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An absolutely serious, final analysis of the 2021 NWSL Championship – Equalizer Soccer

Photo copyright by Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

The NWSL championship 2021 is just around the corner. Many have already discussed the game in terms of “tactics” and “analysis”. But football is not just about Xs and Os. It’s about grain. Zeal. Creativity. Things that cannot be measured with numbers.

Accordingly, I spoke to most of the players on each team at the NWSL Media Day on Thursday – I missed a handful due to the 45 minute time limit – and asked them a series of carefully crafted questions to find out who had the advantage and when intangible at.


This is self-explanatory. Confidence is key to an important game – so which team is better at scare the opponents?

To evaluate this metric, I asked the members of both teams two questions. First, which player on the opposing team they least want to meet in individual combat, and second, which of their own teammates they would choose as an ally in a fight.

The Spirit’s Andi Sullivan was confident in this area and replied “Make your choice” when asked about teammates who might be good at a fight. Spirit players had a number of answers to this question, including Emily Sonnett, Kelley O’Hara, Paige Nielsen, Trinity Rodman, and Ashley Sanchez. By far the most popular answer, however, was Sam Staab, and the players who gave that answer were remarkably confident. Staab agreed with her teammates and said: “I am not really intimidated by anyone.”

Interestingly, Staab was only named by one Chicago player, Ella Stevens, who said she “hated playing it in college” (Stevens went to Duke, Staab to Clemson). Other Red Stars cited Sonnett, O’Hara and Rodman as intimidating, with Nikki Stanton giving a striking description of O’Hara: “Do you know how sharks swim to catch their prey, their eyes are black?” She said. “Yes, she understands. We call them shark eyes. “

When it came to who would do well in battle on their team, there was less consensus among the Red Stars. Tatumn Milazzo, Arin Wright, Sarah Gorden, Kealia Watt, and Alyssa Naeher were all given in response, but only Naeher received an acknowledgment that rang like Staab, with Tierna Davidson reporting that the two had spoken about it. “She hesitated without hesitation when I asked her once that she [back me up]. “Nahe is of course – together with Watt – injured and won’t play on Saturday.

The Spirit gave a similar list of potentially intimidating Red Stars, with Naeher (injured again) topping the list alongside Gorden. Chicago’s iron woman.

The Red Stars were also the only team with players who volunteered that they would do badly in a fight, with Rachel Hill reporting that she was running away and Danielle Colaprico said, “I would probably start crying and say, why should you do this the? ‘… I would never hit anyone back.’

All in all, the spirit easily takes this category up. The players on both teams were not only clearer about which Washington players not to mess with, but the three most intimidating players – Staab, Sonnett and O’Hara – all play side by side on the defensive line.

Advantage: mind


The ability to think on your feet and think outside the box is a great quality of a soccer player. What better way to measure this than survival in the wild? I asked both teams who would do well in the backcountry.

The Spirit had a harder time with this question as Aubrey Bledsoe said, “We don’t have too many outdoor people on our team.” Anna Heilferty, a qualified biologist, was the most popular answer, followed by Camryn Biegalski. Remarkably, reversing the previous question, it was only Spirit players who volunteered that either their teammates or they themselves were doing badly. Kelley O’Hara said without prompting: “I would never go” [Ashley] Sanchez alone in the forest. ”When asked, other players unanimously agreed with this answer, with the exception of Kumi Yokoyama, who enthusiastically raised her own hand.

The Red Stars were more confident. Zoe Morse was the name most often mentioned, and Davidson called her “very outdoor” and also “calm and sensible”. Hill was similarly flattering, saying, “I just think she’s a survivor. She would use anything and everything she could to make a living on the land, and she would make it.

It should be noted, however, that Morse is not a starter for this team – although the Spirit favorite Heilferty is not either. On the other hand, several Red Stars also pointed to Davidson, who of course starts as Gorden’s partner in central defense.

After all, Chicago as a group is the more intellectual side; On the field, they stand out for their excellent defensive organization, and apart from that, it seems like they are a team to take with you in a survival situation.

Advantage: red stars


The tiebreaker is perhaps the most intangible of all intangibles. By “cursed” I mean “determination,” so to speak, but I mean a little more than that; Everyone wants to win the game, but who is willing to put up with the real inconvenience of looking for what is ultimately a relatively small reward?

To measure this, I asked players a simple question: how much money would they have to pay to eat a cockroach?

The answers were very different, with some players asking for millions. In Chicago, three players were asking for a million dollars or more – Gorden, Stevens and Hill – plus head coach Rory Dames. Stevens, who said she wouldn’t eat possibly the coarsest Beetle there is for less than $ 10 million, had the highest price on either team.

The two most willing Red Stars were Stanton and Katie Johnson, who said $ 50 and $ 20 respectively. Not optimistic about his team’s willingness to take the challenge, Dames said, “I feel like there would be five or six full throttle on his team.” Morgan Gautrat came the closest to a complete disapproval, initially asking for $ 10,000 but then admitting that if she actually got a live 1 inch cockroach, her courage might fail. Ultimately, Colaprico took a unique approach and asked if she could volunteer to eat more cockroaches for more money, suggesting some creative thinking that can be a real asset on the soccer field.

Overall, the spirit was much braver in this regard. Yokoyama and Taylor Aylmer were the only two Washington players to hand in seven-figure totals, and it’s worth noting that these two sat together, which may have affected their combined price of $ 5,000,000. The majority of Spirit players replied $ 500 or less, perhaps because many of them asked if they could cook or otherwise prepare the beetle (the answer: the roach is given to you alive, but you can do whatever you want with it it). Similar to Colaprico’s tactics, this gives the mind some critical thinking points.

The clear winner of this challenge, however, if there can be such a thing, was Rodman, who immediately replied that if there was a test of courage, she would do it for free.

All in all, the spirit is the clear winner here. Their team’s average price was lower – $ 557,395.56 from the players I had time to speak to versus $ 724,451.11 the Red Stars – and having a Star striker ready to eating a live bug would give every team an advantage.

Advantage: mind


There you have it: The Spirit takes the trophy here and wins two of three categories. I think it’s worth pointing out, however, that the broader topic that comes up here is one of order versus chaos, calm versus ruthlessness. Washington has the more intimidating roster, but Chicago only beat an intimidating team at the Portland Thorns last week. Which one comes out on top is a question that only time will answer.

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