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Concacaf W final: What to expect from USWNT-Canada showdown

Alex Morgan and the USWNT attack will look to get the better of Canada’s stifling defense in the final. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

On Monday, the U.S. women’s national team will face their toughest opponent of the Concacaf W Championship so far: Canada.

Both teams have already qualified for the 2023 FIFA World Cup after finishing atop their groups, and now they will compete for a berth in the 2024 Olympics in the Concacaf championship game Monday night (10 p.m. ET, Paramount+). They’re both undefeated in this year’s qualifying tournament and have outscored their opponents 12-0. They’re also both riding 3-0 semifinal victories into the final game.

The last time the two sides met in August 2021, Canada defeated the USWNT 1-0 in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics. It was a rare win for the Canadians, who hadn’t beaten the U.S. since 2001. The Americans hold a 51-4-7 all-time edge in the regional rivalry.

But after the Canadians won their first Olympic gold in Tokyo, looking stronger in each international tournament since then, the outcome isn’t as predictable as it used to be. The USWNT also has many new players who have yet to test themselves against an opponent as formidable as Canada.

U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said after the group stage that he doesn’t think the team is ready for the World Cup at this point in their development. But are they ready for Canada? Here’s what to know ahead of the Concacaf W final.

Defense ready to be tested

Neither team in this matchup has conceded a goal yet this tournament. They’ve each had their turns controlling possession and not allowing opponents the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in their boxes. Now, both defenses will be challenged under higher pressure.

When the ball did get into the USWNT’s box in the group stage, Naomi Girma made a difference when she was in the lineup with her ability to read plays and shut down attacks.

Mexico, the USWNT’s toughest opponent in the tournament so far, was able to exploit them outside of the box, getting off multiple shots from the space between the midfielders and the backline. Canada won’t be afraid to take those chances if they have space. The U.S. will have to keep an eye on center midfielder Jessie Fleming, who can put strikes on target from far out.

Overall, the back four have been the USWNT’s strongest unit so far, contributing heavily to the attack with the center backs’ accurate long balls and the outside backs’ crosses and runs into the attacking third that have resulted in multiple goals and chances.

Lately, Canada has defaulted to a defensive formation that includes two players who are used to playing the No. 6: Quinn and Desiree Scott. If Canada head coach Bev Priestman opts for them both to hang lower, the loaded defense is nothing the USWNT hasn’t seen before, but they’ll still have to prove they can beat it.

Lack of creativity on the attack

The USWNT has become known for their creativity, but it’s been lacking during the Concacaf tournament, and they’ll be hard-pressed to find it in their toughest match yet.

Midfielder Rose Lavelle is usually the mastermind behind the inventiveness, weaving through the midfield until she finds ample space ahead of her to run at backlines. With the low blocks and loaded backlines Concacaf opponents have thrown at the USWNT, Lavelle has struggled to find the space she needs to dictate the game in the ways she’s used to. If Canada plants two defensive midfielders in her way, the U.S. attack could continue to be in trouble.

Canada hasn’t historically been known for their creativity, but the impact their substitutes can make is enough to catch opponents off guard. Canada’s substitutes have scored half of the team’s 12 goals. Adriana Leon most recently recorded a goal and an assist in the semis, delivering a cross right to the head of fellow substitute Allysha Chapman in a play that encapsulated Canada’s attacking strategy.

Midfielder Julia Grosso has also provided a spark to the Canadian attack this tournament, demonstrating quick and precise decision-making in the box. She scored her first three international goals in Canada’s opening two games, and her efforts helped wake her team up in the first match against Trinidad and Tobago. With Canada up only 1-0 at the half, Grosso put them on the board twice in the second and led the way to a 6-0 win.


Until Canada can clean up their passing, the U.S. should have most of the possession as they continue their high-press strategy. Goals, however, could be hard for them to come by against Canada’s dominant backline that includes Chelsea’s Kadeisha Buchanan, Angel City FC’s Vanessa Gilles and San Diego Wave goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.

I wouldn’t be surprised if neither side scores in the first 45 minutes as the U.S. adjusts to its new opponent. While they might press more, Canada will quietly wait for a moment to counterattack. The first halves of the USWNT-Canada matchups at the Tokyo Olympics and in the 2020 Concacaf final ended in scoreless draws.

The U.S. will generate multiple scoring opportunities, but Canada’s defensive pressure will make it difficult for them to finish. Canada likely won’t have as many chances, but I predict Fleming, their leading goal scorer in the tournament, will put one away late into the second half before the team locks it down on defense to hold onto a 1-0 victory.

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

Smith and Swanson shine in action-packed NWSL weekend

sophia smith celebrates after a goal for the portland thorns
Sophia Smith's 27th-minute goal paved the way for Portland's first win of the season. (Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports)

USWNT regulars Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson furthered their cases for Olympic inclusion with their respective club victories on Saturday and Sunday.

After a roller coaster of a week that saw former Thorns head coach Mike Norris reassigned and a flurry of last-minute roster reshufflings as Friday's trade window closure loomed, the NWSL sprung to life over the weekend with standout performances from ninth-place Portland and third-place Chicago, among others.

After her blocked attempt at goal set up a volleying sixth-minute opener from veteran Christine Sinclair — now the only player in history to record a goal in all 11 NWSL seasons — Smith swiftly netted her own in the 27th minute off a breakaway run that eluded Houston's backline. The goal represented Smith's third of the season as well as her 35th for the Thorns, ultimately leading to the home side's first win of the season in a 4-1 routing of the Dash.

But that wasn't Smith's only stat of the evening. The star forward also lapped former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr to become the youngest player to reach 50 NWSL goal contributions across all games, chalking up 40 goals and 10 assists at the age of 23 years and 254 days.

"Obviously it feels good to get a win," said Smith in a post-match press conference. "But this is the standard the Thorns have always had. So a win is great, but a win is the expectation — we're hungrier than ever after the way we started."

170 miles up the road, Lumen Field similarly showcased some promising Olympic prospect footwork on Sunday. In Chicago's 2-1 victory over the lagging 13th-place Seattle Reign, striker Mallory Swanson racked up an impressive counterattack assist on fellow forward Ally Schlegel's fourth-minute goal. Swanson went on to find the back of the net herself before halftime, lacing an explosive ball into the top corner in the 31st minute, her second of the season after returning from a lengthy sidelining injury.

Speaking of injuries, fellow USWNT favorites Alex Morgan and Tierna Davidson were not as fortunate as their national squad teammates this weekend. Each exited their club matches early, Morgan with an ankle knock in San Diego's loss to Orlando and Davidson with an apparent hamstring incident early on in Washington's win over Gotham.

LSU takes first-ever NCAA gymnastics title

Kiya Johnson of the LSU Tigers reacts after winning the national championship during the Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships
Gymnast Kiya Johnson celebrates LSU's win at the NCAA Division I Women's Gymnastics Championships. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

LSU came out on top at the 2024 NCAA women's gymnastics championship in Fort Worth on Saturday, besting Cal, Utah, and Florida to capture their first-ever title.

The Tigers' win was far from a landslide. LSU took the first rotation handily thanks to 2024 All-Around winner Haleigh Bryant's team-leading 9.9375 backed by four additional 9.9+ scores from her teammates. But Utah then responded with three strong beam performances of their own, causing the Red Rocks to slide confidently into second place by the end of the second rotation.

By the halfway point, all four teams fell within .288 points of one another before Utah overtook the pack with a dominant floor showing after three rotations. LSU then went on to ace the beam event with Konnor McClain's meet-leading 9.9625 score, coming away with the highest collective score ever awarded to the event in NCAA championship history. The achievement propelled the Tigers to victory, ensuring them the title after the final rotation.

"This team is full of individuals that have incredible character and integrity and love for each other and all the things you hear from coaches when they sit at a podium like this in a moment of victory, but I promise you it's a real thing," said LSU coach Jay Clark in a post-meet press conference. "I'm just so happy for them."

Contributing to Saturday's atmosphere of excitement was the absence of last year's champion and this year's heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners. Hot off earning the highest team score in NCAA history just last month, the top-ranked Norman squad suffered a shocking loss in the semifinals, where five major mistakes contributed to a third-place finish and a season-low team score of 196.6625.

With Oklahoma out, it was truly anyone's game.

"Every team was out there fighting for their lives — all four teams, it could have gone any of four ways out there," Clark told reporters. "As much as I feel for what happened to Oklahoma in the semifinals, I think it made for a championship that became so packed with emotion because every team out there believed they could do it. It was just tremendous."

LSU is now the eighth program in the sport's history to earn an NCAA women's gymnastic championship.
They share the honor with Georgia, Utah, UCLA, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, and Michigan.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

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