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England’s Lauren James apologizes for stepping on World Cup opponent

England’s Lauren James received a red card for stamping on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie. (Elsa/FIFA via Getty Images)

England’s Lauren James will miss her team’s World Cup quarterfinal – and possibly the rest of the tournament – after receiving a red card in Monday’s Round of 16 match.

The 21-year-old forward appeared to step on Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie in the game’s 84th minute as Alozie was lying on the ground. The Lionesses still managed to secure their spot in the quarterfinals on penalties after the game finished 0-0 following regulation and extra time. But England will have to face Colombia without one of its best players.

And James could miss more than one match, as FIFA reserves the right to extend the ban. In the event of a red card, “further sanctions may be imposed by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee,” per the World Cup rules.

On Tuesday, Alozie called for James’ critics to “rest,” though she did note the play was deserving of a red card.

“We are playing on the world’s stage,” she wrote. “This game is one of passion, insurmountable emotions, and moments. All respect for Lauren James.”

James apologized in a reply to Alozie’s social media post.

“All my love and respect to you. I am sorry for what happened,” James wrote. “Also, for our England fans and my team-mates, playing with and for you is my greatest honour and I promise to learn from my experience.”

England’s Football Association issued its own statement after the incident, saying that James is “really sorry for her actions which led to the red card and is full of remorse.”

“It is wholly out of character for her,” the FA said in its statement, while also noting that it will be putting forward representation to FIFA on her behalf. FIFA’s decision on James’ ban could come after England’s quarterfinal match on Saturday.

“We fully respect FIFA’s disciplinary process and will not be making any further comment until after any decision has been made,” the statement concluded.

England captain Millie Bright also expressed her support for James after Monday’s match.

“It’s football. Listen, I have had red cards. Everyone goes through it as a player, everyone goes through it on the world stage,” Bright said. “But for me, it’s not a situation that needs too much light shining on it.

“It’s happened. It’s in the past. We are through. All that matters is we come together as a group, we have each others’ backs, and it is just another challenge in football that the player has to face. But we have got her back completely and we will get ready for the next game.”

England’s Rachel Daly said after the match that James was “disappointed” and “upset.”

“She’s a young player people forget that, they put a lot of pressure on her on the outside, media, everyone puts a lot of pressure on the kid, she’s a young girl, she’s got a lot to learn and she knows that,” Daly said.

“But ultimately it’s a team game, she’s been excellent for us and course, [we’ll] put an arm round her, help her through it and she’ll learn from it. She’s a fantastic player with a bright future ahead of her.”

Following the game, Arsenal coach Jonas Eidevall told BBC Sport that he thought James’ frustration in the match had boiled over, and that she should have been taken off sooner by England manager Sarina Wiegman.

“It’s decision fatigue. The two games before this probably took their toll for energy, we could see in the game that she was starting to take some bad decisions on and off the ball,” he said. “I think the lack of subs in the second half surprised me here form England, because I think the momentum was not going their way. England are quite lucky to actually be here now for extra-time and they could have been more proactive with the subs. Now they need to find a strategy with 10 players.”

Former England striker Ellen White agreed that James had grown frustrated. But she also agreed with the red card call.

“It’s disappointing. She was frustrated throughout the game, she wasn’t really in the game as much as she would have liked,” she said. “But she’s clearly stood on the Nigeria player. There was just no need for it, was there? Really disappointing.”

Wiegman addressed James’ red card after the match.

“It was a moment that was in a split-second,” she said. “It was later in the game so players get a little tired. She is inexperienced on this stage and in a split-second lost her emotions. She would never want to hurt someone, she is the sweetest person I know.”

“Things happen, you can’t change it,” she continued. “It’s a huge lesson for her to learn but isn’t something she did on purpose.”

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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