Skip to content

U.S.’s South Korea friendlies come at expense of NWSL: Is it worth it?

Jun 16, 2013, 7:05 PM EDT

China v United States Getty Images

Laura Harvey confessed: It was something she’d have to get used to. Last Sunday, in the wake of a demoralizing home loss to FC Kansas City, the Seattle Reign coach was looking forward to the Sunday’s rivalry match without Hope Solo and Kaylyn Kyle, two important parts of her back five. True, Portland was going to be without the likes of Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair, called in to U.S. and Canadian camps despite matches scheduled outside of FIFA breaks, but while Harvey was at Arsenal LFC, she didn’t have players taken from her out of window. This was something new; something frustrating.

That’s life in a federation-sponsored league. The U.S. and Canada (with help from Mexico) are shouldering much of burden for the NWSL, the three federations paying the salaries of players placed in the new eight-team league. What recourse did the Reign have? There’s no appetite to bite the hand.

For Canada, you can see the logic of the call-ups. John Herdman’s team travel to Germany for a Wednesday game that’s an important part of his team’s development. Ahead of hosting the 2015 World Cup, Canada’s looking at consistent matches against high-level competition to make their capable team into a more consistent one. How does Canada become a team that can regularly give performances like last year’s Olympic semifinal? By repeatedly putting the team in a position to step up.

The U.S. is in a different place. Their June 15th and 20th friendlies seem more a function of pre-NWSL habit than any kind of development need, something easily argued against when noting new coach Tom Sermanni has only been on the job six months. But while you can just as easily argue that players need time in camps to be evaluated properly, you could also argue that staying with their clubs while getting direction from both national team and club staff would help players settle into routines, habits that will better promote development.

Perhaps the North American club game isn’t there, yet. The type of improvement we’ve seen from Christen Press since she’s been in Sweden? Or the glimpses of six month’s further polish evident in Tobin Heath? Perhaps the NWSL can’t provide that, yet. Maybe these camps are still very much needed, even if the scheduling of South Korea — a decent if ultimately unthreatening opponent — hints these games may be part of an old, pre-league playbook: Schedule friendlies, sell tickets, and otherwise occupy this low point of the cycle.

But as the NWSL pushes on with a five-game week, three of which take place tonight, it’s hard to see how these mid-season benefit either U.S. Soccer or the NWSL in the long run. If the argument for throwing money behind the NWSL espouses the developmental value of a strong domestic league, then let the league be strong. Unless you have an opponent like Germany and a need like Canada’s, take the long view. Make the little sacrifices needed to embolden the NWSL so that in the this type of discussion eventually becomes irrelevant.

In their two games against South Korea, U.S. Soccer may raise money that will help pay their players’ salaries, this supporting the NWSL. But the domestic league was always going to be about little sacrifices: by owners; by players; and by the federations. Not calling in the national team players for mid-season matches against South Korea? That would have been just another small sacrifice toward the NWSL’s health.

(Author’s note: The original post made two references to the U.S.’s friendlies being out-of-window in regards to the international calendar. Those references were incorrect and have been removed.)

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Arsene Wenger pinpoints where Arsenal must improve

    Nov 1, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

    Arsene Wenger AP

    Wenger talks about how Arsenal must turn draws into wins.

  2. Watch Live: Newcastle United vs. Liverpool (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 1, 2014, 8:20 AM EDT

    Liverpool v Swansea City - Capital One Cup Fourth Round

    Can Newcastle win three straight in the PL as Liverpool roll into town? Watch live, here.

  3. WATCH: Premier League online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 10

    Nov 1, 2014, 7:34 AM EDT

    Live Extra

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 10 live online or via the app.

  4. Bayern exec: Dortmund will easily qualify for Champions League

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    FC St. Pauli v Borussia Dortmund - DFB Cup Getty Images

    Despite losing six of their first nine matches, Bayern Munich executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge believes Borussia Dortmund will turn around their play.

  5. Roberto Martinez says Arouna Kone will play again for Everton

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Everton v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    The Ivorian striker has been sidelined for more than 12 months with a knee injury.

  6. Where will Sami Khedira end up this season?

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Cornella v Real Madrid CF - Copa Del Rey: Round of 32 Getty Images

    The German international has only made three appearances off the bench for Real Madrid as rumors of a move to the Premier League continue to swirl.

  7. Wilshere out, Giroud ahead of schedule for Arsenal

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:35 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Swansea City - FA Cup Third Round Replay Getty Images

    Some good news and some bad news for Gunners fans as Jack Wilshere has injured his knee while Olivier Giroud is “miles ahead of schedule” after ankle surgery.

  8. Paul Scholes says arrogance could hurt Manchester City

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:40 PM EDT

    Manchester United v New York Cosmos - Paul Scholes' Testimonial Match Getty Images

    The Manchester United legend has called out the crosstown rivals, saying City has a “touch of arrogance.”

  9. Harry Kane pressing for starting role with Spurs

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur FC v Asteras Tripolis FC - UEFA Europa League Getty Images

    The young striker has seven goals in eleven appearances for Spurs, but is yet to earn a Premier League start this season.

  10. Aston Villa’s Paul Lambert: I’m not ‘bomb-proof’

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Aston Villa v Wigan Athletic - Premier League Getty Images

    Aston Villa have lost five straight matches and haven’t scored a goal since September 13th.

  11. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Queens Park Rangers

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Watch the Blues host the R’s Saturday at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN or online via Live Extra.

  12. Americans Abroad preview: Decent draw for Premier Leaguers

    Oct 31, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    1. FC Koeln v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga Getty Images

    Take a look at the rest of the fixtures ahead for Yanks in Europe by heading inside.

  13. MLS playoffs weekend preview: Which remaining team has the best form?

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT

    A.J. Soares, Federico Higuain AP

    New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, New England Revolution, FC Dallas, L.A. Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake or DC United: Who’s been better?

  14. Van Gaal: Manchester Derby is “biggest” he’ll manage; Rooney in, Falcao out

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:42 PM EDT

    Manchester United Training Session Getty Images

    “This is the biggest derby that I shall manage,” the Manchester United boss told reporters on Friday.

  15. Oguchi Onyewu finds a new, potentially short-term home in England

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

    oo-4383-2053012_478x359

    Onyewu has played at QPR, Malaga, Sporting CP, Twente, AC Milan, Newcastle, Standard Liege, La Louviere and Metz since he left Clemson.

  16. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 10

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every game during Week 10 of the PL.

  17. David Silva to miss Manchester derby, out three weeks with knee injury

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    City and United tangle at 8am ET on NBCSN this Sunday, and the absence of Silva will be a bonus for Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils.

  18. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton the standouts

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez AP

    Here’s how PST’s editor and lead writer sees things panning out this weekend.

Featured video

PST Extra: The Manchester derby