All Scores

The Three FAWSL Players to Watch This Weekend

HARRIET LANDER/GETTY IMAGES

Between Chelsea reclaiming the top spot in the table and breaking a WSL record for consecutive wins, Manchester City putting up seven goals over Brighton & Hove Albion last Sunday, and new signings making immediate impacts on their squads, there’s a lot happening in the FA Women’s Super League.

While depth is proving to be more important than anything else amidst a slew of make-up games, superstars can still be the deciding factor in any given contest. And with five games set to take place this weekend, we’ve got you covered on who to look out for.

PERNILLE HARDER, CHELSEA

Chelsea vs. Tottenham

Sunday, January 31st at 7:30 am ET

Lifting Chelsea to victory in a match against Aston Villa last Wednesday was Pernille Harder, who added a goal in the 68th minute to put her team up 3-0. Harder has been consistent in every contest she has appeared in this season, with Wednesday’s game being no exception, as the Blues went on to score a fourth and keep their opponent scoreless.

When Harder is in sync with teammates Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, and Bethany England, Chelsea’s offense is nearly unstoppable, and they have the record to back it. Altogether, the Blues have scored an impressive 34 goals against their opponents this year, and on Wednesday, the high-caliber squad broke the WSL record for the longest unbeaten streak with 32 games.

At the center of it all? Pernille Harder. A threatening presence in the attacking third, Harder has contributed four goals to Chelsea’s total while notching two assists.

Still not impressed? Announced earlier this month, Harder was named the Women’s World Player of the Year by World Soccer, with the magazine citing her eye-popping stats — 38 goals in 33 games across all competitions, nine of those goals being in the Champions League — and her status as the most expensive female player in the world (Chelsea paid a €300,000 fee to Wolfsburg for the young star) as two major factors in their decision to honor her. To put it quite frankly, we agree with their choice.

If Chelsea is going to continue its unbeaten streak against Tottenham on Sunday, expect to find Harder at the center of the action.

 

STEPH HOUGHTON, MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City vs. West Ham United

Sunday, January 31st at 9:00 am ET

An unsung hero in Manchester City’s most recent victory, center back Steph Houghton logged two goals as City overwhelmed Brighton & Hove Albion last Sunday by a score of 7-1. Though the pair of goals were Houghton’s first of the 2020/2021 season, any defender that scores not one but two goals in the same match has achieved quite the feat — one that Houghton made look like part of her everyday routine.

 

 

In her time with Manchester City, the 32-year-old has scored 9 goals and led her team to two FA Women’s Cups, three Continental Cup successes, and the FA Women’s Super League title.

With so many titles under her belt, Houghton is nothing short of impressive — and she also captains both City and the English national team, a testament to her leadership on and off the field. In fact, Sunday’s contest marked Houghton’s 150th appearance in the FAWSL, making her the first player to reach such a milestone. And what better way to celebrate than by scoring a brace?

Manchester City has finally edged into third place in the table with last Sunday’s win, a mere five points separating them from second-place Manchester United. United has played twelve matches as opposed to City’s eleven, a factor that could prove to their disadvantage as the season winds down. City will need to rely on the consistency of veterans like Houghton when making up the five-point difference, and the captain’s recent performances indicate that she can and will deliver.

Manchester City will be taking on 10th place West Ham United this Sunday, a game they desperately need to win in order to remain superior to Arsenal and stay competitive in the fight for a top-three finish. Tune in at 9:00 am ET to catch Steph Houghton leading the charge.

 

LEAH GALTON, MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United vs. Everton

Sunday, January 31st at 9:30 am ET

Also hitting a milestone in her career this past weekend was Leah Galton, who recorded her 50th appearance in Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Birmingham City on Sunday. Galton has been outstanding as of late, scoring a goal against Birmingham to bring her season total to six goals in twelve games played. As a result of her efforts, Galton was named the Player of the Month for December after scoring four goals in only three matches.

In a post-game interview following the win over Birmingham, United manager Casey Stoney had high praise for Galton and her performance, calling her “one of the best”:

“I think Leah is one of the best left-wingers in the country, if not the best at what she does,” she said. “She’s powerful, she’s quick and can go one-on-one. She can get in the box and score. I think she influenced the game heavily and it was really great to see. We knew [Birmingham City] would be really organized and hard to break down, and Leah created quite a few chances.”

With their undefeated streak snapped by Chelsea two weeks ago, Manchester United will almost certainly be looking to to climb back into first place with a series of wins. The Reds are slotted to take on Everton this weekend, with the odds seemingly in their favor as Everton has dropped three of their last five contests. Should Chelsea lose to Tottenham this weekend, United can easily slide back into first place with a win and three points on Sunday.

All things considered, United has a lot at stake this weekend — and the team will need to utilize Galton’s agility, scoring abilities, and sharpness on the ball to achieve the result they are gunning for.

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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.

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