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The Four Most Important Players in the Fawsl Today

LEIGH, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 19: Sam Mewis of Manchester City in action during the FA Women’s Continental League Cup match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village on November 19, 2020 in Leigh, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

As the FA Women’s Super League wrapped up their ninth gameweek of the season, Manchester United cemented their place atop the league standings, Chelsea added another big win over Brighton & Hove Albion, and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema continued her reign as the league’s top scorer.

But beneath the biggest headlines, a small cohort of players likewise used the weekend to cement their status as among the most important footballers playing today. They may not win any end-of-year hardware, but that hasn’t stopped these four women from proving just how critical they are to their teams’ success.

 

CAROLINE WEIR, MANCHESTER CITY

Caroline Weir rightfully tops our list after having been a key player in Manchester City’s most recent wins over Everton and Arsenal. In eight appearances this season, Weir has booked three assists and a goal — her one score being the game-winner in Sunday’s contest against Arsenal, which she rocketed home in the final minutes of stoppage time. Though a quiet presence in her first few games with Manchester City, Weir has emerged as an asset in City’s midfield as of late, her excellent passing talent and ability to think quickly on the ball endearing the 25-year-old to both her teammates and the City faithful.

Following her standout performance, which lifted City to a needed victory over Arsenal, Weir said: “Our performances have grown as the season has gone on, and I think you can see how we want to play now. It takes a bit of time but the depth of quality in the squad means that we can rotate, and to go unbeaten for so long is obviously a positive thing, and that’s what we are going to need going forward,” she continued. “That was my first goal of the season, so I have been waiting a while for it. The team needed the three points and we’re delighted we came out on top in the end.”

After struggling with inconsistency as a team earlier on in the season, Weir’s presence in the midfield has helped steady the Blues, who are now firmly in position to compete for the title.

 

LEAH GALTON, MANCHESTER UNITED

Scoring her second goal in two games this weekend was Manchester United’s Leah Galton. Beating a defender up the left flank, the forward took a touch towards her left foot, burying a shot past Reading goalkeeper Grace Moloney. Galton’s goal would be a contributing factor in United’s 2-1 win over Reading FC, keeping her squad undefeated through nine matches with a 7-2-0 record.

The young player has appeared in all nine of United’s games this season, notching three goals and two assists.

The forward’s stellar performance in Sunday’s match earned her the honor of Barclays Player of the Match, with fans and fellow teammates alike having high praise for her consistency and quality of play. As for Galton’s thoughts on the match, she acknowledged the importance of every contest moving forward should Manchester United want to remain atop the table in a post-game interview, not losing sight of what matters most to Casey Stoney’s team.

United’s dominance has been the biggest surprise this season, in what is only their second FAWSL campaign. But if Galton can maintain both her on-field play and her big-picture attitude, the Red Devils could be on track for a historic finish.

ALEX MORGAN, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

A major recent storyline in the FA Women’s Super League has been the resurgence of Tottenham Hotspur since the hiring of new manager Rehanne Skinner. Now sitting at eighth place in the table, a major contributor to the Spurs’ surprising win streak has been USWNT forward Alex Morgan. In the Spurs’ match against Aston Villa, Morgan logged her second goal in two games, driving home yet another penalty kick to draw first blood for her team in the 13th minute, as Tottenham went on to defeat Aston Villa in a comfortable fashion, 3-1.

Not only did Morgan get on the scoresheet this weekend, but she logged valuable minutes of playing time — starting the match and playing the entire game, something she has not done since returning to the pitch since the birth of her daughter. Her performance also earned her a spot in the Barclays FAWSL Team of the Week, selected by Siobhan Chamberlain.

It’s worth noting that Tottenham has not lost a single match that Morgan has played in — in case her importance to the Spurs wasn’t already obvious.

 

SAM MEWIS, MANCHESTER CITY

Joining Caroline Weir on the scoresheet for Manchester City this weekend was none other than the “Tower of Power” herself, Sam Mewis. Down by a goal early on thanks to Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, City was in desperate need of an equalizer. After 28 minutes of play, City would get their opportunity, as Chloe Kelly lofted a corner kick into the Arsenal box. The ball met the head of Mewis, who redirected a header into the lower 90 to notch her third (!) goal of the season for the Blues.

After heading in another goal in Man City’s FA Cup Final win over Everton in November, Mewis is starting to cement her reputation as a player who quite literally rises to the occasion.

Like Alex Morgan, Mewis was also named to the Barclays FAWSL Team of the Week as City handed Arsenal another loss to move into fourth place in the table. Now edging even closer to a top-three finish on the season, City will rely on players like Mewis to maintain a strong midfield and continue on with their winning ways.

WHAT’S NEXT IN THE FA WSL

December 20th

Manchester United vs. Bristol City @ 7:00 a.m. EST

Arsenal vs. Everton @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Birmingham City vs. Manchester City @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Chelsea vs. Tottenham @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Reading FC @ 9:30 a.m. EST

West Ham United vs. Aston Villa @ 10:00 a.m. EST

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.

One former player 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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