All Scores

Can Anyone Catch Chelsea in the FAWSL Title Race?

HARRIET LANDER/GETTY IMAGES

For more FAWSL coverage, check out The Soccer Show, a first-of-its-kind, highlights-driven program brought to you by JWS and ATA Football. 

The final quarter of the FA Women’s Super League season is officially underway, and what was once a four-team title race now looks to be Chelsea’s to lose.

While the Blues are only two points ahead of second-place Manchester City, there’s only so many games left for any team to close the gap.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And with six gameweeks left, these are the three teams who have a shot to overtake Chelsea and become the FAWSL 2020/2021 Champions.

img
@BARCLAYSFAWSL
MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City are right on Chelsea’s heels with 39 points. City started off the season very poorly, dropping points in four of their first nine matches, as it seemed like Gareth Taylor was still learning how to manage his squad. City especially struggled defensively in the beginning, and they were unable to see out matches.

A resurgence during the holiday season saw them take advantage of their Manchester rivals’ poor form and leap ahead of them in the table, while the January signing of USWNT star Abby Dahlkemper helped strengthen their defensive fragilities.

They’ve now won nine league games in a row, dating back to December 6th, during which they’ve scored 33 goals and only conceded three.

While those early losses could come back to haunt them, if any team is catching Chelsea and beating them to the title, it’s Manchester City, especially given the form they’re in. The biggest game remaining on the FAWSL calendar is a clash between the two on April 25th at the Academy Stadium in Manchester. Those 90 minutes may very well decide this year’s race.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United are currently in third with 35 points. The team was not expected to compete for the title this year, having only been promoted from the Championship following the 2018/2019 season. And yet, their current standing may ring as a disappointment to the United faithful, given that they were top of the league only a few short months ago.

The importance of Christen Press and Tobin Heath signings cannot be overstated. The two USWNT stars came with a wealth of experience, but also the pressure to deliver for United.

And until the New Year, they did just that. Going into their match against Chelsea on January 17th, United were unbeaten in the league, with eight wins and two draws. Their loss to Chelsea that day started a spiral that saw them slip first from the top and then into third.

Heath’s injury alone was enough to derail the club. When you add in injuries to key players like Leah Galton, Alessia Russo, and Lauren James, it’s hard to fault United for faltering as they have.

Casey Stoney has maintained that because United is such a new team, her goal for the season isn’t to win the title but to qualify for the Champions League. That being said, the team will likely still feel disappointed that they let a real shot at the title slip away.

ARSENAL

Arsenal are in fourth with 29 points, and even though they have played one less match than the other three teams, it’s unlikely that they’ll be crowned champions this season.

Crazier things have happened, of course, and anything may seem possible for such a star-studded squad, which counts Vivianne Miedema, Caitlin Foord, and Daniëlle van de Donk among their starting XI.

Arsenal have had one major problem this season, and it’s that they have not played well against their major competition at the top of the table. So far, Arsenal have played five matches against the three teams they are competing against for the title—Chelsea, Manchester United, and Manchester City. They’ve dropped points in all five matches.

In these matches, Arsenal have struggled to match their opponents’ intensity, a reversal of fate for a team who, under Joe Montemurro, have usually been the side pressing their opponents high up the pitch. This season, they’ve struggled to keep up the energy in the second half, allowing teams to pin them back, which has created more opportunities for them to concede and fewer for them to get the ball forward.

It’s been a problem since the beginning of the season, and yet Montemurro has been unable to find a solution.

Arsenal’s next match is against Manchester United. And while their form has picked up as of late (culminating in a 4-0 win over Birmingham City last weekend), even if they win, they’ll still be behind United in fourth.

At this point, Arsenal have a very little chance of winning the title. For them, the bigger goal has to be finishing in the top three and qualifying for the Champions League. Chelsea’s London rivals may not be a real cause for concern, but Arsenal still has every reason to try and salvage what has been a somewhat disappointing year.

USWNT Kicks Off 2024 Olympic Tournament Against Zambia

uswnt vs. zambia olympics graphic
The USWNT kicks off their group stage run against Zambia today at 3 PM ET. (Just Women's Sports)

The USWNT begins their 2024 Olympic campaign today, taking on Zambia in their first group stage match.

The team will be looking for a positive first result, before taking on Germany and then Australia in a fast and furious schedule kicking off in Nice before traveling west down the coast to Marseille.

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 13: USWNT coach Emma Hayes stands on the field before a game between Mexico and USWNT
The USWNT is entering a new era under head coach Emma Hayes. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

The road to Olympic gold starts now

While eight of the 12 teams competing in the group stage will move on to the August 3rd quarterfinals — including two countries advancing on a third-place tiebreak — first week successes can dictate a path to the medal rounds.

"There's top footballing nations in this tournament. I don't think shocks in the women's game exist anymore — I think we have to reframe our focus a little bit and have respect for the rest of the world," US head coach Emma Hayes told the media this week.

"We've learned a lot and we've grown a lot," added USWNT forward Sophia Smith. "We're just looking at this tournament and not backwards because there's really no point in doing that."

Barbra Banda of Zambia's Olympic soccer team celebrates after scoring at the 2023 World Cup
Zambia star Barbra Banda has extensive experience facing USWNT players. (Hannah Peters - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sizing up the USWNT's Olympic challengers

Hayes’s words could prove true from the jump. While FIFA world No. 92 Zambia weighs in as Group B's lowest-ranked team, they're definitely capable of setting the USWNT on their heels. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two nations, though Zambia has both Tokyo Olympics and 2023 World Cup experience under their belt.

Case and point? Starting striker Barbra Banda currently leads the NWSL's Golden Boot race, firmly placing herself in the MVP conversation while routinely going head-to-head with USWNT players.

"I know what a threat she can be," US defender Emily Fox said this week. "Their entire team is a threat, especially with their transition. But we're ready for it."

Hayes has emphasized cohesion from her starting group, indicating fans could see this afternoon's starting XI mirror the lineups utilized in the last two tune-up friendlies. The US defeated Mexico 1-0 before drawing Costa Rica 0-0 in their final two games before traveling to training camp in France.

Where to watch USWNT vs. Zambia

Today’s Olympic group stage match between the USWNT and Zambia kicks off at 3 PM ET with live coverage on NBC platforms.

Team Canada’s Olympic Drone Controversy Explained

Team Canada with their flag at the 2024 Concacaf Women's Gold Cup
Team Canada faces repercussions after flying a drone over New Zealand's practice session. (Logan Riely/Getty Images)

The 2024 Paris Games haven't even officially begun, yet the Olympic soccer tournament has already been rocked by a controversy spurred by defending gold medalists Canada.

New Zealand lodged a formal complaint to the IOC on Tuesday, alleging that a Team Canada support staff member spied on their training session in Saint-Étienne using drone surveillance. 

In response, the Canadian Olympic Committee immediately confirmed the incident and apologized, promising to conduct an "independent external review."

Local police saw the drone and arrested "Non-accredited analyst" Joseph Lombardi on Monday, charging him with "flying an unmanned aircraft over a prohibited area." He has since pleaded guilty and accepted a suspended eight-month prison sentence in addition to a €45,000 fine.

Team Canada has since dismissed Lombardi, sending him along with his direct supervisor Jasmine Mandor home from the Games and officially removing the pair from the team.

CanWNT head coach Bev Priestman looks up during a match.
Head coach Bev Priestman has removed herself from Canada's Olympic opener against New Zealand. (Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Canada boss Priestman to miss opening match

Canada head coach Bev Priestman accepted the decision to sit out her squad's Olympic group stage opener against New Zealand on Thursday.

"On behalf of our entire team, I first and foremost want to apologize to the players and staff at New Zealand Football and to the players on Team Canada," Priestman said in a statement.

"I am ultimately responsible for conduct in our program. Accordingly, to emphasize our team’s commitment to integrity, I have decided to voluntarily withdraw from coaching the match on Thursday," Priestman added. "In the spirit of accountability, I do this with the interests of both teams in mind and to ensure everyone feels that the sportsmanship of this game is upheld."

New Zealand has also reportedly asked FIFA that to bar Canada from earning any points in the opening match, regardless of the outcome.

USA Basketball Bounces Back in Final Olympic Tune-Up

Team USA celebrates their exhibition win over Germany on Tuesday
Team USA will meet Germany again in the Olympic group stage.(Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Team USA definitively bounced back from their WNBA All-Star Game defeat on Tuesday, routing Germany 84-57 at the USA Basketball Showcase in London.

A'ja Wilson put up 19 points and 14 rebounds in the win, leading the team ahead of Breanna Stewart's 15 points. Wilson is now averaging 16.5 points per game for the US, tying Team WNBA All-Star coach Cheryl Miller for the highest in team history.

Napheesa Collier of Team USA at the USA vs. Germany basketball showcase in London
Napheesa Collier returned to the court for Team USA on Tuesday. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Team USA raises their game

Team USA is still building chemistry after spending a little more than one week as a unit, shoring up vulnerabilities highlighted in their weekend loss to Team WNBA.

The team looked more cohesive in London, with Napheesa Collier returning to the starting lineup after missing a number of weeks with a plantar fascia injury. They also saw quality performances off the bench, with Jewell Loyd scoring in double digits and both Alyssa Thomas and Jackie Young keeping head coach Cheryl Reeve's rotations steady.

Returning to Europe for the first time since her 2022 wrongful detainment in Russia, Brittney Griner did not feature for the US due to load management.

For Germany, Dallas Wings star Satou Sabally took the court for the first time since the team's February Olympic qualifier, playing 26 minutes as Germany prepares for their Olympic debut in Paris.

"It was a breath of fresh air to get out of All-Star and come here," Sabrina Ionescu told reporters after the London Showcase. "There's one goal and it's to win." 

Breanna Stewart lays up the ball in Team USA's win over Germany on Tuesday
Breanna Stewart and Team USA begin their Olympic campaign against Japan on July 29th. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

All eyes are on gold

USA Basketball seems to be improving by the day, but the short runway to Paris could present a challenge for Reeve and her staff as the team looks to grow throughout the tournament — and hopefully hit their stride in time for the medal rounds.

"It's a tune-up game," Stewart said on Tuesday. "We don't want to peak too soon."

What's next for Team USA?

The US will start their Olympic group stage campaign with a game against Japan on July 29th, before playing a blockbuster August 1st matchup against a strong Belgium side. They'll later face Germany once again in their August 4th Olympic group stage finale.

1v1 With Kelley O’Hara: What Has Emily Sonnett Learned From Past USWNTs?

Emily Sonnett chats with her former USWNT teammate Kelley O'Hara
Emily Sonnett joins host Kelley O'Hara for a conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics in the latest episode of '1v1.' (Just Women's Sports)

In the latest episode of Just Women's Sports' 1v1 With Kelley O'Hara, Gotham FC and USWNT defender Emily Sonnett joins Olympic gold medalist and retired USWNT star Kelley O'Hara for a one-on-one conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics.

We hear from Sonnett about her first impressions of new USWNT coach Emma Hayes, her international competition journey so far, and what advice from past USWNT players she's planning to take into the 2024 Summer Games.

Subscribe to Just Women's Sports on YouTube to never miss an episode.

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