News – LTA Agency

FC Indiana coach Shek Borkowski has shared his thoughts on the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. Follow Shek on Twitter

USA’s 1:0 win over Mexico demonstrated that the spine of the team is on its last legs and not likely to participate in another World Cup. Rampone 36, Boxx 34, Lloyd 29, Wambach 31 are at an age when recovery takes longer, reaction time slows down and effectiveness decreases. There are physiological changes, which take place as we age, and regardless of diet and exercise regiment, older players are unable to compete against younger players on equal footing. Zidane knows that, and so does Scholes.

With USA’s game historically based on athleticism and power, these four players specifically will be tested by younger, more agile, fitter players, and it will not be easy. Rampone is still a defensive leader and organizer, but at this World Cup she will be severely tested. Boxx is no longer the box-to-box midfielder, and she has struggled in the last 12 months with consistency. Lloyd never was and never will be the quick, creative playmaker the US so desperately needs and lacks. Asking her to frequently get into opposing teams’ penalty box can lead to gaps and quick counters. While shooting from distance is her strong characteristic, that alone can’t be criterion for selection. Heather Mitts’ inclusion in the squad can only be attributed to sentimental reasons, as she no longer appears to be first choice even for her club team. It’s been reported that Mitts was told on the field that she was going to Germany. Surely Pia made that decision before Mitts’ very average appearance against Mexico, which included two moments when she was badly exposed. Inexperienced Mexicans did not punish the USA, but Germans will be a lot less forgiving.

Wambach in her prime struck fear in opposing defenders. She had the “box presence,” the ability to get on the end of all balls served into the penalty box, and making defenders hesitant. It is no longer the case today. Nowadays, with her pace a step slower, Wambach increasingly prefers to come towards play to get involved instead of attacking space behind defenses. Her style of play and injuries took their toll on her body. Her ferocious and well-timed runs into the box are no longer ferocious, and as of late they’re not even happening much anymore. And when she gets opportunities as she did against Mexico, she missed a sitter from 6 yards out. Pia’s insistence on playing Wambach may have more to do with lack of options than her form of the last 12 months. Wambach’s contemporary, Birgit Prinz of Germany, is two years older, but German coaching staff has continuously developed her style, and her role with German WNT has changed. More in Wambach’s mold in her younger years, Prinz’s game has evolved and she drops off to become a linkup player, more of a playmaker than a striker. Technically very good, Prinz is capable of making space for teammates as well as making accurate long and short passes and involving her teammates.

Post Germany 2011, USA has O’Hara, Heath, Cheney, Morgan and 3-5 other youngsters with much potential. Their tactical and technical development in the next 2-3 years will be key to their personal and USA’s future. Players such as Rodriguez and Masar could replace Wambach but both require refining of their game. Masar’s development has benefited from WPS in year one and two but not so sure about this season. Rodriguez in WPS off-season needs work on timing and precision of her runs as well as improving her general technique. While Pia plays Rapinoe as a wide player, I believe she may be more suited to playing in the middle as a playmaker. She prefers to seek the ball as opposed to running behind defenders; a more central role should be in her future.

It’s been 12 years since the USA won the World Cup. In that time most countries, from Australia to Russia, have invested in infrastructure and development of the game. The state of women’s facilities in this country is beyond critical. W-League and WPSL, the long-term hope for post college development, have around 90 teams between them. Less than 10% have access to quality soccer facilities for training and matches. Year-round access to conditioning and medical facilities is nonexistent. Comparing access to modern training/conditioning and medical facilities in Germany, Sweden and many European countries to those in the USA will make one weep. Year-round training, competition, access to modern facilities and compensation is what increases professionalism and standard of individual and team play. Today, even WPS can’t deliver that. We are losing a large percentage of good, post-college players who are willing to continue their playing careers outside of WPS. Recognizing that in the USA players are limited to 3-month playing seasons and no access to quality facilities, they lose interest and move on. The Federation and Soccer United Marketing must demonstrate leadership and become proactive. In partnership with Nike, state and local governments, state adult associations and adult clubs, they must invest in small facilities, which can be utilized by adult teams in each state. (Another option is to have MLS teams field professional women’s teams and allow those teams the use of their facilities.) If ever there was a country that needs a long-term strategy when it comes to women’s football, it is the USA. The last decade, the USSF has been in stagnation, refusing to modernize and to invest long term, living on its 1999 success. With the reality that in the last 12 years we’ve witnessed a huge women’s football opportunity destroyed for some years, if not for good, the perpetrators who mismanaged our women’s programs have pretty much run out of excuses. These people, if they ran banks, mutual funds, if they were doctors, they would be accused of malfeasance, of malpractice, and of mismanagement.

We can continue to pretend that everything is well with the women’s game in this country, but without serious long term strategy and investment, we are facing a long, downward trend in performances and results on international stage.

Champions - LDB FC MALMÖ (Sweden)

Runners-Up – SKY BLUE FC (USA)

3rd Place – FK ENERGIYA VORONEZH (Russia)

4th Place – FORTUNA HJØRRING (Denmark)

MVP – Manon Melis (LdB FC)

Best Goalkeeper – Thora Helgadottir (LdB FC)

Best Defender – Janni Arnth (Fortuna)

Best Midfielder – Allie Long (Sky Blue FC)

Best Forward – Elena Danilova (FC Energiya)

Best Coach – Martin Sjogren (LdB FC)

Alanya Oba Stadium, Alanya, Turkey
17.03.2011 (Match 1 – Semifinal 1), KO 12:00 GMT

LdB FC Malmö (Sweden) vs FC Energiya Voronezh (Russia) 4:0 (2:0)
Goals: Nilla Fischer m.2, Linda Forsberg m.9, Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir m.60, Manon Melis m.90
Lineups:
LdB FC Malmö: 1.Thora Helgadottir – 2.Emma Wilhelmsson, 4.Malin Levenstad (C), 16.Lina Nilsson (13.Christina Øyangen Ørntoft), 19.Linda Forsberg (22.Nera Smajic) – 3.Amanda Ilestedt, 5.Nilla Fischer, 7.Annika Kukkonen (10.Sarah Storck), 8.Frida Nordin (9.Elin Rubensson) – 14.Manon Melis, 18.Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir.
FC Energiya Voronezh: 29.Irina Saratovtseva – 3.Yulia Zapotichnaya, 4.Adriana Parente (C), 14.Anastasia Kostyukova, 25.Efioanwan Ekpo (19.Anna Astapenko) – 5.Yulia Shubunova (17.Nana Gelbakhiani, 12.Lyudmyla Tsukanova), 11.Wanessa Ferreira (13.Nadejda Bosikova), 18.Olesya Mashina (10.Elena Terekhova), 23.Augustine Ejangue – 31.Ajara Njoya (9.Elena Danilova), 6.Veronica Phewa.

17.03.2011 (Match 2 – Semifinal 2), KO 15:00 GMT
Fortuna Hjørring (Denmark) vs Sky Blue FC (USA) 1:1 (1:1) Sky Blue FC win 8:7 after PKs
Goals: Sine Hovesen m.6, Allie Long m.23
Lineups:
Fortuna Hjørring: 1.Melissa Barbieri – 2.Mette V. Jensen, 3.Janni Arnth, 5.Camilla Mogensen, 10.Janne Madsen (C) (8.Megan Manthey) – 6.Lisa-Marie Woods, 9.Kristine Pedersen, 12.Chi-Chi Igbo (11.Leah Morales), 19.Sine Hovesen (7.Coralie Ducher), 21.Line S. Jensen – 4.Lise Munk (14.Caroline Rask).
Sky Blue FC: 23.Jenni Branam – 4.Kendall Fletcher, 5.Anita Asante, 14.Brittany Taylor, 15.Danielle Johnson – 10.Allie Long, 11.Therese Sjogran (6.Angie Kerr), 21.Laura Kalmari, 31.Carolyn Blank – 18.Eniola Aluko, 27.Casey Nogueira.

19.03.2011 (Match 3 – 3rd Place Match), KO 12:00 GMT
Fortuna Hjørring (Denmark) vs FC Energiya Voronezh (Russia) 0:2 (0:1)
Goals: Elena Danilova m.45, Elena Danilova m.53
Lineups:
Fortuna Hjørring: 1.Melissa Barbieri – 2.Mette V. Jensen, 3.Janni Arnth, 5.Camilla Mogensen, 10.Janne Madsen (C) – 7.Coralie Ducher, 9.Kristine Pedersen, 12.Chi-Chi Igbo (11.Leah Morales), 19.Sine Hovesen ((8.Megan Manthey), 21.Line S. Jensen – 4.Lise Munk (14.Caroline Rask).
FC Energiya Voronezh: 1.Veronika Shulga – 3.Yulia Zapotichnaya, 4.Adriana Parente (C) (6.Veronica Phewa), 14.Anastasia Kostyukova, 23.Augustine Ejangue (19.Anna Astapenko) – 5.Yulia Shubunova, 2.Erika Prado (18.Olesya Mashina), 10.Elena Terekhova (17.Nana Gelbakhiani), 13.Nadejda Bosikova – 31.Ajara Njoya, 9.Elena Danilova.

19.03.2011 (Match 4 – Final), KO 15:00 GMT
LdB FC Malmö (Sweden) vs Sky Blue FC (USA) 1:0 (1:0)
Goal: Sarah Storck m.13
Lineups:
LdB FC Malmö: 1.Thora Helgadottir – 22.Nera Smajic, 4.Malin Levenstad (C), 13.Christina Øyangen Ørntoft, 19.Linda Forsberg – 10.Sarah Storck (3.Amanda Ilestedt), 5.Nilla Fischer, 8.Frida Nordin (16.Lina Nilsson), 18.Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir – 9.Elin Rubensson, 14.Manon Melis.
Sky Blue FC: 1.Karen Bardsley – 4.Kendall Fletcher, 5.Anita Asante, 14.Brittany Taylor (C), 15.Danielle Johnson (3.Kiersten Dallstream) – 10.Allie Long, 11.Therese Sjogran (6.Angie Kerr), 21.Laura Kalmari (33.Alyssa Mautz), 31.Carolyn Blank – 18.Eniola Aluko, 27.Casey Nogueira.

New stadium in the Turkish resort town of Alanya will play host to the Inaugural International Women’s Tournament of Champions pitting 4 of the best club teams in the world.obaStadium (4)

Brand new Alanya Oba Stadyumu, tucked away in a picturesque spot overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, will stage all four internationally televised matches involving the current or former champions of the USA, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark in March 2011.ObaSeatsb_alanya

The 15,000 capacity all-seater soccer specific stadium was inaugurated last month with a friendly match between Turkish giants Galatasaray of Istanbul and high-flying German Bundesliga side Hannover 96. It is the future new home of the local team Alanyaspor.

alanya,turkeyed

Sky Blue FC of New Jersey, FK Energiya Voronezh, LdB FC Malmö, and Fortuna Hjørring will showcase their squads full of international talent during March 17-19 Tournament of Champions in Alanya. Often referred to as ‘The Pearl of the Turkish Riviera,’ on the coast of the Mediterranean and bordered by the breathtaking Taurus Mountains, Alanya is a fitting venue for the top-level international women’s football tournament.
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Click here for more information about the 2011 International Tournament of Champions

Notre Dame Fighting Irish Women’s Soccer team coached by one of the most celebrated coaches in the history of the US women’s soccer won the 2010 USA National Championship by beating top ranked Stanford University 1:0 in the final on Sunday.RandyChampionEd

The match that took place in Cary, North Carolina, was decided by a single goal scored by freshman Adriana Leon on the assist from Melissa Henderson. Reportedly, 7,833 spectators witnessed the Notre Dame team lift the National Championship Trophy for the third time in their history. It’s the second National Championship title for Randy Waldrum since another brilliant NCAA College Cup run in 2004.

The highly decorated coach represented by LTA Agency, Waldrum holds both UEFA and USSF coaching licenses. Apart from a highly successful career with Notre Dame, he has also coached Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Teams and has been a staff coach for the US Soccer Federation.

See the official Notre Dame Press Release here: Final Recap

See the Championship Match Video Highlights here: Final Highlights

See Randy Waldrum’s Post-Match Interview here: Randy Waldrum’s Interview

LTA caught up with Shek Borkowski, an outspoken former USA Women’s Premier Soccer League Champion and US Open Cup Winner with FC Indiana, and the only US coach to date to coach in the UEFA Champions League on his thoughts about recent US Women’s Soccer setbacks.

LTA: You have been a long time critic of US Soccer. Why?
SB: Because the federation is guilty of mismanagement when it comes to women’s football.Shek_Zvezda_small

LTA: In what way?
SB: Their mission statement is to “develop soccer at all recreational and competitive levels.” Ask any WPS, W-League, or WPSL club in the country if they have received any assistance in infrastructure development or player development. MLS lost money for years, and US Soccer directly or through its influence  subsidized it for years. Do you think they will support and rescue the WPS? The federation has been a beneficiary of the NCAA generosity in facilities development and player development. Imagine where the sport would be today if it wasn’t for the NCAA? US Soccer has done nothing for female players and infrastructure development for female players.

LTA: But we understand that US Soccer is financially supporting WPS, isn’t it?
SB: No, they are subsidizing part of WNT players salaries.

LTA: Why do you think US Soccer is not doing enough to support women’s soccer?
SB: You must realize that US Soccer is an administrative and representative arm of Soccer United Marketing. As such it focuses on the men’s game and simply does enough to keep the women’s side quiet. Today, US Soccer, outside of WNT, spends less per registered female player than the Football Association of Chile. Ask successful women’s clubs like Ajax America or New Jersey Wildcats how it benefits them to be affiliated with US Soccer. Right now, ask FC Gold Pride how it helped them being affiliated with US Soccer. Do you think what happened to FC Gold Pride would be permitted to happen to LA Galaxy? And LA has lost a lot more money than FC Gold Pride ever would. If you are an investor in the men’s game you will be subsidized when needed. Not so on the women’s side.

LTA: What can be done to change this?
SB: Nothing will be changed because change would require difficult decisions, choices and action by those involved with and fans of the women’s game. Those involved in women’s football in general are content with being neglected and being taken advantage of. It will continue.

LTA: Can you be more specific?
SB: US Soccer, SUM and their partners are interested in the bottom line, so all of us involved in women’s football would need to impact it negatively by boycotting Nike, Adidas, Gatorade, and other US Soccer partners. Don’t support the MLS. Demand that US Soccer spends at least 33% of their budget on women’s football development, supporting women’s leagues, clubs, creating infrastructure and long term player development. Without financial pressures there will be no change. But I just can’t imagine that women’s teams – youth, high school, college, W-League or WPSL would stop buying Nike or Adidas products. Can you imagine, for the good of women’s football, any US WNT players refusing Nike or Adidas endorsements? Not a chance. All involved in the women’s game are content to get the crumbs, and that is why the situation is getting worse.

LTA: But for Nike and other US Soccer partners it has to make business sense to invest in women’s soccer, doesn’t it?
SB: I agree, and that is why we need to demonstrate to them why it is a smart BUSINESS decision to support women’s football and a poor BUSINESS decision to ignore it. Companies like Nike spend more money on one basketball athlete than on entire women’s football in the country.

LTA: You must admit that basketball is entirely different from women’s soccer.
SB: Of course, but it wasn’t so in the 70s. It took a leap of faith for a number of companies to support and grow the NBA and look where it is now. The same is required for WPS, but we will have to press, and we must start with US Soccer.

LTA Agency’s Spanish striker Maria Ruiz, better known as Mery, scored a crucial second goal and provided two assists for her Zvezda-2005 teammates as they defeated Norwegian Champions and Cup Winners Røa IL 4:0 in the second leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League round of 16 to qualify for the spring quarterfinal stage 5:1 on aggregate.meryscorevRoa

The result represents the reverse of the last-year’s round of 16 tie between the same opponents when Røa went through on away goals after 1:1 and 0:0 draws. It marks the second time the Russian club from the most eastern European city of Perm makes it to the spring stages of the competition after a run to the final in 2008-2009 season. Zvezda-2005 joins the other 7 European powerhouses in this Friday’ s quarterfinal draw in Nyon, Switzerland along with English Arsenal and Everton, French Juvisy and Lyon, German Turbine and Duisburg, and Linköpings of Sweden.

Mery is the last remaining representative of Spain in Europe’s best 2010-2011 women’s club competition after last year’s Superliga Champions Rayo Vallecano were eliminated by Arsenal in London. The Madrid-born striker was also named player of the match in the previous round of the tournament when she scored a goal and had an assist in Limassol against the Cypriot victors of the giants from Umea – FC Apollon. Zvezda-2005 won the match 2:1. ZvezdaTeam

Along with Mery, LTA Agency’s Mexican midfielder Fatima Leyva, South African forward Busi Ndimeni, and Bulgarian strength and conditioning coach Kaloyan Petkov were part of Zvezda’s success and will be preparing for the quarter final matches in March of next year.

All eight quarter-finalists in focus from UEFA.com: 2010-2011 UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter-Finalists

Italian Women’s National Team with a number of LTA Agency clients on its squad have eliminated Switzerland 5:2 on aggregate to come a step closer to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011.

Goalkeeper Anna Maria Picarelli, forward Pamela Conti, defender Sara Gama, and the team captain Patrizia Panico will now have to wait until November 8 to find out their final opponent on the way to Germany. Italy will have to defeat the country which will finish third at the ongoing CONCACAF qualifying tournament over two legs on November 20 and 27 to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time in twelve years.

Official UEFA.com release here: Italy defeat Switzerland

LTA Agency’s Spanish international striker Laura Del Rio was recognized for scoring one of the most beautiful goals of the recently completed 2010 season in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league in the US.

The left-footed first touch cracker Del Rio scored against the inaugural WPS Champions Sky Blue FC came at number 2 of the top 10 goals of the 2010 season.  In August 15 home match against the New Jersey outfit, Del Rio playing for Boston Breakers picked up the rebound from her own cross and sent a scorching shot into the top corner of the net past helpless Sky Blue goalkeeper Jenni Branam. This goal completed Boston’s 4:0 rout of New Jersey.

See the video of all WPS Top Ten Goals of 2010 here:

LTA Agency’s striker Maria Ruiz, better known as Mery, scored two goals in as many games in La Copa de La Reina Final Four tournament in Basauri to help RCD Espanyol de Barcelona retain their Spanish Cup crown.EspFestejoBasauri

Espanyol faced the city rivals FC Barcelona in the semifinal, and the tense encounter was decided by a lone 70th minute strike by Mery. She repeated the feat in the final on Sunday by scoring the second goal in an impressive 3:1 victory over League Champions Rayo Vallecano. The back and forth match staged for the first time in the Basque town of Basauri saw Espanyol’s Ane and star defender Marta Torrejon as well as Rayo’s veteran Natalia all leave their names on the scoresheet.

MerybeforeFinalBasauriedPamBeforeFinalBasauriedThe win caps a highly successful season for Espanyol which lost the Superliga Final by one goal to Rayo and won the Spanish Cup for the second time in a row. Mery and LTA’s Italian international forward Pamela Conti were instrumental in Espanyol’s impressive run this season by notching 17 and 27 goals respectively. They both add the first Spanish Cup title to the Cup triumphs they have previously experienced in the USA and Italy. Mery was part of FC Indiana’s 2008 US Open Cup winning team, and Conti has 4 Coppa Italia titles to her name won with Eurospin Torres in her native Italy.

Both prolific strikers are subject to a number of potential offers from leading clubs in Spain, Europe, and the US, but RCD Espanyol seems to be in the pole position to retain the services of Mery and Conti for the upcoming 2010-2011 season.

LTA Agency is delighted to announce that another player represented by the agency will join Women’s Professional Soccer league in the USA. Italian Women’s National Team Captain, Patrizia Panico will sign for none other than defending WPS Champions Sky Blue FC from New York.PanicoBalled

One of the best pure goalscorers in the world Panico has recorded close to 500 tallies over her illustrious career both in Italy and internationally. She has been the “capocannoniere” (best goalscorer) of the Italian Serie A 9 times, won 6 Italian Championships, 4 Coppa Italia, and 4 Italian Supercups. She has just wrapped up another scudetto with her most recent club ASD Torres CF of Sassari.

The Roman born and the ardent Lazio supporter, Panico has been just as clinical on the European and World stage. She has scored 42 goals in 64 games in official UEFA competitions, reached UEFA Champions League Semifinals on two occasions, and also played in the final of the UEFA European Women’s Championship. She has a unique achievement of scoring a hat-trick against Germany in the last official qualifying game that Germany failed to win (4:4 tie in 1999). She scored three goals in three games at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 1999 in the USA.

“Patrizia brings a special combination of qualities to Sky Blue FC – experience, a proven record in the international arena and a great force for us up front,” General Manager Gerry Marrone commented. “She is an exciting player and someone we have been looking at for a long time. In addition, she will be a great draw for the large and passionate community of Italian soccer fans in our area.”

Panico, nicknamed “the Scorpion” for her ability to strike goals quickly and lethally, is expected to join her new team following the crucial World Cup qualifiers with Italy against Slovenia and Finland later this month. She becomes the first Italian in WPS, and her signing follows in line with LTA’s motto “ingen grænser” (no borders) as the agency continues to broaden the range of countries of women’s football players represented in the best league in the world following the signing of the first Spanish player in Laura Del Rio by Boston Breakers.

Read the official Sky Blue FC press release on Panico’s signing here:

Sky Blue FC Signs Italian National Team Captain Patrizia Panico

Profile

Name: Patrizia Panico
Place of Birth: Rome, Italy
Date of Birth: February 8, 1975
Nationality: Italy
Height: 1,64 m
Position: Forward
Preferred Foot: Right
Current Club: Sky Blue FC NY/NJ
League: Women’s Professional Soccer, USA
National Team Caps: 145
National Team Goals: 79