Sam Mewis’ long header of a  Casey Murphy clearance. (NWSL recap with highlights, WatchESPN replay)

Chicago Red Stars 1, Portland Thorns FC 0: The second semifinal  saw Chicago take an early lead off a fast break Sam Kerr goal in the eighth minute, which was the only score of the match.  (NWSL recap with highlights, WatchESPN replay)


NWSL EXPANSION

Over the weekend, news broke that Louisville, Kentucky, is likely the next city to get an NWSL expansion team, most likely starting in the 2021 season, as a formal annoucement was expected this week.  (TheAthletic.com – subscription required).  A local press conference was announced for this Tuesday.  From SportBusiness.com’s article:

United Soccer League Championship club Louisville City FC is on the brink of landing a sister team in the National Women’s Soccer League.

A press conference has been called for October 22, which will be attended by NWSL president Amanda Duffy, Louisville City chairman John Neace, team president Brad Estes and Louisville mayor Greg Fischer “for an important announcement.”

Video rendering of Louisville City FC’s stadium, which is scheduled to open in Spring 2020:

Seating capacity is 11,700 (LouisvilleCityFC.com)

Another city with recent NWSL expansion buzz is Sacramento, California.  On Monday, October 21st, its USL team, Sacramento Republic FC, was officially awarded an MLS expansion slot. (MLSsoccer.com)  Republic FC’s ownership are also apparently in “advanced talks” for an NWSL team as well.  From The Equalizer (October 17th):

Sacramento is close to finalizing an agreement to join the National Women’s Soccer League in time for the 2020 season, multiple sources tell The Equalizer. Coaches and general managers of current NWSL teams are preparing for the offseason as if there will be an expansion team entering the league for 2020.

Editorial Note: Merely speculative expansion news such as a team or owner expressing interest in having an NWSL team or acquiring a team will be ignored by this site on the grounds of not being significantly newsworthy.


THE NEXT USWNT HEAD COACH:  IS IT ANDONOVSKI?

On Monday, October 14th, the BBC posted a brief article stating that

Vlatko Andonovski is set to become the new head coach of the United States women’s football team.

The same day, U.S. Soccer denied that a final decision had been made to hire the current Reign FC head coach or anyone else yet. (SI.com)

The only other person generally thought to have been a serious candidate, Current Utah Royals FC head coach Laura Harvey is not or at least no longer in the running, per her direct response in a press conference following the team’s last match of the season.  (The Deseret News)

After the Courage-Reign semifinal, Andonovski told reporters (via ESPN reporter Graham Hays):

“It’s public knowledge I’ve had conversations with people in the federation. Anything can happen. And we’ll see. Right now, that the season is over, I can focus on the talks with the federation.”

Based on the above quote, it sounds as if Andonovski is at least still in the running to be the next USWNT head coach, if not the front-runner.


ALSO NOTABLE:

England’s home friendly against Germany at Wembley Stadium is officially “sold out.” (TheFA.com)  While New Wembley’s seating capacity is officially listed as 90,000 (WembleyStadium.com), the actual number of tickets sold is unknown.  At least 75,000 tickets were sold as of October 9th (BBC).  The FA’s latest write-up notes that “[t]here is a chance the crowd… could even top the 80,023” attendance number for the 2012 Olympics gold medal match between the USA and Japan at Wembley.