The first-ever women’s version of the Soccer Tournament (TST) gets underway Friday morning, where eight teams will play for a $1 million winner-take-all prize.

This year’s tournament features a slate of pro, semi-pro, amateur, and retired athletes representing teams from four different countries and five pro clubs: US Women, Wrexham Red Dragons, Burnley FC, Soccerhead FC, North Carolina Courage, Streetball FC Canada, Tampa Bay Sun FC, and Angel City 7S.

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TST first launched in June 2023. Since branching out into the women's game for the 2024 season, it’s now the world’s highest-stakes women’s soccer tournament, offering equal $1 million prizes for both the men’s and women’s champions.

The 2023 tournament was modeled after the World Cup, with 32 teams battling it out in eight groups of four before 16 teams advanced to single-elimination knockout rounds.

USWNT legend Heather O’Reilly led the creation of the women’s side when she entered an all-women’s team coached by Hamm into the inaugural tournament, with the rest of the teams being all men. 

This year's headliners include NWSL and USWNT vets Mia Hamm, Michele Akers, Heather O’Reilly, Lori Lindsey, Ali Krieger, Allie Long, and Carli Lloyd (US Women); Jessica McDonald (NC Courage); Chenya Matthews and Kealia Watt (Burnley FC); Carley Telford (Wrexham Red Dragons); and Brazil’s Formiga (Tampa Bay Sun FC).

TBT Enterprises — which has run a basketball version of the tournament since 2014 — is behind the venture. 

The women’s group stage kicks off on June 7th at 9:30 AM ET and runs through June 10th’s championship doubleheader. Select games throughout the tournament will air on ESPN networks, with the remaining games available to stream on TST’s website.

The USWNT cruised through their final game prior to naming their 18-player Olympic roster on Tuesday, defeating Korea Republic 3-0 in a rain-soaked game that saw significant rotation to the starting XI.

Manager Emma Hayes replaced nine of Saturday's starters with players vying for a major tournament roster spot, a move that resulted in interesting returns. Alex Morgan was back in the starting lineup, while center-back Sam Staab earned her first international start in her second game with the team.

Crystal Dunn started the match as a forward then opened the floodgates with her first goal in 75 international matches. Sophia Smith came on as a reserve in the second half alongside Mallory Swanson and Trinity Rodman, promptly doubling the scoreline at a tight angle for a sharp finish. Casey Murphy started in goal, making a number of clutch saves to keep South Korea off of the scoresheet.

But the biggest moment of the game belonged to Ajax midfielder Lily Yohannes, who scored in her first-ever USWNT cap.

The teenager was immediately mobbed by her teammates — including most of the US bench — in celebration as nearly 20,000 fans gave her a standing ovation. Just a few days shy of her 17th birthday, Yohannes is the third-youngest to score for the national team and the youngest player to make her debut since USWNT legend Kristine Lilly took the field for the first time in 2001.

Yohannes is likely on the Olympic roster bubble, but is of great interest to the US as a talented connecting midfielder. But having been born in Virginia before moving to Amsterdam as a child, Yohannes could still possibly decide to play for the Netherlands national team.

Hayes will be making final roster decisions in the coming weeks, setting the Paris-bound squad up for two send-off friendlies at the end of July. 18 players will make the official Olympic roster, alongside four alternates for training purposes and in case of injury.

The USWNT’s first match of the Emma Hayes era went off with a bang as the team beat South Korea 4-0 on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.

In the game, forward Mallory Swanson had a brace, scoring her first two goals for the US since returning from a torn patellar tendon suffered last April. Defender Tierna Davidson also found the back of the net twice, with both goals coming off set pieces.

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"Thirty percent of all tournament goals are scored from (set pieces), so it was an opportunity," Hayes told reporters after the game. "I’ve seen, historically, this program be good at it. I want to return to that, so we have to excel. And for me, that demand won’t decline."

The match also saw the return of Catarina Macario to the starting lineup for the first time since 2022. Macario has slowly been returning to action following an ACL tear, and had a hand in one of Davidson’s set piece goals on Saturday.

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Despite the USWNT's success, there was one glaring omission from Saturday's lineup: Alex Morgan remained on the bench, with Hayes noting that she chose to rest the decorated forward as a precaution.

"[Morgan] felt yesterday — this is an important issue to raise — maybe stretching a little bit her pelvic area," she said. "I told her yesterday I'm not going to take any risks today, because I want her to play Tuesday."

As the team looks to cut the roster down to 18 players in preparation for July's Paris Olympics, a lot will have to be decided. But with her first game as head coach in the books, Hayes is looking confidently to the future.

"I don’t feel relief. I feel re-energized," Hayes said. "I want to coach this group and they want to be coached. You can see we’re building something.

"There’s lots of work to do. There’s lots of holes in our play, no question, but it was a good start."

The USWNT officially kicks off the Emma Hayes era in style this weekend, going up against South Korea in the first of two pre-Olympic friendlies

The matches will serve as the final two opportunities to impress before Hayes names her 18-player roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics. After formally taking over late last week, the ex-Chelsea coach has gotten nothing but praise from the American side. 

"Anyone in the soccer world knows Emma Hayes," forward Sophia Smith told reporters at USWNT training camp. "She's a legend and her resume speaks for itself. We all just trust her. Obviously trust is something you build. What she's done for the game and for the sport, we all trust her and are excited about her. I'm sure we'll learn a lot in the next week. We already have learned a lot in the first few days."

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Of course, the USWNT has carried a chip on their shoulder following a disappointing World Cup last year. And as they look to the Olympics, Smith says it’s a good thing that the team is operating that way. 

"If a team going into the Olympics doesn't have a chip on their shoulder, there's a problem there," Smith continued. "This team for so many years has set the standard, has been the best in the world, and that's what we want to continue on. We want to honor what this team has done before us, but we also want to set new standards and just be a different version of this team and be the best in the world."

Hayes appears to be the right person to propel that standard forward. And the goal, according to Smith, is to win a gold medal.

"The goal is to win a gold medal, but right now we have a new coach, we have a new system," she added. "The main goal and priority is the process and just learning and adapting and growing and taking each day as a chance to get better and grow with this group.”

"I think for me, it's just [having] the leader again, and the voice and when you get on field it's awesome," echoed USWNT captain Lindsey Horan. "You get some jokes here and there but [Hayes is also] just demanding a lot out of us and keeping the standard, but also the positive encouragement feedback as well and giving voices to us as well."

Hayes will have a short runway to manage the high expectations of the job, with the US looking to put their previous performances behind them as quickly as possible. And the stacked Olympic lineup will be no easy challenge for the 2019 World Cup Champions as they vie for their first gold medal since 2012.

Speaking with media on Friday, Hayes said that it’s been "such a joy" to be back in the States, saying that her aim is to protect the team's long legacy going forward.

"We all know the main ingredients of the American DNA," she said. "That will not change under my stewardship."

She also noted that the team has come along nicely under interim coach's Twila Kilgore's leadership, comparing the players to sponges for their ability to take in a lot of information quickly. 

"I think the tactical understanding is there more than I anticipated," she said, while also saying she anticipates some "tired brains."

Luckily, a few fitness concerns appear to have subsided, as a number of recently injured call-ups returned to the pitch in last weekend's NWSL games. Alex Morgan, Jaedyn Shaw, and Naomi Girma all made appearances for San Diego last Thursday after dealing with lingering knocks, while defender Tierna Davidson and club and country teammate Rose Lavelle have consistently been working their way back onto the field with Gotham.

The biggest question mark going into Saturday's match will be Smith, who missed Portland's showdown with Orlando due to a leg injury last Friday.

Emma Hayes has officially begun her tenure as USWNT manager ahead of the team’s June friendlies.

Hayes made the rounds on Thursday, appearing on the Today Show and speaking with select media about her goals and underlying principles with the team. It’s a quick turnaround for the decorated coach, who just won the WSL with Chelsea last weekend.

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One thing that she won’t do, however, is shy away from the high expectations that come with managing the US. The squad is looking to reinstate its winning reputation at the Paris Olympics this summer following a disappointing World Cup in 2023. 

"I know the challenge ahead of me. There is no denying there is a gap between the US and the rest of the world," she told ESPN. "We have to acknowledge that winning at the highest level isn't what it was 10 years ago. It's a completely different landscape. And my focus is going to be on getting the performances required to play at a high level against the very best nations in the world."

While Hayes was formally hired six months ago to lead the USWNT, her deal stipulated that she remain with Chelsea through the conclusion of their season. In her stead, Twila Kilgore has led the team, with the coach "drip feeding subliminal messages" to the roster on Hayes’s behalf.

"It's a bit ass-upwards," Hayes joked to reporters. "I know about the staff, and the team, and the structure behind it. We got all of that. Now it's time, I need to be with the team."

With Olympics now just two months away, Hayes dropped hints this week regarding her thought process behind building the roster, saying there’s still time for players to make their case.

"You can't go to an Olympics with a completely inexperienced squad. We need our experienced players, but getting that composition right, that's my job between now and June 16th," she said on the Today Show.

"What I can say from my time [in the US] is, I've always loved the attitude towards performance and the expectation to give everything you've got," she later affirmed to reporters.

And as for winning gold?

"I'm never gonna tell anyone to not dream about winning," she added. "But… we have to go step by step, and focus on all the little processes that need to happen so we can perform at our best level.

"I will give it absolutely everything I've got to make sure I uphold the traditions of this team."

The USWNT dropped its June roster on Tuesday, the first under newly minted head coach Emma Hayes. 

The USWNT is entering a new era ahead of the national team's two June friendlies with the Republic of Korea, with veterans blending with more recent additions throughout the lineup. The squad unveiled today included a few surprises, as well as some key absences as the USWNT steers toward the 2024 Olympics.

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Notably, longtime starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will not be reporting to camp this month. Naeher was injured in the Chicago Red Stars’ win over Utah on May 12th and did not play over the weekend, although she did travel with the team to New Jersey. 

On the team’s injury report, Naeher was listed as out with a thigh injury. Coach Lorne Donaldson said ahead of the match that the team was "still evaluating [Naher], but no, it doesn't look good" in regards to her availability. 

As a result, Jane Campbell, Aubrey Kingsbury, and Casey Murphy all received a call up, with Murphy the most-capped goalkeeper of the trio.

Some recently injured stars did manage to make their way onto the roster, with Alex Morgan and Jaedyn Shaw both included among the team's forwards. Morgan hasn't played since April 20th, but recently posted a photo of herself training to her Instagram story with the caption "Work in progress."

Shaw, meanwhile, went down with an ankle injury on May 13th, sitting out San Diego’s latest game. 

Other call-ups fresh off the injured list include Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson, although both recently returned to club play. Midfielder Rose Lavelle will also make her return to the USWNT roster after having been out since the W Gold Cup.

Ajax’s Lily Yohannes finds herself rostered once again the 16-year-old dual national continues to mull her national team options between the USWNT and the Netherlands. 

There’s a number of Washington Spirit players on the roster this time around, with Hal Hershfelt earning her first USWNT call-up alongside Chicago's Sam Staab. NWSL rookie of the month Croix Bethune, Kate Wiesner, and Olivia Moultrie will join as training players. 

One glaring roster absence was Lynn Williams, who was not included among the team’s forwards. On Sunday, Williams broke the NWSL all-time scoring record with her 79th career goal in Gotham's victory over Chicago. Joining the forward group is Crystal Dunn, who has traditionally played as a defender with the USWNT and as a midfielder in the NWSL.

"I’m really looking forward to getting started," Hayes said in a USWNT press release. "The preparations have been well underway and I can’t wait to get into camp. We know it’s a short turnaround and we have a lot of work to do, but I’m fully focused on making sure that the performances are at the levels that are required to compete. 

"I expect complete commitment from everyone to absorb very quickly the things that I value as the most important so that we can compete this summer. I know they are a highly coachable group and I’m looking forward to challenging them. It’s time to go to work. I can’t wait to meet the fans and it’s really time to get behind the team as we get closer to putting a roster together for the Olympics."

Full June roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)

DEFENDERS (7): Tierna Davidson (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC, ENG), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Sam Staab (Chicago Red Stars)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Hal Hershfelt (Washington Spirit), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Rose Lavelle (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Lily Yohannes (Ajax)

FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Catarina Macario (Chelsea), Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)

Alyssa Naeher exited the Chicago Red Stars game early on Sunday with an apparent injury.

After making a recovery run in the second half of Chicago's 3-1 win over the Utah Royals, the 36-year-old walked off the pitch limping but unassisted in the 62nd minute. She was replaced by backup keeper Mackenzie Wood.

Red Stars head coach Lorne Donaldson didn’t offer an update on the star goalkeeper's status in his postgame interview.

"No [update], I'm leaving it to the pros — the medical staff — so I don't know what's going on yet," he said.

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While the injury is bad news for Chicago, who currently sit fifth in the NWSL table, it’s also potentially troubling for the UWSNT's Olympic prospects. Naeher, a two-time Women's World Cup champion with the US, has served as the team's default starting goalkeeper for the last several years. 

Naeher is virtually a lock for the 2024 Olympics, should her injury not be too serious. But depending on its gravity, the knock could keep her out of a series of upcoming friendlies kicking off June 1st and 4th, Emma Hayes’ first as head coach for the USWNT. 

Also leaving her game with an injury on Sunday was Jaedyn Shaw, who limped off the pitch well into stoppage time in the Wave's 1-1 draw with Gotham FC. Shaw has recently emerged as one of the Wave's top strikers, making it all the more concerning if she ends up joining teammates Alex Morgan, Naomi Girma, and Abby Dahlkemper on the injured list. All four have played in recent camps for the USWNT.

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San Diego head coach Casey Stoney did not provide an update following Sunday's game, but noted that she thought Shaw had landed on her ankle. 

The 2024 Paris Olympics begins Friday, July 26th, with rostered players scheduled to appear in their final club matches in mid-July.

After an illustrious career for both club and country, Gotham FC and U.S. Women’s National Team defender Kelley O’Hara announced today via Kelley on the Street that she will be retiring from professional soccer at the end of this year, making the 2024 NWSL season her last.

"I have always said I would play under two conditions: that I still love playing soccer, and if my body would let me do it the way I wanted to," O’Hara told Just Women’s Sports in the lead-up to her retirement announcement. "I realized a while back that I was always going to love it, so it was the physical piece that was going to be the deciding factor."

The 35-year-old will retire as a two-time World Cup champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and at least a two-time NWSL champion, depending on where Gotham finishes this season. Her legacy as a player is hard to fully encapsulate, and will forever run through some of the biggest snapshots in USWNT and NWSL history. 

In 2012, O’Hara played every minute of the USWNT’s Olympic gold medal run, after having recently converted into a defender. Her soaring goal off the bench in the 2015 World Cup semifinal is the stuff of legend. And her return from lingering injury to play in every knockout match of the national team’s 2019 World Cup win cemented a storybook international career. 

It was O’Hara who scored the overtime goal in 2021 to earn the Washington Spirit their first-ever NWSL championship, and O’Hara who returned to help see Gotham earn a title in 2023 after years spent in the trenches with the club’s previous iteration, Sky Blue. Her 15-year career spanned two professional women’s soccer leagues in the U.S. (she earned her first professional title in 2010 with WPS’s FC Gold Pride), as well as sweeping changes to the sport both on and off the pitch.

O'Hara celebrates after scoring the winning goal for the Washington Spirit at the 2021 NWSL Championship match in Louisville, Kentucky. (Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports)

On the field, O’Hara has always been known for a motor that never quits, making the right flank her domain in attacking possession and defensive transition. In recent years, she’s also been celebrated for a competitive fire that raises the level of her teammates, whether she’s in the starting XI or supporting from the bench.

But injuries take a toll, a reality not always seen by the fans watching from home. "I've never taken anything for granted, and I feel like I've never coasted either," O’Hara said of her late-career success in the NWSL despite battling injuries. "I've always been like, 'I gotta put my best foot forward every single day I step on this field' — which is honestly probably half the reason why I'm having to retire now as opposed to getting a couple more years out of it. I've just grinded hard."

Recently, O’Hara has been sidelined at Gotham with ankle and knee injuries, and the situation motivated her to really prioritize listening to her body. "To get injured and come back, and get injured and come back, and just keep doing it, it really takes a toll on you.

"People don't see the doubt that's associated with injury,” she continued. "As athletes we feel a certain way, we perform a certain way, our body feels a certain way, we're very in tune with our bodies. And there's always so much doubt surrounding injury. It’s like, 'Can I feel the way I felt before?' The reality is sometimes you don't."

O’Hara didn’t arrive at the decision to move on from her playing career lightly. But once she began seriously considering making 2024 her final year during the last NWSL offseason, it felt right. "Once I was like, 'Alright, you know what, this will be my last year,' I have had a lot of peace with it," she said. "Truly the only thing I felt was gratitude for everything that my career has been, all the things I've been able to do and the people I've been able to do it with."

She said she’ll miss daily interactions with her teammates and all the amazing memories they’ve created, though she feels lucky to have formed relationships that go beyond sharing a locker room. "You're basically getting to hang out and just shoot the shit with your best friends every day," she reflected. "Which is so unheard of, and I just feel very lucky to do it for so long."

O'Hara poses with USWNT teammates Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath after winning the 2015 Women's World Cup in Vancouver, Canada. (Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The Stanford graduate also mentioned that the NWSL’s suspension of regular season play in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic made her realize how much playing allowed her the space to simply be creative every day. The tactical elements of soccer provided O’Hara an outlet for problem solving and made use of her naturally competitive edge.

She’s now gearing up to channel her on-field intensity into her post-playing career full time, which is a new chapter she’s excited to begin. "I don't know if the world's ready for it, like the fact that I'm not going to be putting all of my energy into football all the time," she said with a laugh. 

O’Hara said she would like to stay connected to the game in some fashion, whether it be as an owner, coach, or member of a front office. She’s also interested in the growing media space surrounding women’s sports, having provided on-camera analysis for broadcasters like CBS Sports in addition to starting a production company with her fiancée.

"I just feel like I have a lot of passions, and things that excite me," she says. "And I do want to stay as close as I can to the game, because I feel a responsibility — and I'm not sure in what capacity — to continue to grow it."

O'Hara speaking with fellow USWNT members and vets at the White House Equal Pay Day Summit in 2022. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

A sense of responsibility to grow the game has been a consistent refrain for the USWNT and NWSL players of O’Hara’s era, who ushered in a new age of equal pay for the national team and collectively bargained protections for those in the league. The landscape for new players looks different than it did 14 years ago, in large part due to this pivotal generation.

"I feel an immense sense of pride around that, because I don't know if any of us knew that was gonna happen," she said. "We kind of, as things unfolded, took the next step towards changing what women's football looks like in this country and around the world.

"I'm really grateful to have been part of this era with the players that I was [with], not backing down and pushing and knowing that was the right thing to do."

Whatever the future holds, O’Hara is going ahead full throttle. It’s a piece of advice she’d also give to the next generation of professionals looking to make their own impact.

"Whatever you do in life, do it because you love it, and the chips will fall in place," she said. "If you love something, you're willing to do what it takes. You're willing to make the sacrifices, you're willing to handle the roller coaster.

"To me, it's simple. Don't do it for any other reason but that, and I think you'll be alright."

Rose Lavelle is hoping to return to the field soon. 

The 28-year-old midfielder has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since the Gold Cup in early march. Since then, she has yet to play for new club Gotham FC in the NWSL. She also missed a potential USWNT appearance at the SheBelieves Cup in April, where senior team newcomer Jaedyn Shaw saw success assuming Lavelle's role in the attacking midfield. 

At the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee media showcase on Monday, Lavelle told reporters that she’s doing well and hopes to be back soon.

"I’m doing good — I’m hoping I’ll be back in the next couple weeks," Lavelle said. "It’s frustrating to start the year off with an injury, just because I feel like you come off preseason and you’re revving to go, so it’s so annoying."

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Lavelle is still looking to compete for one of just 18 Olympic roster spots. When healthy, she ranks as one of the national team’s most trusted assets, but considering this most recent injury, her health is an obvious concern. Faced with an onslaught of experienced competitors and young talent, incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes will have some big decisions to make when selecting the Paris-bound squad — a reality Lavelle seems to be taking in stride as she works to regain full fitness.

"We have so many special players, we have so much depth, and so many different weapons to utilize on and off the bench," Lavelle said. "Unfortunately that means really good players are going to get left off, too. And I think for all of us, it’s just about being ready for whatever role is given to us, embracing that, and looking to put it into a collective picture so that we can go into the Olympics ready to go."

Alyssa Naeher found herself in a familiar position against Canada on Tuesday – and once again came away victorious. 

For the second time in just 34 days, Canada and the USWNT went to a penalty shootout. And Naeher went on an incredible run of form once again – stopping three shots – to give the USWNT the SheBelieves Cup win. 

In addition to her key saves, Naeher also stepped up and drilled a penalty herself. It was reminiscent of her efforts against Canada in March – when she also saved three shots and converted an attempt of her own.

“Alyssa is just so even keeled. She is someone that shows no emotion,” forward Alex Morgan said. “I know there are nerves under [there] somewhere, but she is never going to show them and she’s just someone that continues to show up in big moments.”

Her recent success in penalty shootouts comes after the USWNT’s dramatic exit from the 2023 World Cup, with Naeher both saving and making penalties before the team was eliminated by a millimeter on the decisive penalty against Sweden. 

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Naeher has since said she still believes she saved that shot. Irregardless, she’s been a difference maker in shootouts ever since.

"There's certainly a lot of mind games when you come into the penalty shootout, on both sides," Naeher said. "There's a lot of familiarity [with Canada] that makes it hard and also really fun to compete on the field."

Interim head coach Twila Kilgore called Naeher’s performance “incredible.”

“Is it not incredible?” Kilgore said. “I mean, nerves of steel.”