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Match Preview: USWNT Pairs Star as Manchester City Faces Manchester United

@MANCITYWOMEN
MATCH INFO:

Manchester United vs Manchester City

Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom

Kickoff: November 14th, 2020, at 7:30 a.m. EST

WHERE TO WATCH: NBCSN

Week 7 of the FAWSL is upon us, and it is shaping up to be a cracking weekend with four of the top five set to face off. The start of the action on Saturday will see league leaders Manchester United host fifth-place Manchester City. Both teams are coming off of statement-making wins, with United claiming victory over previous league-leaders Arsenal, and City thrashing Bristol City 8-1. If the historic rivalry of the Manchester Derby is not enough to entice viewers to watch the match, the great form of both teams should draw any casual football fan.

Manchester United went into the match against Arsenal last weekend in third place, below both their North London opponents, who were in first at the time, and Everton in second. Chelsea had done United a favour earlier in the day by beating Everton 4-0, and United capitalized with Ella Toone scoring the only goal late on in their win against Arsenal.

The day before, Manchester City hosted Bristol City and dominated them for the full 90 minutes. Bristol City went into the match as massive underdogs, with five of their first-team players unavailable due to one of them developing COVID-19 symptoms the night before, and four other players having to isolate due to living in shared housing with the player in question. Manchester City would have felt aggravated to have briefly allowed Bristol City back into the match, with the score being 1-1 up until the 39th minute, but a three goal blitz in the back end of the first half, as well as four more goals in the second half, led to an easy win for Manchester City.

Manchester United have improved as the season has gone on, and they’ve learned the ability to see out matches. They have not scored the most goals this season (Arsenal has 29, compared to United’s 15), nor have they conceded the least amount of goals (Chelsea have conceded only two goals this season, compared to United’s five), but what sets them apart is their balance of attacking and defensive tactics, a balance that was fully on display against Arsenal.

Unlike Arsenal, United were quite patient while attacking. They did not rush any of their possessions, despite it still being 0-0 well into the second half. This can be showcased by where both teams took their shots. United, who attempted 23 shots, waited until Arsenal’s defense started showing holes. Out of those 23 shots, five were on target, and 13 were taken inside the penalty box. Arsenal, on the hand, were quite erratic and impatient when shooting. Out of their nine shots, only three were in the penalty box.

Arsenal would often rush their play, taking low quality shots from small chances, which Manchester United would then capitalize on. This composure from United led to their lone goal, and they were able to remain tight defensively for the rest of the match.

While United are a team that are tactically patient, Manchester City are erratic, but in the best way. As mentioned before, Bristol City were massive underdogs going into last weekend’s fixture, but not many teams would have been able to score eight past them. City likes to blitz teams using their speed to overload all areas of the pitch. They successfully suffocate teams in their own half, and take chance after chance until they score. It is not a coincidence that Manchester City have had multiple high-scoring games this season —their style is boom or bust.

This aggressiveness can also be their downfall. City’s 3-1 loss against Chelsea earlier in the season showcased the limits of their high-risk, high-reward style of play. Manchester City’s high press created defensive gaps which Chelsea was happy to exploit. Manchester United will look to do the same.

The upcoming derby will also see two USWNT duos go head to head with United’s Tobin Heath and Christen Press facing off against City’s Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis. Both duos came to the WSL with a lot of pressure, with all eyes watching to see if their talent could translate into a brand new league for them.

They haven’t disappointed thus far, with both duos certainly making their marks on their respective teams. Now, we’ll get to see which American pair can claim FAWSL supremacy.

WHAT’S NEXT IN THE FA WSL:

 

November 14th 

Manchester United vs. Manchester City @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Aston Villa vs. Birmingham City @ 9:30 a.m. EST

Everton vs. Reading FC @ 11:30 a.m. EST

Bristol City vs. Tottenham @ 1:30 p.m. EST

November 15th

West Ham vs. Brighton & Hove Albion @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Arsenal vs. Chelsea @ 9:30 a.m. EST

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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