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July 20, 2011

Could Female Footballers Suit Up In MLS?

The title above was a discussion point on PTI yesterday and the simple answer is yes, female players could suit up for an MLS squad (unless there is some regulation preventing it). But, they would likely never get off the bench if it were a meaningful match.  Any such signing would be a mere publicity stunt to sell tickets. 

She may distract the opposition.

This is not meant to denigrate the ability or skill of the female footballers displayed at the World Cup.  Far from it.  But it is a reflection in the disparity of athleticism between males and females at a professional level.  Even the benchwarmers on the USWNT that never made it into a game (hello Heather Mitts) are better soccer players than 90% of all males.  Even Marta, the five time women’s player of the year would struggle in MLS as the men bullied her off the ball and outpaced her on the field. 

Perhaps Hope Solo at goalkeeper would be the most feasible player to suit up for an MLS squad.  That is a position where positioning and reflexes are more important than pace, but her lack of size compared to males would likely be a detriment.

So, why the picture of Nives Celzijus? 

Because the Croation WAG has just signed on to play with NK Slaven Belupo in the Croatian first division.  (Presumably this is a men’s team as no mention of a women’s team is in the report nor can one be located on the web.) Nives, wife of Croatian international Dino Drpic, will join Slaven Belupo on Friday in a match against Zagreb FC.  Reports are that Celzijus will not start but should appear in the match later on.  Of course. 

She is going to try to fill the goal up like Ronaldo just like in her song, which she is surely promoting along with her new book “In a bed with Cristiano.” 

 



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42 Comments


  1. arkie

    I’d love to see a mls team vs uswnt game to see how they’d stack up. If they could finish I don’t think it would be a slaughter at all. In fact I think it could be a decent game.
    I’m not sure marta doesn’t at least come in as a sub on a bad mls team. At what level do you think these girls could play? 2nd or 3rd division US? Only pub leagues?


  2. MP

    Soooo I apologize in advance to our female contingent, I mean absolutely no disrepect. Butttt an MLS team against the USWNT wouldn’t even be close. In fact, any D1 or above-average D3 men’s college team would run them off the park. Between my junior/senior seasons I went to a USWNT friendly while I was home for the summer, and that game pretty much confirmed all of my suspicions: you don’t appreciate how much faster and stronger the men are than the women until you see them in person. I am 100% certain that my college team would have beaten them. Not because we had better technical ability (we didn’t), but given that our fitness was on par with theirs, there is simply no way they could have competed with our size and speed. Think about Abby Wambach: she’s an absolute beast in the women’s game, and she’s only 5’10″. You think she wins a single header when jumping against 6’4″ CB’s? In fact, until she scored that wide open header in extra time, those Japanese defenders had shut down her aerial game for most of the match. And I don’t think there’s a single female footballer that can keep pace on the wings with an MLS midfielder, nor a defender that could track the runs of an MLS striker. Best comparison that comes to mind: the US women’s olympic hockey team plays “friendlies” against boys high school teams, and those games are competitive.


  3. arkie

    I respect your assessment but if like to see the games happen before I pass judgment. I feel like the womens game has improved drastically in the last 10 years just from what I’ve seen on television
    You could be right and our national team is only as good as high school teams, but I’m not ready to say that until I can see some sort of friendly.


  4. Lucius

    Totally agree with MP.

    When I was in college (historically good to great at soccer for both Men’s and Women’s) I caught the end of the women’s game for a doubleheader. I was pretty confident I could get out there and athletically hold my own. And I am S-L-O-W.

    I also currently play co-ed rec league with a former D-1 women’s player only a few years removed from college. She can’t hang physically with a bunch of dudes that never played competitively beyond HS, but she’s a good player.

    There is a chasm, athletically speaking, between men and women.


  5. There is a chasm, physically speaking, difference between men and women.


  6. Lennon's Eyebrow

    Lolwut?


  7. BG

    I agree that if you’re talking about a men’s team vs a women’s team, the men would win every time. But the question is if there’s any individual woman out there who could suit up for an MLS team and not be seen simply as a PR stunt or a liability on the pitch. What would really be interesting is an experimental coed tournament, say at the Olympics, where each country has to field a coed squad. You would need at least 3 women on the roster and at least 1 on the field per team at all times. I would watch that.


  8. @BG: I don’t think so, but I have already said that. Athleticism in such a large space like a soccer field will surely be the detriment of a woman playing in a team of professional men.


  9. MP

    But the question is if there’s any individual woman out there who could suit up for an MLS team and not be seen simply as a PR stunt or a liability on the pitch.
    Right, and the answer is no. Goalkeeper would be the only remote possibility, as TFA said.


  10. Goat

    “Could Female Footballers Suit Up In MLS?”
    Yes, but she’d have to wear short, tight shorts.
    –Sepp


  11. I wonder if Nives will have sex in the center circle of the field in the game she is scheduled to appear in.


  12. arkie

    Still everyone is dancing around the question of what level of mens soccer do you put these women or the best women in the world? I don’t think they are merely high school level. And while were using anecdotal evidence, my coed soccer team the only one in the league won and did so with the help of an excellent defender. Positioning is often more important than speed, and she even scored a golazo. I guess its a question of athleticism versus technical ability.


  13. clemantona

    I play in a coed league with a lot of ex d1 girls (who are all incredibly attractive so i’m wondering what happens at the pro level) and while a couple of them could run circles around me, they just don’t match up to the best guys out there


  14. bergkampesdios

    I remember an article from years ago about Dorrance and his coaching methods (might have been in SI). It starts with him berating a team about playing fair, keeping it competitive and not going into tackles too hard. He was talking to a men’s club team in Carolina before they played his Heels in a scrimmage.
    A great female player that was also a great athlete could get by and perhaps do well in an MLS game. But in certain moments the gulf in athleticism would be exposed, no matter how perfect her positioning. And for that I don’t see anyone getting a chance at anything other than a publicity stunt.


  15. Lucius

    @arkie

    I caught a USL PDL game a few weeks ago. The USWNT members are more skilled than those guys, but I really don’t think they could even hang with them on an athletic level, from what I saw.


  16. bergkampesdios

    Btw – kudos to whoever placed the Anastasia Date ad at the top of this post. Quality.


  17. mountain WAG

    Not to dumb down this argument, but all physical attributes aside, even a bad MLS team could deal with the USWNT Arsenal-esque defense and that’s where it would all be undone. I agree with MP re: Wambach a beast in the women’s game yet even with her Amazonian attributes she wouldn’t be able to utilize those in a game vs. men.
    .
    I think this discussion COULD be flipped on it’s heel if there was a female messi (short, not physical, excellent accuracy and first touch) – but alas, we don’t have one of those or anything close. Trying to compare Marta to Messi is laughable, but HYPOTHETICALLY, if she had foot skills like he does, and is physically in shape to run box to box for 90, then her size wouldn’t matter. We’ve seen that to be true of all athletes in any sport: talent can trump size, bitches.


  18. @MW hence the axiom “it isn’t the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean”?


  19. @WAG: Trying to talk yourself into another year of the Pixie, are we?
    -
    /BarryBannanisVilla’slasthope


  20. Ryan

    I feel pretty confident in saying Marta would be marked out of the game by any MLS defender.


  21. Norfolk Ned

    @TFA. Love you, but you are fucking nuts.


  22. How am I nuts? That a female suiting up for an MLS squad would simply be a pr stunt? You’re nuts if you think it would be something more.


  23. Dustin

    The fastest woman in the mile in the world (Svetlana Masterkova) can run the mile in 4:12.56. Throw a rock and you can hit a male high school track runner who can do it faster. Women are slloooowwwww when it comes to shorter distances (compared to most any small mammal and men are too). Even in the Marathon the top women don’t approach the top men.

    Something interesting though…go to 50 miles and it starts getting closer…go to 100 miles and it’s literally a coin toss who’s going to cross the line first man or woman. Women beat tons of the best athletic men in the world at 100 miles.

    Just food for thought.


  24. Norfolk Ned

    The mere suggestion they should or could makes you nuts. No offense Yo the womens game at all, but they would likely lose to the USMNT 13 year old team. Different game played at a different speed.


  25. Norfolk Ned

    Christ it’s early and I wish I could spell etc. You know what I mean.


  26. @Ned – quit complaining and get to work


  27. @Dustin: is that your official official’s opinion?


  28. Lucius

    @Ned: I actually caught some of the U-17 World Cup a few weeks ago. I do think the USWNT could probably beat those teams. Haven’t seen U-19s but I bet it’s a different story at that point.


  29. Stephen

    I’ve heard similar arguments in the context of tennis. An old roommate of mine was a competitive college tennis player and he generally thought that a good college tennis male would be heavily favored against any female tennis player in the world. Just too strong and fast. Did anyone else have to “calibrate” their eyes to the speed of the game while watching a WWC game? I definitely had to adjust.


  30. @Ned: the only suggestion of it not being a PR stunt was that the one position where it could feasibly happen is at goalkeeper.


  31. Dustin

    @Dustin: is that your official official’s opinion?

    You want my opinion it’s Women play better soccer than men because they don’t whine as much they just play. Men whine like the biggest babies ever, women don’t even dive properly, there was only one real bad “dive” at the WWC. I’d rather ref women everyday or be able to tell men to SHUT UP AND PLAY!


  32. @Dustin: so better soccer equates to less diving and whining? it’s not technical skill or ability, but the lack of histrionics that makes women’s soccer better. good to know.
    -
    now if men’s soccer had less diving and whining hypothetically equal to the amount in women’s soccer, would that make the play of male and female soccer equal or would you say one is better than the other?


  33. MP

    Dustin got mean


  34. I’d rather ref women everyday or be able to tell men to SHUT UP AND PLAY!
    -
    Can’t refs already tell people to shut up and play?


  35. Norfolk Ned

    @TFA Goalkeeper??? Habahahaahhahahahaahabahahaahbabaabab.

    As for other comments I believe the USWNT did lose to US boys under 14s? Spectator? Please confirm.

    I appreciate the womens game for what it is. Exciting and competitive. They bust a gut and are mighty talented but… Outside of that it’s non league footbal when compared to mens…at best.


  36. Norfolk Ned

    PS. I love women. They are awesome.


  37. Norfolk Ned

    But the best football is a mans game. It’s why we have 2 balls..in case one goes over the fence.

    Women are smarter than men anyway, it’s why 99.5% of footballers are stupid.


  38. MP

    Bravo Ned. You have been missed.


  39. corky

    Just so you know, Heather O’Reilly told Jen Chang of SI.com that the USWNT gets played off the park by the USMNT U-17 team. If I remember correctly, she said that’s when the boys’ inherent physical advantages take over.


  40. @corky – I wrote a post a while back where Jen Chang participated in a training session with the USWNT where O’Reilly made that comment, but I can’t for the life of me find it on here.



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