NWSL – What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Quite a bit of shade being thrown by Alex Morgan, the rumored marquee player of NWSL’s newest expansion team Orlando Pride. Orlando’s entrance into the league is also rumored to be based on the ability to acquire Morgan. Morgan is said to have requested to leave Portland Thorns FC who are owned by MLS side Portland Timbers for personal reasons, she’d like to play in the same city as her husband. Her husband, Servando Carrasco,  plays for Orlando Pride owner’s MLS side, Orlando City SC.   If that seems all too coincidental..join the club.

If you read almost any interview with NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush where the subject of expansion comes up you’ll see these phrases repeated again and again; passionate ownership group, quality venue, business infrastructure, team-controlled venue if possible, quality marketplace. You’ll also routinely see him say that MLS teams aren’t necessarily the only way to expand, but they’re attractive because they have all those things. It doesn’t take very much to read between the lines to see an MLS team fits most all of the desired qualities. And the first two league expansions have gone to MLS teams.

So, I’m left with the question: What does NWSL want to be when it grows up?

Does it want to forever be the little sister to MLS’s big brother? Check out Seattle Sounders entry level salaries after 20 years of MLS growth, is that the type of league NWSL wants to be? Does it want to be a league where 20 years from now players are still not making as much as they could using their college degree? Does it want to be a league that still takes a back seat to every male sport when being considered for innovation and growth? Does it want a league that people refer to as WMLS?

Or..does it want to be a league that can lead the way for women in professional sports? Does it want to be the league that school kids and high school kids and college kids and all the adults that surround them and support them see as being a step ahead and a step above? Does it want to grow the game in such a way that the product on the field is exciting and unencumbered by low expectations of people who see it as a side show and not the main attraction Does it want to be the league that shows the United States and by extension the world, that what has gone before does not need to be repeated, but can be improved upon without selling your soul to the highest bidder. Does it want to be a league that is creative and innovative in the way it interacts with and attracts new fans?

I’m under no illusions here. I realize all of these high ideals take money and lots of it. I’m also of the opinion that how you get that money is just as important as how you spend it.

I don’t think MLS is inherently evil, it’s a business like hundreds of others in sport, but I don’t think the business focus is necessarily on doing the best things for women’s soccer. WoSo is not men’s soccer with less testosterone. It has a history and a struggle all its own that makes it different and resonates with its fans. I’m not convinced, by Portland or Houston, and now Orlando that they fully grasp what makes WoSo different. The founders of NWSL are a pretty unique group. With the exception (to my knowledge) of Kansas City, Portland and Seattle they’ve all been intimately involved with the struggle to create and maintain a women’s pro soccer league. They are five in number and now are matched by 5 owners who don’t come from that background. The league is at a crossroads where they truly have to decide what they want to become.

What do you want the NWSL to be when it grows up? Let me know in the comments.

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Expansion 2016…

With the recently announced press release that the NWSL waiver process has been pushed back, it would seem that an expansion to Orlando is about a 99% certainty. I hold back the one percent since they didn’t include Orlando in the waiver process, but I think it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

I think the league is missing a great opportunity, and one they may not get again soon. The opportunity I speak of is a time to breathe, learn from the first three years and their first expansion, and have a clear plan for what the next 3 years will look like.

The league did some things well during the first three years, but there is much room for improvement, and expansion so soon leaves them no real time to do that. Expansion right now is not a necessity. If Orlando is keen to get in, they will still be keen in a year. There is no other pro league to become a part of, no other place for them to join.

Expansion in 2016 will just be another year of instability for players who already are leaving the league because they cannot continue to pull up stakes every year and move to a new team on the same meager salary. Why put the very commodity that the league absolutely needs to survive under that pressure again? And probably again in 2017?

It will also be a year interrupted by another big international tournament, the Olympics. Scheduling of 20 games was hard enough with a break for the World Cup in 2015, why add a team and make it more so? Expansion is likely for 2017 even if Orlando does come in in 2016, why not wait until 2017 when  better planning and a non-World Cup/Olympics schedule will be easier to manage?

Many arguments for expansion are based on being able to get a better TV deal with 10 teams, a balanced schedule and more MLS ownership. I really don’t buy that. If the survival of the league for 2016 is based on a TV deal, the league is in more dire straits than the most pessimistic of fans could imagine. And I just don’t get the feeling that’s the case. A good TV deal would be great, but one team added to the league isn’t going to be the tipping point.

The league needs to fix the things that didn’t work in 2015. Simple things like more team merchandise being available, for all teams. Match day experiences that cater to kids AND adults, less bouncy house and more adult beverages. More complex things like better venues, consistent streams across the league and communication with fans that really is more transparent. How about a year to work on getting some meaningful league sponsorships? Even NWSL can’t live on Nike alone. Maybe more important than any of these things is a raised salary cap that allows the lowest tier of players to make a living wage for the length of their contract. A single expansion team only means jobs for 20 more players, over half who will not make a living wage. If waiting a year can increase that to 60 players making a living wage, why not wait?

And at some point the league season will have to be longer, with an additional year to allow players and teams a chance to figure out how it will work in relation to player contracts, salaries and the need for a job outside soccer to survive for most players, maybe a mass exodus won’t occur when that happens. An additional year would also allow US Soccer to decide how they are going to treat the NT player pool, either by expanding to allow more players to be allocated or a lump sum payment to the league. These are things that should not be worked out on the fly. They affect players directly and should be settled. Many have called for a player’s union to be established and I have said it’s too soon, but if the league has no regard for how their expansion affects players, I would have to side with the players and say sooner is better.

A year without expansion would allow all these things to be worked on without the added pressure of a big change in player personnel, scheduling and having to do it on the fly. Imagine bringing in 3 teams in 2017 with a plan and a standard set they would have to meet in all the things that need improvement. Not only would the new teams have to be up to standard, the existing teams would have another year to meet it or be gone, or sanctioned. Don’t have a field devoid of 15 other sports markings? Work it out with your current venue or move to a new one..you’ve got a year to figure it out or you’re out/sanctioned. Can’t serve adult beverages? Work it out with your venue or move to a new one..you’ve got a year to figure it out or you’re out/sanctioned. Don’t have a reliable HD stream (since that is NWSL standard)? Work it out..you’ve got a year to figure it out or you’re out/sanctioned. The answer to all these things has nothing to do with expansion, but everything to do with being able to devote your existing resources to fixing them.

I know this is all just so much spitting into the wind on my part, but I haven’t really seen anyone WoSo related address this. Expansion is not bad, it’s just not always the answer to what’s wrong. I would love to see someone in the WoSo realm play devil’s advocate to the pro-expansion love-fest going on. It’s easy to ask for the league to fix things, it seems a little harder for people to give them a space to do it. Maybe the league has this all figured out..and maybe I will win the lottery, but both are pretty far-fetched.

If any WoSo journo out there has taken on the no expansion side. I’d be all eyes on a link in the comments.

 

Inevitable NWSL Rant #7392481605

UPDATE 08/17/15 – It’s official, NWSL Championship Final will be played at Providence Park in Portland.

Note my total lack of surprise at this announcement that comes complete with quotes from the invisible man himself, Jeff Plush.

While I am not surprised I am still infuriated, for all the reason listed in my original post below and then some. Lies of omission – not telling anyone that it had been decided to use a predetermined site prior to the season- and outright lies – the 2015 Competition Rules & Regulations (before edit) – being just 2 of the more egregious reasons.

The most infuriating, and saddening, reason of all though, is that I am forced into a position where I cannot with good conscience support this decision. I have spent far more time and money supporting NWSL and individual teams than anyone knows and to have to step back and not support this latest breach of trust truly hurts. Many will not see not attending the final in Portland as a big deal, as is their right, but to me it is the last straw in a season that has seemed ill planned and poorly executed. Whether that is the fault of the owners or USSF may never be known and some would say doesn’t matter, but it does. To me, it matters because it affects the way the league operates. If owners want one thing and USSF another, this will continue to be a cluster. If USSF gets to call the shots because they control the league, fans will continue to get the USWNT hand me down decisions. And USSF hand me down decisions will always play in favor of the national team, always. Decisions that play in favor of the national team have so far done nothing to bolster the NWSL or it’s growth ( a very small argument can be made that USWNT makes money that is funneled into NWSL, but we don’t know if there is a direct correlation as to amounts or if USSF just makes it up as they go along). Individual teams are dictated to about so many things regarding national team players, even when a reported agreement existed between them and US Soccer concerning post-world cup play, that it hampers operations, from advertising to rosters. And if you don’t think that affects individual players, think again.

I’m not disputing that putting on a good show is what sport is all about anymore, but it’s the way the league ( again, I have no real idea what that term means) goes about it, and the way they treat the people who are expected to keep showing up, keep spending money, keep spreading the word.

I know I’m only one ticket sale and in the grand scheme it’s not much. But I have to look at myself in the mirror and know I did what felt right to me in defense of the league. I don’t let people in my real life treat me the way NWSL does, why would I or should I accept it from them?

***

08/14/15  – Soccerwire.com posted a story today about the NWSL Championship final being played in a “neutral” site..Portland. (Quotations marks are mine) Needless to say, my blood started to boil. The following is what splattered out all over my keyboard.

What in WoSo’s name is NWSL thinking?!!? I mean, not that we even know what or who NWSL is, is it the owners? The supposed admin arm supplied by USSF? The invisible man, NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush? Some sordid combination of these? Or none of these and it’s just some guys on a conference call once every few months from MLS, FOX and US Soccer, coming together to figure out some infuriating and unexplained way to piss off fans? The more I see, the more I think it’s the latter.

Back to the Soccerwire piece. I have no real problem with a predetermined site, if it were truly neutral to all teams. A venue that hosts an NWSL team is not neutral to anyone and especially not if the team that uses that venue makes it to the final. There are any number of venues across the nation that would be truly neutral and would be a good atmosphere for a televised final. Not to mention that a neutral site would open up the opportunity to showcase the NWSL to new fans.

Putting the final in a place such as Portland (if that’s the case since Merritt Paulson seems to have walked back from Portland being a sure thing) who has a very good fan base and creates a great atmosphere for the game is just plain dishonest (and asking a lot of the local fans to show up and support two teams that they would normally see as foes if the home team doesn’t make the final). By NWSL bowing to whomever is making this call, be it FOX or MLS as PR, or even the owners (although I think that the more numerous the asinine decisions are coming from NWSL, the less the actual owners have a say) they are trying to present NWSL as something it is not. NWSL is not Portland. Portland is an anomaly and as such showcasing the atmosphere in Portland is misleading any new potential fan or sponsor. The game experience a new fan from Boston gets will not be anywhere near that on display in Portland. That’s not to single out Boston, they won’t get that experience at any of the other seven team venues either. Sponsors won’t reach that many fans at any other team venue, leading both fans and sponsors to feel they’ve just been had by a bait-and-switch scheme.

The total lack of any transparency by the league to journos/bloggers/fans is beyond infuriating. Fans are constantly treated like any decisions the league makes doesn’t affect them, in their wallet or their support. We get a pretty basic website, a twitter account that exists to RT the team’s twitter posts and set of Rules and Regulations that isn’t worth the virtual ink it’s written with. We are expected to just accept and support any and all changes the league makes with no explanation or warning. The league knows best and you know..”trust us”. Fans don’t really expect to have a say in how the league is run, at least not most rational fans, all we want is to be treated like thinking, reasoning adults, not small children (the NWSL’s seemingly favorite demographic) who often are told to do something “because I said so”, and do. Fans want to have a place to provide feedback about what they like and don’t like and they want to feel like someone even cares. Some individual teams are great about taking and acknowledging feedback, some less than great, but the league makes no such effort and it’s not unnoticed by fans.

Other sports leagues have commissioners who are out in front of the media taking the heat and the praise that comes with the job. NWSL has no such person. Jeff Plush is the invisible man of NWSL. He may have been appointed because of his ties to MLS and experience building a team, but he is MIA to fans and media alike and we don’t like it. We want him to be the front man for the decisions, good and bad, that the league makes. We need a face of the league. If he’s not going to be it then the owners need to appoint a spokesperson to be that face. I want to have someone to complain to or thank when things happen. Right now I have nothing and no one, not a good thing when fans have no recourse but to take to social media or blog about their frustrations. A league needs to spin everything that happens in their favor, even if sometimes that means taking a little heat first.

Which brings me to the total lack of regard for any media types trying to spread the word about the league. NWSL as a relatively new league has to rely on all the media-type attention they can get. I say media-type because things are changing and print media and TV aren’t the way many fans get their day-to-day information about their teams, especially if those teams belong to a new, growing league. Fans increasingly rely on bloggers and social media, along with a few internet sites that are fighting to get access to the league. These people largely don’t get paid for what they do, yet they do it. They do it diligently and with as much dedication to telling the truth as any major journalistic endeavor. Yet, time and again they are bypassed for more conventional media who give the absolute minimum of inches or airtime to any league news. NWSL, whoever that may be, needs to get with the current times and give these media-types access and accurate information in a timely and consistent manner if there is any hope of coming off as a truly professional league. It’s not just about locker rooms and venues.

I’m pissed about the decision to change venues of the final, whether it be Portland or not, at the 9th hour. I know a lot of fans share this feeling with me. Did the league seem to forget that many fans made the pilgrimage to Canada for the World Cup and as such are smack dab out of leave or holiday/vacation time? Moving the final to a Thursday is foolish on so many levels, least of which is limiting the number of people who can travel for a mid-week game. Just like men not playing on turf, why are the women expected to play their final on a Thursday and not on the weekend as all have done before? Seriously NWSL, are you the FIFA of WoSo?

If all of this has been done to accommodate some very suspect TV deal, I’m even more pissed. I acknowledge NWSL may not have much leverage when it comes to what any network will do for them, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t supposed to fight for what is best for the league. So far counting the very, very iffy FOXSoccer2go streams, the lack of any screen time for the defending champions and a heavy reliance on MLS venues (see previous paragraph about misleading game experiences), this really isn’t much of a deal. And if my suspicions (since I have no facts to go on) are correct, the league isn’t making any money from it and may in fact be paying FOX to air the games. So yeah, if these accommodations were part of that deal, I’m pissed.

Fans like me – a longtime follower of WoSo, and unlike me – new to the sport, all need to be kept in the back of the minds of every person involved with NWSL. We the fans, expect and deserve no less.

So maybe this wasn’t as much of a rant as I thought it would be, but I hope I made some good points and didn’t ramble too much. I’m just getting more sick-and-tired of the constant ignorance of the “league”

 

#USWNTParade – Ungrateful Isn’t The Same As Frustrated

Ticker Tape Parade down the Canyon of Heroes! Wow! Fantastic! Finally, recognition on the big stage! Accolades they deserve because they earned them!

And then reality set in.

NYC hosted the USWNT ticker tape parade but asked for sponsors to pick up at least $450K of the estimated $2M price tag. Reasonable enough. Nike, Mondelez International, Electronic Arts..and MLS, are most commonly cited as those sponsors. And bravo brands! Thank you for stepping up and sponsoring the parade..and women’s soccer. Only MLS wasn’t a sponsor of women’s soccer before the parade. They have a six degrees of separation relationship because 2 of their pro teams own an NWSL team, so close enough I guess. As a benefit of sponsoring the parade each entity was allowed a float..or three.

I’m not unreasonable or blind to how things work. I know it would have been a PR disaster, from the WoSo side, for the 2 NYC BroSo club teams to not be on the WoSo bandwagon for the parade. I mean, I probably would have been quick to point that out. But the way it was initially presented, or not presented to be more exact, led me and more than a few others to question why the club teams and MLs had to figure prominently in the parade. Initially it was reported that MLS, New York City FC and New York Red Bulls would each have a separate float to themselves. Which certainly got my shackles up. How dare they steal the spotlight from the accomplishments of the USWNT! I was only mildly relieved to find out that no men’s team members would be on the floats. NYRB’s float was to be primarily devoted to their efforts in girls youth soccer, so at least it had a closer connection to WoSo. And NYCFC, well they were going to have their fans on their float with their supporters gear on. No tie to WoSo that I could see there.

As it eventually turned out, most of that would not be true. While MLS, NYCFC, and NYRB had a presence on the floats Sky Blue FC of NWSL also had a presence on a float, a float provided as a result of the MLS sponsorship. So, not as BroSo as originally thought, but still more BroSo presence than a great many WoSo fans wanted to see at their parade, me included.

Now we come to the speeches and key ceremony. Who do we see front and center in his US Soccer polo but The Don himself, Mr Garber of MLS. He gave a good enough speech, as speeches go. But why was he front and center touting how everyone should go see “our” pro teams? Because he bought the time by sponsoring the parade. And you don’t pay that kind of money without expecting something in return. What he got was the driver’s seat while even USSF’s Sunil Gulati could only holler “shotgun”. And where was Jeff Plush of NWSL? My guess is he was bound and gagged in the trunk because not a peep was heard from him. This is what frustrates me the most.

I am not ungrateful. I understand that MLS stepped up with money when it was requested.  I understand that you expect a return on that kind of expenditure.

What I am is frustrated. Extremely. Almost to exhaustion.
I am frustrated that it seems every time WoSo needs people to step up, the default almost always is BroSo. Yes, men’s soccer is, in general, better financially than women’s soccer. I get that, I also know the arguments for why that’s the case. And that just adds to my frustration. Men’s soccer is not, and should not be, the be all and end all to “save” women’s soccer in the US. If the powers that be would stop falling back on that old argument maybe we’d see some real work to make pro WoSo work.

USSF has seen fit to start NWSL and yet it seems that at every turn they are the first to treat it like less than and with that attitude no wonder sponsors are so hard to come by. If the organization that sanctions the league doesn’t exhibit true belief that it is good and valuable and sustainable, on its own, why would a sponsor feel that way?

I understand that the victory tour is a big money maker and also a thing fans really want, but why wasn’t the communication between US Soccer and NWSL better so that fans could get up to date info before tickets were bought and games were rescheduled. Just one of the ways NWSL is treated as an afterthought rather than the premier league for some of the best soccer players in the world. Why do they constantly miss the mark when it comes to the fact that MLS and NWSL are not viewed alike when it comes to the world’s elite players? Of course women’s salaries are so low that the level of competition in NWSL may be more of a draw than the money, but you can’t say that on the men’s side. Elite men’s players come here to get a paycheck on the way out. And even if BroSo doesn’t like it, that’s the case.

So yes, I want to thank MLS for sponsoring the parade, but it still frustrates me that the work isn’t being done so that WoSo isn’t put in the position of having to thank BroSo for something they should be able to accomplish in their own right.

An Open Letter to New NWSL Executive Director Jeff Plush

Dear Mr. Plush,

Welcome aboard.

I’ll be the first to admit I am wary of your selection. Probably a wariness borne of failed leagues and less than transparent processes, but wary none the less. It certainly doesn’t help that we (fans) found out you were even necessary by way of an errant job posting by the NCAA. See? Wary. There are many other instances over the first two years of the league and this is but one example of the lack of transparency we are tiring of quickly.

I would like to be less wary, and I would like you to have a big part in that. Your business credentials are more than up to snuff for the position of league commissioner, my concern lies in your lack of involvement up to this point with women’s soccer specifically.  I live in Colorado and therefore am familiar with your time at the Colorado Rapids organization. I am also not aware of any dealings you have had in connection with the women’s USL W-League team that held the Rapid’s name during that time. If there was any, I ( and many others) would like to know what that might have been. It seems an opportunity was there for you to be involved and yet, you weren’t. And now you want to run our league. See? Still wary.

I appreciate the fact that you were integral in growing MLS, but the women’s league is not MLS or MLS-lite and is in fact different in many ways. The women’s game hasn’t yet been tainted by big money and all the baggage that brings. That’s not to say that someday we wouldn’t like to see players earn a living wage and view playing professional soccer as a viable occupation. We’d like to have games televised as often as possible and sell out venues and have merchandise readily available. We’d like to have budgets and rosters that allow for the best in the women’s game to play here and thrive. We’d like all of that and more, but none of that is worth anything if we sacrifice our integrity or the things that make the women’s game special.

And now I guess that’s your job, you and the owners. Grow our game and our league into a viable, sustainable, entertaining, product that attracts kids and adults in equal measure, a league that values its integrity in all dealings, a league that is transparent and accessible, to fans and media and business.

Personally, I challenge you to make me (and those like me) less wary. I challenge you to make the changes and goings on more transparent, much more transparent. I challenge you to be first to make the announcement when a rule changes or a determination has been made. I challenge you to not make the league MLS-lite. I challenge you to keep those things that are so enjoyable about the women’s game enjoyable. Access to players is one of the special parts of the league and I’m sure it doesn’t have to be sacrificed as the league attendance grows. I challenge you to do all of this and more because that’s what the game deserves. I challenge you to make me your fan..which might be your biggest challenge of all.

As Red Green is fond of saying,

 “Remember, I’m pulling for ya, we’re all in this together”

Thanks for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

Always a fan,

Diane.

Influence at the Intersection of MLS and NWSL (or how to start a good debate)

It was announced today that Mia Hamm Garciaparra is one of 22 part owners of the “new” LA MLS team Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC).

It didn’t take long for the conversation to begin about why Mia would put her money into MLS and not into NWSL. Let me preface the rest of this by saying no one has come forth to say if Mia is, or has been asked to be, involved in NWSL. So there’s that.

I truly see the arguments on both sides of this, but I definitely do not agree with the side that says she should invest in NWSL because she’s Mia Hamm; because she has money and power, because she – I don’t know, “owes” soccer something?

Mia Hamm has carried the torch for women’s soccer in the U.S.A. and in many parts of the world for over 15 years. She was part of the 1999 World Cup team that started the idea that there could even be a women’s soccer league in the United States. She was one of 20 founding players of WUSA in 2001. Mia Hamm has been influential and has lent her name and likeness and experience to so many things supporting women’s soccer I can’t even begin to list them all.

MLS (and NWSL) in the United States is a business, like any other professional sport. If a prominent retired women’s soccer player wants to put her money anywhere in the sport, it is truly a disservice to criticize where.

Has anyone been able to find out if she has been involved in an NWSL team or a team looking to get into the league? Has anyone asked her to get on board? Maybe she is is involved with LAFC looking to incorporate a women’s team in the future. Maybe she’s sick of all the fan back-biting and wants none of it. The fact is, we don’t know if either of these scenarios, or any others are true. Wouldn’t women’s soccer be better served if someone were to answer these questions before they start the discussion?

I guess my problem with the discussion as it stands is it comes from such a negative perspective. Wouldn’t the sport and it’s fans and leagues be better off by celebrating the fact that an ex-women’s soccer player has ascended to this level in the soccer world and look for ways to leverage that?

I always think there will be questions that need answers, but we should make sure we’re asking the right questions.

If you think the right question was asked, I’d like to see your reasoning in the comment. Let’s talk.

Red Card the Refs

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If bad calls by referees were rewarded with yellow cards the accumulation would have red-carded most Professional Referee Organization-provided officials just six weeks into the 2014 NWSL season.

In only the first six week of the 2014 season the refs have given 61 yellow cards and 2 straight reds (2 more reds for same game accumulation of yellows) and 18 PK’s. To put this in perspective here are some 2013/2014 comparisons:

                                                                           2013      2014 (through 6 weeks)
Regular season games:     88          35
Yellow cards:                       33          61
Red cards:                             4           4
Penalty kicks:                       27         18

I think the problem is twofold. First, the message was sent from someone; the league, the owners, the players, fans in tinfoil hats, that refs had to crack down and call the games tighter to improve level of play (in which case they’ve really lost the plot). Second, the refs are so badly trained they couldn’t make a call for pizza and get it right.

Last season saw many fouls go uncalled that allowed some games to get out of control with physical play and made the league look less than professional. A call to tighten things up would make the game more enjoyable to watch from a purely “beautiful game” perspective and also might serve to avoid player injuries. Good in theory, poor in application. Even with an average 20 fouls called a game referees still don’t seem to be in control of some games. The increase in PK’s alone is alarming. PK’s are being awarded at six times the rate of 2013. In 2013 PK’s were awarded at a rate of 0.29/game and in 2014 at 1.9 per game, so far. Since I can’t find any statistics about how many PK’s are for the ugly “handball” (clearly not applied according to the rule) I’ll just go with my observation and say a lot.

My belief is that the referees are not sufficiently trained to call games at this level. I do not think all referees fall into this category, but more than just a few and that includes AR’s. From really bad offside calls to the previously mentioned “handball”, referees and AR’s are getting it wrong. I’ll admit that I have the benefit of replaying the video most times and refs don’t, (although they may have at least one AR with eyes on the play) but usually my initial reaction is borne out by the replay. NWSL has to demand better. Referees are paid and not doing this on a lark and as such are professional referees (see PRO Referees). Even though PRO general manager, Peter Walton, sees the referees improving for MLS, I’d have to say that’s not the case for NWSL. And it begs the question, if MLS refs are sent down to lower levels when they need more experience/education, which level is NWSL?

Everyone complains about the refs, I get it, but it’s gotten to a point that way too often the referees are negatively impacting the results of the game. That negatively impacts the perception people have of the league. And that ultimately impacts the leagues ability to attract and retain valuable fans.

It’s time NWSL steps up and does the right thing for players and fans and tells PRO they won’t settle for the frequently substandard refereeing. It should not have to come to a coach being fined for speaking out for action to be taken. If U.S.Soccer is the front office, then they should act like it and address this situation immediately.