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Saturday, July 8, 2023

Ekic Gets National Call Up -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

If you listened to the show last week, you may remember that I mentioned writing about the Louisville women's soccer 2023 roster this week. Here's the thing, reader, that didn't happen. I could say I just didn't have time to get into it with a busy work week but the truth is--and this is a big secret so don't tell--I forgot about it until I actually didn't have time to get into it. With some shuffling around of the schedules, though, I'm set to write Tuesday, so look for an in-depth roster dive then. There was still some interesting soccer news this week, however.

Emina Ekic to Play for Bosnia and Herzegovina

While she is no longer wearing red and black for the Louisville Cardinals, Emina Ekic is still someone we watch with great interest. It's not difficult, since she is from Louisville, played for UofL, and was drafted by the professional women's team in Louisville. That said, it may be a bit more difficult to follow Ekic's national team career, as she has withdrawn herself from the USWNT roster pool. Ekic announced earlier this week through various social media channels and the Racing Louisville communications team that she has declared for the Bosnia and Herzegovina Women's National Team. The announcement came coupled with the announcement that she has been called up to the senior team for two friendlies against Hungary and Greece next weekend during the brief international break.

You may be thinking to yourself: But Emina already played for the USWNT, how can she play for another country? Also, isn't she American?

Those are good questions, but the world of international soccer has some quirks. I'll answer the latter first. While Emina is American, both of her parents are from Bosnia (which may not come as too much of a surprise given her last name). FIFA rules allow a player to be eligible for a country that is not the same as their natural citizenship for a variety of reasons. One of those is that a player may declare for the country of origin of either parent. There are some others that can get a bit more complicated, but there's no need to dig into those since Ekic obviously fits into that slot nicely. (As an aside, that is one of the reasons the USMNT struggles to retain some of the best American talent. If their parent is an immigrant from a country with a better team or a better playing opportunity, US Soccer has to convince that player to choose them.) As she said herself, representing the country where her family is from means a lot to her.

As for the first question, that comes down to a matter of level of play. While Ekic has represented the US on the international stage before, she has not done so on the senior level. The rules of eligibility have gotten more complicated over the last few years, making it easier for players to change teams than it was in the past, but Emina would have been eligible for this change even under the old rules. Effectively, Ekic isn't changing which national team she plays for because she never technically played for the USWNT, she only played for the US U-23 Women's Team (and other junior categories). Long story short, because Ekic hadn't been called up to the senior team before, she was still able to declare for any other country in which she could claim eligibility. Clear as mud, right? Welcome to international soccer...

Ekic is still recovering from the ankle injury she suffered in Australia over the winter, but she has made two appearances for Racing this season, coming on as a sub in both matches. I have to imagine that part of the decision to play for Bosnia is also that she will have a much better opportunity to get international experience. The USWNT is one of the top teams in the country and the roster pool is not lacking in depth. While Ekic has shown she can be good enough to earn a spot on that team, she will likely get many more chances at being called up and getting playing time elsewhere. We'll be following her international career with interest, even if we're less likely to be able to watch the games, and we wish her all the best!

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

The Three Musketeers (or Stooges, depending on who you ask) are back at it again as we're without Daryl and Jared this week for the show. Early July can be a bit slow as far as Louisville news goes, and we may be begging for the return of the Cardinal Couple Quiz. However, we'll endeavor ever onward to bring you the joy and excitement of Louisville Women's Athletics. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

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Until next time, Go Cards!


1 comment:

  1. LOL. There won't be a quiz on the broadcast today, maybe next week.



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