Level of Hatred Toward Referees is Disturbing


By Tim Nash

I just spent five days watching experienced referees coach and mentor young officials at the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships.

I watched, listened and asked questions as some of the best and most experienced referees in the country spent time helping the next generation of officials improve in all aspects of officiating.

And guess what? None of the instruction included telling the referees to choose a team to screw. Not once were the young refs told to try to anger the crowd, or irritate the home fans.

But it happens, doesn’t it? We live in an era when every call is debated and scrutinized through multiple instant replays and fans get countless chances to see a controversial play that the ref gets to see once for a split second. Continue reading

Abby Dahlkemper Takes Big Steps in 2017

By Tim Nash

On Aug 19, for the 10th time in 18 games this season, the North Carolina Courage looked at the scoreboard at the end of the game and see a zero under their opponent’s name.

Ten shutouts have helped the Courage, who have allowed a league-low 14 goals through 18 games, secure a place atop the NWSL standings for most of the 2017 season.

The stingy defense can be credited to a number of different factors – a high-pressing defense starting athletic forwards, like Ashley Hatch, Jessica McDonald and Lynn Williams, an organized and aggressive midfield led by Sam Mewis and McCall Zerboni, and backline that features a veteran from New Zealand, Abby Erceg, and three players who have caught the eye of U.S. National team coach Jill Ellis – Jaelene Hinkle, Taylor Smith and Abby Dahlkemper. In goal, both Katelyn Rowland and Sabrina D’Angelo have shared the duties. Continue reading

Life After the PK for Brandi Chastain

Aren’t You the One Who… ?

The following is an excerpt from the book “It’s Not the Glory, the Remarkable First 30 Years of U.S. women’s Soccer.” Click here to purchase a copy

They keep looking over here. By now it’s clear they recognize someone. There are three of them. One guy holds a pole in place while he not-so-secretly glances over at the table in the shade. Another guy connects another pole. It drops on the cement, clangs, rolls, and rattles. They begin again. The third guy is arranging the canopy-thing that will go on top of the poles, that is, if they ever get in place. Can’t really blame them, though. It’s probably not often their day is interrupted by three extremely fit, attractive women—two blondes and a brunette—and one unfit, unattractive guy, lounging around their work site.

Wait, is he coming over here? Really? Is it his break time already? Yep, here he comes. His buddies are trailing behind, letting pole-holder guy take the lead. What’s he thinking? “Three of them, three of us… let’s go boys.” This should be good. What happens next explains it all, everything being talked about at the table in the shade, everything they have accomplished, everything that caught the country by surprise in the summer of 1999. Continue reading

What Vin Scully Taught Me About Michelle Akers


By Tim Nash

Yesterday was Vin Scully’s last day as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is 88 years old and has called Dodger games for 67 consecutive seasons. A speech Scully gave 34 years ago, helped me understand the remarkable journey of Michelle Akers, and get a little more insight into what drove her through injuries and controversies.

In 1982, I was working as an intern at the Little Falls (N.Y.) Evening News. Little Falls, a cool little town of roughly 5,000 people on the Mohawk River and Erie Canal, was the home of the Little Falls Mets, the Rookie League affiliate of the Major League Baseball team. When I joined the newspaper, the size of the sports department staff doubled from one to two.

My brother Marty was the general manager of the Little Falls Mets, in his first year working in minor league sports. On opening day of the 1982 season, my brother, having secretly hired a parachutist to drop into the field to deliver the game ball, watched nervously as the small plane flew over the field and kept going. As it became clear the parachutist was not in the air, Marty instructed the umpire to start the game. Shortly after the game began, we discovered that the parachutist had landed nine miles away into a group of bewildered softball players in Doglesville. It was an interesting start to a season where I also got to watch John Elway play center field for the Oneonta Yankees.

That’s all beside the point, though. Little Falls happened to be 30 miles south of Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and in 1982 Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson were among the inductees. Scully was given the Ford Fricke Award for journalism that day, and listening to his acceptance speech with my elbows on the stage remains as one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.

Thirty years later, while writing a section of the book “It’s Not the Glory” on Michelle Akers, Scully’s speech helped me understand the fascinating career of the greatest women’s soccer player of all-time.

Here’s the Chapter.

The Warrior and the Sea

The crowd, about 300 folks who came on a Friday night to listen to her speak, is curious. Like everyone she meets, they are taken by her physical presence, the regal stature and the way she carries herself that screams “athlete.” Over the years, she has become a good public speaker, setting aside one-liners and popular themes to just talk. Her story is captivating, and she delivers it from her heart. This time, though, it’s a little different. As she talks about the 1996 Olympics and her teammates, her eyes well up and her voice uncharacteristically cracks. The microphone drops to her side. She bows her head, steps back, and apologizes to the crowd. The crowd, however, erupts into supportive applause.

Continue reading

A Lesson in Game Management

And Why the USA Didn’t Go for the Win Against Colombia

MorganBy Tim Nash

So the USA is tied with Colombia in extra time of the second half. It’s the last game of Olympic group play. A tie is enough to win the group and move on to the quarterfinals.

The game had been frustrating. The U.S. seemed to have done enough to win, but two reckless fouls led to two very well hit free kicks by Colombia’s Catalina Usme. The first one inexplicably made it through Hope Solo’s legs to give Colombia a 1-0 lead in the first half. The second, a left-footed missile from the right flank sailed over Solo’s punch and under crossbar to tie the game 2-2.

Then, with 2:07 elapsed from the three minutes of injury time given by the referee, the U.S. got a corner kick. Here it is. The chance to win the game and bring some of that drama we’ve all come to expect from the USA in the Olympic games. One last-gasp ball into the box, where surely another last-second Olympic miracle awaits. Continue reading

Buy a Copy of “It’s Not the Glory”

Glory book cover 400



Also Available at Amazon.com

The 56th Minute, LLC is excited to announce the publication of a new book on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team by long-time soccer writer Tim Nash. It’s Not the Glory, the Remarkable First Thirty Years of U.S. Women’s Soccer, tells the extraordinary tale of what has become one of the most intriguing and socially relevant sports teams in history.

A skilled storyteller, Nash uses anecdotes from his observations and interviews with nearly 50 players and coaches from every generation to narrate the story from the very beginning in the mid 1980’s, through the 2015 World Cup championship.


It’s Not the Glory explains the team’s culture of excellence through the words of those who established it and nurtured it over the years. From Heinrichs and Akers on to Overbeck, Hamm, Foudy and Lilly, through Rampone, Wambach, Morgan and Lloyd, and everyone in between, It’s Not the Glory, details the character and characters that helped the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team have an enormous impact on society while rising to the very top of the women’s soccer world. Continue reading

Mia, Kristine, Tish and the Next Generation

Team First 2
GUSA’s McKenna Spencer goes one v one with Tisha Venturini Hoch. Photo by Ann Tingen

By Tim Nash

Check the signs again. Is this really Martinsville, Va.? You sure we’re in the small Southern Virginia town, the one with the NASCAAR track? Okay, so what are those former U.S. National team players doing here? They do, after all, have five Olympic Gold medals between them, and five World Cup championship medals, and a dozen NCAA championship rings. Haven’t the three of them have combined for over 300 goals in nearly 800 international matches?

Well, that’s them. Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini Hoch. They’re at Smith River Soccer Complex in Martinsville early on a humid Saturday morning.

Why? The answer is simple.

Continue reading