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Rachel Daly on the Houston Dash’s ‘Do or Die’ Mentality


Rachel Daly plays for both the Houston Dash of the NWSL and the English national team. She spoke with Just Women’s Sports about the ongoing NWSL Challenge Cup, what gives the Dash their mental edge, and what she expects from the club the rest of the way. 

Overall, how has your experience been living in a bubble and playing games under these conditions? 

We haven’t left our hotel other than to go to training, which is hard, but I think we’ve managed it quite well. We play ping pong tournaments. I’ve learned how to juggle. We play Mario Kart. Just things you wouldn’t do a whole lot of if you were at home. I think it’s a good time obviously for the team to get to know each other on a deeper level as well. It’s quite a unique experience.

As far as the games, we started off really well. We were disappointed obviously to tie the first game. I think we dominated that whole game, it just didn’t go our way at the end. The OL Reign game was good for us and was a massive confidence boost for the team. I think we needed that. I think we actually played really well. It was good for our team to get a good win and the media started to recognize us for who we are versus our old Dash ways. I think that was positive. Then, we took a bit of a hit and lost to Sky Blue, but some players were rotated. I think it’s obviously hard in tournaments to manage everyone’s game loads and things like that. It was a really disappointing result for us, but we still have a lot to look forward to.

What’s surprised you about the quality of play so far? 

I think what’s been exciting about us is obviously the amount of goals we scored. Five in the first two games is quite a big deal for us. We’ve never scored that many goals in the past in two games, but we’ve been pushing this past month or so in preseason on getting people in the box and creating scoring chances.

I think soccer games are quite tight all over, really. When you watch MLS now, their games are nil-nil, one-nil. Even the Premier League in the first week, I think there were about eight nil-nil games. I think it’s just getting that fatigue out of your body when you’re in quarantine and you can’t really train. You come into preseason, you’re only playing against each other. The shock of playing against another team and trying to get up to speed with the level of play again has been tough.

How has it been playing without fans?

You know what? I honestly don’t even notice it to be honest. At first I felt it was going to be a bit weird, having no sound, whatever. I think once you get out there, I think the only thing you’re thinking about is football.

You’re coming off a good year last year and a successful semi final World Cup run with England. Now you’re a co captain of the Dash. What does all that mean to you and how have you built off that momentum during the tournament?

It’s obviously been a long year of not playing since the off season last year. For me, this was just about trying to get through this tournament and get a positive result. Getting to the semifinal, getting to the final, that’s obviously something we’re pushing for. I think if I can help the team in any way I can, obviously for me that’s important. Dash has been a big part of my life for the past five years. The club means a lot to me, so I think every time I step out on that field, I think it’s more of a proud moment too versus just playing football, going out, and enjoying yourself. I’m actually playing to represent a club that I have loved for the past five years.

You’ve talked about this “do or die” Dash mentality elsewhere and how the team is often seen as an underdog. Can you speak to that idea?

Yes, I think we always have been an underdog, but we’ve brought that on ourselves. We’ve never performed to the level we should have. We’ve always come in the league and been sixth, seventh, eighth. We’ve never ever made the playoffs. That’s through our own fault. I think for us this year it was all about earning respect and gaining respect from the opposition, from the media, from the fans, and I think that attention came to us a little bit after the Reign game, which was nice.

For us, it is a do or die attitude. We had a lack of structure these past few years, but now we’ve actually got a really good quality team. We’ve got players that are new this year, players that have come back from last year, and the previous years. Different people, different personalities, different ability levels. I think that’s something that we capitalize on. There’s also the fact that you don’t have a US national team player on our team. That boosts our team a little bit more to push on, do well, and perform without that. I think we’re the only team in the league that doesn’t have one. That’s a big thing for us. We just want to go out in this tournament and show people what we can do and what we are capable of.

What are your expectations for the remainder of the tournament?

We want to win. We go out every game, we want to win every game. Obviously, it’s a bit of a weird one because everyone makes the knockout round, so people can rest and whatever, but I think we’ve gone in with the attitude every game to win. That’s not changed and that’s not going to change. Hopefully, we get a good draw in the quarters and push on. Our ultimate goal is to be in the final.

USWNT to face Costa Rica in final Olympic send-off

uswnt sophia smith and tierna davidson celebrate at shebeilves cup 2024
The USWNT will play their final pre-Olympic friendly against Costa Rica on July 16th. (Photo by Greg Bartram/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the USWNT will play their last home game on July 16th in the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

The 2024 Send-Off Match against Costa Rica will take place at Washington, DC’s Audi Field — home to both the Washington Spirit and DC United — at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 16th. The friendly rounds out a four-game Olympic run-up campaign under incoming head coach Emma Hayes’ side, with the last two set to feature the finalized 2024 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team roster.

Hayes will appear on the USWNT sideline for the first time this June, helming the team as they embark on a two-game series against Korea Republic hosted by Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on June 1st followed by Allianz Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 4th. 

The team is then scheduled to meet a talented Mexico squad on July 13th at Gotham FC’s Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, where the Olympic-bound lineup will attempt to rewrite February’s shocking 2-0 loss to El Tri Femenil in the group stages of this year’s Concacaf W Gold Cup. And while clear roster favorites have emerged from both of this year’s Gold Cup and SheBelives Cup rosters, a spate of recent and recurring injuries means making it to the Olympics is still largely anyone’s game.

Broadcast and streaming channels for the USWNT's final July 16th friendly at Audi Field include TNT, truTV, Universo, Max, and Peacock.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA start to serve as 2024 Olympic tryout

Clark of the Indiana Fever poses for a photo with Lin Dunn and Christie Sides during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024
The talented Fever rookie is still in the running for a ticket to this summer's Paris Olympics. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The USA Basketball Women's National Team is still considering Caitlin Clark for a spot on the Paris Olympics squad, says selection committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti. 

On Monday, Rizzotti told the AP that the committee will be evaluating the college phenom’s Olympic prospects by keeping a close eye on her first few weeks of WNBA play with Indiana.

The move is somewhat unconventional. While Clark was invited to participate in the 14-player national team training camp held earlier this month — the last camp before Team USA’s roster drops — she was unable to attend due to it coinciding with Iowa’s trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Judging by the immense talent spread throughout the league in what might be their most hyped season to date, competition for a piece of the Olympic pie could be fiercer than ever before.

"You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it's for now or the future," said Rizzotti. "We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty and experience. It's got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It's still not going to be fair to some people."

Of course, Clark isn’t the first rookie the committee has made exceptions for. Coming off an exceptional college season that saw her averaging 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for UConn, Breanna Stewart was tapped to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil less than two weeks after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm. Eight years prior, fellow No. 1 pick Candace Parker punched her ticket to the 2008 Games in Beijing just two weeks after making her first appearance for the L.A. Sparks.

In the lead-up to Paris’ Opening Ceremony on July 26th, USA Basketball Women’s National Team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games. They'll first go up against the WNBA's finest at the July 20th WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix before facing Germany in London on July 23rd.

While an official roster announcement date hasn’t yet been issued, players won’t find out if they’ve made this year’s Olympic cut until at least June 1st.

WNBA teams make history with 2024 season ticket sell-outs

Arike Ogunbowale on the wnba court for the dallas wings
The Dallas Wings are now the third team to sell out their entire season ticket allotment in WNBA history. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

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