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Alyssa Naeher returns to World Cup form in 150th NWSL start

(Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports)

Alyssa Naeher made a return to form Saturday to propel the Chicago Red Stars to a 1-0 win — and she made some history in the process.

The 35-year-old goalkeeper made her 519th save Saturday, surpassing former Gotham FC goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for the most saves in NWSL history. She made six saves on the night, including two diving saves and five inside the box, to end the match with 520 career saves.

The shutout win is made even more outstanding by the fact that the expected goals on target number for the game stood at 1.94.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our training,” Naeher said. “We create situations that are chaotic daily to prepare for chaos. … Just being able to stay present, stay in the moment and being ready for anything.”

Noting the wild sequence that led to her record-breaking save, she said, “Ironically, we have trained that before.”

For the longtime U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper, the match meant more than an individual record. It was a win the Red Stars “needed,” she said, after a rocky start to the season. The team held a 1-1-6 record heading into the match, and Naeher had allowed 22 goals through the first eight matches.

“I think the team’s been working hard these last few weeks and things just haven’t been clicking the way that we want them to,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to grind it out, and I think that’s what we did tonight.

“Obviously, to get to celebrate different milestones and things like that, I mean I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve been very fortunate and grateful or blessed to be able to for 15 years to get to do this.”

The record-breaking performance came in Naeher’s 150th NWSL start, and her 93rd with Chicago. She has been a mainstay in the league since 2013.

“I think any night, you have confidence right away because you’ve got the best goalkeeper,” Red Stars head coach Chris Petrucelli said about Naeher. “She’s been the best goalkeeper in the world for many years. It’s not just right now, but she’s playing at an extremely high level.

“It’s rare that the goalkeeper wins you games, but we have one that she wins games for us. She makes saves that shouldn’t be made, you know? And so it’s just very comforting to know that she’s in there.”

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

San Diego Wave Hires Ex-KC Current GM Camille Ashton

San Diego Wave FC new General Manager Camille Levin Ashton visits the training grounds and front office during her introductory tour on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 in Del Mar, California.
New Wave GM Camille Ashton toured San Diego's training grounds on Tuesday. (San Diego Wave)

The San Diego Wave introduced Camille Ashton as their new general manager and sporting director yesterday, three weeks after Ashton resigned from her position as GM of the Kansas City Current.

The 34-year-old former NWSL pro will manage San Diego’s coaching staff and on-field budget, as well as lead player scouting and acquisitions. Ashton joins Wave FC president Jill Ellis and head coach Casey Stoney in an effort to lead the team back to their 2023 NWSL Shield-winning success.

"I’ve known Cami from back in her playing days, and her impressive track record and deep understanding as both a General Manager and former player, combined with her passion and energy make her an exceptional fit with this club," Ellis said in a team statement.

Ashton left a Kansas City team that remains undefeated this season — a significant leap from last year’s 11th-place finish. While at the Current, Ashton inked top offseason free agent Debinha followed by international forwards Temwa Chawinga (Malawi) and Bia Zaneratto (Brazil).

However, not all of Ashton’s roster moves were as well received. High-profile players like Lynn WilliamsCece Kizer, and Alex Loera posted about the mishandling of their abrupt trades, while the parent of a waived 2023 NWSL draftee claimed her daughter was mistreated by Ashton and the club (a subsequent investigation did not result in any public consequences).

When asked about the criticism surrounding the trades, Ashton commented, "There could be a lot of debate… but at the end of the day, that’s the mechanism that we work with right now in the league." 

A Southern California native, Ashton will make the transition to the Wave in the coming weeks.

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