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Rachel Corsie stuck with NWSLPA, and it paid off in historic CBA

Rachel Corsie is still grappling with her unexpected transfer from the Kansas City Current. (Trask Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

It has been quite a week for Rachel Corsie.

When the NWSL and the NWSL Players Association ratified the league’s first-ever CBA earlier this week, it signaled a new era for professional women’s soccer in the U.S. and an emotionally conflicting farewell for Corsie.

The former Kansas City Current defender concluded her run as the NWSLPA’s vice president on Tuesday after the long journey, through many tense rounds of negotiations, toward reaching the CBA. Corsie’s departure was the result of her unceremonious exit from the Current last month.

Kansas City agreed to transfer Corsie to Aston Villa after she was informed “the club no longer wanted me to play for them,” as she wrote in an op-ed for The Press and Journal on Jan. 28. The decision was made even more surprising by Kansas City’s announcement last August that it had extended Corsie’s contract through the 2023 season and named her captain.

“Last year was one of probably my worst experiences to a football capacity,” Corsie told Just Women’s Sports this week, adding that the club had let her down on more occasions than the contract reversal.

The easy option would have been to leave it all behind and start fresh with her new team in the Women’s Super League in Europe.

But Corsie stuck with the NWSLPA, a group that had spent hours and hours on the phone together over the last few months, pushing for their demands in CBA negotiations. This week, on the night of the player vote, she lay sick in bed in her new apartment across the ocean, staying awake into the ungodly hours of the night on the Zoom call.

“Never at any point, when I was going through everything with Kansas City, did I think, ‘Well, I’m just going to forget about the CBA now, because that’s not my issue anymore,’” Corsie said. “Like that was almost the polar opposite of how I felt. It was more, ‘I’m going to stick with the people who are in my corner, who are on my team, who I want.’

“I would do whatever needed to look out for them, and I know that they would do the same for me.”

To Corsie, who joined the NWSLPA three years ago, the experience was like being on a “mini team.” After the Scottish national team captain’s first year as a representative, NWSLPA founder Yael Averbuch West called her to ask if she would take on the role of vice president.

“I just remember feeling really grateful for that opportunity,” Corsie said.

This year, the way players treated her and one another served as motivation to stick with the CBA project, all the way through until the night they put it to a vote.

“[It was] a reminder to myself that this is absolutely something you’re passionate about and that’s absolutely something that you’re going to see through to the end,” she said. “It made you really feel the strength of the player pool, that unity and togetherness, and I think that’s the type of feeling that you’ll remember forever.

“I’ll always remember 2021 as being the year that we worked through the CBA and that we got it through.”

The CBA, announced on Monday night, will usher in a 160 percent increase in minimum salary to $35,000 per year, free agency starting in 2023 for players with a minimum of six service years (2024 for players with five years), eight weeks paid parental leave and up to six months paid mental health leave.

“We know where this league started in 2013 and everything that we have been involved with and gone through,” said USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “So just the fact that we have such an agreement, historical agreement like this makes me happy.”

The players felt they came away with big wins on many components they considered high priorities in the CBA, such as free agency and player movement, Corsie said. That included guarantees like the maternity policy, which can make an impact beyond the soccer community.

When asked for her thoughts on what aspects of the CBA could have been taken further, Corsie pointed to the length of the agreement, which runs for five years through the 2026 season, and teams guaranteeing contract offers.

“I still think that’s a long time. I think that benefited the league, and the Board of Governors’ side of things more than ours,” she said. “I think a contract is a contract so if you sign a piece of paper and the other side signs a piece of paper, I think that should stand.”

Those two factors aside, Corsie and others in the NWSL this week celebrated the “incredible number of wins” in what is a historic moment for women’s soccer in this country.

“It shows that everybody is in it for the long haul and the league is now established — it’s going to be here, ideally, forever,” Houston Dash head coach James Clarkson said on a media call this week. “It’s just going to get stronger and stronger. As the league expands, more teams come in, the quality is just going to go through the roof, and it will be the best league in the world.”

“I’m just really excited for all the players carrying that future,” Corsie said. “I think it’s amazing to have been a part of it.”

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

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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