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Rachel Corsie On Why the NWSL, FAWSL Comparisons Aren’t Entirely Off

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Rachel Corsie is a professional soccer player currently playing for Birmingham City FC in the FAWSL while on loan from the Utah Royals in the NWSL. She is also the captain of the Scotland national team.

Are you in lockdown right now? 

Yeah, supposedly, although I would say that it’s fairly loose right now. It’s strange. As footballers, the biggest thing to take from it is that you have a different moral responsibility than the general public. I think there’s a lot of people still bending the rules a little bit. We need to be a little more cautious; If we bend the rules, we’re probably scrutinized more heavily.

I know you said you have to be more careful, but how else does the lockdown impact training and games? Do you have to do more testing or what does that look like?

They have a fairly comprehensive testing regime across the league. You’re tested typically once a week, but that will be increased if you have more than one game a week. It really ensures that people are following the rest of the protocols. I think there’s more work done behind the scenes that we don’t see, because a lot of the clubs now are affiliated with their men’s team, and you need to be careful. With teams overlapping, arriving at the same time using the same facilities, you need to make sure you come in through different entrances and don’t overlap. As players, we probably don’t quite see the full extent of everything being rolled out. I think a lot of work has gone on to make sure that we can continue.

There’s been a few positive tests, but if you think of how many tests have actually been done, there’s been a really low percentage of cases within the game. It’s a privilege to keep on being able to play. Also the wider community, I think, enjoys being able to watch some kind of sport. We’ve grown our audience a bit, because I think people just love watching sports. If there’s live sports on, then they’re going to probably turn it on. I think we need to capitalize on that, but also remember that we have a responsibility to make sure it keeps happening.

That makes sense. You signed with Birmingham City a few months back on loan from Utah. What went into that decision?

I came back [to the US] for the season and we had the Challenge Cup, which was great.

However, at the end of that, I was excited to come home. I’m not someone who’s typically a home person — I’ve played in the U.S. for five and a half years. I’ve lived away from home for 10 years. However, how everything was playing out… the virus and just everyone’s health…. I don’t know, it was just different. So as the Challenge Cup finished, I was looking to spend some time at home. It happened around the same time that they weren’t quite sure how the NWSL was going to use the next couple of months and what game schedules would look like.

What I did know was I was going to have national team games. I was very conscious that I needed to be in an environment that offered competitiveness in both training and game capacity. It was quite clear that while there might be some opportunity for that in the U.S., there wasn’t going to be a lot. I was quite keen to explore options in Europe, particularly in England, because I know a lot of players here and it’s close to home. But it all happened very last minute.

And how has the transition been for the past few months both on and off the field?

Honestly, I hate that whole process. I hate the stress of new loans, new clubs, and change. I’m a real routine person. I know what I like. But on the whole, it’s been pretty smooth. I’m probably fortunate in that I was able to come over quite quickly and find somewhere to stay.

There’s three other Scottish players playing for Birmingham at the moment. So there’s always that little bit of comfort there when you have people who are from the same place that you’re from. I’ve played in youth national teams with Christie Murray, who’s the captain of Birmingham at the moment, since I was 15, 16 years old. When you’ve known someone for almost half your lifetime, then that’s obviously something that can be really comforting.

I think football-wise, I was quite comfortable moving into this environment — knowing the level, the standards, and the type of football that’s played here. I think I was less concerned by that and more apprehensive for the general change in life.

How would you compare the playing style versus the NWSL?

It’s definitely a lot quicker in the U.S. I’m always reluctant to say that, because when you say that people just think, “Oh, the American style is just all about physicality and all about being fast and fit.” I think that’s a disservice to the American style, because I think there’s also some of the most talented technical footballers playing in the NWSL.

I just think that as a whole, the game over there is quicker. Speed of play is definitely quicker. On top of that, in the U.S. you also have the heat in a lot of places. So physically, I think there’s just a much greater challenge in the U.S.

Over here, I think, there’s probably a little bit more analysis done over the tactical side of the game. But again, I don’t want that to sound like it’s not done in the U.S., because there’s certainly a huge component of the game and the NWSL that’s very, very tactical, and there’s teams that are very effective both in possession and out of possession. I just think the biggest difference is that speed of play and the physical demands.

We’ve seen other NWSL players and specifically other Americans going on loan to European teams over the past few months. What do you think that means for FAWSL? 

It’s hard to say. A lot of people look at it and try to generalize: They try to say the league is growing because of it. But I think everyone has gone for different circumstances. I’ve gone for my reasons. It is definitely a reflection that the league is competitive, but I think the league should naturally adopt the fact that it’s growing. I think the growth of the game will come from the continued infrastructure that comes within football and from the FA to make sure that the game grows in the right direction. A lot of things will be impacted more by building a framework that allows the game to grow, instead of just having superstar names.

Do you have any specific personal goals for this season with Birmingham?

I want to come here and perform. I’ve come to a club that is considered one of the smaller clubs, and that puts a different pressure on your game. I’ve enjoyed that. So far, it’s been a really positive experience.

We had a really good month in October and had some great results. That really lifted up everyone. That was just such a powerful message to see and to be part of. In sports, there’s these kinds of moments and roller-coasters — up and downs. I think there’s going to be some of that while I’ll be here, but it’s really powerful to see those big moments with a number of players who are really together and just are so desperate to fight for one another. I just think it’s just a unique kind of challenge.

We’ll have some huge national team games coming up. We had a bit of a, you could say, poor result against Finland last month. I know that we feel disappointed by that, but we have the opportunity to put that right in the next window. We definitely want to qualify for the Euros again. We don’t want it to be a one-off and a different expectation on the group. I think that’s what is expected of Scotland now. The men qualified already and that brought back a lot of emotions. It’s something that just makes you really proud to be Scottish. So that’s another huge goal for the year.

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."

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