All Scores

Nadim returns to training, Thorns change formation: New from NWSL camp


Five weeks of NWSL preseason down, two to go.

Teams have been scrimmaging with colleges and other NWSL teams and are beginning to get a better feel for how their squads will look on the pitch when the Challenge Cup begins March 18.

Across training camps, players are returning from injury, teams are changing their formations, while fresh faces are getting a chance to explore their new cities.

Here’s what’s been happening for Louisville, Portland and Angel City this week in NWSL camp.

‘I’m going to do everything to be ready’

Nadia Nadim is — kind of, almost — back.

The Louisville star scored three goals and grabbed an assist in eight games last season before tearing her ACL in September. Ironically, in January, amidst her recovery process, she became a doctor. Naturally, she’s executed a recovery process that puts her exactly where she needs to be at this point.

This week, she returned to training without any contact. She hopes to play in matches by May.

“My knee has responded amazingly,” she said.

The next step is to work on gaining the muscle she lost over the last few months. A lot of time is being spent at the gym and doing individual cardio and strength exercises.

“I’m going to do everything to be ready as soon as possible,” the 34-year-old said.

While itching to get back into games, she’s also been content in the Florida sunshine, finally free of the studying and exams that she was consumed with while becoming a doctor. These days, she sleeps “very well.”

“The last three months, I’m going to be honest, were very, very tough,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not a person who gets stressed, but I think that was stress.” She later added, “It shows what humans are capable of. You can always push that wall a tiny bit more.”

Nadim has only been training with the young Louisville team for a couple weeks, but she reports that, “Everyone’s very willing to learn.”

Louisville is coming off a debut season which saw the club finish ninth in the league. Coach Christy Holly was fired “for cause” in August, with the details of his dismissal remaining under wraps.

Under new head coach Kim Björkegren, Racing plans to play a possession style that is direct in nature. Most recently leading Cyprus’ Apollon Ladies FC to an undefeated season, Björkegren prefers to base his systems of play off the players he has, rather than coming in with a predetermined philosophy.

“He’s going to be amazing for us, and I can’t wait for these players to grow,” said Nadim.

New formation, who this?

The Portland Thorns will have a different shape on the field this year. Head coach Rhian Wilkinson hasn’t spilled the specifics, but she says it won’t stray too far from former coach Mark Parsons’ 4-diamond-2.

Wilkinson likes to use width, so the changes have a lot to do with stretching the field side to side for “possession with real purpose,” as she puts it. How players look and play in certain positions will also look different.

Defender Kelli Hubly told reporters Friday she’s excited about the change.

“I think personnel-wise, it fits us better this year with who we have,” she said. “Definitely some growing pains at times with everyone figuring out their new role, but I think overall, once it’s going to click, it’s going to work really well for us, and I think we’re all really excited to play this and looking forward to getting some games in and playing with each other.”

Wilkinson, who was just inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame, is described as a laid-back coach by her players.

“It’s different but it’s good,” said Hubly. “I like it. I think we’re all really excited to get to know her more and her style.”

Exploring the city

While a lot of teams from further north have had to train through February in southern states, Angel City has had the opportunity to settle right into their new home of Los Angeles.

With players getting to hang in their own backyard, head coach Freya Coombe said she was interested in knowing what they got up to in their off days. So we decided to ask a few ACFC players directly.

Midfielder Dani Weatherholt, who grew up near LA in Capistrano Beach, Calif., has spent most of her weekends hiking with her dog, Nora. Usually the pair can be found in the Malibu Canyon.

“It’s absolutely beautiful out there,” she said.

When she’s not under the sunshine and enjoying the mountains, she’s trying new restaurants in the city.

“The fans have been doing a great job of letting us know where to go,” she said.

Forward Jasmyne Spencer has tried to do a new thing every weekend. Recently, she visited the Broad Museum, where she picked up some inspiration for how to decorate her new apartment.

“[It] was really cool,” she said. “Got to see some really cool art.”

Angel City will begin their inaugural season on March 19th when they face off against the NWSL’s other expansion team, the San Diego Wave.

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

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 Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a 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.

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