Happy Birthday Cindy Parlow Cone

Happy birthday to Cindy Parlow Cone, three-time NCAA Women's Soccer Champion and founding member of the Women's United Soccer Association, former head coach for Portland Thorns FC and in her first year as coach in her first year as head coach of the Portland Thorns, led the Thorns to the NWSL Championship. Parlow was a member of the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic, and 1999 and 2003 Women's World Cup, teams. Parlow Cone played professionally for the Atlanta Beat for three years and was the Coaching Director of 13-18 year-old girls' programs at the Triangle United soccer league. Cindy is a co-founder of Goals for Girls. Birthday --May 8th.

5 Reasons Why Soccer Matters in the US

The US Men's World Cup run may be over, but that doesn't mean soccer will fall off the sports radar screen here in the US. Taking a contrary view to a recent Wall St. Journal piece on the inevitable US "soccer letdown" and even to the more hopeful Freakonomics podcast, here are 5 reasons why soccer will grow in popularity in the US: 1. Soccer is a global sport. Who better to embrace it than the US, a nation of immigrants and multinational individuals. We can cheer not only for our national team but those of our homelands, in my case, Italy. Or we can -- and do -- cheer for the teams of our temporarily adopted homes, places where we've lived briefly or for many years. If Hong Kong had a national team, I'd be a supporter, since I lived much of my early adult years there and it's my children's birthplace. 2. Soccer is intense, captivating, and exciting. Those who say it's too slow or boring to be popular here don't know what they're talking about. You want excitement? How about Tim Howard's amazing 16 saves. The final two minutes of a soccer game can be more intense than the 9th inning with two outs and the bases loaded. Take it from a lifelong Red Sox fan, what happens in the 9th inning can change the course of history. (As an aside, a 2010 Wall St. Journal study found that the average NFL game has a meager 11 minutes of action) 3. While there will always be individual star players, soccer is a team sport. No single player can carry a team for 90 minutes every game, and it'd be tough to build a franchise around a single player. The best teams depend on every player, not on a key player. 4. Some naysayers point to the "flops" as evidence that soccer players are too soft or that the game is not tough enough. Soft?! The level of conditioning necessary to run almost continuously for a full game is astounding. The precision, timing, and agility needed to play soccer are remarkable. 5. While the current World Cup is for men's teams, let's not forget the success of US women's soccer. The US Women's Team has won two World Cups -- yes, 2! Players like Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow Cone (who's also Dragonwing girlgear's spokesperson) , Abby Wambach, Heather O'Reilly, Alex Morgan, and Brandi Chastain are role models for girls at all levels. Attendance at women's professional soccer league games is solid and growing, with sell-out crowds a regular occurrence for many teams.

NWSL Preseason Update

Spring is finally here and the NWSL inaugural season is just about ready to get underway. Teams are gearing up for the start of the season and Dragonwing girlgear is offering a unique perspective of the preseason of each NWSL team. Here is a team by team update: Boston Breakers: Update: U.S. national team members Heather O’Reilly and Sydney Leroux joined their new team on Wednesday March 20th, after competing with the national team in Portugal in the 2012 Algarve Cup. The WNT won 2-0 to Germany. Since receiving their respective allocated players, the Breakers signed two discovery players: defender Julie King, who played for the Breakers last year in the WPSL elite league and Lisa Marie Woods. Discovery players are those who were not selected in the Supplemental Draft that was held on Feb. 8th. The two discovery players will join six other players who were selected in the supplemental draft as well as the six players allocated during the winter. Other news: On March 18th, the team announced that they are partnering with the Andover Soccer Association (ASA) to launch the Boston Breakers Academy Program that will be “targeting players who need/desire extra development and advanced training to supplement what they do within their local community soccer program,” according to the press release from the NWSL news website. First game: Sunday, April 14th vs. the Washington Spirit Chicago Red Stars: Update: The Red Stars have been busy since Day 1 updating their roster with four free agent signings since the allocation and college draft including midfielder Lori Chalupny, defender Taryn Hemmings, forward Ella Masar and midfielder Leslie Osborne. The team added some international players to the mix with defender Sonja Fuss and forward Inka Grings, both from Germany. Fuss and Grings will join their new team starting on May 20th and are the first German players to play in the NWSL. Preseason has delivered some bad news however as the Red Stars will be without star defender Amy LePeilbet for six to eight months due to a torn ACL in January. Other news: Along with the Seattle Reign, the Red Stars completed the first ever trade in the NWSL, sending midfielder Keelin Winters to Seattle in exchange for a first round pick in the 2014 college draft with future considerations. First game: April 14th at home vs. Seattle Washington Spirit Update: In gearing up for the season, the Spirit scheduled five preseason matches with some of the country’s top college programs, four of whom are in the ACC (Maryland, UNC, Duke, and UVA). The Spirit already defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 1-0 on March 17th and will look to use these college friendly matches as a gauge for their preseason progress. “We are thrilled at the chance to take on top quality college opponents as we gear up for the NWSL season,” Spirit head coach Mike Jorden said in an interview with NWSL news. “This marks an important step in our preseason preparations, and will be a great opportunity for fans to get a first look at their new team.” Other news: The Spirit signed three additional draft picks-including MAC finalist Caroline Miller on March 8th. The team also signed Discovery player Domenica Hodak. First game: April 14th, at Boston FC Kansas City Update: After holding an open tryout back in February, Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski and the “The Blues” have narrowed down their roster to 17, featuring some of the country’s top talents. Additionally, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, defender Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Lauren Cheney and midfielder Kristie Mewis were all named to the USWNT Algrave cup team Other News: The team welcomed Title Boxing as it’s official sponsor and will feature the company’s logo on the players’ jerseys. First game: Will play host to the Portland Thorns in the first inaugural game of the NWSL season on April 13th.Portland Thorns Update: The Thorns signed their two discovery players- forward Danielle Foxhoven and defender Jazmyne Avant. The team opened training camp on March 11th with an opening roster of 27, but will have the cut six players by April 5th to meet the roster cap at 21. According the Thorns’ website, head coach Cindy Parlow Cone said, “This is a pretty select group that we have here right now,” Cone said. “I was able to invite in 32 players and I didn’t for a reason. I wanted it to be a select group with quality all the way through. … Just about every player on the roster (not including goalkeepers) will have to be able to play multiple positions.” Other news: In January, forward Alex Morgan led the way for the USWNT in their Algrave Cup victory against Germany. Morgan scored the team’s only two goals in the match. First game: April 13th at FC Kansas City Sky Blue FC Update: Sky Blue FC has been making a splash since the allocation by inking several quality players including Australian national team member Caitlin Foord. Foord joins forward Taylor Lytle as the team’s two discovery players. In addition, goalkeeper Jill Loyden broke her hand in a training session with the USWNT in Portugal in early March, prompting the team to sign Brittany Cameron, their second pick in the supplemental draft. Loyden will be out three to four months. Other news: Former WPSL elite coach Erwin van Bennekom will join the coaching staff as an assistant coach and will co-head coach the club’s official reserves team, the Jersey Sky Blues. First game: April 14th vs. the Western New York Flash Western New York Flash Update: Star forward Abby Wambach joined her new team on Wednesday, March 20th. She remains four goals behind Mia Hamm’s all-time record of 154 international goals. On March 18th, the Flash announced a 25-player preseason roster after signing five free agents including McCall Zerboni, Adriana Martín Santamaría, Brittany Taylor, Samantha Kerr and Sarah Huffman. Other News: Wambach will be the only representative from the USWNT for the beginning of the season as midfielder Carli Lloyd broke her shoulder in the U.S match vs. Ireland. She will be sidelined for six to eight weeks but should only miss a small part of the season. First game: April 14th at Sky Blue FC Seattle Reign Update: The Reign will be without goalkeeper Hope Solo who had successful surgery on her left wrist and will be recovering for four months. The team will be without forward Amy Rodriguez for the entire season as she announced in the winter she is pregnant with her first child. The Reign will also miss midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who will not report until June. Other news: Rapinoe was named the Algrave Cup’s tournament MVP. First game: April 14th at Chicago

NWSL Season Update

The first four weeks of the National Women’s Soccer League has been absolutely thrilling, with several players emerging as key components of their teams while others are still finding their stride. The updated standings are as follows (as of May 5)
  1. Portland Thorns FC: 3 wins, 1 tie (10 points)
  2. Boston Breakers: 2 wins, 1 tie (7 points)
  3. FC Kansas City: 2 wins, 1 tie (7 points)
  4. Sky Blue FC: 2 wins (6 points)
  5. Western New York Flash: 1 win, 1 tie, 2 losses (4 points)
  6. Washington Spirit: 2 ties, 2 losses (2 points)
  7. Seattle Reign FC: 1 tie, 3 losses (1 point)
  8. Chicago Red Stars: 1 tie, 2 losses (1 point)
Analysis: The top team in the standings is hardly a surprise. Coach Cindy Parlow-Cone got this talented team off with a tie against FC Kansas City in the league opener on April 13th and they haven’t looked back. The Thorns earned two wins against the Seattle Reign and Chicago Red Stars and forward Alex Morgan (2 goals, 1 assist) is off to a great start as well. Fellow forward Christine Sinclair is also currently leading the charge in scoring with two goals and an assist. The two have combined for 10 total points. Meanwhile, the rest of the league will be looking to get some more consistency from each team and we should start to see the standings separate as more games are played. FC Kansas City should remain on the top half of the standings with three of their players in the top ten in scoring. As expected, the landscape of the league is very packed and we will have to wait to see who breaks away from the pack. For more information visit
Previewing the National Women's Soccer League - Dragonwing Girl

Previewing the National Women's Soccer League

In November of 2012, the soccer world heard exciting news from U.S. soccer president Suni Guladi about the creation of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The eight-team league will begin this spring and features many prominent soccer players including FIFA player of the year Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Heather O’Reilly. While some of the franchises are not new, the NWSL is, the first of it’s kind with a college and supplemental draft. Many of the teams have already been in existence Here is an exclusive analysis Dragonwing girlgear’s team by team preview for this season. BOSTON BREAKERS Location: Dilboy Stadium, Somerville, MA Head Coach: Lisa Cole Key Players: Heather O’Reilly, Sydney Leroux Outlook: Last year, the Breakers won the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPSL) Elite regular season title with an 11-3 overall record. Led by Coach Cole, the team has shown consistent success in professional league play, although several players have come and gone. In 2011, it had eight members of the world cup team on its roster, establishing itself as a formidable opponent that has seasons of winning, experience and viable coaching. Visit their Website WASHINGTON SPIRIT Location: Maryland SoccerPlex, Germantown, MD Head Coach: Mike Jorden Key Players: Ali Kreiger, Caroline Miller (MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist) Outlook: Washington D,C’s newest professional sports team will be in action and will work closely with D.C. United to bring soccer success back to the D.C. area. Last year, the D.C. United Women, a team in the USL’s W-League finished the season ranked third in their league and had their season come to a disappointing end with a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Ottawa Fury. 10-time Virginia State Cup champion Mike Jorden will be at the helm for the Spirit who will look to use their youth and speed to make a statement to the rest of the league. Visit their website FC SKY BLUE Location: Yurcak Field at Rutgers Univeristy, Piscataway, NJ Head Coach: Jim Gabarra Key Players: Christie Rampone Outlook: Despite the lack of huge stars on this team, U.S. national team captain Christie Rampone is certainly capable of leading and establishing her team as a tough foe. The team did not compete last year in the Women’s Professional League, but they did send several of its members for a March tour in Japan. This team shouldn’t be ruled out, but they may face some difficulty to reach the top of the standings. Visit their website CHICAGO RED STARS Location: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL Head Coach: Rory Dames Key Players: Shannon Boxx, Amy LePeilbet, Zakiya Bywaters Outlook: Winning the first overall pick in the NWSL college draft, the Red Stars selected Pac-12 player of the year Zakiya Bywaters. The team will be without defender Amy LePeilbet this season due to an ACL injury, so they will look to Shannon Boxx to keep the defense steady. Success has followed this franchise, especially in recent years. The Red Stars were US National Cup Champions and finalists in the WPSL Elite league both last year and in 2011. A deadly combination of success and experience should give Chicago an outstanding advantage this season. Visit their website WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH Location: Sahlen Stadium, Rochester, NY Head Coach: Aaron Lines Key Players: Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd Outlook: Opposing teams must send out their best against FIFA player of the year and all around soccer start, Abby Wambach. Wambach is a beloved native of Pittsford, NY and since announcing her signing, season ticket sales have doubled, according to Sahlen stadium president Pat Eroli. Added attraction is midfielder Carli Lloyd, Wambach’s teammate in the 2011 World Cup. The buzz around this team is huge and places the Flash as a major contender for the championship. Visit their website PORTLAND THORNS FC Location: JELD-WEN field, Portland, OR Head Coach: Cindy Parlow Key Players: Alex Morgan, Christie Sinclair, Tobin Heath, Rachel Buehler Outlook: Just by roster allocation alone, the Thorns are the expected favorite to win the league. The team has deep experience at the Olympic level and Canadian Christie Sinclair is one of the best strikers in the world. Put Sinclair with Alex Morgan, and the Thorns may be the highest scoring team in the league. Star power alone may push this team deep into the season and coach Cindy Parlow can certainly get them there. The two-time gold medalist and former Hermann trophy winner at UNC brings success everywhere she goes and there is little doubt she will do so with the Thorns. Note: Morgan suffered a twisted left ankle in a U.S. national team friendly match against Scotland on Feb. 9. The team listed her officially as day-to-day, but she should be good to go for the season opener. Visit their website SEATTLE REIGN FC Location: Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, WA Head Coach: Laura Harvey Key Players: Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo, Amy Rodriguez Outlook: Seattle poses the toughest threats to Portland, and we are looking forward to an exciting regional rivaltry. located in the same region may create an intriguing rivalry that will excite fans. The Seattle area is well known for its soccer, with goalkeeper Hope Solo coming home to play for the team. A strong midfield will likely propel Seattle into contention. Visit their website FC KANSAS CITY Location: Shawnee Mission North District Stadium, Overland Park, KS Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski Key Players: Lauren Cheney, Nicole Barnhart, Renae Cuellar Outlook: According to ESPN contributor, Julie Foudy, FC Kansas City received the “second-strongest allocation of players.” Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart will be solid in net, having backed up Hope Solo in both the Olympics and World Cup. She earned starting experience when she had to step in for Solo who was injured during the qualifying stage of the Women’s World Cup. California native Renae Cueller is an up and comer who played for Mexico during the World Cup is drawing attention from around the world. Add crafty Lauren Cheney and this core of talent is a potent force. We are predicting KC could be a dark horse in the league championship. Visit their website