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Manchester Derby Ends in Draw

BARNET, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 10: Tobin Heath of Manchester United during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Tottenham Hotspur Women and Manchester United Women at The Hive on October 10, 2020 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Manchester United 2, Manchester City 2 (Highlights)

Goals: Chloe Kelly – 8’, Laura Coombs – 45+1’, Tobin Heath – 54’, Kirsty Hanson – 74’

A game of two halves would be the best description of the Manchester Derby, with Manchester City dominating the first half against Manchester United, and then the two flipping roles in the second. With a two-goal lead at halftime, City seemed to take their foot off the gas, and their FAWSL rivals capitalized. Having fixed their tactical errors from the first half, United were able to tie up the game with a pair of goals. And while both teams went home with a point apiece, Manchester City will obviously feel more frustrated with the result.

Here’s how the action unfolded:

Manchester United went into the match at the top of the table after beating Arsenal last week, and Manchester City were two points within them in fifth place after an 8-1 thrashing against Bristol City.

The match started quickly with both sides getting a couple of early chances, but it was City who capitalized first. Mary Earps’ loose pass allowed City to win the first corner of the match, and after some scrambling in the box from United’s defense, who could not clear the ball properly, it was City’s Chloe Kelly that gave her side the lead.

From then United seemed to capitulate in defense, and City had chance after chance.

In particular, United struggled immensely with Georgia Stanway, with Ona Batlle having a tough time in her 1v1 matchup. Batlle would often play well into Manchester City’s half when her team was in possession and would press high when United were out of possession. The problem was that City, despite their flaws, are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to transitioning from defense to attack. United were unable to cope with these transitions, and Stanway would often receive the ball in wide-open space with Batlle still running back.

United’s lack of agility during these transitions allowed City numerous shots, including a second goal scored by Laura Coombs, which came after Sam Mewis’ initial shot was blocked. The ball landed at Coombs’ feet, where she took a touch to create space and scored from outside the box.

By halftime, City’s tactic of quickly getting in behind and using the transitions was clearly advantageous in their favor, with 14 shots to United’s two. A significant lead at the time, but in hindsight, they should have been kicking themselves for not extending it.

In the second half, Manchester United rectified their mistakes and were much tighter in the back. A half-time substitute saw Jessica Sigsworth come off for Kirsty Hanson. In the first half, Sigsworth was doing little to help out Batlle defensively. It’s clear that Casey Stoney saw that Hanson could offer more on both ends of the pitch.

United were not only tighter in the back, but much more aggressive while attacking. Unlike the first half, they were not giving away cheap opportunities for City to press them. In fact, it was almost as if both teams switched their style of play. Manchester United’s first goal came from Lucy Bronze’s sloppy passing from the back. Tobin Heath was able to intercept the ball and hit a searing strike into the back of the net.

United’s second came from the substitute, Hanson. A corner rebounded straight into her path, and despite the clustered penalty area, Hansen was able to get the shot off for the equalizer.

Hanson was the epitome of a super-sub for Manchester United. Not only did she score the goal, but she was able to stabilize the right side of the defense that United struggled with in the first half.

Gareth Taylor did not make a substitution until United’s second goal, which was part of the reason his team lost a lot of their momentum in the second half. As much as United improved in the second half, City helped them by not matching the intensity they showcased in the first. Earlier substitutes could have prevented United from getting back into the game.

United were almost able to grab the winner right at the 90th minute, but Demi Stokes was able to clear it off the line despite it getting past the hands of Earps. A fortunate break for Manchester City.

The derby came to an end with both sides earning a point. The good news is that viewers won’t have to wait long for a rematch, as the two sides are up against each other again in the Conti Cup this Thursday. For now, both teams remain in first and fifth in the table respectively.



December 5th 

Aston Villa vs. Manchester United @ 7:30 a.m. EST

December 6th 

Everton vs. Manchester City @ 8:00 a.m. EST

Arsenal vs. Birmingham City @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Chelsea vs. West Ham @  9:00 a.m. EST

Tottenham vs. Brighton & Hove Albion @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Reading F.C. vs. Bristol City @ 9:00 a.m. EST

December 12th

Bristol City vs. Aston Villa @ 2:30 p.m. EST

Alyssa Naeher’s goalkeeper jersey sells out in less than three hours

uwnt goalie alyssa naeher wears jersey on the field with club team chicago red stars
USWNT star keeper Alyssa Naeher's new replica NWSL jersey was an instant success. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in the NWSL's 12-year history, fans can now buy their own goalkeeper jerseys. And while replica goalkeeper jerseys representing all 14 NWSL teams hit the market on Wednesday, some didn't stick around for long. 

Fans across women's soccer have long vocalized their discontent over the position's lack of availability on social media, often comparing the shortcoming to the widespread availability of men’s goalkeeper jerseys. And as the NWSL has grown, so has demand — and not just from those in the stands. 

"To have goalkeeper kits available for fans in the women’s game as they have been for so long in the men’s game is not only a long-awaited move in the right direction, it’s just good business," said Washington Spirit goalie Aubrey Kingsbury in an team press release. "I can’t wait to see fans representing me, Barnie [Barnhart], and Lyza in the stands at Audi!"

Business does, in fact, appear to be booming. Alyssa Naeher’s Chicago Red Stars kit sold out less than three hours after the league's announcement. Jerseys for other keepers like DiDi Haračić, Abby Smith, Michelle Betos, Katelyn Rowland, and Bella Bixby aren’t currently available via the Official NWSL Shop, though blank goalkeeper jerseys can be customized through some individual team sites. Jerseys start at $110 each.

"This should be the benchmark," said Spirit Chief Operations Officer Theresa McDonnell. "The expectation is that all players’ jerseys are available to fans. Keepers are inspiring leaders and mentors with their own unique fan base who want to represent them... I can’t wait to see them all over the city."

Simone Biles talks Tokyo Olympics fallout in new interview

gymnast simone biles on a balance beam
Biles' candid interview shed light on the gymnast's internal struggle. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Decorated gymnast Simone Biles took to the popular Call Her Daddy podcast this week to open up about her experience at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, revealing she thought she was going to be "banned from America" for her performance.

After Biles botched her vault routine due to a bout of the "twisties," she withdrew from the team final as well as the all-around final in order to focus on her mental health. She later reentered the competition to win bronze in the individual balance beam final.

In her interview with podcast host Alex Cooper, Biles admitted to feeling like she let the entire country down by failing her vault attempt.

"As soon as I landed I was like 'Oh, America hates me. The world is going to hate me. I can only see what they’re saying on Twitter right now,'" she recalled thinking. "I was like, ‘Holy s---, what are they gonna say about me?'"

"I thought I was going to be banned from America," she continued. "That’s what they tell you: Don’t come back if not gold. Gold or bust. Don’t come back."

Widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has hinted at a desire to join her third Olympic team in Paris, though her participation won't be confirmed until after the gymnastics trials in late June. She holds over 30 medals from the Olympic Games and World Artistic Gymnastics Championships combined, and if qualified, would be a sure favorite heading into this summer’s games.

Caitlin Clark reportedly nearing $20 million+ Nike deal

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait at Gainbridge Fieldhouse during her introductory press conference
WNBA-bound Caitlin Clark is said to be closing in on a monumental NIke deal. (Photo by Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark is reportedly close to cementing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike.

The Athletic was the first to break the news Wednesday evening, commenting that the deal would be worth "eight figures" and include her own signature shoe. On Thursday afternoon, the publication tweeted that the deal would top $20 million, according to lead NBA Insider Shams Charania. Both Under Armour and Adidas are said to have also made sizable offers to the college phenom and expected future WNBA star.

The new agreement comes after Clark's previous Nike partnership ended with the conclusion of the college basketball season. She was one of five NCAA athletes to sign an NIL deal with the brand back in October, 2022. 

Considering Clark's overwhelming popularity and Nike's deep pockets, the signing's purported value doesn't exactly come as a shock. New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu’s deal with the brand is reportedly worth $24 million, while NBA rookie and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama’s deal is rumored to weigh in at $100 million. And in 2003, LeBron James famously earned $90 million off his own Nike deal. 

Clark’s star power continues to skyrocket, with the NCAA championship averaging 18.9 million viewers and the 2024 WNBA Draft more than doubling its previous viewership record. Following the draft, Fanatics stated that Clark's Indiana Fever jersey — which sold out within an hour — was the top seller for any draft night pick in the company’s history, with droves of unlucky fans now being forced to wait until August to get their hands on some official No. 22 gear.

In Wednesday's Indiana Fever introductory press conference, the unfailingly cool, calm, and collected Clark said that turning pro hasn’t made a huge impact on how she’s conducting her deals.

"If I’m being completely honest, I feel like it doesn’t change a ton from how I lived my life over the course of the last year," she said. "Sponsorships stay the same. The people around me, agents and whatnot, have been able to help me and guide me through the course of the last year. I don’t know if I would be in this moment if it wasn’t for a lot of them."

Star slugger Jocelyn Alo joins Athletes Unlimited AUX league

softball star jocelyn alo rounds the bases at an oklahoma sooners game
Former Oklahoma star Jocelyn Alo has signed with Athletes Unlimited. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo has signed on with Athletes Unlimited and will compete in the AU Pro Softball AUX this June.

The NCAA record holder in career home runs (122), total bases (761), and slugging percentage (.987), Alo was originally drafted by the league in 2022 but opted instead to join the newly debuted Women’s Professional Fastpitch

Alo currently plays for independent pro softball team Oklahoma City Spark, with team owner Tina Floyd reportedly on board with her recent AUX signing. AUX games are scheduled for June 10-25, while the Spark's season will kick off June 19th. Alo will play for both. 

Among those joining Alo on the AUX roster are former James Madison ace pitcher Odicci Alexander and former Wichita State standout middle infielder Sydney McKinney.

According to Alo, the decision to play in the Athletes Unlimited league was fueled by her desire to propel women's sports forward as well as provide more exposure to a sport that's given her "so many opportunities."

"Not only to challenge myself more, but just for the growth of the game," Alo said, explaining her reasoning to The Oklahoman. "I genuinely believe that professional softball can be a career for girls."

Joining AUX is also one more step in her plan toward representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"I’m constantly thinking about how can I do these little things right in these four years to prepare me for the biggest stage of softball," she told The Oklahoman. "I definitely want to play in the Olympics, for sure."

Alo further expressed enthusiasm in the hope that the rise of other women’s sports, like women’s basketball and the NWSL, will push softball’s professional viability even higher.

"We’re seeing the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) get their stuff going, I see the WNBA starting to get hot," she continued. "I feel like the softball community is like, 'All right, it’s our turn and it’s our turn to just demand more.'"

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