THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
While Megan Rapinoe often takes the spotlight where the Women’s National Soccer team is concerned, she is also the first to recognize that the team comes first, and with the Olympics coming up soon the squad will embark on an early Summer Series of games that will shape their squad. Only 18 players will make the trip to Japan for the Olympics, so each moment on the pitch will matter, and the head coach knows it will be a testing time for some. “It is very important that we start synchronizing our lines and the players that are going to play together, or we believe are going to play the majority of the minutes, in the Olympics.” Vlatko Andonovski said in his conference call with the press, “So we’re going to try to get some of those players a little bit more minutes, but there will be players that we’re probably going to have to see one last time before we announce the roster as well.”
The Summer Series is not strictly a tournament, with no standings being recorded, but nevertheless it will be good preparation for a set of games in a congested time. The US will play Portugal on 10 June, then Jamaica three days later, followed by Nigeria on 16 June. As good as it is to gain momentum with positive results, it’s just as important the performance is right, as a team as well as individuals trying to impress. That said the team can gain confidence that recent games have seen victories against the upcoming opponents. They last played Portugal in 2019, two friendly games were won 4-0 and 3-0. Jamaica was soundly beaten in World Cup qualifying in 2018, 6-0. And the Nigerians were matched up in the 2015 World Cup finals group and were headed off by the only goal in the game.
The last game is of note as it is due to be played at the new Q2 Stadium, home of Austin FC, who are in the early stages of their rookie season in the MLS. Austin are being forced to play their opening fixtures on the road as the stadium has the final touches to their home made. But when the national team comes knocking, asking if they can play there you can hardly turn it down. So, three days earlier than planned for the opening game to be played there by Austin, the USWNT will play to a big crowd against Nigeria, as of yet a capacity limit has yet to be set. “Featuring the US Women’s National team as the launch event for Q2 Stadium is symbolic of the new layer of possibilities, and it is what our staff and our community have been building toward.” Said Austin FC’s President Andy Loughnane.
In the NFL there are great comeback stories every year. So much so that they have an award for it. Last year it went to quarterback Alex Smith after his brave comeback from multiple leg surgeries, to not only compete at the highest level, but lead his Washington team to the playoffs. Well, maybe one of the biggest comebacks of recent times could be about to occur. After an absence of over 3,000 days one of the most talked about players during his brief first stint in the League could be about to make his return. And what will be more remarkable will be his transition from quarterback to tight end.
Tim Tebow hit the headlines in 2010 with the Denver Broncos, and although his play was varied it did enough to keep him in the headlines, and at his height helped Denver to a playoff win over Pittsburgh in 2012, a game which he set an NFL record for average yards per pass completion in a playoff game at 31.6, including an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime that sealed the win.
It looks were set for a new era of “Tebow Time” as the Jacksonville Jaguars are about to offer him a one-year deal, as a tight end. After having extensive try outs, new Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer was quoted last week to “look into” signing Tebow if he thought he would help them win. Clearly, he saw enough, and the contract could well be signed this week. Meyer knows Tebow from his time as coach of the Florida Gators, where he helped win two National Championships and the Heisman Trophy in 2007. Meyer is a win first coach, so where the controversy of Tebow’s potential signing has caused some pundits to suggest it is ludicrous, he would not sign the player just to sell a few jerseys. If Tebow does comeback, and indeed thrive under his former mentor, he will be a welcome addition to the offense that is now being built around first round pick quarterback Trevor Lawrence.