The NWSL 2020 Challenge Cup crowned Houston Dash as Champions last weekend.
They looked unlikely winners before the tournament, with the club having never managed a top-four finish in the league in all five of their years in the top flight in the US.
However, they rose to the top in this year’s adjusted competition and credit to them.
My team Utah Royals faced them twice in the event. Our opening game ended 3-3, followed by our quarter-final encounter that was a less-entertaining 0-0 draw before they progressed on pens, 4-2.
In the semi-final, they dispatched a formidable Portland Thorns side, which led to a match-up with last year’s NWSL Championship runners-up Chicago Red Stars in the final.
I’ll be honest, when we were knocked out early from the competition I found it hard to continue to follow the results of the remainder of play. Perhaps petty, but to add to it I didn’t even watch the final itself on Sunday. However, social media meant that avoiding the result afterwards wasn’t possible.
The game itself ended 2-0. An opening goal in the first six minutes from the penalty spot by Canadian Sophie Schmidt was the difference, then Shea Groom sealed things in the 91st minute.
One of the tournaments biggest sponsors is Budweiser and so the afterparty I am sure was well sorted.
The US company also sponsored the prestigious Most Valuable Player Award this year, offering a substantial five-figure bonus to whoever would pick up that title.
The domestic league here typically showcases the US national team players a little more readily than others. However, this year it appeared inevitable that there would be a platform for some different names.
The Dash currently have no USA national team players on their squad list, with previous players all asking for transfers elsewhere over the past few years. They do, however, have a number of other internationalists. They are captained by Leeds-born Rachel Daly and also carry some reliable Canadian experience with Schmidt, Alyssha Chapman and Nichelle Prince.
July would be a pretty great month for the captain, England forward Daly.
Her first job on the day would be to collect and lift the trophy as Challenge Cup Champions. That was followed up with her taking home the MVP and top goalscorer title too.
Later on social media, she thanked her family while boasting her Leeds United shirt.
A good month all round, following their promotion.
Best call made on 2020 Scottish women’s season
Voting the Scottish Women’s Premier League null-and-void for the 2020 season seems to have been the most rational decision.
The season attempted to begin in February, but only one round of matches was completed before the interruption of things.
Instead the season will use the halting of play over the past five months to transition the game back into a regular winter season and, if the proposed plans go ahead, the new 2020/21 season will align back to operating as in previous years.
It is anticipated that competitive games will be possible by the middle of October and the subsequent fixtures will run until May 2021.
For all Premier League teams, club training is beginning to return across the entire women’s league.
Glasgow City had an accelerated return to play, as they are in preparation for their Champions League quarter-final at the end of August.
By now almost all clubs have established appropriate protocols and safeguards to allow the initial stages of full club training to return.
Seemingly not all clubs were in favour of the outcome.
I wonder if Celtic were one of those teams, after they had managed to take all three points against Champions Glasgow City in that opening round?
I believe the decision is the best one for the game as most major women’s leagues in Europe now follow that same outline.
As the game grows in status and professionalism, the alignment of the season and transfer windows makes most sense for all clubs.