39 goals for and 4 goals against. What place do you think that team is heading into the winter break? Or better yet, what kind of shape do you think that team is in? The answer to the first question is "second" while the answer to the latter question is open ended. Bayern Munich Frauen are currently sitting in second place in the Frauen-Bundesliga after an impressive first half of the season. This season has been something of a revelation for the squad, so how did they get here? Let us review.
Last summer was busy for the team as many new players were brought in, and seasoned veterans left the squad. To complicate it even further, Lena Lotzen suffered an ACL injury and is still out. This team has faced numerous challenges, and has responded in an almost unprecedented way.
It all got started the very first game of the season when the team went on the road to face FFC Frankfurt. Last season Frankfurt finished second place in the league and has historically been one of the strongest teams with multiple league championships. In previous years, Bayern has struggled against Frankfurt, but this season started different as the teams played to a tough 1-1 draw. With one of the hardest matches out of the way, the team went on the beat SC Freiburg and 1899 Hoffenheim.
Seven points in three matches is great, but where did the season start to show it's true potential for this squad? I would argue that this came in week four when the team faced VfL Wolfsburg, the defending Frauen Bundesliga and Champions League winners. Would a fourth place team beat the defending champion? While the answer was no, Bayern battled for 90 minutes and earned a 0-0 draw. While none of the teams 39 goals was scored in this game, playing hard and not backing down against the Champions League winner is the sign of a contender.
Bayern opened up October with 10 goals in 2 games and continued on a tear for most of the month. It was during October that Bayern took over first place in the league. The team that finished fourth the season before and had not been a contender for years was suddenly looking very much like their counterparts in the Bundesliga. This was truly a revelation and the squad had achieved the top. Their lead was only because of goal differential, but when you claw your way to the top, technicalities do not matter. It came down to a simple idea, keep winning big and you will win.
Reports of the teams spirits being high were all around and some of the team was even spotted at Oktoberfest. These girls were flying high on the backs of a truly international squad with it's stars coming from Germany, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United States.
The team held on to first place until the end of November when they drew with SGS Essen. Keeping winning big and you will win held true, but unfortunately the team did not win, and VfL Wolfsburg pounced.
December saw the team fight to keep second place in the league while Wolfsburg maintained their pace. The team looked to end the fall side with a cup quarterfinals win, but unfortunately lost to FFC Frankfurt, who always seems to be on another level for the cup matches.
While December did not quite have the excitement of October and November, the squad showed us just how far they have come during this season. Remember how it all started with a draw against FFC Frankfurt? On December 7th the squad beat Frankfurt 2-1 at home after having a 2-0 halftime lead. Last season that sort of win would have been celebrated and hailed as a great achievement. This season? That's just what they do. Win.
Now that we have had a few months with the team, we should reward them for all that has happened. There is no better way to do this then to have awards! Let's get started.
The "She's got MOVES" Award
Melanie Leupolz! If you have not seen this video yet, you absolutely need to see it. So much grace and skill on that play. Is it possible to watch it without having a verbal reaction? The answer is no, it is not.
The "She scores when she wants" Award
Eunice Beckmann! At the winter break, Beckmann has 7 goals on the season. Beckmann has been used mostly as a super sub, so this makes the feat that much more impressive. This is not her first season with the club, but she is young and tremendously talented, so we are lucky to have her.
The "Oh Captain My Captain" Award
Who else, but Melanie Behringer. The German international has been a strong leader for this squad all season long. It seems as though she is always guiding someone or having her foot on the ball at some point in each goal progression.
The "We are going to miss you" Award
Goes to loanee Amber Brooks. The American defender joined the team on loan right before the season from the NWSL's Portland Thorns. The agreement was for her to play for the team throughout the fall side and return to the United States during the winter break. Brooks was outstanding for the club in her second stint in Munich and will definitely be missed in February.
The Workhorse Award
This one is a tie between Caroline Abbe, Melanie Behringer, and Nora Holstad. All three players have appeared in every single league match for the team this season and have played every single minute. Congrats and please keep the streak up.
The "Google translate hates your name" award
Katie Stengel ("Stem" according to Google) and Katherina Baunach ("demand for construction")! As many of you probably know, I do speak German (I am trying thanks to Duolingo, but it's not pretty). Because of that I have relied on the power of the internet for translations of pages. Throughout the season these two names have made me snicker every time I see them in the lineup or an article. Google translate may not appreciate your name, but we all appreciate your game.
The "you are awesome" Award
Every. Single. Member. Of. This. Team. They all deserve it. Bravo on a great fall of 2014, and let's get ready for an even better spring of 2015.
A small personal note:
I was originally going to try to breakdown a team MVP and "team all stars" and things along those lines, but I realized very quickly that what has made this team great has been the fact that each game, 14 skilled players absolutely bring their all and work together. It is hard to single players out, so if you want my list of "great" players on the team, just look at the roster.
Writer's Note: I want to thank you all, the readers. I saw that there was an opening to write about this team on this site and I was immediately intrigued. To be honest, I had never really followed Bayern Munich Frauen before, but for years I have been a fan of women's soccer and love going to NWSL games. I took a chance on this, the site took a chance on me, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. I cannot thank you readers enough for reading these articles this season and I am glad to bring you all recaps of what is happening on the women's side. Thank you all, and let's get ready for 2015.