Vivianne Miedema is concerned about the workload on soccer players as the number of injuries grows.

An increasing number of players have suffered season-ending injuries this year, with the majority of them being ACL tears. That list includes Alexia Putellas, Christen Press, and now, England’s Beth Mead.

In her column for Dutch newspaper AD, Miedema confirmed that Mead will likely miss next summer’s World Cup. She also attributes the increase of injuries to a lack of rest.

“I see a worrying pattern. The playing calendar for both the women and the men is simply too full,” she wrote. “Actually, it’s just a shame. We are in a world that goes on and on and there are few players who say anything about it. I do. We go completely crazy with the tax on football players and football players.

“I can already envisage some of the reactions to this column, you know. ‘We have the best profession in the world, we earn a lot of money and we don’t have to complain. Just play football.'”

As women’s soccer grows in popularity and its standards, the demands on female players continue to increase. The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 and the UEFA Women’s European Championships to 2022 means that European players could carry a workload of playing in five summer tournaments in five straight years.

There are also more games, as leagues like the WCL have introduced group stages and the NWSL has expanded both by teams and games.

Such a packed schedule led to Miedema taking a step back at the beginning of November, she says, explaining her recent absence in her column.

“At the beginning of this month I deliberately took a step back,” she continued. “I felt that my body and mind were ready for a rest. For people who do not work in top sport, that will sound strange. People who do work in our world will understand it better, but many players don’t feel that freedom to stand up for themselves or just want to continue in their tunnel.”

She says that Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall “was initially surprised” by the request but found himself in agreement with one of his star players.

“I spent a large part of the European Championship last summer in my hotel room with Covid-19. After that, the preparation for the season started almost immediately,” she said. “I went through in one go and I paid the price for that. I had to get out.”

Speaking after Arsenal’s match on Thursday, Eidevall spoke about striking a balance. While Miedema has since returned, scoring the tying goal in Arsenal’s draw with Juventus, the issue of scheduling remains.

“There is always the balance between freshness and having continuity in the training and playing,” he said postgame. “We need to strike that balance. You can see that Viv was fighting really hard today with the team on the pitch.”

Player health should be paramount, Eidevall said, noting that there should be protected periods for players in which there are no club or international games played.

“I really think we need to consider in women’s football when we look at the calendar, how we can put the players health first. They are constantly going between really competitive games at club level, onto international level. It has taken a lot of my time thinking about it because my gut says that we are not creating something that is good for the players.

“At the moment there are players who get barely any vacation and it’s consecutive, year after year after year. It’s great if we’re going to have more competitive games but let’s have a calendar that allows players to recover so we can keep the quality too.”

Come next summer, the U.S. women’s national team will be facing a familiar opponent in the World Cup after drawing the Netherlands for the group stage.

They’ll be joined by Vietnam and the winner of the Group A Play-off, which will either be Cameroon, Portugal or Thailand.

But their second game of the tournament will prove a big test, as the two teams faced off in the final of the 2019 World Cup. The USWNT won that match while the Netherlands finished as runner-up in the tournament.

“We got a good but somewhat tough draw,” said head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “I’m excited about it. This is when the real preparation starts.”

A matchup between the two teams in the quarterfinals of last summer’s Olympics featured the U.S. advancing 4-2 on penalty kicks after finishing regulation tied 2-2.

“It’s exciting, and it’s a very good team,” USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan told Fox of going up against the Netherlands in their second game. “One that’s developing a lot and has changed a lot over the last two years. An opening game against Vietnam, I think that’s great for us to get us going in the tournament.”

Both teams have had a rough go of it as of late. The USWNT is coming off of back-to-back losses to England and Spain, but were without stars such as Alex Morgan.

Meanwhile the Netherlands have not been the same since manager Sarina Wiegman departed for England. After a disappointing Euros that featured the team exiting in the quarterfinals, the team parted ways with Mark Parsons and has since named Andries Jonker as head coach.

Horan knows that the USWNT has a ways to go to be fully prepared for next summer’s World Cup.

“I think we have a lot of work to do in the next year,” she said. “You see the competitiveness and you see the game changing, how the teams are evolving. We lost two games. We need to be better, we need to learn and grow from these.

“Even without certain players on the field, we have to adapt and develop the style that we’re going to go in and play in the World Cup.”

All of the games in Group E will be played in New Zealand, starting July 22 in Auckland against Vietnam. The USWNT will then face the Netherlands on July 27 before their final game on Aug. 1.

Andries Jonker was announced Wednesday as the next head coach of the Netherlands women’s national team.

He succeeds Mark Parsons, who parted ways with the team after the defending champions were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the Euros in July.

Jonker has signed on through 2025, according to the Dutch soccer federation.

“During the last European Championship, we saw how incredibly fast women’s football has developed in recent years,” Jonker said. “We have ambitious goals, but also an enormous amount of quality and talent that we can draw on for the 2023 World Cup.”

This is not his first time with the team. The 59-year-old briefly served as interim head coach for the Netherlands in 2001. The Netherlands native later went to work as an assistant at men’s clubs FC Barcelona, VfL Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich. He also served as first-team manager for Wolfsburg and academy manager at Arsenal.

Starting in 2019, he managed Sportclub Telstar, a member of the second-tier Dutch men’s league, but he left the club in June.

Jonker will begin immediately, coaching the team in a friendly against Scotland on Sept. 2 followed by a World Cup qualifying match against Iceland on Sept. 6. A win in the latter would assure the team of a spot in next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Mark Parsons is no longer manager of the Netherlands women’s national team after the two sides agreed to part ways.

The Dutch Football Association (KNVB) confirmed Parsons’ departure Wednesday in a statement. The news comes after the squad was eliminated in the quarterfinals at the UEFA Women’s Euro in July. The Netherlands had entered the tournament as the defending champion.

According to the KNVB, the two sides came to the joint decision after a review of Parsons’ performance revealed there wasn’t enough confidence in the coach.

“In the run-up to and at the European Championship, both the games shown and the results were disappointing and we cannot afford that,” KNVB board member Jan Dirk van der Zee said. “The bar is high.

“The Netherlands was defending champion and also a finalist at the last World Cup, we want to participate for the prizes… The group came from an incredibly strong period and supplemented with young players, the team had to lay the foundation for new successes. Mark has managed to scout new talents and give them a chance in this interim phase and we are grateful to him for that. We wish him every success in his further career.”

After finishing second in Group C behind Sweden, the team lost to France in the quarterfinals. That game marked the return of star forward Vivianne Miedema, who had been out due to COVID-19 protocol. In a recent column for AD Sport, Miedema detailed how difficult the Euros were for her.

“It was a very difficult European Championship for me. I still haven’t processed everything. My expectations were high, I felt good, but then I got corona,” wrote Miedema, detailing how she laid in bed with a fever for nine days.

“I played 120 minutes against France, I have no idea how I did that,” she continued. “I was going to be substituted, but then we were 1-0 behind and we had to score.”

While recognizing that the tournament was a disappointment for the defending champions, she also highlighted the play of those like Daphne Domselaar, who stepped in when Sari van Veenendaal went down with an injury. The team was also missing Lieke Martens due to injury.

The issues with Parsons, though, seemingly run deeper than the Euros run. When Danielle van de Donk was asked after the Euros loss what she had learned with Parsons at the helm, she said she would “think about that.”

Parsons was announced as the successor to Sarina Wiegman in May 2021 after she departed to manage England. Wiegman led the Lionesses to the Euros title at this year’s tournament. Parsons joined the Netherlands from the NWSL’s Portland Thorns, where he had coached for five years.

He also spent time with the Washington Spirit, D.C. United and Chelsea Reserves.

Parsons released a statement Wednesday saying that it was a “privilege” to coach the Netherlands.

“I want you to know that I always worked with one goal in mind and that is to help this team move forward,” he added. “I truly wish to have achieved better results for you.

“This has been a very challenging 12 months but I remain honored I have had the chance to work with these players and KNVB. I wish you all the best and good luck for September’s qualifier. I will be cheering you all on from afar.”

The Netherlands sits atop Group C in UEFA World Cup qualifying with a two-point lead over Iceland. The two will meet in a match on Sept. 6, and Netherlands could secure a World Cup spot with a win.

Vivianne Miedema will not play in the Netherlands’ match against Portugal on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Dutch national team said in a statement that she “will therefore be in isolation for the next few days.”

“When she no longer has any symptoms and tests negative she can rejoin the selection,” the statement continued.

Following Portugal, the Netherlands next will play Switzerland on July 17.

Miedema is the all-time leading goalscorer for the team, with 94 goals through 112 caps. She’s the second player from the team to test positive for COVID-19 in the tournament after Jackie Groenen.

Players from other countries have also tested positive during the tournament, including England’s Lotte Wubben-Moy.

The Netherlands is third in Group C standings, sitting behind Portugal and Switzerland due to goal differential. No team in Group C has won a game yet this tournament, with the Netherlands drawing 1-1 with Sweden in their opening match.

Also out for the team is goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal, who suffered a shoulder injury during the team’s opening match. The Dutch have yet to qualify for next year’s World Cup, with just Denmark and France qualifying so far from UEFA.

The Portland Thorns confirmed head coach Mark Parsons’ departure from the club following the conclusion of the 2021 NWSL season.

First reported by The Athletic’s Meg Linehan on May 12, Parsons’ move to the Dutch women’s national team became official Thursday morning. Parsons called it an “absolute honor and privilege” to become head coach of the Netherlands and stressed his commitment to the Thorns through the end of the season.

“Before I join the Netherlands I have a very important commitment and responsibility to the Portland Thorns,” Parsons wrote. “This is a club and a fan base that epitomizes family and we have a very exciting season ahead with the opportunity to achieve more special memories together.

“I will give everything to the players, staff and fans to make it our best yet.”

Parsons has coached Portland since 2015, winning the NWSL Shield in 2016 and NWSL championship in 2017. After signing a multi-year contract extension with the Thorns last March, he led them to the Challenge Cup title earlier this month.