Women’s soccer team offers a lesson in class

Women’s soccer team offers a lesson in class

U.S. Soccer set up a fan fest on the north side of Allianz Field on Tuesday, an area called the Great Lawn. A D. J. thumped old school jams. Some fans played cornhole. Others formed a long line to take pictures next to an oversized US Soccer logo.

And others visited a display sent up by the yet-to-be named local W-League team that will begin play in 2022.

A sellout crowd of 18,115 attended the U.S. Women’s National Team game against South Korea on Tuesday, the third time a U.S. national team, men or women, has played there.A few dozen checked out the nameless team’s booth before kickoff.

The two events are linked. The game at Allianz Field — which still has some new car smell left — as well as the new women’s league team here represents the present and future of soccer and women’s sports.

While the USA men’s team has faltered — it failed to qualify for the last World Cup and the last two Olympics — the women’s program has been the gold standard. Carli Lloyd’s international career began in 2005. The USA women — led by Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and others — won two World Cups. Lloyd’s team’s tacked on two more World Cups, as the USA women became the most recognizable and emulated squad on the planet.

Girls wanted to play like them. Nations wanted to win like them.

The seeds were planted. And there’s been a harvest of talent, inspiration and awareness.

The timing couldn’t be better, as there’s more evidence that sports could use a woman’s touch, among other things.

On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league would not release findings from its investigation of the Washington Football Team despite requests from politicians as well as some women who were victims of that toxic environment. The lack of transparency is galling.

Locally, the Timberwolves are trying to move on after the firing of basketball operations chief Gersson Rosas, who was responsible for strained relationships within the organization as well as his actions involving a female employee.

The NCAA took heat during the women’s basketball tournament for providing inadequate equipment for players to use between games while the men’s teams had top facilities.

Even the National Women’s Soccer League — the top women’s league in the country — is dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct and other inappropriate actions that have forced the commissioner to resign, an owner to step down as CEO of his own club and a coach to be fired.

Insensitive decision-makers in major sports continue to make poor judgments. It’s sad, really, that it continues in the age of social media for all to see. But the controversies continue. Out of 650,000 e-mails, Jon Gruden is the only one to be insensitive? Really?

The U.S. Women’s team has stood for equality and inclusion while reigning as one of the world’s best teams and serving as an inspiration to young women. The incoming W-League hopes to provide opportunities for women and men while embracing diversity and equality.

Andrea Yoch, president and co-founder of the Minnesota team-to-be-named-later, stood by her booth before Tuesday’s game talked about the need for more voices in the operation of clubs and leagues.

“Everyone believes now that women’s sports are here to stay,” Yoch said. “There’s a place for it and I think this [U.S.] team proves it. And it doesn’t have to be about the soccer. It’s about the community and the personalities and how welcoming they are and how diverse they are.

“… You can now say, ‘I’m going to invest in this. I’m actually going to help promote women’s sports.’ “

So there was plenty to ponder following USA’s 6-0 win on Tuesday: Lloyd’s prolific 17-year career, the growth of soccer in this community, the benefits of a new women’s soccer team in town and the proliferation of women’s sports over the past three decades.

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