CHICAGO (August 26, 2014) – FC Kansas City defender Becky Sauerbrunn was named the NWSL Defender of the Year for the 2014 season. She becomes the first repeat winner of an NWSL season-end award after also claiming the honor in 2013.
Washington Spirit defender Ali Krieger and Chicago Red Stars defender Julie Johnston tied for second in the voting.
Sauerbrunn, 29, played 1,935 minutes in 22 games during the 2014 season – including every minute of FC Kansas City’s league-best eight shutouts – and helped lead the Blues to the third-ranked goals against average (1.33) in the league.
The St. Louis native, along with fellow defenders Leigh Ann Robinson, Kassey Kallman and Nikki Phillips, allowed just one goal during FC Kansas City’s NWSL record-tying seven-game win streak May 25-July 6.
The Virginia product also scored the first goal of her NWSL career this season in a 2-1 victory July 30 over the Washington Spirit at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md.
FC Kansas City will return to action against Seattle Reign FC in the 2014 NWSL Championship Game on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. ET. at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Tickets will be made available for purchase by the general public beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 26 online at www.ReignFC.com or by phone at 1 (855) REIGN-FC.
The NWSL awards are voted on by a selection of journalists that cover the league on a consistent basis, team officials and NWSL players.
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(Aug. 26, 2014) – The NWSL’s two leading scorers face off when Kim Little and Seattle Reign FC host Amy Rodriguez and FC Kansas City in the 2014 NWSL Championship Game at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. ET in a match broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
Both the Reign and FC Kansas City will be competing in their first NWSL Championship Game after securing semifinal victories over the weekend – with FCKC recording a 2-0 win Saturday over defending champions Portland Thorns FC and Seattle securing a 2-1 comeback victory Sunday against the Washington Spirit.
Lauren Holiday, last season’s MVP, led the way for FC Kansas City with a goal and an assist against the Thorns, while Rodriguez added her first playoff goal to the 13 she scored during the regular season. Forward Sarah Hagen had an assist and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart needed to make just one save to record the shutout and help the Blues avenge a 2013 postseason defeat by Portland.
In the other semifinal, Little converted from the penalty spot in the second half for the Reign to level the score against Washington before forward Megan Rapinoe stepped up to score the game-winning goal in the 82nd minute. Goalkeeper Hope Solo made six saves for Seattle.
The NWSL Championship Game will be the fourth meeting this season between FC Kansas City and the Reign – with Seattle claiming a 3-2 home victory May 14 followed by a pair of 1-1 draws at Verizon Wireless Field in Kansas City on May 21 and August 2.
The match will be played at Starfire Stadium, where the Reign played their home games in 2013 before moving to Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium for 2014. Seattle posted a 4-6-1 record at Starfire Stadium last season before enjoying an undefeated 8-0-4 regular season this year at their new home.
FCKC went 4-7-1 away from home this season and were winless in their last four road games of the regular season.
While the Blues were able to exact a measure of revenge against the Thorns to reach the championship game in their second consecutive trip to the NWSL postseason, the Reign have the chance to claim the 2014 Championship after a seventh-place finish last season.
Following an offseason transformation engineered by coach and general manager Laura Harvey, Seattle proclaimed their championship aims with an NWSL-record seven consecutive wins to start the season.
FC Kansas City were the first team to come away with a point against the Reign following their 1-1 draw May 21.
Still, Seattle pushed on – fueled by the contributions of newcomers Little (16 goals, 7 assists), Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi (9 goals, 5 assists), Bev Goebel (5 goals, 4 assists) and Sydney Leroux (5 goals) – and established another NWSL record with a run of 16 games unbeaten to start the season before a 1-0 loss July 12 to the Chicago Red Stars.
In particular, Little’s abilities were on full display as she was voted the Army National Guard Player of the Month three times (April, May, July) and established a new single-season scoring record with 16 goals – breaking the previous mark of 12 set by Holiday in 2013.
Paired with the Reign’s established core of Jess Fishlock (4 goals, 8 assists), Rapinoe (4 goals, 1 assist), Keelin Winters (3 goals) and Solo (5 shutouts), Seattle’s new-look team went on to set single-season NWSL records for points (54), wins (16), goal difference (+30), goals scored (50) and goals against average (0.83) on their way to capturing the 2014 NWSL Shield for the league’s best regular-season record on July 31 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Despite finishing 13 points behind Seattle, FC Kansas City completed the 2014 regular season in second and with their own set of accolades.
After watching the Reign erase their 10-game unbeaten run from the record book, FCKC reeled off seven straight victories May 25 – July 6 to match the NWSL record set earlier in the season by Seattle.
The Blues outscored their opponents 14-1 during the streak behind outstanding performances from goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, the Player of the Month for June, and her backline of Becky Sauerbrunn, Leigh Ann Robinson, Nikki Phillips and Merritt Mathias.
Barnhart in particular took her game to another level, posting shutouts in six consecutive starts and holding FC Kansas City’s opponents off the scoreboard for 587 straight minutes en route to a league-best eight clean sheets.
In addition to a strong defensive spine, FCKC benefitted from the additions of Rodriguez (13 goals, 3 assists) and Hagen (4 goals, 1 assist).
Rodriguez, who the Blues acquired in an offseason trade with Seattle after she missed the entire 2013 season to give birth to her first child, combined especially well with Holiday (8 goals, 7 assists) and Erika Tymrak (4 goals, 4 assists) as coach Vlatko Andonovski guided his team to their second consecutive postseason.
Tickets will be made available for purchase by the general public beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 26 online at www.ReignFC.com or by phone at 1 (855) REIGN-FC.
The Columbus Crew made official the rumored transfer of defender Giancarlo Gonzalez to Palermo of the Italian Serie A in a Tuesday announcement.
Per club and MLS policy, details of the deal were not disclosed.Read More
In last place in the Eastern Conference and featuring one of MLS’ worst defenses, the Montreal Impact have added help in the form of Nigerian international center back Gege Soriola.
The 25-year-old’s signing was announced Tuesday, and as the Impact look to improve their team in the season’s busy final stretch – which also includes two CONCACAF Champions League matches against the New York Red Bulls – Soriola will likely fill an immediate need.Read More
However, new research shows evidence that genetics may play a role not only in the natural abilities of a developing superstar but also in their practice persistence and physiological response to training.
In his bestselling book The Sports Gene, David Epstein introduced us to the notion that your inherited genes may affect how your body reacts to training, both psychologically and physiologically. He references an ongoing project at the University of Miami, known as Genetics of Exercise and Research (GEAR), whose stated purpose is: “to identify genetic biomarkers and environmental risk factors that are associated with variation in exercise response among participants who undergo a 12 week exercise protocol.”
Last year, one of the first GEAR studies put a group of women, ages 18-65, through a 12-week aerobic and strength conditioning program. None of the women had exercised regularly in the previous 6 months. Based on their performance increases from start to finish, they were divided into 4 subgroups, with the best performing quartile being labeled “high responders” and those showing the lowest fitness gains were “low responders.”
In a genetic analysis of the two groups, 39 different gene variations were found, including how oxygen is converted to energy fuel, how fat molecules are broken down and the ability to create new blood vessels. In other words, the high responders had genes that were more amenable to changes from exercise than the low responders.
“Scientists are pinpointing some of the genetic influences on an individual’s ability to adapt to a training regimen,” said Epstein in a recent interview. “And that now looks to be a key component of ‘talent,’ not simply some skill that manifests prior to training, but the very biological setup that makes one athlete better at adapting to a particular training plan. In recent years, both with respect to endurance and strength training, the science has increasingly shown that genes mediate the ability to “respond” to training, and it appears that work will continue to be bolstered. People often say ‘I’m not very talented in this or that area,’ but the genetic work is increasingly showing that we can’t necessarily know if we have talent before we try training.”
So, our body’s reaction to exercise may be related to our genes but what about our attitude towards a workout? Is there a “lazy” gene variation? Researchers at the University of Missouri have been working with rats to find the answer. They gave a group of rats equal access to a running wheel, then observed which ones were the avid runners and which ones were “cage potatoes.” Then they bred the high mileage rats with each other and the less active rats with their peers. After ten generations of selective breeding, active vs inactive, they had a set of super-runners that ran 10 times more than their sedentary counterparts.
When they examined the two different groups, they found significant genetic differences in a part of the brain that repeats behavior that is found to be enjoyable. In the tenth generation running rats, they were so in love with the idea of running that they were obsessed with it, while the inactive rats showed very little gene expression in that brain area.
The study was published in the Journal of Physiology.
Of course, rats aren’t people and we each have our own set of reasons why we may or may not love to exercise. Previous research that had shown that active kids typically have active parents concluded that this was an environmental learned response. What the research is starting to show is that, as with rats, there just might be a genetic influence in humans that helps determine the preferred activity levels of adults and kids. By understanding how each young athlete responds to training, parents and coaches can learn how to motivate each of them to their full potential.
This article first appeared on TeamSnap, the easiest way to manage your team.
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New York Red Bulls vs. CD FAS
2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League
August 26 | 8 pm ET | Red Bull Arena
TV: Fox Sports 2
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