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Recap: Chelsea Stuns Everton in Comfortable 4-0 Victory

@CHELSEAFCW
MATCH INFO:

Chelsea 4, Everton 0 (Highlights)

Goals: Ji So-yun – 16’, Bethany England – 73’, 77’, Pernille Harder – 90’+7

Everton came to Kingsmeadow hoping to continue their unbeaten streak in the WSL, but Chelsea’s depth and clinical execution sent Everton back to Merseyside having lost 4-0.

Here’s how the action unfolded:

Chelsea had an abundance of chances during their first few possessions, constantly pinning Everton back in their own half. Chelsea’s fullbacks Maren Mjelde and Jonna Andersso were situated high and wide in Everton’s half, crossing the ball to a front three of Pernille Harder, Bethany England, and Erin Cuthbert, all of whom had early chances. However, Everton’s fullbacks were able to handle the pressure with Megan Finnigan and Rikke Sevecke successfully blocking shots and clearing loose balls.

While Chelsea was firmly in control, controlling 63.7% of the possession in the first half, Everton also had their chances during the first fifteen minutes of the match. Their best opportunity came off a miscue from Chelsea keeper Ann-Katrin Berger, who ran out from her position and cleared the ball straight into the path of Everton’s Damaris Egurrola. Egurrola then attempted to score from 40 yards out into an empty net, but the shot was just wide.

Everton would come to regret that missed chance just minutes later, when Ji So-yun scored to get Chelsea on the board. The goal was a result of Chelsea’s high press system, with England forcing a mistake and the ball landing to Ji, who was quickly able to control the loose ball and finish, beating keeper Sandy MacIver.

After the first goal, Everton struggled to get back into the match. They had two chances leading to a shot compared to Chelsea’s one before Ji scored.  After, Everton had only one compared to Chelsea’s eight up until half-time.

The beginning of the second half was quite even, with Chelsea trying for another, while Everton looked for an equalizer. Things got quite aggressive with both teams getting booked for bad fouls.

It was around the 60 minute mark where it became noticeable that Everton was slightly off rhythm. Chelsea had successfully been opening them up all match, and it was only their lack of finishing and MacIver’s saves which kept Everton in the game.

Everton had struggled with England all match though, and eventually she was able to break through with two goals in quick succession.

The first came when Melanie Leupolz was able to dribble through two of Everton’s defenders. While she was fouled, the ball landed right at England’s feet, who was able to fire from close range.

The second came from a rebound which created chaos in front of the goal. England was the first to react, and she headed the ball into the back of the net.

England, who had not been getting many minutes for Chelsea as of late, proved what a valuable asset she can be for the team. She will be a decisive player in the coming weeks for Emma Hayes should she continue her form.

Down 3-0, Everton looked quite defeated knowing they had lost not just their place as second in the table, but also their chance to take first ahead of Arsenal, who lost to Manchester United on Sunday. Egurrola hit the bar in what was Everton’s only real chance of a consolation goal before Harder finished them off with a fantastic shot outside of the box into the top corner.

The story of the second half really came down to who could keep up the energy and tempo, given both teams came out aggressive. Chelsea came out on top in this battle because Hayes’ three substitutes were able to sustain the intensity of Chelsea’s high press system. On the other hand, Willie Kirk’s substitutions were unable to make a real difference to the side.

Unfortunately for Everton, this has not been the first time they’ve been unable to see out matches, with similar depth problems hurting them in their match against Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. If they want to remain competitive in this league, Kirk needs to find a way to get the most out of his players for the full 90 minutes.

Up next: Chelsea heads to North London to face Arsenal, while Everton hosts Reading.

 

WHAT’S NEXT IN THE FA WSL:
November 14th 

Manchester United vs Manchester City @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Aston Villa vs Birmingham City @ 9:30 a.m. EST

Everton vs Reading FC @ 11:30 a.m. EST

Bristol City vs Tottenham @ 1:30 p.m. EST

November 15th

West Ham vs Brighton & Hove Albion @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Arsenal vs Chelsea @ 9:30 a.m. EST

Alyssa Naeher’s goalkeeper jersey sells out in less than three hours

uwnt goalie alyssa naeher wears jersey on the field with club team chicago red stars
USWNT star keeper Alyssa Naeher's new replica NWSL jersey was an instant success. (Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

For the first time in the NWSL's 12-year history, fans can now buy their own goalkeeper jerseys. And while replica goalkeeper jerseys representing all 14 NWSL teams hit the market on Wednesday, some didn't stick around for long. 

Fans across women's soccer have long vocalized their discontent over the position's lack of availability on social media, often comparing the shortcoming to the widespread availability of men’s goalkeeper jerseys. And as the NWSL has grown, so has demand — and not just from those in the stands. 

"To have goalkeeper kits available for fans in the women’s game as they have been for so long in the men’s game is not only a long-awaited move in the right direction, it’s just good business," said Washington Spirit goalie Aubrey Kingsbury in an team press release. "I can’t wait to see fans representing me, Barnie [Barnhart], and Lyza in the stands at Audi!"

Business does, in fact, appear to be booming. Alyssa Naeher’s Chicago Red Stars kit sold out less than three hours after the league's announcement. Jerseys for other keepers like DiDi Haračić, Abby Smith, Michelle Betos, Katelyn Rowland, and Bella Bixby aren’t currently available via the Official NWSL Shop, though blank goalkeeper jerseys can be customized through some individual team sites. Jerseys start at $110 each.

"This should be the benchmark," said Spirit Chief Operations Officer Theresa McDonnell. "The expectation is that all players’ jerseys are available to fans. Keepers are inspiring leaders and mentors with their own unique fan base who want to represent them... I can’t wait to see them all over the city."

Simone Biles talks Tokyo Olympics fallout in new interview

gymnast simone biles on a balance beam
Biles' candid interview shed light on the gymnast's internal struggle. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Decorated gymnast Simone Biles took to the popular Call Her Daddy podcast this week to open up about her experience at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, revealing she thought she was going to be "banned from America" for her performance.

After Biles botched her vault routine due to a bout of the "twisties," she withdrew from the team final as well as the all-around final in order to focus on her mental health. She later reentered the competition to win bronze in the individual balance beam final.

In her interview with podcast host Alex Cooper, Biles admitted to feeling like she let the entire country down by failing her vault attempt.

"As soon as I landed I was like 'Oh, America hates me. The world is going to hate me. I can only see what they’re saying on Twitter right now,'" she recalled thinking. "I was like, ‘Holy s---, what are they gonna say about me?'"

"I thought I was going to be banned from America," she continued. "That’s what they tell you: Don’t come back if not gold. Gold or bust. Don’t come back."

Widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, Biles has hinted at a desire to join her third Olympic team in Paris, though her participation won't be confirmed until after the gymnastics trials in late June. She holds over 30 medals from the Olympic Games and World Artistic Gymnastics Championships combined, and if qualified, would be a sure favorite heading into this summer’s games.

Caitlin Clark reportedly nearing $20 million+ Nike deal

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait at Gainbridge Fieldhouse during her introductory press conference
WNBA-bound Caitlin Clark is said to be closing in on a monumental NIke deal. (Photo by Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark is reportedly close to cementing a hefty endorsement deal with Nike.

The Athletic was the first to break the news Wednesday evening, commenting that the deal would be worth "eight figures" and include her own signature shoe. On Thursday afternoon, the publication tweeted that the deal would top $20 million, according to lead NBA Insider Shams Charania. Both Under Armour and Adidas are said to have also made sizable offers to the college phenom and expected future WNBA star.

The new agreement comes after Clark's previous Nike partnership ended with the conclusion of the college basketball season. She was one of five NCAA athletes to sign an NIL deal with the brand back in October, 2022. 

Considering Clark's overwhelming popularity and Nike's deep pockets, the signing's purported value doesn't exactly come as a shock. New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu’s deal with the brand is reportedly worth $24 million, while NBA rookie and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama’s deal is rumored to weigh in at $100 million. And in 2003, LeBron James famously earned $90 million off his own Nike deal. 

Clark’s star power continues to skyrocket, with the NCAA championship averaging 18.9 million viewers and the 2024 WNBA Draft more than doubling its previous viewership record. Following the draft, Fanatics stated that Clark's Indiana Fever jersey — which sold out within an hour — was the top seller for any draft night pick in the company’s history, with droves of unlucky fans now being forced to wait until August to get their hands on some official No. 22 gear.

In Wednesday's Indiana Fever introductory press conference, the unfailingly cool, calm, and collected Clark said that turning pro hasn’t made a huge impact on how she’s conducting her deals.

"If I’m being completely honest, I feel like it doesn’t change a ton from how I lived my life over the course of the last year," she said. "Sponsorships stay the same. The people around me, agents and whatnot, have been able to help me and guide me through the course of the last year. I don’t know if I would be in this moment if it wasn’t for a lot of them."

Star slugger Jocelyn Alo joins Athletes Unlimited AUX league

softball star jocelyn alo rounds the bases at an oklahoma sooners game
Former Oklahoma star Jocelyn Alo has signed with Athletes Unlimited. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Former Oklahoma slugger Jocelyn Alo has signed on with Athletes Unlimited and will compete in the AU Pro Softball AUX this June.

The NCAA record holder in career home runs (122), total bases (761), and slugging percentage (.987), Alo was originally drafted by the league in 2022 but opted instead to join the newly debuted Women’s Professional Fastpitch

Alo currently plays for independent pro softball team Oklahoma City Spark, with team owner Tina Floyd reportedly on board with her recent AUX signing. AUX games are scheduled for June 10-25, while the Spark's season will kick off June 19th. Alo will play for both. 

Among those joining Alo on the AUX roster are former James Madison ace pitcher Odicci Alexander and former Wichita State standout middle infielder Sydney McKinney.

According to Alo, the decision to play in the Athletes Unlimited league was fueled by her desire to propel women's sports forward as well as provide more exposure to a sport that's given her "so many opportunities."

"Not only to challenge myself more, but just for the growth of the game," Alo said, explaining her reasoning to The Oklahoman. "I genuinely believe that professional softball can be a career for girls."

Joining AUX is also one more step in her plan toward representing Team USA at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

"I’m constantly thinking about how can I do these little things right in these four years to prepare me for the biggest stage of softball," she told The Oklahoman. "I definitely want to play in the Olympics, for sure."

Alo further expressed enthusiasm in the hope that the rise of other women’s sports, like women’s basketball and the NWSL, will push softball’s professional viability even higher.

"We’re seeing the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) get their stuff going, I see the WNBA starting to get hot," she continued. "I feel like the softball community is like, 'All right, it’s our turn and it’s our turn to just demand more.'"

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