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Thursday Kickaround

*The Washington Freedom added another University of Virginia defender to its roster, signing Sarah Senty and waiving defender-midfielder Jayme Leigh Cargnoni. Senty, selected in the seventh round of the college draft, chose to finish her course work before pursuing a pro career.

Meantime, Freedom midfielder Joanna Lohman was suspended for one game for apparently throwing an elbow in the 90th minute of Sunday's game at Boston. Breakers forward Christine Latham was suspended two games for an elbowing incident early in the second half of that match. And get this: Boston Coach Tony DiCicco was fined $750 and ordered to do four hours of soccer community service for his postgame criticism of the referee. [UPDATE: The Freedom plans to appeal Lohman's suspension.]

*Reinier Alcantara and Pedro Faife, the Cuban national team players who sought asylum when they were in Washington last fall, both debuted for Miami in a 1-0 USL1 loss at Charleston. Miami's lineup also included former D.C. United players Facundo Erpen and Tim Merritt.

*A Washington Post front-page feature examines the pursuit of college soccer scholarships and the physical toll it's taking on high school players whose schedules are congested with practices, travel and games.

*Soccer on TV:
Copa Libertadores, round of 16, second leg: Boca Juniors-Defensor Sporting 6:30 p.m. Fox Sports Espanol
Mexico semifinals, first leg: Indios-Pachuca 8 p.m. Azteca America

*Americans Abroad:
D Marco Vidal and Indios vs. MF Jose Francisco Torres and Pachuca

Thanks to everyone who has added the Soccer Insider to their Twitter account. We've surpassed 1,000 followers and are rapidly closing in on Ashton Kutcher (1.8 million).

By Steve Goff  |  May 21, 2009; 9:25 AM ET
Categories:  Freedom , Mexico , Preps , TV , USL , Women  
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Next: MacFarlane Out as United Investor


1. Precedence is a b
2. These suspensions are becoming a joke
3. Nobody in WPS is going to want to play on television.

Posted by: sitruc | May 21, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

So is the Kuykendall in the front-page article related to Shawn?

Posted by: fallschurch1 | May 21, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Reinier Alcantara looked like a really solid professional for Miami FC in that game.

Tim Merrit on the other hand still is lousy. Even at the USL level he looks like he's over matched.

Posted by: kkfla7371 | May 21, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

anyone know what the latest on the Real-DCU friendly is? i haven't been keeping up with things

Posted by: gregegeg | May 21, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

@ sitruc: Ok, I'm getting off the floor and dusting myself off. Great zinger about the WPS and tv. Well played...

Posted by: yankiboy | May 21, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

The Commish of the WPS took my criticms way too much to heart. Sure she is the Commish and she needs to act like it but the Tony D fine is an absolute joke. $750 and "soccer community service"?!?! What is that like visiting a U-12 girls program and talking about how much soccer is to play? How does a pro-coach get a fine for stating that the refs are on a learning curve just like the players and technical staff are?!?! You gotta be kidding me.

Posted by: yankiboy | May 21, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Well, Kutcher is able to pull in Demi Moore and he also punks CNN. I suggest you bring in Mrs. Insider at times and maybe punk...Don Graham's walkup in DC--that's the ticket. And pretty soon you'll have just as many subscribers.

And no, the suspensions within WPS aren't out of bounds. It's common to complain about refereeing. I usually don't--I feel the breaks even out over the course of the year. But what we're seeing (a function of USWNT coaching for 6 years plus no WUSA) is that probably the 6-8 best players in WPS this year are NOT American. Including the top attackers from the USWMNT. Instead, the Americans are being forced to resort to physical play to try and stop the Marta's and Kelly Smith's and Sonia Bonpastor's. The elbows and play that can injury--that stuff in particular needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand (and now all WPS teams are doing it since they got the message the first two weeks that: (a) there is a significant skill and tactical savvy gap between the Americans and the best foreign talent and (b) the refs will let you get away with elbows, hard challenges and persistent infringement). It only seems ridiculous unless you've been watching tape of a bunch of different WPS teams in different games. Very dirty or out of control play going on in EVERY game I've watched part of this year.

Posted by: JoeW1 | May 21, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

anyone know what the latest on the Real-DCU friendly is? i haven't been keeping up with things

Posted by: gregegeg | May 21, 2009 9:51 AM

Real takes on DCU this Sat. @RFK, and I don't expect it to be too friendly....

....That's how you put away a sitter, Fred!! You don't knock 'em over the bar, or crush 'em when a tap-in will do.

Posted by: fischy | May 21, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

DiCicco deserved what he got. He said he was willing to take a fine in order to make the statement; I think the community service will give it more bite, and unlike a fine, no one else can pay it for him.

DiCicco wasn't complaining that his own player wasn't red-carded for a vicious elbow, he was working the refs to "protect" Kelly Smith. He knew what he was doing and he knew he'd be punished.

Visiting U-12s? No, I'd have him make a book-on-tape of his book "Catch Them Being Good" about coaching female players, and then condense a one-hour version for state association coaching courses.

Posted by: OWNTF | May 21, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I didn't see Lohman's elbow. How bad was it?

Good for the League to suspend Latham. Now go have a talk with the ref.

How, exactly, is four hours of soccer community service a penalty for DiCicco? He's just going to credit his scheduled talks to kids to this sanction.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 21, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Obviously the players are responsible for their actions and it's good the commissioner is holding them accountable.

But rather than a vaguely worded slap at the USSF, the commish needs to explicitly put USSF on notice: don't supply us with referees who don't know or won't enforce the rules of the game. Latham's elbow was a mandatory ejection - no discretion involved - according to any literal interpretation of FIFA rules. The rules were not appplied, and - surprise! - we have another (unpunished) ejectable offense later in the same game.

There are all kinds of human factors involved, but there is no indemnity for negligence. If USSF keeps scraping the bottom of its referee barrel to supply the three - yes THREE - WPS games every week, they will not only be dragged into a PR nightmare, they may face some civil liability issues.

Meanwhile, as long as individuals players continue failing to get the message, you have to deal with them as any employer would.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | May 21, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

So, I can get home from my Football Spring Game, watch a couple of Americans and a VERY good Pachuca team, then Lakers-Nuggets? I'm in.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | May 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I don't know whether anyone has previously pointed out a reference to a football-oriented film at the tail end of an report from the Cannes film festival in the Post the other day:

Posted by: universityandpark | May 21, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

"To finish my homework and just be done with it and not have to worry about being in bed at 9:30 on a Friday night because I have a tournament in the morning."

The bizarro world of Type A NOVA parents really has to change. That article is a sad statement on the entire system. Too bad for those kids

Posted by: delantero | May 21, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

It's an unfortunate truth that most female officials do not have as much top-level experience as the men. And I am sure there are a lot fewer women working their way up the referee ladder to begin with which also doesn't help. WPS wants to develop and showcase the women referees as much as possible. So you are going to get referees with less top flight experience. Which leads to some issues.

The US Soccer referee week in review itself points out that the elbow by Latham has to be a red card every time. And that the referee and her crew have to get that decision correct.

Tony's right that there is a learning curve for the referees working that league. I wonder if it would make much difference to have some of the top level male referees on those games. I wonder if the men who are aspiring to MLS and beyond are focused so much on men's games that they simply don't make themselves available to work WPS which they no doubt see as inferior and not a stepping stone to where they eventually want to be. Or is it more a function of the league wanting women referees whenever possible?

Posted by: fedssocr | May 21, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I follow you Steven and I have dumped Ashton because unlike you he has nothing to say. You seem to use Twitter just the right number of times during the day and it supports the Blog.

Posted by: opchuck | May 21, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

OT: Overheard from Michael Vick today: "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore."

Fallschurch1: that's an affirmative.

Posted by: joedoc1 | May 21, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

@delantero -- I wouldn't assume it is the parents -- it may be; it may also be the coaches (19 showcases in 16 months has to be at the extreme end of what most clubs/parents would do/permit), but at that age I don't think adults can make them do what they're not willing to do; and you'd be surprised how hard they push themselves and how much they love to play. I know some who caught a few weeks break in their club/school schedule & put together their own pick-up team in an indoor league; their only rule was that no adult was allowed to give them any instruction . . . .

joedoc your thoughts? the club/school dilemma has been around for a while . . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | May 21, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Tony's right that there is a learning curve for the referees working that league. I wonder if it would make much difference to have some of the top level male referees on those games.

With emphasis on "top level." The clown who worked the Freedom-STL match at the 'Plex a coupla weeks ago showed that mediocrity is no respecter of gender.

The match report doesn't show that the ref gave Lohman even a yellow; did she not see the incident at all? And I don't recall seeing it on FSC. So how was Lohman caught?

Posted by: universityandpark | May 21, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Fallschurch1: that's an affirmative.

Posted by: joedoc1 | May 21, 2009 10:55 AM

And by extension, related to Kurt (for those of us who go back to NASL days, and/or have any affinity for AU sports).

Posted by: universityandpark | May 21, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse


I remember writing about this issue 20 years ago, when I wrote for The Connection Newspapers.

First, high school soccer IS better than it used to be. More schools have better fields, and the coaches are no longer the SHOP teacher looking for some extra cash.

But it still comes down to the club teams. Those schools lucky enough to have strong club feeder systems enjoy the fruits of the club labors. High school coaches don't "develop" players - they fit them into a system and get the best they can out of them.

The fact is that there are more good young players now than there ever has been, at least in this area. As a result, high school coaches generally have a deeper talent pool from which to draw.

But do college coaches scout high school games? Hardly. They're going to the competitive club tournaments to scout (this includes ODP, Super Y, regional leagues, etc.)

The story makes this pretty clear -- if it's all about high school soccer getting a kid to college, then all of the work with the club teams wouldn't be necessary.

In the end, though, is it all worth it? Not in my opinion. Much of it is in the ego of the parents -- they want to say their kid "signed" with this school or that school. I've seen it for 20 years.

Do kids get important financial aid? Absolutely. Is it to the school that best fits the player? That's debatable.

It seems that the end mission is to get a player a free or partial ride to college. Soccer is not the only way to get there, and based on this story, it's not always the healthiest.

In the end, though, I believe in individuals making the best choices for themselves. If this is what they want, more power to them. With my kids, though, I'm not hopping aboard that train.

My apologies to Chest Rockwell, for exceeding your word limit.


Posted by: joedoc1 | May 21, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Reporting from the story comments:

Remember: Not all travel soccer players, or parents, are as delusional as the quoted parents appear to be.

Every parent on our travel team was told when their players were freshmen: "Your kids not getting a scholarship: get over it. Congrats to the kids who do, but colleges offer 9.5 scholarships per 22 player team. Do the math."

Players still want to play. Some because the HS league isn't fulfilling, some because they like keeping active, and mostly because they like it.

Travel leagues go 4-6 divisions deep. Not all the players or their family's fit the stereotype depicted here.

And yeah, the top teams in both the HS and Travel leagues can be breathtakingly good.

Posted by: JkR- | May 21, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

That's right, UandPark. Sami is Kurt's daughter.

A great family, on and off the soccer field. I'm blessed to call them friends.

Posted by: joedoc1 | May 21, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

So I shouldn't take the money out of the 529 accounts and use it for club fees, equipment, gas, and hotels?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 21, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Lohman "elbow" occurred at 90:22. Ball popped out to Singer (I think) after a corner or play in the box. Singer lofted it in (from 30 yds or so out) toward the top of the 18. Lohman jumped up to head the ball, and did, with her back to goal and to the Breakers player, and while heading the ball it looks like (camera angle distant) her left elbow made contact w/Breakers defender (near her face), and she then went down. A foul was NOT called. No card of any color was given.

IMHO the WPS is being Solomonic, feeling the need to punish one player from each team.

A good writeup of what DeCicco said is here:

I watched the whole game again last night and don't think Smith was targeted or fouled as much as Tony D complained, but agree that this was a calculated move to try to get refs to protect her in later games.

Posted by: MR1Caretaker | May 21, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

270, learning the tuba is a better investment . . . . but you know those tuba parents from Potomac can get out of control . . . .

Posted by: OWNTF | May 21, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Having read the article on girls soccer and having a kid that plays in the same league I feel qualified to comment. While it's nice to see the subject covered at all it could have been written about any number of sports such as baseball, softball, football, Ice or field hockey, but it wasn't. Based on thin evidence it seemed to throw a bucket of cold water on girls trying to use the sport of soccer to get themselves into a quality higher learning institution. Seems like a good end game. The Coaches or parents on my daughters Region I team would never play an injured player (just doesn't make sense). The club gears down the club play when the school soccer season starts (fall in Maryland) and sits out league play. When the girls on the team get together they play hard, but also enjoy each others company so they are growing in a structured eviroment. They are fit, healthy, and have good school records. Good colleges typically don't take strong players with poor grades. I believe the post writer just needed to come up with a sensational piece and didn't think a balanced story would have pleased the editor. Note that the expense numbers seemed a bit high but compare to 4 years of college expense. So please shake your head ruefully and move on.

Posted by: LaurelreallyScaggsville | May 21, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I think the youth players work hard at this level because they love to play the game well. The high school coaches need to take the heat off the top players. It really doesn't make soccer sense to play in high school now, students are stretching themselves because they want to contribute to their school, in some way. Yes a bit of ego in this, but the pressure environment comes from the schools not from elite soccer coaches. Keep in mind that a player's love of the game is attached to the non-high school play because it is better soccer. Please high school coaches -- help these players, give them rest, stop running them to death, protect them, help them get to club practices, encourage other students to strive to be better at the things they chose - but please don't measure success in terms of the won-loss records, advancement to regional levels, or the goals scored or stopped in high school soccer.

Posted by: soccerdad1again | May 21, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Christine Latham threw a deliberate elbow. I am glad to see this was disciplined. I am sorry the AR couldn't see it and the Center didn't. It is a red card, and all players need to know that.

Posted by: soccerdad1again | May 21, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

US Soccer, in its weekly referee review, leads off with the Latham elbow as an example of a blatant red card foul:

Posted by: kevinwparker | May 21, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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