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Asisat Oshoala joins Bay FC from FC Barcelona

Courtesy of Bay FC

FC Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala is joining the NWSL, signing with expansion side Bay FC through 2026 with an option for 2027. A proven winner, she brings a knack for goalscoring and the ability to connect with her playmakers that creates a more complete attack for the club.

“She brings a top-class mentality to the field combined with pace and technical ability that allows her to lead the line, while also giving those players around her the license to be creative and thrive in space,” Bay FC general manager Lucy Rushton said in a team statement.

With Bay FC already in preseason, Oshoala has wasted no time arriving in camp, and is settling in with her new club in Santa Barbara. The move presents a new leap of faith for the 29-year-old, who has never shied away from pursuing new challenges.

“I’ve stayed a long time in Europe, it’s the longest I’ve stayed anywhere,” she tells Just Women’s Sports prior to Thursday’s announcement. “I’ve played in different continents and all that, and I just feel like I would love to try elsewhere maybe one more time, one more change to see how that feels.”

Fans in the U.S. might know Oshoala from Nigeria’s scintillating run at the 2023 World Cup, or perhaps as the first African woman to win the Champions League with Barcelona in 2021. She’s had multiple record seasons with the Spanish champions, most notably tying for first in scoring in Liga F in 2021/22. But even before she found a home in Barcelona, she’s always had the mindset that change is a positive, and diversity of experience is a strength.

After getting her professional start in Nigeria as a teenager, Oshoala transferred to Liverpool in the WSL when she was just 20 years old. After a stint at Arsenal, she transferred to the Chinese club Dalian, winning the golden boot and two league championships there. 

She went into her experience in China completely blind to the footballing culture, but came out of her time there a more well-rounded player with valuable experience. “I was just willing to take the risk, and I totally loved it,” she says.

It’s with a similarly open mind that she met with Bay FC head coach Albertin Montoya, who presented to her a new experience that she felt she could get excited about. “I feel like everyone wants to be a part of something beautiful, something amazing,” she says. 

“The project that this club is trying to build is really on the high side, the challenge is also it’s more or less a risk for me … because of where I’m coming from, the style of football, the environment and everything. It’s a big change, it’s a huge change for me, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take as well.”

“If you don’t leave your comfort zone, sometimes you don’t get to achieve certain things,” she continues. “It’s very important to understand this, and at this point in my career, I won’t think I’m really scared to make big changes.”

The comfort zone (and winning culture) of Barcelona doesn’t seem to be waning anytime soon, something that Oshoala admits gave her pause when she was considering her options for the future. She’s won basically every possible trophy with the club, and she leaves mid-season with Barcelona poised for even more success. She considered putting her decision off for a little while. 

“It was hard,” she says. “Walking away from that was difficult. Where can I go from that — you just don’t know where you can be that can actually be better than where you are at the moment.”

But then the questions she asked herself became more personal, outside of winning soccer games. “Sometimes you have to tell yourself, okay, apart from trophies, what do you have currently, what else is there for you?” she says. “These are the questions I asked myself, these are the questions I had deep conversations with my family.”

Oshoala brings up the Asisat Oshoala Academy, and the girls there who want to follow in her footsteps towards professional footballing careers. She hopes that her move to the NWSL shows young players in Nigeria that a number of different continents could be in their future.

“You want to think about the younger generations coming up,” she says. “You want to think about the African players who can actually get more opportunities to come into this league. You want to encourage these girls to also come here as well.”

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Asisat Oshoala is greeted at the airport by Bay FC general manager Lucy Rushton (Courtesy of Bay FC)

As for what awaits her on the field, Oshoala is still in the early stages of acclimating to Bay FC’s style of play, but even in initial meetings with coaching staff she felt she understood a clear vision. “Albertin is a very professional person, he is funny, can be funny as well,” she says with a laugh.

“He’s a person who knows what he wants, and how he wants to play,” she continues. “And I actually like that he wants to keep the ball. They want to play a different style of football compared to what the league is actually used to and all of that. I just feel like I want to be a part of something like that from the scratches, where I don’t mind the risk behind it.”

Her signing represents the promise of a larger sea change in the NWSL, where top coaching talents (like Oshoala’s Barcelona manager Jonatan Giráldez) are eager to usher in a new era of tactical nuance that retains the league’s competitiveness while sharpening technicality. Possession-style football has at times been easier to discuss than actually implement in the NWSL, but 2024 could see more clubs than ever trying to marry a more technical style with the league’s established speed of play.

Oshoala is coming in without many pre-formed opinions on the NWSL’s style. “I never had the interest to play in America, to be honest with you,” she says. “I used to say that — not because I don’t like the league or something — I usually don’t really follow like that because of the time difference. I was never so interested or invested in it, but recently my mind changed. I saw a couple of players here, you know, and then I started following them because I’ve got friends as well who play here.”

She now sees playing in front of American crowds to be an opportunity for brand-building, and she’s clear that she both wants and expects Bay FC to contend for a playoff spot in their first year. 

“I’m not going to expect the same level of performance from my teammates compared to that of where I’m coming from,” she says. “But I’m ready to kind of go for it. I’m ready to fight for them, fight for each other, go out there, have each other’s back and tell ourselves it’s our first year and we really want to reach the playoffs.”

“You want everyone to feel like we’re not going to be an easy team to play. If you’re gonna get a point off of us, you can work for it.”

Off the field, Oshoala is happy that despite moving continents, she will still be near water, where she likes to go be by herself and switch off from football. On the field, the work begins to create a cohesive unit out of a newly-put-together expansion side. 

“I feel like I’ve been there before, I’ve done that before and know how it turned out,” she says. “It’s not gonna be something easy, but it’s something that is achievable. And I’m a person who will just go for what I want. If I like it, I want to do it.”

Costa Rica Holds USWNT to 0-0 Draw in Frustrating Olympic Send-Off

USWNT midfielder Lindsey Horan dribbles the ball by Costa Rica forward Melissa Herrera and midfielder Gloriana Villalobos
The USWNT had 12 shots on goal on Tuesday despite failing to find the back of the net. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

The USWNT didn't quite get the going away party they were hoping for, settling for a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on Tuesday in their final tune-up match before the 2024 Olympics kick off next week.

The US produced 26 shots — 12 on target — alongside 67 touches in the box, the most in any match where they failed to convert a single goal since at least 2015, per Opta. Yet they also faced a heroic performance from Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez, who tallied 12 saves on the night.

USWNT starters remained mostly intact

After Saturday's win over Mexico, USWNT manager Emma Hayes opted for a very similar starting XI, only swapping Crystal Dunn in for Jenna Nighswonger due to load management.

Named starter Rose Lavelle was a late scratch from the lineup after team warmups, with US Soccer attributing her last-minute absence to "leg tightness." Lavelle was replaced by midfielder Korbin Albert, giving the US a slightly less aggressive attacking edge throughout the match.

Casey Krueger, Lynn Williams, Jaedyn Shaw, Emily Sonnett, and rookie Croix Bethune all got minutes in the second half, coming off the bench to contend with Washington, DC's brutally hot conditions.

USWNT forward Sophia Smith and Costa Rica midfielder Gloriana Villalobos battle for the ball
Costa Rica managed to fend off the USWNT with a strong defensive low-block. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY)

Costa Rica's low-block spelled trouble

"Listen, if you play a game of percentages or law of averages, we're creating more and more high-quality chances, and we're getting numbers into key areas — we're getting touches in the key areas," Hayes told reporters after the match, calling attention to Costa Rica's strong defensive low-block.

"The last part's the hardest part. And I'm really patient, because I've coached teams that have to break blocks down, and it's the hardest thing to do in coaching," she continued.

Hayes also noted the team's lack of training time under her management: The decorated coach officially joined the US in early June after finishing the WSL season with her previous club, league champs Chelsea FC.

USWNT pose for a picture after their send-off friendly against costa rica at Audi Field
The USWNT's Olympic group stage run kicks off on July 25th. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Where to watch the USWNT's Olympic games

Tuesday's draw is just the second time the USWNT has entered a major tournament off a non-win. Back in 2015, the US embarked on their legendary World Cup campaign after a 0-0 send-off draw with South Korea.

The next time the USWNT takes the pitch will be at the Paris Olympics, where they'll play Zambia on Thursday, July 25th at 3 PM ET. The match will be broadcast live on USA, with streaming options available on Peacock.

The Late Sub Podcast: This Is Sophia Smith’s USWNT Attack Now

Sophia Smith dribbles during the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico on Saturday.
Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the USWNT's 1-0 win over Mexico last Saturday. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins breaks down the days leading up to the first USWNT Olympic send-off friendly, discussing player performances, things that worked well on the pitch, and what still needs developing as coach Emma Hayes's team moves towards a crucial Olympic competition set to will dictate the future of the team.

She then sets her sights on the WNBA, previewing WNBA All-Star Weekend and chatting with Gatorade Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Joyce Edwards alongside Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally.

Subscribe to The Late Sub to never miss an episode.

USWNT Looks to Extend Winning Streak in Final Olympic Send-Off

USWNT striker Sophia Smith dribbles through Costa Rican defenders during a 2022 Concacaf W Championship game.
The USWNT last took on Costa Rica at the 2022 Concacaf Championship semifinal. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The USWNT’s last tune-up match before the Olympics has arrived, with the FIFA world No. 5 US looking for an 18th-straight all-time win over No. 44 Costa Rica tonight at Washington, DC's Audi Field.

Just three days after a redemptive 1-0 victory over No. 29 Mexico, head coach Emma Hayes’s Paris-bound roster appears to be finding its stride. Calling Saturday’s win "a step in the right direction," Hayes went on to say, "I think we’re only scratching the surface. I think there’s a lot of layers to go from everyone."

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 13: USWNT coach Emma Hayes stands on the field before a game between Mexico and USWNT
The new-look USWNT is looking to hit its stride after several matches under Hayes. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

Hayes's USWNT is still finding its footing

With their first Olympic group stage game against No. 64 Zambia slated for July 25th, the new-look USWNT — which features the youngest roster in 16 years — is working to define its style of play.

While the USWNT’s signature ability to score in transition remains a strong point, the team also acknowledged their shaky first half on Saturday, with midfielder Rose Lavelle commenting that they're "working on being a little more tactically flexible... We’re trying to, as a group, learn how to adjust on the fly and be a little smarter with our adjustments during the games."

The patience required to choose their moments, along with the team’s ability to read and anticipate each other's movements, is clutch to increasing effectiveness in the areas where the USWNT appeared most disjointed against Mexico.

At stake is an Olympic podium finish, where the US hopes to improve on their bronze medal performance in Tokyo — but the team also aims to make a splash amidst their increasingly sophisticated opponents.

Costa Rica captain Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez chases the ball during a match against Panama in 2020.
Raquel "Rocky" Rodriguez, Costa Rica's captain, is the only NWSL on their Olympic roster. (Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Rodriguez leads a rising Costa Rica team

If improving offensive unity and production is tonight’s goal, Las Ticas could provide the ideal matchup: In their 17 previous meetings, the USWNT has outscored Costa Rica 90-2 overall.

That said, Costa Rica has switched things up since the sides last met in July 2022, with the US defeating the Central American squad 3-0 in the Concacaf Championship semifinal. Las Ticas competed in the 2023 World Cup and reached the Gold Cup quarterfinals earlier this year, where they narrowly fell to No. 8 Canada in extra time.

Costa Rica is captained by 30-year-old Angel City midfielder Rocky Rodriguez, the lone NWSL player on their roster and, in 2015, the first Costa Rica national to ever score in a Women's World Cup.

In addition to maintaining a perfect record against Costa Rica, the USWNT will look to extend their current unbeaten streak to nine, which includes three shutouts in Hayes’s first three matches at the helm.

Lindsay Horan drinks water before the USWNT's match against Ireland in April 2023.
An excessive heat warning is in effect for Washington, DC today. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images)

Where to watch the USWNT vs. Costa Rica friendly

Expect some hydration breaks due to DC's scorching temperatures during tonight’s 7:30 PM ET match, airing live on TNT and streaming on Peacock.

TruTV and Max will simultaneously air the first-ever USWNT altcast, hosted by retired USWNT star Sam Mewis, former USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, and Men in Blazers founder Roger Bennett.

Sizing Up USWNT’s 2024 Olympic Competition

Germany's Giulia Gwinn steps to the ball while Iceland's Sandra Jessen slides in during Friday's UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match.
Germany lost their Euros qualifier against Iceland 3-0 on Friday, less than two weeks before Olympic football begins. (Hulda Margret/Getty Images)

With Olympic soccer kicking off in just over a week, the USWNT isn't the only national squad prepping for the podium with a series of pre-Paris matchups. Both international friendlies and important qualifiers are on the docket, with several European teams competing for a spot in the UEFA Women's EURO 2025.

Regardless of the stakes, these performances might provide some insight into what the USWNT can expect once the Summer Games begin.

Czechia national soccer team celebrates as Spain women's national soccer team defender Laia Aleixandri leaves the pitch
FIFA World No. 1 Spain fell to Czechia on Friday in a 2025 Euros qualifier. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Pre-Olympic matches expose problems for top teams

Of the 12 Olympic teams, recent outings from FIFA world No. 1 Spain and No. 4 Germany featured the most shocking outcomes.

Despite dominating possession behind an opening goal from 2023 Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí, the 2023 World Cup winners fell 2-1 to No. 30 Czechia in Friday's Euros qualifier — their first loss of 2024. They managed to bounce back on Tuesday, however, beating Belgium 2-0 to finish out the league stage on top with 15 points.

Spain heads into the Summer Games aiming to become the first women’s team to win a World Cup and Olympic gold back-to-back, though they’ll need to reclaim their composure to achieve that feat in the face of an Olympic group that includes Japan, Nigeria, and Brazil.

France defender Sakina Karchaoui celebrates her opening goal during Friday's 2-1 win over Sweden.
Defender Sakina Karchaoui scored the opening goal in France's 2-1 win over Sweden on Friday. (ARNAUD FINISTRE/AFP via Getty Images)

No. 2 France took down No. 6 Sweden 2-1 in Friday's Euro qualifier, but flipped the script on Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to last-place No. 25 Republic of Ireland, who notched their first win. However, thanks to England's 0-0 draw with Sweden — also on Tuesday — France still topped their qualifying group with 12 points. Les Bleus will look for more consistent results going into the Olympics, where they're set to face Colombia, New Zealand, and Guinea in the group stage.

But it was Germany who stumbled the hardest, losing out 3-0 to No. 14 Iceland in their own Friday qualifier. After the match, Germany's head coach Horst Hrubesch didn’t mince words.

"We have to assert ourselves from the start in the individual battles. The way we played just wasn’t good," Hrubesch told reporters. "We deserved to lose. We handed them all three goals on a plate."

Tuesday also saw improvement for Germany, as they routed Austria 4-0 to claim first place in the group standings with 15 points.

But the earlier loss was still foreboding for this German squad. The two-time world champions fell to 3-2 to Zambia just weeks before the 2023 World Cup, before failing to advance past the World Cup group stage for the first time in the tournament’s history. Germany also faces some tough Olympic group stage competition, battling Australia and the USWNT before crossing paths with Zambia once again.  

Team Canada celebrate their victory in the 2020 Olympic Gold Medal Match with Sweden
Team Canada has their work cut out for them if they want to repeat their Tokyo gold medal run. (Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Friendlies rally Olympic teams outside Europe

Defending Olympic champs FIFA World No. 8 Canada defeated No. 12 Australia 2-1 on Saturday, with KC Current forward Nichelle Prince and ex-Gotham striker Evelyne Viens both scoring in the friendly. Canada will play world No. 36 Nigeria in a closed-door friendly on Wednesday before kicking off their Olympic campaign against New Zealand on July 25th. 

For their part, No. 28 New Zealand drew 1-1 in a friendly with No. 64 Zambia on Saturday, while non-Olympic-bound Ecuador handed No. 22 Colombia a 2-1 send-off loss.

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