If Drive to Survive on Netflix has taught us anything, it’s that people love the story behind the story, and it can rocket the popularity of a sport if they allow people to see it. But you don’t need a Netflix special to get into some personality and character. Twitter can do that for you, as long as players feel comfortable being themselves (within reason. There’s an Aubrey Huff border).
The NWSL had some prime Twitter beef over the past month, and it’s helped to enhance what has taken place on the field. It also helps that it involves perhaps the league’s brightest star in Trinity Rodman, and pushing the overall narrative of how the USWNT will be turned over to a younger generation and the pushback on that when they start prepping for games that really matter, i.e. the 2023 World Cup.
It started a couple weeks ago during the league’s Challenge Cup, which acts as sort of a preseason tournament for everyone before the regular season kicks off at the end of the month. The geographical and historical rivalry between New York and DC plays a role too. Two weeks ago or so, Gotham FC was visiting defending league champions the Washington Spirit, when this happened:
That’s Washington’s Ashley Sanchez, one of the league’s silkiest playmakers, Messi’ing Gotham’s Ali Krieger right onto her ass. Pretty cool moment, no? And certainly the Spirit aren’t above promoting the exploits of one of their main stars.
Every action has an opposite and equal reaction though. Krieger’s wife, one Ashlyn Harris who is the keeper for Gotham, ran to the defense of Krieger, though you’d have to say it’s some pretty weak sauce she came armed to the fight:
Watching the highlight, this doesn’t look like a slip so much as getting one’s shit wrecked, but hey, no one wants to see someone they love become a national FoF unless absolutely necessary.
Trinity Rodman certainly wasn’t playing that game:
This wasn’t the end of it. Harris got into the “know your role” territory and tried to play the veteran card:
See, the thing is, Rodman should be feeling pretty confident these days, and is in fact, hot shit. She dragged the Spirit in the NWSL championship game to victory, won the league’s Rookie Of The Year, as is no worse than a top five player in the league. She is certainly the future of the USWNT, and could make a serious argument that she’s the present.
But Rodman didn’t need people like me to say it for her, because thanks to the format of the Challenge Cup, it was only a couple weeks until the Spirit traveled to New York to see Gotham again, where Rodman messed around and did this:
Oh, and this:
While we’re at it, the Spirit’s first goal was scored by Sanchez on a gorgeous freekick:
The Spirit crushed Gotham, not just by the 3-1 scoreline, but also fired off 18 shots to Gotham’s six. And who got to watch the ball gleefully and if a little brazenly streak by her three times? One Ashlyn Harris.
There is something satisfying about watching a vet try and slap down a precocious young player merely for being young, and that player whack that horseshit right into the dumpster where it belongs on the field. Rodman is the truth and she’s pretty intent on showing everyone that’s the case. If only with that, this is a fun little happening that the NWSL must be secretly beaming about, even if they can’t totally condone it.
On a deeper level, there is a fight coming for the USWNT over the next year. There are some established and previously entrenched players who might find their places under serious threat by the time it’s time to get on the plane for Australia and New Zealand. Rodman might be the US’s most dynamic forward already, and if she isn’t Catarina Macario is, who’s only 22. Mal Pugh has been a USWNT regular before but seems to be coming for more than that now. There are other names that will be pushing the names we remember to the sidelines. Carli Lloyd didn’t seem to like it much when that happened to her, though we can expect others to act with a little more diplomacy should they become impact subs in favor of younger players. Maybe.
The rest of the world is catching up quickly. For the USWNT to stay on top, they’ll need the new dimension that players like Rodman provide. This might just be a glimpse of the last generation raging against the dying of the light.
Or it’s just fun, quality Twitter beef.