All Scores

‘Definition of insanity’: Megan Rapinoe, NWSL peers decry US gun laws

(Stephen Brashear/USA TODAY Sports)

To have to play a soccer game on Wednesday night while the country still reeled from the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday was a conflicting feeling for Kansas City Current midfielder Victoria Pickett.

“Although soccer is such a huge part of our lives, it seems a little bit insignificant when the lives of little kids and teachers are at stake, when really they should just be in a learning environment,” she said.

The Current and OL Reign held a moment of silence for the victims of the tragedy before their match Wednesday night, the only one on the NWSL calendar. After the Reign’s 1-0 win, their first of the season, players and coaches shared their thoughts on the tragedy at Robb Elementary, which left 19 children and two adults dead after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside a classroom.

“Honestly, at a loss of words,” Pickett said. “It’s very hard to understand when something like that is very preventable, but I guess people just need to start going to the governors and supporting more strict gun laws.”

“We’re living in an insane country when it comes to gun control and gun laws,” OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe said. “I mean, there’s literally a mass shooting every day. It actually struck me when we went to do a moment of silence today because we just did one three f–king days ago for a different mass shooting in a different city. It’s literally the definition of insanity. The entire country is being completely held hostage in a hostile environment where you can go to church, you can go to the grocery store, you can go to school and end up dead.”

Kansas City acting head coach Lloyd Yaxley, stepping in for Matt Potter as COVID-19 protocols left him and four Current players sidelined, urged the players before the match to call their parents and tell them they love them, then go on the field and do their families proud.

In his opening statement after the game, Yaxley said that wearing the black armband and offering condolences to the families wasn’t enough. Echoing the pleas of the players and Reign coach Laura Harvey, he called on U.S. politicians to tighten gun legislation.

With a 7-year-old second-grader at home, Yaxley said he couldn’t imagine getting a phone call on the other side of the country to learn that his child had been shot.

“For me, it’s just wild that these incidents keep happening and no change happens,” he said. “If it was any other walk of life — if it was the car manufacturers and the wheel kept falling off — that legislation would happen and change would happen. But when it’s gun laws, and the power that the NRA has and some of the greed that some of the politicians have, it’s hard for me to really understand.”

“It’s mind-blowing to me that this continues to happen,” Harvey said. “I’ve got a 3-year-old nephew who I just thought about immediately when I saw the news, and I’m sure everyone does that. And to think that he may go to preschool and never go home is heartbreaking. To think of all the families that are being affected every day by this craziness. It needs to change, it needs to stop. There’s no excuse. And we want that to change immediately.”

In a statement on their Twitter account Wednesday, the Reign advised fans to reach out to their U.S. representatives and encourage them to support legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales.

Rapinoe added after the game: “I urge people to use their voice and vote or to call their representatives or to badger their representatives, or to vote them out if they don’t change this, because we’re quite literally being held hostage in this country for no reason whatsoever. The only reason that an AR-15 exists is to murder human beings. It’s not used for anything else. And it’s obviously very effective and it’s just heartbreaking.”

The Reign get a three-day break before their next game against the league-leading San Diego Wave on Sunday. The Current have four days off before hosting Racing Louisville on Monday night.

“It makes it seem pointless to come play, really,” Rapinoe said. “It’s difficult to do that. I know everybody’s doing their job and having to show up today and trying to just sort of fake their way through it, but it’s so heartbreaking.”

Pickett paused in the postgame press conference after telling reporters that she had nothing else to say.

“Sorry, one more thing,” she said. “Just better gun rules. It needs to tighten up. That’s all there is to it.”

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

New Washington Spirit Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez Arrivin DC

head coach Jonatan Giráldez
Jonatan Giráldez joins the NWSL from FC Barcelona Femení. (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Five months after announcing that the Washington Spirit had hired Barcelona Femení coach Jonatan Giráldez as the team's new head coach, Giráldez has joined the club in Washington, DC.

Giráldez is coming off of a successful season with the Spanish side, having won UEFA Women's Champions League, Copa de la Reina, Supercopa, and Liga F in his final season to complete a lauded Quadruple.

While Giráldez was finishing out his tenure in Europe, Adrián González filled in as Spirit interim head coach. González has also seen success, leading the team to its third-place standing with a 9-3-1 record through 13 games.

“I’m thrilled to join the Spirit and begin this next chapter with the club,” Giráldez said in an official team statement. “To be part of the vision Michele Kang has for the Spirit and women’s soccer globally is an exciting opportunity.”

Giráldez has worked at Barcelona since 2019, initially coming on as an assistant coach before moving up to head coach in 2021. The team went 30-0-0 on the season under Giráldez during his first year as manager.

He brings along with him Andrés González and Toni Gordo, who will serve as the Spirit's Fitness Coach and Club Analyst, respectively.

US Track & Field Olympic Trials Touch Down in Oregon

Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the women’s 200-meter preliminary round during the USATF Outdoor Championships
Sha’Carri Richardson will have some competition this week as athletes vie for an Olympic berth. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Track & Field Trials begin on June 21st, kicking off a 10-day quest to determine who will represent the US in Paris this summer.

The crucial meet will take place in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three finishers in each event will punch their ticket to the 2024 Olympics. As with this past week's US Swimming Trials, even the most decorated athletes must work to earn their spot — and one bad performance could undermine four years of preparation.

Reigning 100-meter World Champion Sha'Carri Richardson headlines this year's field, as the 24-year-old looks to qualify for her second Olympic Games and compete in her first. Richardson is a world champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, but missed the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC shortly after the last US Olympic Trials.

Other standouts include 400-meter Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who's currently the most decorated athlete in the active women's US Track & Field pool. McLaughlin-Levrone qualified to run in the 200-meter and 400-meter flat races alongside the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials, but opted to focus solely on her signature event.

800-meter specialist Athing Mu will also be a huge draw this week, as the Olympic gold medalist looks to shake off a lingering hamstring injury while pursuing her second Summer Games. Gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Moon will also attempt to qualify for her second-straight Olympic Games.

Ole Miss star McKenzie Long could be Richardson's greatest competition in the 100-meter and 200-meter events, as well as Richardson's Worlds teammate Gabby Thomas in the 200-meter. In field events, watch for Oregon senior Jaida Ross going head-to-head with reigning world champion Chase Jackson in the shot put, as both push for their first Olympic team berth.

Regardless of why you tune in, the US Olympic Trials are a perpetually thrilling and sometimes brutal qualification process. If you're able to make your way to the head of the pack, a shot at Olympic glory might just be waiting at the finish line.

Fans can catch live coverage throughout the Trials via NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Top Teams Square Off in NWSL Weekend Slate

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda
Orlando Pride, led by forward Barbra Banda, will take on Utah in this weekend's NWSL action. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the NWSL season continues, a few top-performing clubs will have a chance to boost their standings this weekend.

First-place Kansas City will travel to Providence Park to take on fifth-place Portland, as the Current look to keep their unbeaten streak intact. And in New Jersey, third-place Washington will take on fourth-place Gotham FC, with both teams attempting to extend multi-game unbeaten streaks.

A six-point gap has opened between the fifth and sixth spot on the NWSL table — with just six points also separating the league's top five. Kansas City, Orlando, Washington, Gotham, and Portland have recently proven themselves to be a cut above the rest of the competition. With eight postseason spots up for grabs and half the season behind us, a pattern is forming that indicates the playoff race could come down to spots six through eight on the NWSL table.

Of those top five teams, only Orlando faces an opponent in the bottom half of the league this weekend: The Pride will take on 14th-place Utah, who nonetheless are coming off a win — just their second of the season — over Bay FC last weekend.

But despite Kansas City and Orlando having yet to lose a game, Gotham might be the squad coming into the weekend with the most momentum.

Clutch goals from Rose Lavelle and rookie Maycee Bell gave the Bats a 2-0 midweek win over San Diego on Wednesday, in a rematch of the 2024 Challenge Cup. Gotham's unbeaten streak dates all the way back to April, as rising availability and sharpened form have honed this year's superteam into a contender.

Bottom line? As the NWSL season passes the halfway mark, some matches might begin to feel more like playoff previews than mere regular season battles.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

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