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Mia Fishel returns to USWNT ranks with U-23 roster

Mia Fishel takes a shot during a USWNT training session in 2020. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The U-23 U.S. women’s national team will travel to Paris during the upcoming Feb. 12-21 international break for training and two games against the France U-23 national team, U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday. The games will take place on Feb. 17 and 20 at Clairefontaine, France’s National Training Center.

The U.S. U-23 roster is packed with college, NWSL and other top professional talent. Headlining the group is UANL Tigres forward Mia Fishel, who currently holds the Golden Boot title in Liga MX Femenil. Fishel has long been considered a potential call-up to the U.S. first team, but head coach Vlatko Andonovski hasn’t yet indicated he has the 21-year-old in his plans for this year’s World Cup.

“Mia is a very good young player,” Andonovski said in January. “Right now, after looking at everything, we decided the players that we have in camp are going to give us the best chance to be successful.”

“We analyze every goal that she scores,” he continued. “And analyze the difficulties of the goals, and compare to the players that we called up, and try to see how they would fit or how they would replicate [performances] on the team that we have.”

Fishel is joined in the attack by Angel City’s No. 1 draft pick, Alyssa Thompson, who has two caps with the U.S. first team. No. 2 draft pick and 2022 MAC Hermann trophy winner Michelle Cooper, now with the Kansas City Current, also features on the squad.

The rest of the roster is full of exciting rising talent. The midfield alone includes former Notre Dame sophomore Korbin Albert, who recently signed with Paris St. Germain, North Carolina Courage starter Brianna Pinto and college standouts Lexi Missimo (Texas) and Lia Godfrey (Virginia).

The defense features USWNT U-20 outside back Lily Reale, who recently won a national championship with UCLA. In addition to Reale, Albert, Cooper and Thompson, Lauren Flynn, Laney Rouse and Trinity Byars played for the U-20 USWNT in 2022. Last year, that team won the Concacaf U-20 Championship on their way to the U-20 World Cup. Pinto, Fishel and Kansas City draftee Alex Spaanstra were a part of the team that won the Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship in early 2020 before the World Cup was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goalkeepers Hensley Hancuff (Gotham FC, on loan to Australian side Brisbane) and Lauren Kozak (Portland Thorns) round out the group, giving the team a mix of players professional and college experience.

The coaching staff also features a few notable names. Head coach Carrie Kveton, former Washington Spirit and OL Reign assistant coach and current Head of Individual Development for FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark, will work with two record-breaking, national championship-winning assistants.

UCLA Margueritte Aozasa joins the group off a historic season with UCLA, after becoming the first head coach to win the women’s soccer DI NCAA title in their first year. Former Chicago Red Stars assistant Julianne Sitch will also serve as an assistant coach after becoming the first woman to lead a men’s team — DIII program University of Chicago — to a national championship as head coach.

Full roster (by position)

GOALKEEPERS (2): Hensley Hancuff (Brisbane Roar; Edmond, Okla.), Lauren Kozal (Portland Thorns FC; Ada, Mich.)

DEFENDERS (6): Megan Bornkamp (Clemson; Mooresville, N.C.), Lauren Flynn (Florida State; Arlington, Va.), Eva Gaetino (Notre Dame; Dexter, Mich.), Lilly Reale (UCLA; Hingham, Mass.), Laney Rouse (Virginia; Cary, N.C.), Kate Wiesner (Penn State; Monrovia, Calif.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain; Grayslake, Ill.), Hannah Bebar (Harvard; Naperville, Ill.), Lia Godfrey (Virginia; Fleming Island, Fla.), Lexi Missimo (Texas; Southlake, Texas), Brianna Pinto (North Carolina Courage; Durham, N.C.), Alexis Theoret (Virginia; Oak Hill, Va.)

FORWARDS (6): Trinity Byars (Texas; Richardson, Texas), Michelle Cooper (Kansas City Current; Clarkston, Mich.), Mia Fishel (Tigres FC; San Diego, Calif.), Taylor Huff (Florida State; Mansfield, Ohio), Alexa Spaanstra (Kansas City Current; Brighton, Mich.), Alyssa Thompson (Angel City FC; Studio City, Calif.)

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

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