NWSL News of Note: January Catch-Up… In February?

Things that have happened since the 2020 College Draft and earlier.

  • Sofia Huerta Is Traded Home to the Pacific Northwest
  • Hailie Mace:  Back in the USA
  • Transparent Allocation Money
  • Reign FC Hire Farid Benstiti as New Head Coach
  • NWSL TV Deal:  CBS Wants Access?


Sofia Huerta Is Traded Home to the Pacific Northwest

On Monday, the Houston Dash and Reign FC completed a four-player trade.

From Reign FC’s press release:

Reign FC have acquired the rights to forward Sofia Huerta and defender Amber Brooks from the Houston Dash, the club announced today. In exchange, Houston will receive forward Shea Groom, defender Megan Oyster, and a conditional second round pick in the 2022 NWSL college draft.

Per Hal Kaiser (Twitter), this deal had been in the works since at least the week of the College Draft, and originally involved a player other than Shea Groom, but that fell through.

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Hailie Mace:  Back in the USA

After acquiring her rights from Sky Blue FC, the North Carolina Courage were able to sign Hailie Mace for the upcoming season. (NC Courage press release)  Mace, who has 3 USWNT caps, is primarily thought of as an outside back option for both the Courage and the USWNT, but also has experience at center back.

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Transparent Allocation Money

For all future trades, the amount of allocation money transferred will be disclosed.  The amounts for previous trades were released in late January:

For posterity (from the above tweet):
Jan. 14: Utah -> Chicago: $60K
Jan. 16: Chicago -> Sky Blue (net with conditions): $80K
Jan. 16: Portland -> Chicago $70K
Jan. 16: Orlando -> Chicago $50K

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Reign FC Hire Farid Benstiti as New Head Coach

The most controversial news of the month in NWSL-land is Reign FC’s hiring of former Lyon head coach Farid Benstiti (Reign FC press release), who was in charge of PSG when Lindsey Horan was there and apparently has problematic views of fitness versus appearance that affect his coaching.

From a Yahoo Sports article published before the 2019 Women’s World Cup:

She also had to reform her diet. “I was the worst with my nutrition and fitness,” Horan admits. “I knew nothing about it, nor did I care about it.” And the club’s technical staff, led by head coach Farid Benstiti, didn’t care about communicating fitness goals respectfully. “They were just terrible,” Horan says. “Especially with female players, they were just [saying], ‘You need to lose weight, you need to get thinner, you need to run more.’

“But it was more [about] how you were seen and not how it was helping you play,” Horan says of the demands. At one practice, Benstiti told her she was benched until she shed weight. Afterward, she called mom and said she wanted to quit.

This All For XI article covers the above and some other Benstiti actions/comments, but I’ve yet to find any in-depth reporting (e.g., interviews with former players or subordinates, whether anonymous or not).

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For more NWSL news of trades, signings, and re-signings, see this January 23rd NWSLSoccer.com article:  NWSL Offseason Notebook: NWSL Draft, trades galore as teams ring in the new year.

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NWSL TV Deal:  CBS Wants Access?

According to Dan Lauletta (Twitter) and other journalists, CBS looks to be the NWSL’s new broadcast and streaming partner.  Per Grant Wahl:

An official announcement is expected soon. More than a dozen NWSL games are expected to be shown on a CBS linear platform this year, including on CBS’s main over-the-air channel, with out-of-market NWSL games expected to be available on CBS All Access, a pay streaming site.

Translation:  At least ten NWSL games will air on CBS or CBS Sports Network, while all matches should be available via the CBS All Access (website) streaming service, either live or delayed.

Per earlier reporting (sportbusiness.com), the NWSL is seeking a three-year contract (2020 to 2022) and is also looking for a Spanish-language broadcast partner.

Based on the 2019 NWSL schedule, a season-long subscription to CBS All Access would need to be 7 months long.  At $5.99 a month, that would be $41.93 plus any tax. If last year’s post-season matches all aired on CBS and/or CBS Sports Network (for those with cable/satellite/etc.), one probably could have gotten full coverage with a 6-month subscription.  (Additionally, depending on when one’s subscription began and the breaks between matches, one might be able to stretch their subscription a bit farther by letting their subscription lapse for a few to several days.)

The NWSL may offer a cheaper streaming option, similar to the WNBA’s League Pass, which cost $16.99 last season (leaguepass.wnba.com).

As of 2019, CBS Sports Network is a broadcast partner for the WNBA, along with ESPN.  Starting with the 2021-2022 season, CBS will also have the rights for the men’s UEFA Champions League (Deadline.com).  (The women’s Champions League is marketed separately, and will follow a new structure next season. – UEFA.com)