Jeff Plush is nearing the end of his first season as the National Women’s Soccer League commissioner, and he visited Seattle this past weekend to present the Reign with the Shield as the league’s regular-season champions.
I was able to sit down with Plush prior to Saturday’s Reign-Sky Blue FC match at Memorial Stadium. Below are some highlights.
On Alex Morgan’s public bed-bug complaints following a recent Thorns match in Kansas City: “All complaints matter,” Plush said. “They’re all relevant. They all should be brought forward. There’s probably a more constructive way to do it than that. I wouldn’t mind a phone call. Because I’d never heard a comment like that before that or since, to be honest.
“We need to continue to build our league. And that means lots of things. It means raising the quality of play, better players. Better markets, more markets, better executives, all across the board. … That means facilities. That means hotels. But it has to happen on a prudent timescale. That has to happen with the revenues there to support it. With have to build a league that’s there in 20 years. That means we can’t have everything right away.
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“I hear it all the time: ‘Well, MLS is doing this.’ MLS is 20 years old. We need the time to build it responsibly. We know that there’s more that we need to do, but it has to happen on the right pace.”
– On the U.S. Women’s national team’s “Victory Tour” and balancing the post-World Cup demands of some of the league’s stars: “It’s not a tough balance. People have tried to make it out to be a tough balance. We knew about it all along. It was on the schedule all along. People had the opportunity to prepare for it. The reason it’s happening is because they won the World Cup. I think the glass is overwhelmingly half-full.
“That’s the reality of club versus country in every competition in the world, men or women.”
– On the decision to host the 2015 NWSL at a neutral site at Portland’s Providence Park: “It’s the right thing for our league to be able to establish an event to be able to build ancillary events off of. … If we erred, it was in announcing it too late.”
– On possible NWSL expansion: “We’re certainly interested in expansion. There are a lot of positive conversations going on. … I feel confident that there will be expansion, I just don’t have a timeline just yet.”
– On increased interest in the wake of the USWNT’s World Cup win: “We knew that there would be a bump. I think the numbers are good. The important part is that they’ve stayed up. It hasn’t been a two-week spike. It’s been a significant spike in all the weeks since. That shows a real staying power.”