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Caprice Dydasco on ACL Recovery and the Nwsl Challenge Cup

JESSE LOUIE

Caprice Dydasco is a defender for Sky Blue FC of the NWSL. In the lead-up to the Challenge Cup, she tore her ACL in training and had to miss the tournament. She recently sat down with Just Women’s Sports to talk about her injury, documenting her recovery on social media, and the success of the NWSL’s Challenge Cup.

Can you talk us through your recent ACL injury?

So this injury happened on June 1st. It was our second week back to training after quarantine and it was just a freak thing. The sprinklers went off at training, so we stopped working. When we continued, I went in for a tackle and my back foot slipped because it was a little slippery, and as I tried to recover, I just heard my knee buckle. It was my third one [ACL tear], so I heard the pop and I tried to be in denial for a little, but as I was walking off the field it just gave out. Right then I knew that I had torn my ACL again.

Luckily, I was able to get diagnosed quickly with a torn ACL and MCL and within two weeks I was able to get surgery. I then stayed in New Jersey and New York for two weeks before coming back home to Hawaii.

I’m now six weeks out of surgery and I’m feeling really good. My physical trainer here has been really happy with my progress, and throughout this recovery, I’ve been keeping in touch with the team and our staff. I’m making really good progress and my goal is to be back for 2021.

This unfortunately isn’t the first time you’ve torn your ACL, so when this happened again, you already knew what it was?

Yeah. Every athlete’s nightmare is hearing that sound and after hearing that pop twice before, I was like, “There’s no way this is ever going to happen to me again.” It’s really strange because every single time it has happened, I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt physically – just super in shape, playing really well, playing the best I’ve ever played – and it’s always something you just cannot prepare for.

As soon as you hear that noise, you just know right away. You go into waves of denial, of like, “Oh, I didn’t tear my ACL. Maybe it’s just a hyperextension,” and then you go to walk and your knee gives out. Then the roller coaster of emotions hits you until you finally get your MRI back, and then you’re like, “Okay, at least I know for a fact that this is what it is.”

Do you approach this injury the same way as the previous two? 

So the first two, I tore just my ACL. This time around, I tore my ACL and MCL, so it was a little bit longer of a process to recover because it takes a longer time to heal. With just a torn ACL, you start doing rehab right after surgery, but for a torn MCL you have to be a little bit more tender with it.

Knowing this, as soon as I hurt my knee, I knew that I had to be strong going into surgery because that helps the recovery after surgery. I also knew that I had to start bending my knee right after surgery. So my slight experience in this field definitely helped some of those little things, plus knowing how to prepare mentally for surgery. For this third one, I’m like, “All right. It is what it is. Let’s just do it.”

2020 has been a pretty wild year. Has quarantine affected your recovery at all?

I would say it’s a little bit more normal now than when quarantine first started during preseason. I think back then it was harder because we needed to physically go out and train and be around the team and stuff, but rehab is a very individual thing, So I’m able to do that on my own and I’m very lucky that physical therapy is considered “essential” because it’s open and I have full access to it.

I have a really good relationship with my physical therapist and I’ve been seeing him since I was 12. So I’m able to go in every day and he’s able to give me everything that I need. I also got really lucky with surgery because at the time of my tear, the hospital had just reopened the week before. So they were able to fit me in in the middle of this pandemic and all of the testing going on.

What has a typical day in Hawaii been like? That doesn’t seem like the worst place to be stuck during all this.

Honestly, I would’ve rather been in Utah. But I’m lucky that my family and my parents are very supportive of me and they’re always here in Hawaii, so it’s really not a bad place to be for recovery.

Every morning I wake up, have breakfast, coffee, and then I’ll go to PT. I’ve also been trying to spend time with my grandparents and my family as much as I can while I’m here, so I’ll go to lunch with my grandparents. Typically, I go to the beach in the afternoons just for a little swim and then have dinner with my friends or my family. So it’s very chill when I’m home. There’s not much that’s open, but it’s been nice. Since quarantine, I’ve become a professional chiller.

We’ve seen a side of your recovery on the Instagram Account @ScarredTogether. Can you talk to us about this organization and what it’s like to go through the injury process with 4 other NWSL athletes?

So, Jordan Angeli is the founder of The ACL Club, and I’ve known her for a few years. She’s always been super supportive and as soon as I tore my ACL again, my agent and I jumped on a call with her to discuss documenting my recovery while using my platform on the ACL Club’s account.

So that’s how it all started. I was the first one to tear my ACL, but as soon as the tournament started, unfortunately, there was one tear after another, after another. When you tear your ACL, you just have this weird bond with each other because you’re going through the same issues and you all have this scar to show for it. When you’re an athlete, you just put so much work in, and then when it happens, it’s so devastating.

Jordan and I talked about how amazing it is for athletes to bond together during these circumstances and we wanted to show other people what we’re going through. This platform allows us to collaborate with so many other people going through all kinds of injuries and I think it’s really cool to see that we all go through the same struggles, same downs, and same ups. Hopefully, we can help each other out through this whole process and go tackle obstacles together. Eventually, I would love to organize something where we have Instagram Lives and have people ask questions about anything – physically or mentally. I want to use this platform as an open and safe space for people to be vulnerable and share their thoughts.

Shifting gears to NWSL Challenge Cup, what was the team’s mindset going into that? 

At the beginning of quarantine, we were all just training on our own at home and it was hard because we thought this was going to be a week or a month-long thing. We’d get workouts weekly and the staff would say like, “Okay, maybe another month of this.”

It was hard to stay motivated during this whole process, leading up to July, but eventually, we heard from the league about this potential month-long tournament. That’s when the buzz started to go around and there were plenty of mixed emotions. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and they’re asking us to go somewhere remote for a month and we had no idea what the health risks were and no clue where we were going to live.

Even with these mixed emotions, I think our staff did a great job in relaying all the information needed to make sure we felt prepared and comfortable way before anyone was to step foot in Utah.

What were your thoughts on how the league handled this return?

Lisa Baird, our commissioner, did an amazing job of making sure that all the players were involved in the decision making. They ran a bunch of surveys and league calls to make sure that everyone felt comfortable and all of our questions were answered before heading there.

So it was a really good combination of everyone’s input of what needed to be done for everyone to feel safe. And once the girls got there, they told me that the bubble felt really safe and secure.

It takes the whole league’s effort to make something like this work. Everyone involved was fully invested in following all of the rules, and I think that’s why it worked out so well.

How do you think your club, Sky Blue FC, fared throughout it all?

I was just so bummed the way it ended. I felt like if they had just five more minutes, they would’ve tied it up. But it’s encouraging and awesome that we feel this way – that we’re very disappointed in not making it to the finals. We just know the potential of this team and where we can go and it’s going to be exciting for everyone to come back, be hungry again and bring that same attitude and that feeling from losing into next season.

Looking ahead, what are some of your goals as you prepare for your 7th NWSL Season in 2021?

At the beginning of this season, I finally got a hold of the league and my style of play. I just felt really good. This year, I know my body’s a little older, so I just want to listen to it and take this recovery day-by-day. I know I don’t have to rush because time is on my side, but I would love to just work on just feeling strong.

And then once I’m ready to start playing again, I just really want to focus on working from the ground up. This isn’t a make-or-break year for me, but I’d rather not have people consistently bring up that I tore my ACL last year. I would want them to focus instead on how hard I worked this offseason.

Ultimately, I’m really stoked to just be around the team and get going again.

2023 MVP Breanna Stewart Drops 31 Points in Liberty’s Huge Win Over Fever

breanna stewart and jonquel jones of the new york liberty celebrate win over indiana fever
Stewie and the Liberty dominated the court throughout Thursday's Fever home opener. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

WNBA Commissioner Admits to ‘Faulty’ Charter Rollout

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert at 2024 wnba draft
Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted to a "faulty rollout" of the new charter travel initiative on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ahead of Tuesday's season opener, it was announced that the only teams flying private this week would be Indiana and Minnesota. The announcement came mere days after the league made a new charter flight program for all WNBA teams public. At the time, they said it would be implemented "as soon as we have the planes."

But as two teams out of 12 chartered to their first games of the season, others like the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky were forced to fly commercial.

A town hall meeting between Engelbert and the players was held in response to the confusion. Everything from the league's new media rights deal to private travel was covered in the meeting, with players submitting their questions ahead of time. Sky center Elizabeth Williams told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile afterwards that cross-country flights were prioritized.

"Flights that are across the country like [the Lynx] going to Seattle, crossing multiple time zones, or flights that usually require a connection, those were the priorities," Williams said. "That’s why New York didn’t go to DC with a charter, but Minny goes to Seattle."

What’s unclear under that metric is that the Atlanta Dream played the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, which could technically be classified as a cross-country flight. 

On Tuesday, rookie forward Angel Reese shared a photo on her Instagram story lamenting the league's use of commercial flights.

"Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Sky has to fly," Reese posted. The team still has at least three commercial flights awaiting them in the near future.

"Obviously, I think all teams should be able to get chartered," Reese told the Sun-Times. "But I know moving forward... going in the right direction, being able to have some teams [chartering] is cool. Within the next weeks, everybody will be flying charter, which will be really good."

On Thursday, Lindsay Schnell of USAToday Sports confirmed that the league intends to have all teams on charter flights by May 21st.

Brazil Wins Bid for 2027 Women’s World Cup Host

fifa womens world cup trophy on display
The FIFA Women's World Cup trophy on display in Bangkok after Brazil was announced as the 2027 host country. (Thananuwat Srirasant - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Brazil has been named the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA announced early Friday. 

The decision came after a vote at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, with Brazil earning 119 votes to the joint European bid’s 78. 

This will be Brazil’s first time hosting the Women’s World Cup, with the country having hosted the men’s World Cup twice before in 1950 and 2014. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup held in South America. The tournament will follow the same 32-team format as the 2023 WWC in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil winning the bid was not entirely surprising after FIFA issued a report just last week, stating that the Brazilian bid had pulled ahead as host following technical inspection. After evaluation, Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5, compared to the 3.7 awarded to the Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. Though considered to be a frontrunner, the US and Mexico withdrew their joint bid prior to the technical inspection period, saying they would instead focus their efforts on 2031.

On Friday, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues called it a "victory." 

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," he told reporters. "You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

"We are working on a transformation, not only for the country but for the continent," added bid team operational manager Valesca Araujo.

Brazil intends to use 10 of the venues utilized at the 2014 men’s World Cup, including holding the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 25th. The CBF's proposal outlines that the 2027 tournament run from June 24th through the end of July. Last summer’s World Cup began at the end of July and concluded on August 19th.

Another notable element of Brazil's newly unveiled plan to grow of the women’s game is that "all [men’s] clubs wishing to take part in high-level national and continental competitions must now provide a structure for a women’s team." While the definition of "structure" was not specifically identified, the country has set targets with CONMEBOL to help increase the number of women’s club teams in the country.

In last week's inspection findings, FIFA noted that selecting Brazil as the next WWC host could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Chelsea Eyes Weekend Finale With WSL Title in Sight

chelsea players celebrate win against tottenham in the wsl
Chelsea beat Tottenham on Wednesday, moving to the top of the table in an effort to win departing coach Emma Hayes some silverware. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Chelsea did what they needed to do on Wednesday in order to make Saturday's slate of season-ending WSL fixtures interesting: Beat Tottenham.

The Blues are now number one in the league, with an edge over Manchester City on goal differential thanks to an eight-goal outing against Bristol City last week. 

Yesterday's result tees up a league finale for the books as Chelsea looks to send coach Emma Hayes off with another trophy to add to her cabinet. The Blues will play FA Cup winner Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, while City is away at Aston Villa.

"We will be leaving nothing on the pitch, we will be giving everything and no matter what the result is," Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said after Wednesday's win. "At least we can look each other in the eye and say we gave everything."

It makes for a thrilling end to Chelsea's Emma Hayes era, as the decorated WSL coach will take over the USWNT in June. And it comes after Hayes all but conceded the title race early this month after Chelsea fell to Liverpool 4-3.

"I think the title is done," Hayes said at the time. "Of course, mathematically, it's not, but I think the title is done. Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

"We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it's not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don't think the title will be going to us this year."

Be it mind games or Hayes truly thinking her team was that far off, her words lit something in Chelsea. Their following two performances showed the team’s determination to have a shot at some silverware.

As for Saturday's schedule, Hayes believes her team is facing the "tougher of the two games."

"It's a fitting finale for me, being my final game," she told BBC Sport. "As I said to the players if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don't need a third one. We're in the position we want to be in, and we'll give it everything on Saturday no matter what."

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