The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current, May 02, 2016, Page Page 7, Image 7

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    SPORTS
May 2, 2016
THE ASIAN REPORTER n Page 7
Asians in American sports w Asian Americans in world sports
New and familiar Asian faces begin National
Women’s Soccer League’s historic fourth season
INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE. Beginning
its fourth season, the National Women’s Soccer
League (NWSL) is entering historic territory. No other
U.S. women’s soccer league has lasted more than
three years, and the NWSL has not only survived, it
has expanded, adding two teams since the league’s
inception. Pictured are Afghani striker Nadia Nadim
(top photo), who joined the Portland Thorns this sea-
son, and midfielder Jeon Ga Eul (bottom photo, #7),
who is the NWSL’s first South Korean player.
By Mike Street
Special to The Asian Reporter
eginning its fourth season, the
National Women’s Soccer League
(NWSL) is entering historic
territory. No other U.S. women’s soccer
league has lasted more than three years,
and the NWSL has not only survived, it
has expanded, adding two teams since the
league’s inception. Along the way, the
NWSL has had many standout Asian
players, and this year is no exception —
with some new faces as well as familiar
faces in new places.
The Western New York Flash brought
on two Asian players this season to help lift
them out of the NWSL doldrums of 2014
and 2015. One is a familiar face, defender
Abby Erceg, who spent the past two years
with the Chicago Red Stars, helping them
reach the playoffs for the first time ever
last season.
Erceg, a New Zealander of Maori
descent, is the team captain for her
country. She was the first player, male or
female, to secure 100 national appear-
ances for New Zealand’s national team.
Erceg’s defensive skills are expected to
bolster a Flash defense that allowed the
second-most goals in the league last
season.
To support the Flash offense, tied for
third-worst in goals scored in 2015, the
team signed a new face: midfielder Jeon
Ga Eul, the NWSL’s first South Korean
player. Jeon began her pro career in 2009,
playing two seasons with Suwon FMC in
South Korea’s WK-League. As the league’s
leading scorer in 2010 with 10 goals, she
won League MVP honors as she led her
team to the championship.
The next year, Jeon moved to the
Hyundai Steel Red Angels, where she
scored 30 goals and assisted on 12 more in
98 league games. Flash general manager
Rich Randall praised Jeon’s excellent
passing skills and leadership, adding,
“Her discipline and on-field vision will be a
key piece to our success this year.”
AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File
AR Photo/Jan Landis
B
The Portland Thorns won the inaugural
NWSL championship in 2013, fell to FC
Kansas City in the first round of the 2014
playoffs, and missed the 2015 playoffs
entirely after a sixth-place finish. To
reverse that slide, the Thorns overhauled
their roster in the offseason, making a
flurry of moves that included trading for
Nadia Nadim, the dynamic Afghani
striker who escaped the Taliban before
beginning her soccer career in Denmark.
In her more than 10 years in Denmark,
Nadim has played for several Danish
clubs, most recently Fortuna Hjørring,
with whom she won a league title in 2014.
After joining New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC
mid-season in 2014, Nadim appeared in 24
games for them, scoring 13 goals and
assisting on four more. Thorns coach Mark
Parson cited her intelligence, goal-scoring
ability, and passion as reasons that
trading for her was “a huge accomplish-
ment” for Portland.
Nadim will join Meleana “Mana” Shim,
the midfielder from Hawai‘i who has gone
up and down since earning a spot on the
Thorns in 2013 through an open tryout.
She won the Newcomer of the Year award
in her first season, starting 17 matches
before losing her starting spot in 2014.
Shim regained that role in 2015 and has
spent the offseason on loan to Iga FC of
Japan’s Nadeshiko League, improving her
conditioning and technical skills so that
she and Nadim can return the Thorns to
excellence.
When Nadim left Sky Blue, she left
behind Samantha Kerr, an Australian
forward with Indian roots. Kerr led New
Jersey in scoring last season, despite
playing in just nine of the team’s 20
matches due to her country’s participation
in the Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Kerr came to Sky Blue after also leading
her previous team, the Flash, in scoring in
Continued on page 8
Celebrating civil-rights pioneer Minoru Yasui; Honoring civil-rights activist Peggy Nagae
Continued from page 6
Of course it’s taken hundreds of
committed individuals and organizations,
thousands of hours to address then find
redress for those 110,000 Americans of
Japanese ancestry who suffered for the
sudden
suspension
of
the
U.S.
Constitution during the Second World
War, but anyone will tell you, Ms. Nagae
has always been in the thick of it. “Peggy
leads with her heart,” noted the “Voices of
Change” award committee. “She con-
sistently and selflessly deflected credit to
everyone else on every team she was on.
But these honors for Mr. Yasui would
NEVER have happened without Peggy’s
vision, her determination and leader-
ship.”
And here’s where this story turns
familial, like so many things do here, in
this auspicious place on our generous
American continent. Here at the
confluence of river matriarchs and our
deep Pacific sea. Here at the confluence of
ancient native nations and ambitious
settlers and resettling families from some
of our achy earth’s most chaotic corners.
Here in Oregon.
In 1980, Peggy was appointed associate
dean for the University of Oregon’s law
school by Derrick Bell, one of America’s
most profound legal scholars — popularly
known as Barack Obama’s professor and
mentor when both were at Harvard Law
School. Professor Bell and his gracious
wife, our community auntie, Jewel
Hairston Bell, together gave Oregon six
years of their dignity and their genius
before they moved on. And passed on.
Tentu kasihan’illaah. Surely, God loves
them.
For three of those six years, my younger
brother was inspired and cared for by
Peggy and Madame Bell’s family. His
educational and professional successes, in
turn our family’s health and happiness, we
attribute to Peggy’s dragging him into U of
O’s staid law school. Once she got him
inside, she set out those same mile-high
expectations that her family, Mr. Yasui’s
family, indeed all our families, have
always laid out for us. The standards will
always make us as hot, and as cool, as we
are.
Ayoh-ayoh (let’s go-go-go).
Happy Asian Heritage Month.
WE’VE GROWN TO SERVE YOU BETTER!
Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center is now open.
Conveniently located in Hillsboro’s Tanasbourne area, our new emergency department
serves everyone in the community.
KAISER PERMANENTE
WESTSIDE MEDICAL CENTER
2875 NW Stucki Ave.
Hillsboro, OR 97124
All plans offered and underwritten by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest.
500 NE Multnomah St., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97232.
©2013 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest