All Scores

10 must-see goals from this NWSL season

(Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

The 2021 NWSL season featured a plethora of stunning goals. From long-range bangers to cheeky chips, the regular season was packed with quality finishes which flexed the talent saturation of the league.

Though it’s a tall order to select the year’s top goals, a few plays rose above the rest, defining the NWSL season that was.

These are the 10 must-see goals from this 2021 NWSL season:

1. Jess Fishlock’s long-range effort

OL Reign midfielder and league MVP Jess Fishlock is no stranger to a long-range shot. The Welsh star has proved herself dangerous from any distance, causing problems for defenses across the NWSL.

Fishlocks’s banger from outside the box in OL Reign’s October matchup against Chicago showcased the 34-year-old’s shot-making ability and her command over the midfield. Her equalizer was one of her five goals on the season as well as one of the most stunning finishes of the year.

2. Trinity Rodman’s crazy assist

Trinity Rodman burst onto the scene in 2021, putting together one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in NWSL history. Her assist to Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch in the Spirit’s October 3-0 win over Racing Louisville was likewise one of the most impressive services of the year, highlighting the 18-year-old’s technical ability and defensive commitment.

Winning the ball in the midfield, Rodman perfectly picked out Hatch, putting the ball on a platter for the Washington striker to slot home.

3. Ebony Salmon’s NWSL debut

Ebony Salmon wasted no time making her mark on the NWSL, scoring in her first two minutes on the pitch. The English striker opened up her account with Racing Louisville in June, setting herself up with creative skill to notch her first finish with flare.

The 20-year-old finished her inaugural season with six goals and one assist, giving Racing Louisville fans a lot to look forward to in 2022.

4. Sophia Smith’s sensational strike

Sophia Smith showed why she is considered the future of the USWNT’s attack, striking a sensational ball from outside the box to beat Ashlyn Harris at the near post. The 21-year-old’s finish helped Portland to a 2-1 win over the Pride, catapulting the team to the top of the table just before the Olympics.

The moral of the story — be weary of giving Smith time and space.

5. Caprice Dydasco’s “shross”

Caprice Dydasco’s first NWSL goal was a stunner, albeit confounding to categorize. The NWSL Defender of the Year’s finish looked to some to be a cross that tucked into the back of the net. To others, it was a stunning curler.

Whatever Dydasco’s intention, her June finish for Gotham FC was one of the most impeccable goals of the year.

6. Eugénie Le Sommer puts her defender on skates

Eugenie Le Sommer’s first OL Reign goal was arguably the league’s best finish of the season. The French forward put her defender on skates before curling the ball past the fully extended Louisville keeper to open her OL Reign account in stunning fashion.

Le Sommer’s July finish kicked off a stellar campaign with the NWSL club, scoring eight goals in 18 matches.

7. Emina Ekic plays hometown hero

Racing Louisville clinched the club’s first-ever win with a 2-0 shutout over the Washington Spirit in May. Emina Ekic, a Louisville native and graduate of the University of Louisville, notched the team’s go-ahead goal, evading a swarm of defenders before striking a banger into the far post.

The moment was the stuff of movies, galvanizing her hometown crowd in a franchise-defining moment.

8. Christine Sinclair’s chip 

Christine Sinclair is a soccer legend, making even the most difficult skills look effortless. The Portland star’s finish in her team’s May rivalry matchup against OL Reign was no different. Karen Bardsley’s deflected save fell to Sinclair, who, with precision, chipped the Reign keeper for a cheeky and memorable goal.

38 years old, Sinclair still hasn’t lost a step.

9. Crystal Dunn from deep

For those who forgot, Crystal Dunn can score goals. While USWNT fans may be accustomed to seeing Dunn at outside back, for Portland, the 29-year-old plays higher up the pitch in her preferred position.

Dunn showed off her attacking skills in May when she hit a banger into the upper 90, beating her Gotham defender at the top of the box and reminding us all of what she’s capable of.

10. Gotham FC’s team goal

Gotham FC showed a team goal could be just as thrilling as an individual flash of brilliance, executing one of the most comprehensive plays of the year. Margaret Purce finished off the buildup play, which started with the team’s backline. Ifeoma Onumonu set up a dummy for Carli Lloyd before making a critical overlapping run, notching the assist.

The October finish showed just what this burgeoning Gotham team is capable of. Lloyd may be gone in 2022, but an influx of USWNT stars has the New Jersey/New York club looking to continue their ascent.

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."

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