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No debate needed: Christen Press is the USWNT’s best player

@USWNT

Christen Press is in a league of her own.

The veteran forward has had a standout Summer Series, but for those following the USWNT, that comes as no surprise. Press has been a quiet force for the national team since her first cap in 2013, scoring three goals in her first two outings with the squad, becoming the only U.S. woman to do so.

In her 146 appearances with the USWNT, Press boasts a staggering 60 goals and 41 assists, stats which are even more impressive when you consider for how many of those games Press came off the bench.

Under former head coaches Pia Sundhage and Jill Ellis, Press was seen as a super-substitute and a game-changer, but not necessarily a starter. Despite being consistently shut out of the starting 11 for big tournaments, Press continued to make her mark.

In the 2019 World Cup, Press replaced an injured Megan Rapinoe in the USA’s starting lineup against England. She wasted no time in the World Cup semifinal, scoring a necessary goal in the 10th minute to secure the lead and eventually win the match.

The career-defining moment only added to the belief that Press had been sorely underrated at the international level.

Press’ role on the national team has undergone a renaissance under current coach Vlatko Andonovski. With new leadership at the helm, Press has gotten more starts and more opportunities to energize the national team’s attack.

USWNT fans first got a taste of what an Andonovski-era Christen Press would look like in the 2020 CONCACAF tournament. The veteran forward scored an astounding five goals to capture the tournament’s Golden Ball Award. (And almost every one of her strikes was a work of art.)

With the world on notice, Press has been on a tear for club and country over the last year, emerging as one of the most compelling attackers in soccer. She is peaking at the right time, hitting her stride in the USWNT’s June Summer Series ahead of the Olympics.

The veteran forward was the only player to start all three matches, upholding the team’s offense. After scoring against Nigeria and then assisting Lynn Williams, Press has now been directly involved in 34 goals in her last 35 games for the U.S., contributing 14 goals and 21 assists.

With such astronomical numbers, Press’ dominance is now finally undeniable.

Heading into the Tokyo Olympics, there’s no debate needed: Christen Press is the USWNT’s best and most important player on the pitch. After years in a supporting role, she is finally getting her moment in the spotlight — and making fans wish she’d been there all along.

Katie Ledecky punches ticket to Paris, fourth Olympics

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JUNE 15: Katie Ledecky celebrates after winning the Women's 400 LC Meter Freestyle during the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Katie Ledecky is officially on to her fourth straight Olympics, punching her ticket to Paris in the 400-meter freestyle on Saturday. 

But Ledecky’s wasn’t the only name in the headlines in Indianapolis. Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh set a World Record in the 100-meter butterfly on Saturday in the semifinal. And roughly 24 hours later, she was an Olympian, taking first in the event. 

"I was definitely nervous," Walsh said. "There were a lot of what-ifs. Coming off breaking the world record, I was thinking, 'Do I need to do that again just to make the team? What if I get third? What's that even even going to look like?'"

She later added that she “couldn’t ask for a better start” to the meet. 

Both Torri Huske and Regan Smith were under the previous American record placing second and third respectively. But Smith, whose time would’ve won her silver at the Tokyo Olympics, won’t swim the event in Paris after placing third. 

And in front of a record crowd, 46-year-old Gabrielle Rose proved that age is just a number. She set a best time in the 100-meter breaststroke en route to advancing to the semifinals of the event. There, she finished in 10th place – and with another best time. 

“I’m just hoping to show people you can do more, you’re capable of doing more,” Rose, a two-time Olympian, said. “You can have more energy, you can have more strength than you thought was possible. I want women in particular to not be afraid to be strong, to lift weights, to take care of themselves and just know that they can have a lot more in the older chapters of their lives.”

WNBA’s Rookie of the Year race heats up

WASHINGTON, DC -  JUNE 6: Angel Reese #5 of the Chicago Sky and Aaliyah Edwards #24 of the Washington Mystics after the game on June 6, 2024 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA continues to make waves this season, with the 2024 rookie class continuing to impress. 

Sky forward Angel Reese has registered six straight double-doubles, tying the longest streak for a rookie even as Chicago skids to a four-game losing streak. It’s also tied for the most by a rookie in WNBA history alongside Tina Charles and Cindy Brown.

Reese is the only rookie to average a double-double this season. But Mystics rookie Aaliyah Edwards has been averaging near a double-double this month, as Washington rattled off two back-to-back wins after a franchise-worst 0-12 start.

Kamilla Cardoso has been solid in her start to the season, registering her first professional double-double on Sunday with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Caitlin Clark has had a solid month for the Fever, leading the rookies with an average of 14.0 points per game. On Sunday, she neared a triple-double with 23 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds in the Fever’s win over Chicago. 

And after an abysmal start amidst a tough stretch of games, the Fever have now won four out of their last six games, with last year's Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston getting into the groove with scoring.

In Los Angeles, rookie duo Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson have been putting together a solid season, with both netting 16 points apiece in the team’s loss to Atlanta on Sunday.

Those looking for a clear frontrunner for rookie of the year won’t get one: Clark (assists), Reese (rebounds, steals), and Brink (blocks) each currently sit in the top five league-wide in a number of key stats.

13th NWSL Match Weekend Dominated by Draws

NWSL Washington Spirit's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego Wave FC
Washington's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego. (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL's weekend action brought with it no separation on the table, as five of the weekend's seven games ended in draws.

Three of those matches finished without a single goal, as Houston, Angel City, Orlando, North Carolina, Seattle, and Portland all came down to 0-0 draws. Only Gotham and Utah earned wins, with the New York/New Jersey side passing the Thorns to claim fourth place in the standings. 

For the Royals, the 1-0 win over Bay FC ends a 10-game winless streak. Utah now sits one point behind Seattle at the bottom of the table.

Despite the split points, two games did provide some fireworks by way of epic stoppage-time comebacks. Center back Sam Staab had her first goal in a Red Stars uniform, helping Chicago save a point in Kansas City in the 90th minute.

Washington also saved a result in the nick of time, as a masterful 96th-minute Croix Bethune strike got the best of talented Wave FC center-back Naomi Girma to finish things off at 1-1.

As for the Golden Boot leaderboard, only Temwa Chawinga managed to make a move on the leaderboard, with a goal against Chicago tying her with Orlando’s Barbra Banda for second.

Tobin Heath Details Injury Recovery Journey, Hints at Possible Return

Tobin Heath on the field for the USWNT in October 2021
Tobin Heath last played for the USWNT in October 2021. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

On the latest episode of the RE-CAP Show, USWNT star Tobin Heath revealed that she underwent a second knee surgery in her quest to return to the pitch. 

Heath hasn’t played since the 2022 NWSL season, when her tenure with then-OL Reign was cut short due to a knee surgery. A two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Champion, she hasn't addressed her playing career much over the last two years. 

In the latest RE-CAP Show episode, Heath revealed that she had to receive a cartilage transplant in her knee.

"I think it was public when I got my first knee surgery, which was actually just kind of a clean-out of the knee," Heath said. "I ended up trying to rehab back for about a year and got pretty close. I thought about signing for a team. At that time I didn’t think I was there enough with the knee to be able to commit fully to a team, because the way I play football is I’m all in — like I play to be at the highest level, I play to be winning World Cups, Olympics, club championships.

"And then obviously with that first surgery not helping, I got a second pretty big surgery with my knee that then put me in the category of like, 'Will I ever play professionally again?'"

Initially, Heath says she wasn’t aware of the gravity of the second surgery. But an examination of her knee revealed that she needed a more intensive repair than previously thought.

"When I got there, I thought I was going to be getting kind of like a smaller version of a surgery, and right before I got into surgery, there was kind of a big revelation about the current state of my knee that put me in the category to get a serious knee surgery. It was a cartilage transplant," Heath said.

While Heath said she hasn’t exactly closed the door on a potential return, she's currently focusing intently on rehab — with the future remaining unclear.

"I kind of just pray to God and say like, 'Whatever your will is for my career, that’s what it’s going to be,'" she added. "And I’ll just work my ass off and see where that gets."

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