Andi Sullivan on US Soccer, USWNT dispute: ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve had conflict’

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The USWNT’s 9-0 blowout against Paraguay may have lacked suspense, but there was plenty of off-field drama to make up for the lopsided scoreline.

The National Team’s Thursday matchup was the squad’s first since the Tokyo Olympics and came only a day after a Twitter spat broke out between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT Players Association.

The federation and players’ years-long battle over equal pay hit an inflection point this month after U.S. Soccer announced on Sept. 14 that it would be offering identical contract proposals to the Women’s and Men’s National Teams, encouraging the men and women to negotiate together on FIFA prize money.

The USWNT Players Association quickly responded, calling the move by U.S. Soccer a “PR Stunt.” U.S. Soccer then hit back on Wednesday, taking aim at the “LFG” documentary chronicling the team’s equal pay fight, Tweeting, “A publicity stunt is a 90-minute one-sided movie.”

The public disagreement between the federation and players was a topic of conversation after the USWNT’s international friendly, with The Athletic’s Steph Yang asking Andi Sullivan after the match about the CBA negotiations.

“I think there’s tremendous strength in this team’s ability to focus. This isn’t the first time we’ve had conflict. We just focus on business and obviously we did that tonight. That’s all I’ll say on that,” said Sullivan.

Alongside Spirit teammates Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett, the midfielder is also contending with turmoil within her club team. Washington has been forced to forfeit two NWSL games, one against the Thorns and another against OL Reign, after violating league COIVD-19 protocols.

“It’s rare that I would say that this environment is less stressful than our club environment, but that’s the case for me right now, so I’m just super excited to get into camp,” said Sullivan in response to Jason Anderson’s question on the Spirit saga.

“Great to have some great training and to play a game. I was just joking with Kelley in the locker room, like ‘When was our last game?’… Hopefully we won’t have any of those issues going forward. So, happy to be here and to get to play,” Sullivan added.

Despite the off-field distractions, Sullivan notched her first two international goals, making a strong case for herself in the defensive midfield position.