Dear Moe, we saw a superstar being born in the 2015 World Cup. For most of these players their hardest challenge came before they had made it, but for you maybe it was after. The injuries and moves to different clubs showed us that even a superstar can go through rough times. However here you are in 2019 determined, competing, and still a part of what makes US Soccer great. So, thank you for inspiring us and teaching us how to deal with struggles, with pure grace.

Dear Abby, maybe the thing to write about would be how you overcame not being called up to the National team for a while, but that was before 2016 happened. We remember rushing to Google praying that Sepsis wasn’t as bad as it sounds, turns out it was. You rebounded, not just came back but came back with a vengeance. Just living would have been good enough for most, but here you are a dominant Center back on the world’s best team. A great player sure, but an incredible and inspiring person, thank you.

Dear Tierna, you rose so fast we are still learning about you. What we can tell is that you are ready for this stage and yet humble. The journey you took here has allowed you to recognize how crazy the ride has been, how close you are to those little girls in the bleachers cheering you on. Playing for Stanford was a dream until you made it your reality. Thank you for teaching us humility and how to appreciate the moment.

Dear Crystal, sure every great athlete seems to have an inspiring comeback story, but you have something more. It is so rare for a player to be left off the team and come back and play well, but what’s rarer is the smiling while doing it. The player dancing and laughing it up is the same player who was left off the 2015 World Cup roster? Yes, and she’s playing different positions to boot. You handled your toughest moment with a strength and clarity that we can only dream of. You weren’t seen in 2015, but boy do we see you now.

Dear Julie, getting to know Julie Johnston was great, but getting to know Julie Ertz is something else. You had made it as a back when you were asked to move to mid, and all you did was become the 2017 Player of the year. You are a vocal leader and are not afraid to show emotion on and off the field. The work you and your husband do for the Ertz Family Foundation is truly impactful. Thank you for showing us how to be a team player and a good person.

Dear Adrianna, like most of the women on this team you aren’t just an inspiration for young girls but rather for all people. You rose to the top of the game from humble beginnings and you still attribute it to others who helped you. You set records for club and wait patiently for the chance to shine for country. Thank you for showing us what hard work and a love for others can do.

Dear Ashlyn, being the Backup can’t be easy, but you train everyday as though you will be the Starter. The impact you have on the team is not possible to measure through saves or player ratings, but it is there. Off the field you are an icon for the LGBTQ community, and an inspiration to any couple looking to balance work and relationship. The inspiration you provide on and off the field may be hard to measure, but they aren’t hard to appreciate.

Dear Tobin, you have become a legend in the game, a magician with or without the ball. You perform moves that would impress even Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry. Watching you grow as a player has been a joy. You came back from injury and rose to every challenge put before you. Thank you for your intensity, passion, and genius with the ball.

Dear Lindsey, you are a model of bravery. For a kid to make the decision you did and succeed just shows how special you are. You showed us what we can do if we set our minds to something. PSG was lucky to have you, but the USWNT is where you belong, and you show it every game. Your passion for the game is easy to see, thank you for teaching us bravery.

Dear Ali, we assume this is your last major tournament for the team but counting you out doesn’t ever seem to pay off. You did it, somehow you made it back onto the team despite being counted out. Your grit and determination are unmatched and make you the special player you are. When Ali Krieger has something to say, she says it and when she has something to prove, she proves it.

Dear Rose, every World Cup we meet new stars, but rarely do they shine as brightly as you do. Your incredible talent assures us that the team will be in good hands for years to come. Off the field you are part of the young fun-loving group that always seem to be singing and dancing. Hamstring injuries are tough, but Rose Lavelle is tougher.

Dear Carli, your role has changed but your determination and work-ethic haven’t. Thank you for all the great memories and for never being satisfied with the status quo. We only see you in your greatest triumphs, but we know about the hard work you have put in to get to those moments. You are a USWNT legend on par with Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach. You lived 110% and we will never forget it.

Dear Allie, there is no video on the internet that could make one cry faster than your story of your grandfather. Your genuine feelings for him bleed through and show the unbelievable person you are. On and off the field you make the people around you better. Thank you for being so genuine and real and just know that your grandfather is looking down and loving what he sees.

Dear Jess, you have been through more than anyone can imagine. What strength is must have taken you to overcome the tough times and get to where you wanted to be. A true super-mom in every way, you are perhaps the most inspirational story on the team. Jeremiah could not ask for a better role model and neither could we.

Dear Sam, it seems like half the team claims you as their best friend. It emphasizes the work you have put in not just on the field, but off it. You are the definition of a team player in far more than just Soccer. You are loved in a way that few are, and that isn’t by accident. So, thank you for being the teammate that the team needs.

Dear Alex, you are the face of the USWNT, and it is easy to see you don’t take that lightly. You answer for the celebrations, the unequal pay, and all other questions that are posed to the team. We see your sportsmanship after every game, and we see how poised you are at all times. When you wear that green armband, we look on with pride because our captain is Alex Morgan, a role model for young girls around the world.

Dear Alyssa, they said we couldn’t replace her, they said that you were unsure and not good enough. You didn’t listen and wrote your own incredible story. You rose above the criticism, you put your head down and kept working. Thank you for showing us that people will say what they want, but the work that you put in will prove things in the end.

Dear Kelley, or Worms or Janice or whatever, no one switches intensity like you do. Off the field you are a ball of sunshine, but on the field you’re a fireball who plays like a maniac. Off the field you are joking with everyone and always smiling, but on the field, you are in everyone’s face and pulling off crazy sliding tackles. Both Kelleys are necessary to the team success and both of them make you the person and player that is so great.

Dear Christen, America groaned when they saw Megan Rapinoe would miss the semi-final. It became your moment and you did not disappoint. Scoring is something you have always done but this one was special. Because of the moment, but also because of who you lost. Pointing to the sky in honor of your mother makes for a legendary sports moment, because we love Soccer, but we love good people more.

Dear Mal, you are the youngest player in US history to score a goal in the Olympics. Doing things at a younger age seems to be your trademark. You made the tough decision to forgo UCLA and go pro. You inspire us because there doesn’t seem to be a challenge too big or an obstacle too difficult to overcome. Thank you for showing us how you constantly challenge yourself so you can keep growing.

Dear Megan, you were already one of the more outspoken athletes before the tournament and true to form you continued to say what was on your mind. You do not let any slight towards the team slide by and you constantly remind us of the hardships of women playing in this game. Thank you for standing up for what you believe in and for always being you.

Dear Becky, you are what makes this team tick. You are the rock in the back, and the player that other players look up to. You have grown as a leader and player to the point where there is nothing we can fault you for. The defensive stalwart of the best team on Earth can pose challenges for a normal person, but you live it with a rare sense of calm.

Dear Emily, the joy you bring to your teammates and us is indescribable. You are the life of the party and always ready for a laugh. We can only imagine how much planning is going into your first goal celebration. Thank you for teaching us to always smile, laugh, and enjoy the moment.

Mo Problems

Nothing in life is perfect, most things aren’t even close. Everyone has their favorite sport and sometimes they over glorify it. Sports is like school, you and your friends complain about it all the time, but you wouldn’t let anyone else dare say a bad word about it. Maybe, that’s just my experience, but either way no one wants to hear criticism from outsiders. So, today I’m going to criticize the three major American sports (sorry NHL fans, or well not really). Let us start with the only one of the three currently in session. The NBA is a compelling league with superstars from coast to coast. The MVP race is between three or four players who do incredible things every night. Only 4 or 5 teams are out of the race for a playoff spot. The bad news is, no one cares. The NBA has a few huge problems. Number one is the Warriors. Yes, everyone lies about their hatred for dynasties or at least isn’t honest about how much they like to watch them. The problem is the NBA has had the same Finals matchup for four years in a row. The problem is half the teams make the playoffs. The problem is any fan who is even slightly a realist, can’t have legitimate championship aspirations. The good news is this can not last, the Warriors will disband and Lebron will retire. The league should breath a sigh of relief and then find a way to keep superstars away from each other. Or at least find a way to keep some form of hope for the other 31 teams. That’s enough ranting, lets move onto football. The NFL is still the king of American sports. A bad Super Bowl doesn’t change that. The League needs to find a way to keep star players healthier. A league that can’t field its best talent isn’t much of a league. The problem is my second complaint runs into my first, it would be about the dominance of offenses. Of course, everyone is going to be talking about how boring the defensive Super Bowl was, but we seem headed in the direction of 55-51 games becoming the norm. Fans want more offense, but too much of a good thing won’t help. Obviously the two complaints clash with one another. The third one is more of a concern about ratings. The NFL took back some of its ratings from a horrible 2017, but the Super Bowl has been declining for years even though this year featured Boston and LA. The last of the three sports is the National Pastime. There are so many issues its hard to narrow it down. First, appeal to young people. I don’t care how, find a way. Old people die its kinda what they do, you need a solid young fan base. Second, forget the National market. Focus on local ratings, like an election get out there and convince the wonderful people of Oakland why they should tune into A’s baseball. Third goes back to one, let children in for cheaper. Every baseball fan today can tell you their first time seeing the ball field as a kid. Its romantic and you aren’t going to fall in love with something you won’t see. Also, for crying out loud, make the Playoff games earlier so children can watch them!

Maya Moore

Every player, no matter how great, must eventually walk away. Some ride out on top, while others play for just a bit longer than they should. The reasons for retiring are usually to do with the injuries or the body not performing like it used to. Maya Moore’s body is fine, and her skills have hardly eroded. She is 29 years old and coming off another All-Star season. However, she won’t be playing in 2019. She wrote in the Players’ Tribune, “My focus in 2019 will not be on professional basketball, but will instead be on the people in my family, as well as on investing my time in some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.” The cynics will point out that Moore is in contract disputes with the Lynx and was just tagged as a “core player” (the equivalent of a Franchise Tag). They may have a point, but she isn’t going to go party in Miami like Le’Veon. In the prime of her career, Maya Moore is taking time off to go make a difference in her family and community. In an age where we often complain about athletes being all about the money, this is refreshing. Moore can still come back in 2020, but she has put aside 2019 for something different. Fans of the Lynx will be disappointed, but they should understand. It takes courage to shift gears, especially when your life is so public. It isn’t a hot take, but I commend Maya Moore. She may not score a point this season, but she is still an All-Star.