Horace Greeley wrote, “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country,” in the New York Daily Tribune in 1865. These words were written during America’s westward expansion during a time when cities were bereft of opportunity, and plentiful fertile farmland waited for the plow. Today, I’ll say, “Go East, young woman, and prepare for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.” With the NWSL playing a truncated season, and non-bubble sports in the United States at risk with COVID-19 still prominent, some of the U.S. Womens National Team’s (USWNT) best players are headed to England to play a full-length schedule.
Tobin Heath, a midfielder who played at Carolina for Anson Dorrance from 2006-2009, is taking this opportunity, leaving the Portland Thorns of the NWSL and signing for Manchester United. She is joined by Christen Press, a USWNT teammate formerly of the Utah Royals and Stanford. Crosstown rivals Manchester City have signed USWNT players Rose Lavelle from OL Reign and Sam Mewis from North Carolina Courage. Their deals will see them settled in Manchester for the entire 2020-21 season, which goes through May 2021, and presumably will have them all fit and ready for the delayed 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The Football Association (England’s football governing body) Women’s Super League (WSL) has seen a huge influx of cash from their parent clubs to go along with increased worldwide interest. All WSL games are available in the UK on the FA Player app, and NBC Sports has signed up to broadcast 50 games on NBCSN, with the remaining games available on the NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com.
English clubs operate both the men’s and women’s teams, and there’s a lot of synergy. They will wear the same kit and co-mingle in social media campaigns. Usually, the women’s sides will play in smaller stadiums (Tobin Heath will play her home matches Leigh Sports Stadium, not Old Trafford), but on occasion, they’ll play derby matches (pronounced like the roast beef fast food restaurant, not like the horse race in Kentucky) in the larger men’s stadium.
As an Arsenal fan, it will pain me to see fellow Tar Heel Tobin Heath in a ManU kit. It will especially pain me when they occasionally bust out their horrendous third kit:
Adidas must have harbored a vendetta against someone at Manchester United to have green lit that disaster. There’s no way any player, man or woman, can play with confidence when they look like a zebra Hamburglar running up and down the pitch.