All Scores

Two Managerial Changes Come to Fawsl During League’s International Break

@Westhamwomen

The FAWSL may be on hold for a couple of weeks while players are away on international duty, but that doesn’t mean clubs have been shy about trying to improve before the second half of the season begins. Two have made major managerial decisions that are sure to have an impact on how the rest of the year unfolds.

West Ham United announced early on November 19th that head coach Matt Beard would be leaving the club, a decision that has been publicly disclosed as mutual.

Later that day, Tottenham Hotspur announced that co-managers Karen Hills and Juan Amoros have been released of their duties with immediate effect.

Beard has had an abundance of FAWSL experience, to say the least. He was Chelsea’s very first manager when they became a part of the FAWSL back in 2011, having been their manager for a year prior when the club was a part of the FA Premier League National Division. Once the team joined the FAWSL, Beard was a great success both in the league and in the cup competitions. He led Chelsea to its first-ever FA Cup Final in 2012, but after losing the final to Birmingham, he resigned.

A month later, he joined his next FAWSL team — Liverpool. Beard was at the helm of the club when massive changes were made to the team both on the pitch (big, high-profile signings were made after the club finished bottom of the table), and off the pitch (Liverpool became the first English club to offer all their players full-time, professional contracts). These changes lead to Liverpool’s first FAWSL title in 2013, and a second in 2014.

Beard left Liverpool in 2015, and after a short stint with the now-defunct NWSL team the Boston Breakers and a break from managing, Beard returned to the FAWSL to manage West Ham in 2018. Beard managed another FA Cup final appearance with his new club back in 2019. In his two full seasons at the club, Beard managed to finish in 7th and 8th place respectively.

However this season, West Ham are in 9th place and are four points behind 8th place Brighton & Hove Albion.

Beard is a fantastic coach — there is no doubt about it. But it has not seemed to be clicking for him at West Ham as of late. The team is massively underperforming and has not been consistent in their performances since at least the beginning of 2020.

West Ham have not announced a replacement yet, and it’ll be interesting to see who they bring in. Beard is one of the biggest names in women’s football, and the club will be hoping to bring in someone with a similar pedigree who can re-energize the squad. As of right now, goalkeeping coach Billy Steward and first-team coach Paul McHugh will act as interim coaches until a permanent replacement is announced.

Karen Hills has been at Tottenham Hotspur for over a decade, taking over as head coach in 2009. Juan Amoros joined the club in 2011 as co-head coach. The two were pivotal in bringing the club up from the amateur leagues to the FAWSL, having won the Championship play-offs in the 2016/17 season, and securing a promotion spot to the FAWSL in 2019. They also won the FA Women’s National League Cup back to back in 2016 and 2017.

Last season, during their first year in the FAWSL, Tottenham Hotspur finished in 7th place — a strong finish for a newly-promoted side. However, this season, Tottenham have yet to win a match in the league as they currently sit in 11th place with three points. Hills and Amoros’ sacking makes a lot of sense — the Spurs have a real chance of being relegated this season, and something must change if they are to avoid dropping down.

Unlike West Ham, the Spurs have a replacement lined up. They announced later on Thursday that Rehanne Skinner will take charge at the club on a contract through the 2022/2023 season.

Skinner will leave her role as England’s assistant coach, where she worked alongside Phil Neville starting in September of this year. Prior to that, she was head coach of England’s U21 team. She also previously worked with Tottenham’s North London rivals Arsenal, where she was part of the coaching staff that won six trophies, including two FAWSL titles.

It is clear that Tottenham have been working on this appointment for a while, with it being announced mere hours after the sacking of the previous managers. It’s no question that Amoros and especially Hills have cemented themselves in Tottenham’s legacy book, but it’s also clear that a fresh change is needed at the club if they want to build on last year’s 7th place finish and avoid relegation.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Crypto.com Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a Change.org petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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