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Denise O’Sullivan on FAWSL Life and What Comes Next

Imani Dorsey and Denise O'Sullivan on soccer field / JWS
Imani Dorsey and Denise O’Sullivan on soccer field / JWS

Denise O’Sullivan plays as a midfielder for Brighton & Hove Albion of the English FA Women’s Super League, on loan from the North Carolina Courage of the NWSL. O’Sullivan also plays for the Republic of Ireland’s women’s national team. She spoke with Just Women’s Sports about her decision to play on loan and how she’s adjusted to the change of scenery. 

What went into your decision to move on loan from North Carolina to Brighton & Hove Albion? 

Initially, I didn’t want to leave the Courage, but with the Irish national team, we had international games in September, October and December, which were all in Europe. So in order for me to be able to go to those games, I basically needed to be in Europe because otherwise I would have had to travel back and forth and done six weeks quarantine. And I would have basically missed maybe all of the Courage games and a lot of the training as well.

The club was really, really good to me. They understood what was going on and the situation, and they knew I needed game time and training. So Brighton were interested, my agent spoke to them, and I think it wasn’t a hard decision for me at all to come here. Two of my Irish teammates play for Brighton, and I had heard it was a great club. That was the decision, really.

How has the transition been, playing with new teammates and a new coach?

It’s been really good. Obviously when I got here I had to do two weeks quarantine. So that was tough. I had to go to an apartment by myself almost an hour away from everyone. That was probably the hardest bit about coming here. But once I was done and met the team, I really settled in very well. Having my two Irish teammates there made it a lot easier for me obviously, because I live with the two of them as well. But the team has been really nice, very supportive of me coming here. Really good girls, a very good club, and they’ve made me feel very comfortable. So I’ve gelled in really well so far.

How about the transition off the field? I know you said the team is great and you live with some teammates, but how has it been just adjusting to living in a new place, especially when we are still in a pandemic?

It’s hard. Obviously, living with the Irish girls, it’s made it a lot easier for me being with them every day and stuff, but really, we’re not allowed to do anything, to be quite honest. We go training, maybe go for a coffee or something like that, but we have to be really aware of where we’re going with all the restrictions and stuff, and just be really careful with this virus. I’m only an hour away from my family, but I can’t see them, I haven’t seen them in eight months. That’s been the toughest part for me. I’m so close, but they can’t come over and I haven’t been able to get back yet. Hopefully I’ll see them in a few weeks.

And how have you adjusted not only to playing with a new team, but playing your first season in the WSL?

It’s been good. It’s different. The league is really competitive. Obviously, you’ve seen so many players coming from overseas to the league. Really world class players, and it’s only making it better, but the league is growing every year. And it’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I’m relishing and playing in the games here. Obviously I had to get used to it. And I’m only five games in so far, so I’m still learning. I’m learning here with the new team and playing the likes of Arsenal and Man City, they’re really competitive games. But it’s only going to make me better as a player, so I’m very excited to be here with Brighton and learn from these players and coaches.

 How would you compare the playing style versus the NWSL?

I would say it’s more technical here in England. More technical players. I think that the US league is more transitional, if you ask me. But other than that, I think the quality of leagues, I don’t think there’s much between them at all. All of them are really competitive, top class players. So I wouldn’t say one is better than the other if someone asked me.

 And how would you describe Brighton’s mindset?

At the moment, we’re a lower ranked team in the league. But I think we’re the type of team that just goes out and works really hard. Working really hard for each other. We have each other’s back during games, whether we’re losing or winning. So I think that’s kind of the mindset with us. I would think just really hard workers, to be quite honest.

How would you compare the COVID protocols between the two leagues? Are they pretty similar or is there a difference given the different situations that each country is in?

I only played in the Challenge Cup in America. That was really strict. Obviously, it was very positive and it worked out great there, but here in England it’s pretty much the same. It’s very strict, and we are restricted from going places outside of training and stuff like that. And just hygiene, wearing masks. Everything is pretty much the same. I guess the only big difference is, well, not even between the leagues, but just in general, is not being able to see your family when you’re so close.

Do you have any specific personal goals for this season?

I wouldn’t say goals. I just think for me, I don’t really set goals, to be quite honest. I just want to get better as a player every day. I want to keep learning and growing. I think for the national team, obviously wanting to get to the Euros is huge for me. We are in second place and we have one more game to go next month. So I think that will be my biggest personal goal right now, if I said I had a goal.

And what does the next year look like in terms of balancing club and national team commitments?

With the Courage, I think we’ll probably start preseason in February or something like that, and then the season. But with the national team, I’m really unsure of what I have next year. So I think we’ll just have friendlies basically. Hopefully if we make the playoffs for the Euros then that will be next April. So that’s really what I know right now.

Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas Re-Signs with Barcelona on Two-Year Deal

Alexia Putellas on the field for barcelona
The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years. (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Alexia Putellas has re-signed with FC Barcelona on a new two-year deal that will run through 2026. The agreement includes an option for a one-year extension. 

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years, and her previous contract was set to expire next month. However, she’s spent the better part of the last two seasons battling injuries, starting with an ACL tear that kept her out of the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship and limited her participation in Spain’s FIFA Women's World Cup win last summer. 

Putellas returned in March from her latest injury setback, making 25 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona this season and scoring 10 goals. 

In total, the midfielder has made 400 appearances for Barcelona. Among her 20 major trophies with the club include eight Liga F titles and two UEFA Champions League titles — including helping the team to its first European trophy in 2021. 

She then won the Ballon d’Or in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022. 

Putellas could add a third Champions League trophy next weekend, when Barcelona faces familiar foe Lyon, a team they’ve lost to in two previous Champions League finals. Should they secure the UWCL, they would win the quadruple for the first time, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

WNBA on Pace for Record-Breaking Season

onquel Jones #35 of the New York Liberty rebounds during the game against the Indiana Fever on May 18, 2024 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Indiana's game against New York on Saturday was the most-watched WNBA game to ever air on ABC. (Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA continues its historic trajectory one week into the season, with attendance and viewership skyrocketing across the board. 

Indiana’s Saturday game against the New York Liberty was the most-watched WNBA game ever on ABC, drawing 1.71 million viewers. The Sparks vs. Aces matchup that followed became the third most-watched WNBA game broadcast on ABC with 1.34 million viewers.

On Monday, the tense finish between Indiana and Connecticut drew 1.56 million viewers to ESPN, the second most-watched WNBA game to ever air on cable.

Outside of the league’s viewership, both in-person attendance and merchandise sales have also been on a meteoric rise. On Saturday, the game between New York and Indiana shattered the single-game ticket revenue record in the WNBA, with the Liberty pulling in $2 million in sales. 

New York and Indiana played their home openers in front of more than 17,000 fans, with attendance up 14% year-over-year, according to the league. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Aces, the Liberty, the Wings, the Dream, and others have already sold out of their 2024 season ticket allotments.

Since April’s WNBA Draft, revenue from the WNBA’s official online store is up 2,260%, already blowing past total sales for the entire 2023 season.

While the numbers may cool somewhat as teams settle into their seasons, the pop in demand has already overwhelmingly delivered for the WNBA in 2024.

Angel Reese Adds USL Team Owner to Growing Résumé

chicago sky rookie angel reese speaking at an event
Star rookie Angel Reese is all in on the USL Super League. (JC Olivera/Variety via Getty Images)

Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese continues to add to her résumé, becoming the newest member of the DC Power Football Club’s ownership group

The No. 7 pick in the WNBA draft joins an group that includes the MLS team DC United as well as other DC-area community members and business owners. One of the USL Super League’s inaugural clubs, DC Power FC is set to begin play in August. 

"I want to help grow women's sports and elevate female athletes across the board," Reese, who's from Maryland, said in a statement. "We're taking over, and I'm honored to be able to support Power FC and invest in women's soccer in the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia) community."

The USL is a sanctioned Division I league, meaning that it is on par with the NWSL and MLS in the United States. The league's eight current clubs are Brooklyn FC, Carolina Ascent FC, Dallas Trinity FC, DC Power FC, Fort Lauderdale United FC, Lexington SC, Spokane Zephyr FC, and Tampa Bay Sun FC.

DC Power FC will also be playing their home games in a familiar location: Matches will be hosted at DC’s Audi Field in partnership with MLS side DC United. Audi Field also home to the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

"Angel's decision to be a founding investor alongside us in Power FC is groundbreaking," Jason Levien, DC United's CEO and co-chair, said in a statement. "As a Maryland native, Angel is so passionate about being a catalyst for positive change in women's sports in the DMV as well as globally while inspiring the next generation of female athletes. We're looking forward to her partnership in the boardroom as an equity partner."

It's been speculated that the Super League ultimately intends to compete outright with the NWSL. But in its first year, the league will focus on featuring the depth of women's soccer talent in the US.

Former NWSL players like Taylor Aylmer (Spokane), Jordyn Listro (Tampa Bay), Erika Tymrak (Tampa Bay), and Domi Richardson (Tampa Bay) have already announced a return to professional soccer via the USL.

The league is aiming to provide counter-programming to summer women's sports in the States, with a season running from fall to spring like the European calendar.

In a social media post, Reese said that she’s "grateful & blessed" to be part of the new ownership group. It’s the latest move in what has been a whirlwind spring for Reese, which included getting drafted, attending the Met Gala, signing a new partnership with Good American, and debuting with the Chicago Sky, among other achievements.

"Looking forward to creating new opportunities for women in professional soccer," she tweeted. "I’ve always had to desire to invest in a local team as a Maryland native!"

Reese is the latest female athlete to buy into a women’s sports team, joining the likes of Naomi Osaka, who owns a stake in the North Carolina Courage, and Serena Williams, who's part-owner of Angel City FC. 

Other pro athletes involved in women's sports team ownership include Patrick Mahomes, who shares ownership responsibilities of the Kansas City Current with his wife Brittany. Kevin Durant and Eli Manning are part-owners of Gotham FC, while NFL superstar Tom Brady is part-owner of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

Nelly Korda Continues Unprecedented LPGA Run

LPGA golfer Nelly Korda poses with Mizuho Americas Open trophy
Nelly Korda took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nelly Korda continued her unprecedented LPGA run on Sunday, winning her sixth tournament in the last seven starts. 

The 25-year-old Florida native took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first LPGA player to record six wins in a single season since 2013 — and that’s with three majors and a little over half the season left to play.

"Oh, my gosh, six," Korda said after the win. "I can't even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah and I had pretty much all day. Wasn't my best stuff out there today, but fought really hard on the back nine."

Korda is just the fourth player on tour to win six times before June 1st, joining LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias (1951), Louise Suggs (1953), and Lorena Ochoa (2008).

Should her victory run continue, Korda could break the current record for single-season wins, currently set at 13 by Mickey Wright in 1963.

Korda ended Sunday's tournament one shot ahead of Hannah Green, finishing the 18th with a par putt to win it all.

"I mean, to lose to Nelly kind of like is — it's sad, but then it's also Nelly Korda," Green said of her second-place finish. "You know, like she's obviously so dominant right now. To feel like second behind her is quite nice. Unfortunately the bogey on the last has a little bit of a sour taste."

Next up is the US Women’s Open, a tournament that Korda has yet to win in her career. 

"Obviously it's on the top of my priority list," she said. "I just know there is never any good when you put more pressure on yourself. Just going to stay in my bubble that week and take it a shot at a time."

Earlier this year, Korda became the fastest player to collect $2 million in prize money over a single season. This latest win earned her an additional $450,000, bringing her season total up to $2,943,708.

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