All Scores

Here’s who the USWNT should take to Tokyo

Becky Sauerbrunn huddles with the team before a game between Portugal and USWNT at BBVA Stadium on June 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos)

Picking an 18-player Olympic roster is brutal, and it’s especially hard for the deepest women’s soccer team on the planet. Despite this, Vlatko Andonovski will be choosing his United States women’s national team roster for Tokyo at the end of this week’s Summer Series, and with the player pool tightening up, I’m here to take a stab at slimming the roster down to its final form.

Some of these choices result as much from the available talent as from the team’s preferred tactics.

The USWNT has played consistently in a 4-3-3 formation under Andonovski, with a commitment to full-team defense and an attack that feeds off of catching teams in transition. The team is also the deepest in the world, and many of these roster decisions are made by a matter of degrees. Every last player out in every position is still Olympic quality, which means there are very few bad choices, even if some are quite difficult.

Goalkeepers (2)

This one’s actually easy. You take Alyssa Naeher as your No. 1 goalkeeper because she has experience on the largest stage and a built-in chemistry with the backline, and you take Adrianna Franch as your No. 2 because she’s the next best available keeper with international experience.

Franch has had an exceptional 2021 so far, her fundamentals are some of the best and she’s healthy. Jane Campbell seems to be in the future plans of the federation and Ashlyn Harris has been in the USWNT system for a long time, but Naeher and Franch are the two I trust in this particular tournament.

Defenders (6)

Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn, and Kelley O’Hara are the defensive locks. Sauerbrunn is the team’s captain, Dahlkemper is one of the best defenders in the world, Dunn excels pretty much anywhere on the field and O’Hara has been locked in with the Washington Spirit.

With the understanding that the team will likely need to rotate center backs on occasion, I would also take Tierna Davidson, who has moved into a leadership role with the Chicago Red Stars in the absence of Julie Ertz. Davidson has also played well at outside back in the past and could take over one of those roles if Dunn or O’Hara sustained an injury. 

In the final spot, one has to think the decision comes down to Emily Sonnett and Midge Purce as fullback depth, and in that circumstance, I’m taking Purce. Sonnett is a talented ball-winner with an eye toward springing the attack and placing the ball at the feet of the forward line, but she is simply not comfortable in defensive transition on the flank. If she were being looked at in a three-back option or as a No. 6, her place on the team would make sense. But in the context of Sonnett’s intended role, she’s the first player out for me. Purce is also not a natural fullback, but she’s improved defensively at the club level over the last year and, like Dunn, she has the ability to slot in as a forward at any time.

Midfielders (5)

The USWNT midfield was all but decided when Julie Ertz sprained her MCL in Chicago’s first regular season NWSL match. And in the face of her possible absence, it looks like the team has decided to … not change very much about the way they play.

With the understanding that Ertz should be healthy enough to go to Tokyo, she still makes my roster. Andi Sullivan is a great player, but she hasn’t gotten a foothold with the team in recent years and Andonovski doesn’t seem willing to take another pure No. 6. The other three players with their ticket to Japan already printed are the trio of Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, and Sam Mewis. Horan and Mewis are now even more important as they’ll be covering for Ertz as she gets back up to speed, and Lavelle will be tasked with play-making from an attacking midfield position.

If the team decides to pack the midfield and leave the frontline on the light side, then there’s room on the squad for both Kristie Mewis and Catarina Macario, who bring different skills to the team. Macario is a future star, one who can play in both the No. 9 and in the No. 10 and for whom this experience would be invaluable as the team eyes the 2023 World Cup. If Macario is the future, Kristie Mewis is the now. Mewis brings a level of game-readiness from her years in the NWSL and has the ability to change games with her passing vision and her willingness to run at a backline.

Macario is going to be a force for years to come, but she hasn’t quite shown the ability to impose her talent on international games this year. If I simply must choose, I’m taking readiness over potential, and that means Mewis.

Forwards (5)

This is the most nuanced and difficult position to evaluate, especially with Tobin Heath on her way back from a long-term injury. Christen Press and Alex Morgan are essential to the roster — both have a wealth of experience and are in very good form. And as controversial as this might seem, with Press excelling on the wing, no one else has snatched the backup No. 9 role. That means the team also needs Carli Lloyd.

From here, the decisions get more complicated. Sophia Smith is a growing talent who’s strong on the ball, but she hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to establish herself at the international level. Lynn Williams is a player with an engine that never quits, and Andonovski has favored her in recent months because she can destabilize other teams with her commitment to pressing from a forward position. That said, she can also be wasteful in front of goal and hasn’t wowed in club play this year. Megan Rapinoe is a fantastic leader and still lethal in dead-ball situations, but she leaves some defensive gaps and whether she’s the right player for a grinding tournament in the Japanese summer is up for debate. Tobin Heath is, well, Tobin Heath, but there are risks to bringing a player who is still working back from injury and there are no guarantees as to where her form will be by the time the tournament starts.

In something of a reversal of fortunes from the beginning of the year, I am not sure that Williams has been balanced enough in her international opportunities to unseat either Rapinoe or Heath. Rapinoe makes my roster, simply because I think she’s been impressive in 2021, both in club play and for the U.S.

However, with a lack of game tape on Heath, I have to go with my gut and stick with Lynn Williams. She has such a clear intention within Andonovski’s system, and when she executes on the defensive side of the ball, she makes the USWNT very difficult to play. I’m also residually nervous about bringing too many knocks to an Olympic tournament — blame 2016.

In short, the USWNT has few bad choices but quite a few hearts to break this week. No matter whom in this group they choose, rest assured, they’ll be the favorites for the Olympic gold.

The Women’s Cup Finalizes 2024 Tournament With Chile’s Colo Colo

Patricia Padium (L) of Brazils Audax/Corinthians, vies for the ball with Claudia Soto of Chile's Colo Colo during the Women Copa Libertadores final match
The addition of the Chilean side rounds out the Cup's four-team field. (FAVIO FALCON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Women’s Cup field has been finalized, with Chilean club Colo Colo joining the four-team field. 

Colo Colo will join Racing Louisville of the NWSL along with Italy's Juventus and Brazil's Palmeiras at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville from August 9th through 13th. 

The tournament will have a $100,000 prize pool.

"We are honored to have Colo-Colo as the first Chilean Team to play in The Women’s Cup," said J.P. Reynal, CEO of The Women’s Cup, in yesterday's press release. "Women’s soccer has seen exponential growth in South America and having two of the best teams in the region participating in this year’s tournament is proof they can compete with the top teams from Europe and the United States."

"We are pleased to be considered in this important championship for women’s soccer and very proud that Colo-Colo is one of the most important exponents of this discipline in Chile," echoed Enzo Caszely, president of women’s football at Colo-Colo. "As a club, we have been pioneers in its professionalization at a national level, and this instance is proof of it."

Juventus and Colo-Colo will square off on Friday, August 9th at 5 PM ET followed by Racing Louisville and Palmeiras at 8 PM ET. Tickets can be purchased now via both The Women's Cup's and Racing Lousiville's websites.

This is Racing Louisville's third time featuring in the competition. The team won The Women's Cup's first iteration in 2021, beating German side FC Bayern in penalty kicks at Lynn Family Stadium. The Seattle Reign claimed The Women's Cup in 2022.

The Kansas City Current will also host a Women’s Cup tournament from August 14th through the 17th. The winners of each 2024 tournament will then face each other in the Global Series Finals, scheduled for February 2025.

PWHL Draft Spurs Controversy for League Champs Minnesota

pwhl draft first pick Sarah Fillier
PWHL New York kicked off the 2024 PWHL Draft by selecting Princeton's Sarah Fillier No. 1 overall. (PWHL)

The 2024 PWHL Draft took place on Tuesday, with Princeton and Canadian national team forward Sarah Fillier going first overall to PWHL New York. 

New York also added two defenders and a goaltender, as well as three forwards to make seven solid additions to next season's roster. 

But it was first-ever PWHL champions Minnesota that created the most buzz, with the draft happening just three days after they announced the abrupt departure of general manager Natalie Darwitz following a league review. 

With the 10th overall pick, PWHL Minnesota took Team USA forward Britta Curl. Fans immediately took to the internet to voice their concerns, citing Curl's social media activity. In the past, Curl had "liked" posts on X that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Her activity also showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Wisconsin man who fatally shot three unarmed people, two fatally, during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

When asked about the pick — and whether or not he had consulted with any members of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to making the pick — PWHL Minnesota coach Ken Klee opted to defend Curl.

"Did I speak to anyone from the community? I talk with players, with coaches. That’s tough to answer for me," Klee said. "I spoke with a lot of different people. I mean, at the end of the day, I was told she’s a great teammate, a great person. She’s obviously a great player."

The team also had PWHL Minnesota assistant coach Mira Jalosuo, who is married to a woman, announce the pick.

"We have people in that community and obviously Mira making that selection for us, I think that speaks volumes for us," Klee added. "We were just trying to pick the best players available. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from any of those players' experience. It’s unfortunate a little bit at the beginning, but again, it’s okay. People are entitled to their opinion."

Washington Mystics Snap 12-Game Losing Streak

Brittney Sykes #20 of the Washington Mystics shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Dream during the 2024 WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on June 11, 2024
Washington guard Brittney Sykes returned from injury Tuesday night to post a game-high 18 points. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

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

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.