Parisian Dreams

A certain PSG striker is opening opportunities for young footballers in the U.S.

Paris. City of lights, seduction and world class strikers. Founded in 1970 PSG has a history of signing brilliant strikers. George Weah scored goals and a league title. Pauleta drank from the French Cup. And Ronaldinho…Ronnie came to town and began his European adventure, mesmerizing the masses with exotic touches and devilish free kicks, both on the pitch and in nightclubs.

A bit of Qatari pocket change parachuted in, allowing Ibrahimovic to strut through the door. A Uruguayan matador followed close behind. But PSG wasn’t done. They had another world class striker in mind. A shadow signing that glided past the press. A signing that has altered the career path for women footballers in the United States.

Lindsey Horan. A US striker and Colorado native signed with PSG, becoming the first US women’s player to shun the collegiate system and turn pro.

Horan’s talents offered her a scholarship to UNC, the La Masia for women’s football in the United States. UNC is the dream for all Tobin Heath, Mia Hamm postered rooms of adolescent soccer playing girls in the US. So when Horan turned down Anson and friends more than a few eyebrows curled. The system had been challenged.

The US has now won more Women’s World Cups than any other nation. It can’t be argued that the current infrastructure has yielded results. But a professional, year round European environment has plenty to teach a young player in terms of individual technique and football composure. Traits that most of our girls could still do with a bit of polish.

So far Horan hasn’t missed a lesson. She’s been imperious. Scoring with a blend of calm inside-of-the-foot corner pocket finishes, half volleys and tap-ins. She’s an impact player, PSG’s leading goal scorer and has been rewarded with a new two year deal.

An American striker dominating in Europe? That’s a national team lock, a spot in starting 11. Bizarrely not for Horan. Horan’s national team chances have been limited allegedly because she’s not poaching goals in the NWSL. PSG, despite it’s global footballing clout is far from the radar of US soccer’s decision makers.

Still, Horan has hacked away a new trail, erasing the idea of the collegiate environment being the only path to a professional career.

The next generation of women footballers may not flock overseas to begin their careers, but thanks to Horan at least they know it’s possible.


Hours Before a Final

Clock_IMG_2538Only hours remain before the United States and Japan play against each other in their third consecutive major final. Sure to break viewer records as the team that almost never loses takes on the team that both shattered and captured hearts 4 years ago. The two have split the previous meetings, including the last World Cup and Olympics.

Each has traveled their own path. Japan weaving and feinting their way through the rounds with a technical dexterity that sets the standard in the women’s game. The US willing themselves past each opponent with an impenetrable back four and a strategic shuffle inspired by suspension that saw Morgan Brian make like a grandmother before Christmas, knitting together both sides of the tactical sweater.

This US team has been praised and criticized, by some of their very own. Which is fine. Gone are the days where this team could do no wrong. Where an adoring press admired and fawned over powerful and lovely women dominating a sport they knew nothing about. The rest of the world, with fabled footballing legacies and fresh ambitions has caught up.

The women’s game continues to develop and grow. And this final is a reason to celebrate that growth. So let’s all tuck in with our families and watch a final to remember.