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FAWSL Transfer Window Closes: Manchester United and West Ham Late Additions

@MARIATHORISDOTT

It’s official—the January transfer window for the FAWSL is now closed. To say it’s been a busy window would be an understatement. To catch up on all the signings, be sure to check out our roundups from week one, week two, and week three. Below, we’ll be looking at all the last minute deals that happened before the transfer window closed.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED SIGNS MARIA THORISDOTTIR

United decided to leave their transfer business until late in the window by signing Maria Thorisdottir from Chelsea only earlier in the week. Thorisdottir had a contract with Chelsea until the summer of 2021, so it’s clear that the club wanted to cash in on the player on the assumption that she’d be leaving for free in a few months.

It’s rare to see top clubs sign players from their direct rivals. Chelsea and Manchester United are not just two of the top teams in the league—they’re currently tied atop the standings, with both of them in the hunt for a title.

Thorisdottir is a fantastic player, but with the squad that Chelsea had, she was not getting much playing time. This season, she’s only played in two league matches (and five in all competitions). Comparing that to her twenty-four appearances in her first season at Chelsea, it’s clear that she’s fallen down the depth chart.

Make no mistake though, Thorisdottir is still an impressive defender—she’s quick, aggressive, and is excellent with the ball at her feet, making it easy for her to play out from the back. She’s also coming to United with experience playing in the league (and championship experience as well, having won five trophies during her time at Chelsea), and a lot of international experience with Norway.

As a defender, Maria Thorisdottir primarily plays as a right-back in a back four, but she has the capabilities of also playing as right centre-back in a back three. Her flexibility will give Manchester United manager Casey Stoney options going forward.

 

WEST HAM UNITED SIGNS DAGNÝ BRYNJARSDÓTTIR

In London, meanwhile, West Ham opted to sign midfielder Dagný Brynjarsdóttir from Icelandic club Selfoss. Before she returned to her home country of Iceland, Brynjarsdóttir played for Bayern Munich in the Frauen-Bundesliga in 2015 and for the Portland Thorns in the NWSL from 2016-2019, winning the NWSL Championship in her second year at the club.

The signing of Brynjarsdóttir likely stems from the club’s need to replace Cho So-hyun, who is now on loan at Tottenham Hotspur until the end of June. While Cho is only on loan at Tottenham for now, the Spurs have the option to make the loan permanent at the end of the season.

Both Cho and Brynjarsdóttir are relatively similar players—both play quite deep as midfielders, and they are usually situated right in front of the defensive line. However, they aren’t pure defensive midfielders; instead, they actively act as playmakers for their sides.

West Ham fans should also know that Brynjarsdóttir has been a fan of the club since she was a young girl, and she is essentially one of their own. It’ll be interesting to see how Brynjarsdóttir adapts to her first spell in England, and where she can help take West Ham alongside their new coach, Olli Harder.

 

TRANSFERS HAVE MORE OPPORTUNITY THAN USUAL

With about four months left in the season, it remains to be seen how all of these signings will make an impact on their new teams. But with depth becoming an issue as clubs try to pack their schedules with make-up games, there will be opportunities for these players to step in and leave a mark on the ongoing title race.

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."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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