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NWSL expels Amanda Cromwell, Pride coaches for retaliatory conduct

Amanda Cromwell was hired as Orlando Pride head coach in December 2021. (Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The NWSL has terminated the contracts of Orlando Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell and first assistant coach Sam Greene based on the findings of the NWSL and NWSL Players Association’s joint investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct, the league announced Monday.

The investigative team substantiated claims that Cromwell and Greene engaged in retaliatory behavior against Pride players who they believed had backed misconduct allegations against them. The coaches had been placed on temporary administrative leave in June at the recommendation of the joint investigation.

“Specifically, Cromwell and Greene were found to have engaged in conduct that discouraged reporting and fostered a general fear of retaliation, and to have taken negative actions against certain players, including by seeking to waive or trade them,” the NWSL said in a statement.

As a result of the discipline, Cromwell and Greene are not permitted to work in the NWSL in any capacity unless they are approved for reinstatement by the Commissioner. To do that, they must participate in mandatory training regarding retaliation, discrimination, harassment and bullying as well as in mandatory executive coaching, as determined by the Commissioner. They must also acknowledge wrongdoing and demonstrate a sincere commitment to correcting their behavior.

Pride goalkeeper coach Aline Reis has also been placed on unpaid administrative leave after the investigative team found that Reis did not cooperate fully with the investigation,”including by pressuring players to share favorable information with investigators,” the statement read. Reis must complete the mandatory training, acknowledge wrongdoing and demonstrate a commitment to behavioral reform before she can return to work.

Cromwell and Greene first came under investigation in March 2022 based on allegations of verbal abuse and improper favoritism toward players. Counsel to the Pride conducted the probe with the consent of the NWSL and NWSLPA joint investigative team and founds some of the allegations to be substantiated.

In May, the NWSL and NWSLPA received complaints that Cromwell and Greene were retaliating against players who they believed had participated in and supported the March investigation.

Cromwell, Greene, Reis and Pride assistant coach Michelle Akers reported in June that they were subject to various forms of misconduct. After a third-party investigation into the coaches’ complaints, their claims were found to be unsubstantiated.

Cromwell called the investigation “biased and incomplete” and said she would explore legal options in a statement of her own Monday night.

“As we continue to build a league as elite as the players on the pitch, it is critically important that we foster a culture where individuals can safely come forward with concerns without fear of reprisal,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said. “These retaliation concerns were identified during the NWSL/NWSLPA Joint Investigation and interim measures were put in place due to the ongoing nature of the misconduct.”

The decisions come a week after the release of U.S. Soccer’s findings from a year-long investigation into systemic abuse in the NWSL, as conducted by former U.S. attorney general Sally Yates. The report outlined a pattern of verbal abuse, emotional abuse and sexual misconduct by coaches and a failure by team and league executives to respond appropriately to incidents of misconduct.

The NWSL and NWSLPA’s joint investigation, which spans cases of misconduct since the league’s inception in 2013, is expected to completed by the end of the year.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

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