Megan Rapinoe has long been at the center of cultural and political battles in women’s soccer, and this summer’s Women’s World Cup was no different.

The U.S. women’s national team forward was the target of right-wing criticism — including from former President Donald Trump — after she missed a penalty kick in the team’s Round of 16 shootout loss to Sweden. The 2023 World Cup marked the USWNT’s worst-ever finish at the tournament.

USWNT players also received backlash from conservative pundits throughout the World Cup for not singing during the playing of the national anthem. And in the backdrop of the adverse reactions to the USWNT, other women’s national teams were dealing with their own conflicts at home. Most notably, Spain won the World Cup on Sunday amid controversy, after 15 players sent a letter to their federation last year detailing concerns about the culture under coach Jorge Vilda.

In Rapinoe’s first interview since the World Cup, which she had announced was her final tournament, the soon-to-be retired star said USWNT players take pride in using their platform to promote gender quality across the sport.

“What I’ve realized for a long time is that we’re playing two games at the same time,” Rapinoe told The Atlantic this week. “One, we’re playing all against each other. And then the other one, we’re all playing together to win equality and progress and what we deserve. We want these other teams to be paid equally, and to have the resources that they deserve, and to not be subjected to misogyny and racism and sexism.

“If that comes at the expense of our own dominance, yeah, we want that. Maybe that’s a novel concept for some people, but it’s not for us.”

Rapinoe joined the chorus in condemning Spanish federation president Luis Rubiales’ forced kiss of Jenni Hermoso during Spain’s World Cup medal ceremony on Sunday, calling it an example of the systemic misogyny in women’s soccer.

She also responded directly to her critics, including Trump.

“I think, just in general, the way that our team was spoken about over the course of the tournament, it was fake,” Rapinoe said. “And it didn’t make sense to me: In 2019, we were ultra-confident, ultra-swaggy — and won everything. And even though we won, we did it in bad taste, according to our critics.

“This time, we weren’t confident enough, and we don’t have the right ‘mentality.’ And so we lost. It’s just so disingenuous. There’s no way for us to win, and there’s no way for us to lose.”

Rapinoe is expected to play in the USWNT’s two friendlies against South Africa in September as her final games with the national team before retiring. The 38-year-old finishes her career with two World Cup titles, with one Olympic gold medal and as the 10th-leading goal scorer in USWNT history.

Emily Syverud barely had time to celebrate last year when she received the $150,000 grand prize for winning the inaugural Just Women’s Sports x DICK’S Sporting Goods March Madness Bracket Challenge.

Syverud was on vacation when she heard the news that, out of 17,611 participants, she had submitted the winning bracket for the 2022 NCAA Women’s Tournament. From there, she came home, graduated from medical school at the University of Minnesota, got married, went on her honeymoon and started residency in Minneapolis for internal and emergency medicine.

Since then, she’s had time to exhale and reflect on the significance of her accomplishment, which included the largest prize ever awarded in women’s college basketball.

“It was life-changing,” Syverud, 27, told JWS in a recent conversation. “My husband and I still laugh about it all the time, like, remember when I won $150,000? It’s just such a ridiculous amount of money for anybody, and especially coming out of med school with debt.

“So all of a sudden, having that money just let me relax and enjoy things, and do some more fun things that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have done.”

One of those spontaneous activities happened in December. Unable to use some of the money toward upgrading their honeymoon flights to St. Lucia, Syverud surprised her husband with plane tickets to Switzerland for a ski trip for his 30th birthday.

Of the remaining $150,000, Syverud has donated to Keystone Community Services, a nonprofit in St. Paul, Minn. that runs food shelters, senior programming and after-school youth activities. She’s also set up recurring donations to other organizations she and her husband are passionate about and has paid off some of her student loans.

As the 2023 NCAA Tournament approaches, with the second annual Bracket Challenge featuring the same $150,000 grand prize, Syverud’s friends have been asking her for the secrets to her success.

JWS Bracket Challenge: Sign up for a chance to win $150,000!

As a relatively new fan of women’s college basketball, she likes that she can be an inspiration for others who are looking to get involved for the first time.

“It will sound cheesy, but I just tell them to go read Just Women’s Sports,” Syverud said. “Because that’s literally what I did, and that’s what I do when I’m scrolling on my phone. If I don’t want to be on Instagram for hours, I just go on the JWS website and read articles.”

Syverud has No. 1 South Carolina pegged as the favorite to win it all again this year. She’s high on reigning National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston and the Gamecocks’ depth. But she also has her eye on Caitlin Clark at Iowa and UConn, who played South Carolina close in February won the Big East tournament championship this week despite being ravaged by injuries to their roster.

Other than reading up on the top programs, Syverud advises participants to familiarize themselves with the teams outside of the Power 5 conferences for possible upset bids, and when in doubt, to trust their instincts.

“At the end of the day, it’s like, yes, you need to know some things about basketball and know some things about the teams that are playing,” she said. “But some of it, too, you’ve just gotta go with your gut and trust yourself to make a good choice.”

Emily graduated from medical school and used part of her winnings to take a ski trip to Switzerland. (Courtesy of Emily Syverud)

Still, Syverud doesn’t want to give away all her secrets. She plans to enter the Bracket Challenge again this year and prove her big win wasn’t a fluke.

“My family and friends are all kind of like, ‘Emily, did you really know anything or are you just BSing all of us?’ So I mean, not that I think I’ll win again,” she said, “but just to prove I’m gonna make some good choices in my bracket again and I’m gonna prove to you all that I do know some things about basketball.”

Syverud expects most of her residency class to sign up and fill out brackets in March. For them and everyone else participating this year, she has one final piece of guidance.

“It’s exciting to have the Bracket Challenge, it’s exciting to have such a big prize, but let’s also get eyeballs on the games and show people that people want to watch women’s sports,” she said.

“So fill out your bracket and participate, but then also go watch the games and cheer your teams on.”

Hannah Withiam is the Senior Managing Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @HannahWithiam.

United States women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovski made 73% less than men’s coach Gregg Berhalter in 2021-22, according to U.S. Soccer’s tax filing released Monday.

Andonovski earned $446,495 in salary during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. That included $50,000 in bonuses for the USWNT’s bronze-medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics in August 2021.

Berhalter earned $1,641,398 in that same time frame, including $300,000 in bonuses, maintaining his status as U.S. Soccer’s highest-paid employee. The 49-year-old coached the U.S. men to the 2021 Conacacaf Golf Cup title and to the Round of 16 of the 2022 Men’s World Cup.

In the previous fiscal year, Andonovski earned $357,597, 28% of Berhalter’s $1,291,539 salary.

Berhalter’s contract with U.S. Soccer expired in Dec. 31 and his status with the federation is unclear. He is currently under investigation for a domestic violence allegation stemming from 1991.

Andonovski is 47-5-6 in over three years as USWNT head coach. The 46-year-old has faced criticism for recent USNWT performances, including a three-game losing streak late last year, the program’s first since 1993. The U.S. has bounced back so far in 2023 as it prepares for the World Cup in New Zealand this summer, going 5-0-0 and winning the SheBelieves Cup title last week.

Last year, the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams reached a landmark collective bargaining agreement with the federation guaranteeing equal pay and other benefits.

The USWNT are No. 1 in the current FIFA rankings, while the USMNT are No. 13.

It’s a good day to be a women’s sports fan.

Today, Just Women’s Sports is launching a creative refresh and website overhaul that makes it easier than ever to follow your favorite leagues, teams and athletes in women’s sports. Together, these changes represent the most significant creative and technical investments made by JWS since its inception three years ago.

What can you expect from the new and improved website experience?

We have a new look. The company’s new identity includes a redesigned logo, color palette, and typography system meant to mirror the bold, energetic spirit that embodies the JWS brand. The design is woven into the fabric of the website and is built to adapt across JWS content, merch, events and more.

We have an upgraded homepage. Catch up on breaking news and the biggest stories in women’s sports with one click; move seamlessly between top leagues, teams and tournaments; and create your own adventure with new reading and discovery features.


We have statistics. Finding the stats of your favorite women’s sports just got a whole lot easier. Follow season stat leaders in real time, review historical stat lines, and compare player and team performances all in one place.

We have schedules and standings. Keep up with the game times and playoff races of your favorite leagues through sports-specific homepages.


Plus so much more. Our featured sports now include women’s college basketball, international soccer and the Women’s World Cup. Read the latest news and analysis, and watch games through live links on our schedule pages.

We know women’s sports fans have long been waiting for it, and here it is: the most comprehensive media platform ever dedicated to the leagues, teams and athletes we all love.

There’s never been a better time to be a women’s sports fan.

And we’re still just getting started.

FIFA has released the shortlist for the 2022 FIFPRO Women’s World 11, the only global player award voted on exclusively by the players themselves.

Alex Morgan and Kelley O’Hara represent the United States women’s national team on the 23-player list, which features the best women’s soccer players based on their performances from Aug. 7, 2021 to July 31, 2022. The final World 11 will be revealed at The Best FIFA Football Awards in Paris on Feb. 27.

Morgan, the USWNT’s sole nominee for the Best FIFA Women’s Player award, won the 2022 NWSL Golden Boot after scoring 15 regular-season goals for the San Diego Wave. The 33-year-old forward also scored the game-winning goal for the USWNT on a penalty kick in the Concacaf W Championship final, securing the U.S. a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Morgan was named one of three finalists last week for FIFA’s top player award, joining England’s Beth Mead and Spain’s Alexia Putellas.

O’Hara played over 1,200 minutes for the USWNT in 2021 and was a key contributor to the team’s bronze medal-winning campaign at the Tokyo Olympics. She then recorded a goal and two assists in eight games in 2022, but hasn’t played for the U.S. since withdrawing from camp last August with a lingering hip injury. O’Hara, 34, plays as an outside back for the U.S. but was listed as a midfielder on the World 11 shortlist.

Sophia Smith is notably absent from the shortlist after being named the 2022 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in January. Smith, 22, led the USWNT with 11 goals last year, becoming the youngest player to do so since Mia Hamm in 1993. Despite finishing second to Morgan in the NWSL Golden Boot race, Smith won NWSL MVP and Championship MVP after leading the Portland Thorns to the NWSL title in October.

The World 11 will feature the goalkeeper, three defenders, three midfielders and three forwards who receive the most votes. The remaining outfield players with the next highest number of votes will fill the last spot.

Full shortlist


Mary Earps (Manchester United, England)
Christiane Endler (Olympique Lyonnais, Chile)
Sandra Panos (Barcelona, Spain)


Lucy Bronze (Manchester City/Barcelona, England)
Ellie Carpenter (Olympique Lyonnais, Australia)
Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain, Canada)
Mapi Leon (Barcelona, Spain)
Irene Paredes (Barcelona, Spain)
Wendie Renard (Olympique Lyonnais, France)
Leah Williamson (Arsenal, England)


Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona, Spain)
Caroline Graham Hansen (Barcelona, Norway)
Amandine Henry (Olympique Lyonnais, France)
Lena Oberdorf (Wolfsburg, Germany)
Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit/NJ/NY Gotham, USA)
Alexia Putellas (Barcelona, Spain)
Keira Walsh (Manchester City/Barcelona, England)


Ada Hegerberg (Olympique Lyonnais, Norway)
Sam Kerr (Chelsea, Australia)
Beth Mead (Arsenal, England)
Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal, Netherlands)
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride/San Diego Wave, USA)
Ellen White (Manchester City, England)

Breanna Stewart made charter flights a key part of her free-agency recruiting process, and the newly signed New York Liberty superstar doubled down on the issue in her introductory press conference at Barclays Center on Thursday morning.

The Liberty officially welcomed Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot to New York after the stars opted to sign with the team in free agency, signaling the start of a superteam era in the WNBA. Both players took significant pay cuts to play for the Liberty and meet salary cap requirements in 2023, with Stewart signing a one-year, $175,000 deal and Vandersloot signing on for two years at $189,000 in 2023 and $194,670 in 2024, according to Her Hoops Stats.

On Thursday, Stewart and Vandersloot made clear their desire to bring the Liberty their first championship in franchise history. In New York, they join Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney and Jonquel Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP whom the Liberty acquired in a trade with Connecticut in January.

But they also cited the Liberty’s resources and shared values around the WNBA’s collective bargaining agreement as a big reason for their decision to join the team.

Stewart rallied support for charter flights during the free-agency process and reiterated her intentions on Thursday.

“It’s a conversation that needs to be had, a topic that needs to be talked about. When we talk about pushing the needle, raising the bar, it’s also that: player health and wellness … we wanna play our best to win, but also in front of fans,” Stewart told reporters.

“When talking to Clara and Joe [Tsai], they feel the same way. They’re fighting to elevate the standard. We’re hoping it’s not just a no, but can be a maybe and eventually a yes, when it comes to chartered flights.”

Liberty co-owner Clara Wu Tsai echoed Stewart’s comments and said the Liberty have been a primary advocate for resolving the charter flights issue and others like it.

“I just need to be a constant voice,” Tsai said. “I’ll get fined if I talk too much about anything related to the collective bargaining agreement … but I now believe it’s enough of a topic within the league and among the other governors that it’s going to be addressed by the commissioner.”

The Liberty were fined a league-record $500,000 for chartering flights for their players in the second half of the 2021 season. The WNBA does not allow teams to charter private flights for regular-season games under the current CBA.

“I believe the fine that we took and the statement that we gave spoke for itself. We spent three days together in Turkey talking about a lot of things,” Tsai said, referring to the Liberty’s visit with Stewart and Vandersloot during the recruiting process. “Hopefully they understood that it isn’t really this one issue, but it’s a number of things that we’re moving forward.”

The WNBA’s efforts to maintain competitive balance among its 12 teams have come under intense scrutiny in recent days. The Aces are currently under investigation for allegedly making under-the-table payments to players as incentive for signing with the team, The Next reported on Wednesday. Following the report, several WNBA team leaders called on the league to clarify salary cap rules and create a “level playing field.”

Geno Auriemma clarified his comments Wednesday on the physical play in UConn’s 81-77 loss to No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday.

The UConn coach had criticized the refereeing after the game, saying “what teams do” to Lou Lopez Sénéchal is “appalling” and “not basketball anymore.” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley took issue with Auriemma’s characterization of her team’s defense on her call-in radio show Tuesday.

“They play the right way and approach it the right way whether they win or lose,” Staley said of her players. “We don’t denounce anybody’s play. They are always uplifting the game of women’s basketball, and when we were getting our heads beat in by UConn for all those years, I said nothing.”

“We’ve been called so many things and I’m sick of it,” Staley added. “I’m sick of it because I coach some of the best human beings the game has ever had.”

After UConn’s 59-52 defeat to Marquette on Wednesday night — marking the Huskies’ first consecutive losses since 1993 — Auriemma said his comments had been directed at the referees, not Staley’s team.

“I don’t know whether Dawn was referring to me specifically or whether this has been happening to her team for quite some time now,” Auriemma said. “If people have been paying attention seriously, I’ve been making that statement for 20 some years, since Diana [Taurasi] was playing for us. And I said the exact same thing after the Villanova game, the exact same thing after — anybody that was paying attention, ask Holly Rowe what I said at halftime of the Tennessee game. I said it after the Providence game. And in each one of those instances, everything I said was directed squarely at the officials.”

Staley said she addressed the off-court dialogue with her team because she felt that it was a narrative that “could hurt us in the future.”

“I think if we have to play them again, that’s out there. And I just want people to know that this is us.  This is how we play,” Staley said. “Everybody’s got to pivot at some point, but don’t bring people down in the process. Again, I have never said one derogatory word about UConn or anybody that’s beat us over the years.”

In response, Auriemma cited his own track record with criticizing officiating and said he doesn’t want that to be misinterpreted.

“You have a right to coach your team any way you want. I have enough trouble coaching my own team. But I can have a say in how officials call the game,” Auriemma said. “And if rules are supposed to be the rules as they’re interpreted to me, then they’ve got to be called according to the rules. If I’m never allowed to question an official about their calls and criticize them for the way they officiate a game without someone thinking I’m casting [aspersions] toward their team, that’s just asinine. And if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve been saying it for 20 years.”

The UConn and South Carolina rivalry has only escalated since the Gamecocks beat the Huskies in the 2022 national championship game. Sunday’s game between the teams drew 1.087 million viewers on FOX, making it the most-viewed women’s basketball game ever on the network.

Allie Quigley will not play for the Chicago Sky in 2023, but she also is not retiring, ESPN’s Holly Rowe first reported Wednesday.

The WNBA veteran’s decision is the latest in a string of departures from the Sky, leaving Chicago in 2023 as a very different team from the one that won a WNBA championship in 2021. Candace Parker signed with the Las Vegas Aces in free agency at a heavily discounted $100,000 salary, Courtney Vandersloot is joining the Liberty’s superteam in New York, and Azurá Stevens reportedly will sign with the Los Angeles Sparks.

That leaves Kahleah Copper as Chicago’s only starter left under contact for 2023. Two-time All-Star Emma Meesseman, who started all of the Sky’s games last season, is an unrestricted free agent and “unlikely” to play this season, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Sky appear set to sign Courtney Williams to their roster after the free agent tweeted at Copper on Thursday. The 2021 All-Star will give Chicago much-needed star power following the mass exodus.

Quigley spent the past 10 seasons in Chicago and was an integral part of the Sky’s championship run two years ago alongside Vandersloot, her teammate and wife. She had signed a one-year deal with the Sky in 2022, averaging 11.4 points on 36 percent shooting from the 3-point line, and had opted not to play overseas this offseason.

The 2023 season would have been Quigley’s 15th in the WNBA.

The Liberty made the biggest splash of free agency Wednesday, adding two-time WNBA champion Breanna Stewart to a talented roster that already includes Jonquel Jones, Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney. Vandersloot gave the Liberty another boost with her announcement Thursday, solidifying New York as a top championship contender alongside the Aces.

In addition to Copper, the Sky have Ruthy Hebard, Julie Allemand, Dana Evans and Li Yueru under contract for 2023. They have over $930,000 in cap space to use on remaining free agents, according to Her Hoop Stats, and the No. 5 pick in the 2023 draft.

Kevin Durant is making his case for Breanna Stewart to join him in New York City.

The Brooklyn Nets superstar said he reached out to Stewart recently about her free-agency decision, which the former WNBA MVP has reportedly narrowed down to the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm. Durant made clear he wants Stewart to sign with the Liberty and bring championship basketball back to New York.

“I hit Stewie the other day, and I never do this,” Durant said on Boardroom’s “The ETCs with Kevin Durant.” “And I was like, ‘Yo, it would be an incredible dynasty in New York City if you came here.’ I don’t think she’s seen it yet, but they cooking up.”

The Liberty made the biggest splash of the offseason when they acquired 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones from the Connecticut Sun on Jan. 16. Jones joins a roster that already includes former No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu, 2021 Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere, All-Star Betnijah Laney and WNBA champion coach Sandy Brondello.

“They’re cooking, man. They’re doing their thing. They’re bringing the best talent to New York,” Durant said. “If they win a ‘ship here, pshh, Barclays is gonna be jumping.”

The Liberty and Nets are closely intertwined, with Joe Tsai as the owner of both teams and Barclays Center as their shared home arena. Stewart has played for the Storm since 2016, winning two championships and two Finals MVP awards. But she is a native of New York State and a UConn alum, and the Liberty have courted her in each of the past two offseasons.

If Stewart were to choose the Liberty, they’d form the latest WNBA superteam. The Las Vegas Aces look even more formidable this season after Candace Parker announced her intention to sign with the reigning champions on Saturday.

“They got a good coach, good fan base, Brooklyn excited about having them,” Durant said.

Jonquel Jones thanked the Connecticut Sun and their fan base in a tweet Monday, after the three-team trade sending her to the New York Liberty was officially announced.

Since Connecticut traded for her rights on draft night in 2016, Jones had spent her entire career with the Sun. She led the team to two WNBA Finals appearances in 2019 and 2022 while winning the 2021 WNBA MVP award and being named to four All-Star teams.

Jones, who had one year left on her contract with the Sun, acknowledged the reports that she requested the trade to the Liberty after meeting with multiple teams.

“I have done amazing things in my career, all while proudly wearing Connecticut across my chest. Now, like all things, our journey together must come to an end,” she wrote.

“After careful thought and consideration I have decided to move on and begin the next chapter of my W career.”

As part of the trade, Connecticut received New York’s No. 6 pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, veteran guard Rebecca Allen and fourth-year guard Tyasha Harris. The Dallas Wings received three-time WNBA champion Natasha Howard and the contract rights to guard Crystal Dangerfield, while the Liberty also picked up forward Kayla Thornton from the Wings.

Jones led the Sun in 2022 with 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. The 6-foot-6 forward had spent her entire tenure in Connecticut playing for coach Curt Miller, who left in October to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks. The Sun hired Stephanie White to replace him.

In New York, Jones joins a promising contender led by WNBA champion head coach Sandy Brondello and former No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu. Free agent and New York native Breanna Stewart has also been linked to the Liberty after she met with the team last offseason. Players can officially begin negotiating with teams on Jan. 21.

The Sun weren’t done this week, trading veteran guard Jasmine Thomas and the No. 10 pick in the 2023 draft to the Sparks on Monday in exchange for Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Jasmine Walker and the contract rights to Kianna Smith. In L.A., Thomas will reunite with Miller, while Jones embarks on a fresh start with the Liberty.

“Please know that Connecticut will always have a special place in my heart and that I am forever grateful for my time as a member of such a great organization,” Jones concluded her post.