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Alex Morgan’s injury creates problem and possibility for USWNT

Alex Morgan and the USWNT will play England at Wembley in October. (Catherine Ivill/FIFA via Getty Images)

When the U.S. women’s national team released its roster for the October friendlies against England and Spain, one notable name was nowhere to be found.

One of the USWNT’s most prolific forwards, Alex Morgan, did not feature on the 24-player roster due to a nagging knee injury, coach Vlatko Andonovski said Thursday.

Andonovski said he discussed the matter with Morgan, and the two made the decision together.

“We decided that for her health, and long-term health especially, the best thing for her would be not to travel,” Andonovski said.

Andonovski couldn’t comment on the severity of the injury, he said. But he did note that if circumstances were different – for example, if these matches weren’t friendlies – then Morgan’s name would have been on the list.

“What I can say is that if this was a World Cup final, Alex would have been on this trip and she was going to play this game, no question,” the coach said.

Instead, Morgan, who has appeared in 198 international games with 119 goals and 46 assists, will be absent. Without its starting striker, the USWNT will be down to one natural striker — Ashley Hatch — for the European swing.

Yet while her injury leaves an obvious hole in the lineup, Morgan’s absence also provides space for younger players to make their marks — including teenage sensation Alyssa Thompson, who has received her first call up at 17 years old.

Thompson most recently played for the U.S. youth national team, and she posted a goal and an assist in a U20 World Cup match against Ghana in August.

The development of young players is crucial in the games against England and Spain, Andonovski said.

“In the group of players that we have on this roster, it is obvious that it’s a very young group,” he said. “They have to experience this. I believe it is the closest that we can get to playing an actual World Cup. I’m very excited for this opportunity for the team, and I’m very excited for the young players.”

The USWNT heads to Wembley Stadium to take on England on Oct. 7, in a game that sold out in less than a day when the tickets were released in August.

Morgan has been a key piece for the USWNT for years, and her performance against England in the 2019 World Cup semifinals quickly went down in soccer history.

The U.S. won that contest 2-1, with Morgan scoring the go-ahead goal in the 31st minute of the first half. She celebrated by sipping an imaginary cup of tea – a moment that went viral.

While some took the gesture as a reference to England’s national affinity for the drink, or even as a reference to the Boston Tea Party, Morgan offered a different explanation.

“My celebration was actually more, ‘That’s the tea,’ which is telling a story, spreading news,” she told reporters at the time.

Preparation for the next World Cup, which is set to kick off in Australia in July 2023, is the priority, Andonovski said.

Still, Morgan’s need to rest her knee may also have something to do with NWSL play, as her San Diego Wave squad is gearing up for playoffs. They have already clinched a spot in the postseason as the league heads into the last weekend of regular-season play.

For NWSL players participating in the October friendlies for the USWNT, the turnaround to NWSL playoffs will be tight.

After playing England, the squad faces Spain on Oct. 11. The NWSL playoffs begin just five days later on Oct. 16.

Nelly Korda Continues Unprecedented LPGA Run

LPGA golfer Nelly Korda poses with Mizuho Americas Open trophy
Nelly Korda took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nelly Korda continued her unprecedented LPGA run on Sunday, winning her sixth tournament in the last seven starts. 

The 25-year-old Florida native took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first LPGA player to record six wins in a single season since 2013 — and that’s with three majors and a little over half the season left to play.

"Oh, my gosh, six," Korda said after the win. "I can't even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah and I had pretty much all day. Wasn't my best stuff out there today, but fought really hard on the back nine."

Korda is just the fourth player on tour to win six times before June 1st, joining LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias (1951), Louise Suggs (1953), and Lorena Ochoa (2008).

Should her victory run continue, Korda could break the current record for single-season wins, currently set at 13 by Mickey Wright in 1963.

Korda ended Sunday's tournament one shot ahead of Hannah Green, finishing the 18th with a par putt to win it all.

"I mean, to lose to Nelly kind of like is — it's sad, but then it's also Nelly Korda," Green said of her second-place finish. "You know, like she's obviously so dominant right now. To feel like second behind her is quite nice. Unfortunately the bogey on the last has a little bit of a sour taste."

Next up is the US Women’s Open, a tournament that Korda has yet to win in her career. 

"Obviously it's on the top of my priority list," she said. "I just know there is never any good when you put more pressure on yourself. Just going to stay in my bubble that week and take it a shot at a time."

Earlier this year, Korda became the fastest player to collect $2 million in prize money over a single season. This latest win earned her an additional $450,000, bringing her season total up to $2,943,708.

Caitlin Clark Signs Multi-Year Deal with Wilson, Gets Signature Basketball Collection

caitlin clark poses with wilson basketball
Clark is just the second athlete to get a signature basketball collection with Wilson. (Wilson Sporting Goods)

Caitlin Clark has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Wilson Sporting Goods that will include a signature basketball collection, the brand announced early Tuesday. 

According to Boardroom, Clark is just the second athlete to develop a signature collection with Wilson, with the first being Michael Jordan in the 1980s. In addition to her basketball collection, she will also "test, advise and provide feedback on a range" of related products. 

Three Clark-branded white-and-gold Wilson basketballs have already dropped. Each ball features laser-cut engravings of some of the guard's most memorable moments at Iowa, where she became the all-time leading scorer in Division I college basketball history.

Three Wilson basketballs from Clark's collection have already dropped. (Wilson Sporting Goods).

"I think it is super special, and it's been fun for me," Clark told Boardroom. "I feel like I was just that young kid who had those basketballs that I would store in the garage. I'm just very lucky and fortunate to partner with Wilson to create something that everyone can enjoy. It connects with a lot of generations, and it'll be fun to see kids walking around holding them."

The No. 1 overall pick at the 2024 WNBA Draft, Clark has been building up a slate of major endorsements since turning pro. Current partnerships include Gatorade and Panini, and she’s also close to signing a signature shoe deal with Nike worth a reported $28 million.

New York Liberty off to First 4-0 Start in 17 Years

sabrina ionescu of the new york liberty on the court
Sabrina Ionescu led the undefeated Liberty to a 74-63 win over Seattle Monday night. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty are 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2007. 

The 2023 WNBA title finalists notched a 74-63 win over Seattle on Monday night, with Sabrina Ionescu dropping 20 points alongside eight assists. After the game, Ionescu told reporters she thought the team was coming together a bit easier than they did last year.

"I think having a year together, we don't nearly have to communicate as much on the court anymore," she said. "Because we can just play off one another and read. And that's obviously been the growth of this team, is being able to play a season together last year."

The team’s defense has also contributed heavily to the season's winning start. Last night, the Liberty held Jewell Loyd to just 13 points and nine rebounds. Loyd let the Storm in scoring, with only two other players in double digits, while Nneka Ogwumike missed her second straight game with an ankle injury. 

Storm free agency acquisition Skylar Diggins-Smith had eight points, and is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 assists per game this season. In her postgame remarks, Storm head coach Noelle Quinn called on others to give her grace in her return. 

"There needs to be respect about the fact that she's had two children and hasn’t played in 20 months," said Quinn. "She’s not going to come overnight and be who she was 20 months ago and we have to respect that and honor that. And I do.

"My grace as a coach is to know she’s working her butt off every day. You guys don’t see it. Every single day. Two children. Not one, two. Not many can do that."

Australia’s Sam Kerr Ruled Out for 2024 Paris Olympics With ACL Injury

sam kerr playing for the australian womens national team
A longtime Matildas mainstay, Kerr has made 128 appearances for Australia alongside 69 career goals. (Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Australia has confirmed that captain and star striker Sam Kerr will miss the Paris Olympics due to an ACL injury suffered early this year. 

Kerr, who also stars for Chelsea, tore her ACL in January. While unlikely that she would recover in time for the Olympics, Football Australia (FA) hadn’t confirmed her status until Tuesday when the team revealed its squad for upcoming warm-up games. 

In a statement, the FA said that Kerr remained on the sidelines and will continue her rehab program at Chelsea. 

"Attacker Amy Sayer (ACL) and forward Sam Kerr (ACL) remain on the sidelines with long term injuries," the report read. "Kerr and Sayer will continue their rehabilitation programmes in their home club environments and subsequently will not be available for selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Tuesdays 23-player squad is a "strong guide" to the final Olympic lineup, according to coach Tony Gustavsson, but others like injured midfielders Katrina Gorry and Aivi Luik could potentially figure into the conversation. 

"[They] most likely will be physically available to be part of an Olympic roster," Gustavsson said of Gorry and Luik. "This window will be a tough one for me and my staff in terms of evaluating players, where they are, and then the final selection process for Paris."

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