The National Women's Soccer League is losing some of its best players to England for this season. Last year it was perennial top scorer Sam Kerr going to Chelsea. This year it's USWNT stars Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis off to Manchester City. It's becoming a trend, and the NWSL should worry about its place as the deepest, best women's soccer league in the world.
Europe, and especially England, finally seems to be embracing women's soccer after years of lagging the U.S. Arsenal dominated in England for years. Chelsea and Manchester City have joined the annual race, with other big-name clubs making an effort at last. With the pandemic preventing a full season in the U.S., players naturally are heading to places where things are more normal.
Will TV viewers of the women's game follow? In America, MLS has always struggled to draw TV viewers away from the Premier League. This week, NBC Sports announced it would air the English women's league this season. The NWSL should be worried about this, even though its games are being shown on CBS this fall. After all, men's soccer television numbers have already shown that Americans would rather watch Arsenal take on Chelsea than Portland against Houston. Why should the women's game be different?
The better the English league and other European leagues get, the more it erodes the U.S. edge in women's soccer.
• Both MLS and NWSL are playing regional schedules this fall, with a hope of playing enough games to approximate a real season. The awkwardness of this setup was really hammered home as European leagues announced their full schedules this week, after a delayed but otherwise normal calendar. The year 2020 will be a setback for the growth of both American leagues.
• England and Brazil both announced plans to pay their men's and women's international teams the same, joining New Zealand, Norway and Australia. The United States remains slightly different because U.S. Soccer centrally contracts some women's players. Still, though, equal pay for things that can be equal — such as bonuses and match payments – seem well within the organization's grasp.
UEFA Nations League: England at Iceland, 11 a.m. Saturday, Ch. 5. England should win, just as it should have won its knockout-round game against Iceland at Euro 2016, the first time Iceland had qualified for a major tournament. Instead Iceland won 2-1, and you can bet that every fan on both sides remembers that game with crystal clarity. It's strange to have international games right now, but this one should be an entertaining grudge match.
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead. E-mail: email@example.com