All Scores

Ballon d’Or: Making the case for three top contenders

Alexia Putellas led Barcelona’s comeback win over Real Madrid in the first quarterfinal leg last week. (Alvaro Medranda/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

The winner of the 2022 Ballon d’Or will be announced Monday in Paris, capping off an incredible year of soccer filled with plenty of jaw-dropping performances.

Some of the sport’s biggest names, including Vivianne Miedema, Ada Hegerberg and Alex Morgan, are among the 20 players in the running for the prestigious award, handed out annually by France Football magazine. But who are the top contenders? Just Women’s Sports looks at three players who have stood above the rest.

Alexia Putellas

Reigning Ballon d’Or winner Putellas once again tops the list of candidates. While the Spanish star missed out on this summer’s Euros after injuring her ACL days before the tournament, she made the most of the first half of the year as a domineering force for Barcelona.

Putellas had 18 goals and a league-high 15 assists as she led her team to its third-straight Primera División title. In total, Putellas scored 34 goals en route to a domestic treble with Barcelona.

The club also advanced to the Women’s Champions League final. While Barcelona finished as the runner-up to Lyon, Putellas was named the tournament’s best player and its top scorer with 11 goals.

She also became Spain’s most-capped player this year with 100 appearances, scoring four goals through seven appearances in 2022.

Sam Kerr

Any time Kerr steps onto the field for Chelsea, it’s guaranteed to be a show. The striker earned her second consecutive Golden Boot in the Women’s Super League last season en route to Chelsea’s third straight league title and second straight FA Cup.

Her 29 goals through 31 club appearances already have won her WSL Player of the Season, FWA Footballer of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year and PFA Fans’ Player of the Year.

She also dazzled for her country this year, scoring five goals in Australia’s opening match of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup group stage. That number helped her surpass Tim Cahill (50 international goals) for the Australian international goal-scoring record.

She would add two more goals through the team’s remaining three games, winning the Golden Boot for the tournament with seven goals through four games.

Beth Mead

Beth Mead’s run at the Euros helped England secure its first-ever title, with the star forward scoring six goals and adding five assists to win the Golden Boot. She also was named player of the tournament.

img
Beth Mead (left) celebrates with Ellen White during England’s Euros run. (Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

The success represented a stark turnaround and major comeback for a player that failed to make the roster for England’s Olympic team in 2021. In total, she’s made 15 appearances for England this year, scoring 13 goals in that span.

Mead also put on for Arsenal, scoring 12 goals through 26 appearances. That total includes 11 goals in the WSL — third-most behind Miedema and Kerr. Her eight assists were tied for the most in the league alongside Ella Toone and brought her career total to a WSL all-time high of 36.

Named to the shortlist for a multitude of WSL awards, Mead was named Arsenal’s player of the season.

Caitlin Clark stuns in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports. It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation and shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing him a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her best line of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns start NWSL season winless, in uncharted territory

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage and remaining winless through its first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before. Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 


She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, answers need to be had from head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.