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Sunday Cup-o-American soccer: NWSL is back, Telstar bound, and the MLS player Black Lives Matter strike

Stories from the week in American soccer

Atlanta United FC v Inter Miami CF Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It’s been a big week for US Soccer as the WNT players who decamped for Europe starting preseason and transfer news shaking up things for the men. The recent success of young American players getting breaks in Europe is obviously promising, but it seems unexpected too. It isn’t exactly as if the latest slate of players to stake a claim across the pond had tremendous track records of huge international hype after tournaments like the U-17 or U-20 World Cup. And yet, they’re breaking through for good teams in top five leagues.

They’re obviously talented but why this is happening now is probably more multi-faceted than just the fact that they’re good. The question of “what if our best athletes played soccer?” was always the wrong one, but it might be worth asking, “what if our best soccer players didn’t go to college and instead focused on turning pro?” That track is proving more fruitful for players like Josh Sargent, Tim Weah, and Gio Reyna. Beyond that, there seems to be a larger network of contacts that these players could tap into as they develop in their careers that perhaps wasn’t as strongly formed until just recently.

Catching up with Sam Mewis

The USWNT midfielder opened pre-season in England and got off to a strong start. Man City has a strong lineup and Mewis and Rose Lavelle will only make them better. Jamie Spencer of 90min has a look at Mewis’ debut and a preview of what to expect from City this year in the Women’s Super League. The regular season will start soon on September 6th and a new set of challenges will await one of the WNT’s most talented midfielders.

When you wish upon a Telstar...

Sebastian Soto is going to try to score goals. He probably wouldn’t have had many chances to do that at Norwich for the time being, so he’s headed across the English Channel to Telstar SC. The Dutch second division club was where Andrija Novakovich first started making headlines with a breakout season. Soto is hoping to have similar success while on loan this year. Roger Gonzalez on CBS Sports interviewed Soto and his agent for a deeper look at what the forward hopes to do in Holland.

NWSL IS BACK! This time in pod form

After some uncertainty about if and when it would return, the NWSL announced its plans for the fall. Of course, this comes after several players decamped for Europe. The league will begin play in September and conclude in October. Rather than the typical table based schedule that the league uses, teams are set up in three pods of three teams each. Stephanie Yang wrote about the news on AllForXI.

Vlatko Andonovski and the insight he gained from the NWSL bubble

While the NWSL bubble tournament was a success and a nice return to semi-normalcy as far as sports go, it’s also a reminder of what didn’t happen this summer. In particular, the fact that the USWNT didn’t get to try to redeem themselves in the Olympics after an early exit in 2016. The Blue Testament has Vlatko Andonovski’s statements about what’s next for the USWNT and how he used his time in Utah watching potential players.

MLS players strike for Black Lives Matter

Across the sporting world on Wednesday, teams did not take the field to demand an end to racial injustice following the shooting of Jacob Blake. While NBA, WNBA, and MLB teams sat out games, MLS players joined the strike as well. The demands for justice took the focus off of entertainment and re-focused it on the Black Lives Matter movement as demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin sought answers after police officers shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. How the strike was organized, what players are saying about it, and what might be next is covered by US Soccer Reporters and on ESPN by Jeff Carlisle.

Following the strike, Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals owner Dell Loy Hansen lashed out at the players. In the wake of his statements, the Athletic published an article describing racist statements Hansen has made in the past, RSL also fired manager Mike Petke last year after he made homophobic statements. Stephanie Yang on AllForXI covered how the NWSL is handling Hansen’s actions along with what players are saying.

Finally, on Saturday night Crystal Dunn posted a statement from the Black Players of the NWSL.