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Three Things We Learned From Fawsl’s Women’s Football Weekend

Naomi Baker – Getty – Alex Morgan

As the FA Women’s Super League wrapped up a busy weekend full of action, we witnessed Chelsea battle into the top three in WSL standings in the highly-anticipated London derby, Tobin Heath give yet another taste of what she brings to the table for Manchester United, Alex Morgan make her starting debut for Tottenham — the list goes on.

So what did we learn from this latest Women’s Football Weekend, and what does it mean for the rest of the 2020/2021 season?

1) Tobin Heath is positioning herself for instant stardom in Manchester.

Heath joined U.S. women’s national teammate Christen Press in a move to the United Kingdom, signing with Manchester United in September. A sensational offensive player, Heath has recorded 33 goals and 40 assists in 168 appearances for the United States, winning two World Cups and two Olympic goal medals with the team. Just as impressive are her stats with the Portland Thorns, with whom she played six seasons — in 70 appearances with the Thorns, Heath logged 13 goals and 21 assists, with 10 of those assists taking place in a single season.

It is obvious that Heath is not only excellent at scoring goals but at creating offense, a skill she has certainly carried over to Manchester United. On everyone’s radar following the weekend was Heath’s laser of a goal to put United on the board during the Manchester derby. A defensive error by Lucy Bronze was quickly intercepted by Heath, who bent a shot over the hands of City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck.

Twitter reacted accordingly:

Heath’s presence up top has certainly been felt within the Women’s Super League, with the American already contributing two goals and an assist in United’s seven matches played. It seems that leaving an early impression was Heath’s goal upon her entrance to the league, as she disclosed in an introductory interview with Mark Froggatt:

“I know it is an ambition for this club to compete against the teams that have historically been around for longer and have a stronger history in the WSL. Coming in as a younger team and wanting to make my mark immediately in this league is important, and to build the team in the best way, and to be committed to the players, and the organization, is critical.”

Should Heath continue the trajectory she is on, it is safe to say that she is propelling herself to instant stardom for Manchester United. The rest of the WSL should be on alert.

2) Given time, Alex Morgan can become Tottenham’s saving grace.

Also making headlines this weekend was Alex Morgan, who made her starting debut with Tottenham in Saturday’s match against Bristol City, playing for 45 minutes. Earlier in the season, Morgan came off the bench to make her first appearance for her new club, playing 21 minutes against Reading FC and helping to snap Tottenham’s four-game losing streak with a much-needed draw.

Though Morgan has had to ease into her return to soccer following the birth of her daughter, Charlie, only six months ago, the addition of the striker to the Spurs’ starting lineup is promising — and given time, Morgan can become a sure-fire difference maker for the squad.

One brief look at Morgan’s career can tell you everything you need to know. She is a monster on offense — in 169 appearances with the United States, Morgan has netted 107 goals and assisted another 43, picking up two World Cup wins and an Olympic gold medal along the way. During her tenure in the National Women’s Soccer League, Morgan spent time with the Western New York Flash, the Portland Thorns, and the Orlando Pride, for which she scored a combined 37 goals in 102 games with the three clubs. Undoubtedly, Morgan fills a major void for Tottenham simply given her ability to create offense and capitalize on scoring opportunities.

In seven matches played, the Spurs have only scored six goals and have yet to win a single game during the 2020/2021 season, currently holding a 0-3-4 record. For lack of a better word, Tottenham’s start to the season has been an atrocity, landing them one spot above the relegation zone, superior only to Bristol City, whom the Spurs tied this weekend. [Editor’s note: Tottenham fired their co-head coaches Karen Hills and Juan Amoros Thursday morning. They shortly after named Rehanne Skinner to the position.]

If Morgan is utilized correctly, she can be the remedy that Tottenham needs to meet their full potential. Though she has yet to make an impact, it’s only a matter of time before she will erupt. As the USWNT star is gradually allotted more playing time, there’s no doubt she will find her groove — and open her scoring account along the way. As far as the Spurs are concerned, the sooner Morgan becomes a permanent member of the starting lineup, the better.

3) Put some respect on Chelsea’s name they’ve earned it

Finally, Chelsea and Arsenal faced off in the much-anticipated London derby — and for Chelsea, a break into the top three was well within their grasp with a win or a draw during the match. Though Arsenal drew first blood when Beth Mead scored what seemed to be a late game-winner, Chelsea fought back to equalize as Pernille Harder played in a cross that resulted in an own goal.

With the result, Chelsea remains undefeated, drawing two and winning four of their six contests this season. In fact, only one other undefeated team remains: Manchester United.

Chelsea is considered a “Big Three” in the league and has had no problem handling fellow “Big Three” talents Arsenal and Manchester City, having yet to lose to either opponent this year. Earlier this season, Chelsea swiftly handed Manchester City a 3-1 loss. More recently, the squad held Arsenal to one goal in the aforementioned London derby. This is no small feat, as Arsenal’s roster holds three of the league’s top scorers in Caitlin Foord, Vivianne Miedema, and Jill Roord.

After this weekend’s performance, it is no question that Chelsea is a talented squad and could very well finish in first place in the WSL standings this season, but they have not received nearly the amount of credit that they deserve. From their goalkeeping to their midfielder core to their strikers, there is no weak link — a facet that is very difficult to come by in the fight for talent among Women’s Super League teams. Chelsea currently sits at third place in the table, though only two points separate them from the first place slot.

Stay tuned as Chelsea looks to continue their undefeated streak in a match against West Ham United on December 6th.

Up next in the Women’s Super League: 
December 5th 

Aston Villa vs. Manchester United @ 7:30 a.m. EST

December 6th

Everton vs. Manchester City @ 8:00 a.m. EST

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

Chelsea vs. West Ham @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Tottenham vs. Brighton & Hove Albion @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Reading FC vs. Bristol City @ 9:00 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.

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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