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USWNT vs. Germany rewind: Looking back at the history of the rivalry

Megan Rapinoe and the USWNT celebrate after beating Germany in the semifinals of the 2015 World Cup. (Lars Baron/FIFA via Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team will end its year with two friendlies against Germany, the first on Thursday and the second on Sunday.

Thursday will mark the first time the two teams have played since 2018, and the first time they’ve played in a friendly since April 2013, a match that ended in a 3-3 tie.

In total, the teams have met 33 times, the most for the United States against any European team other than Norway (50) and Sweden (42). The USWNT holds a 22-4-7 advantage (W-L-D), including a victory in the 2015 World Cup semifinals and in the 1999 World Cup quarterfinals.

Germany is fresh off a runner-up finish at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euros this summer, while the USWNT won the Concacaf W Championship weeks earlier. But the U.S. is coming off consecutive losses to England and Spain in October.

“Playing Germany in the final matches of the year will be ideal for our World Cup preparations for all of our players and coaching staff, but it’s also fantastic for all the fans,” USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “USA-Germany is always one of the most entertaining match-ups in women’s international soccer and it’s a rivalry that has some wonderful history as well.”

Ahead of Thursday’s match, Just Women’s Sports hit the rewind button. Take look back at three key matches in the history of the rivalry — going back to the USWNT’s most recent loss to Germany in 2003.

March 1, 2018 – SheBelieves Cup
USA 1 – Germany 0

The USWNT opened up its 2018 SheBelieves Cup championship run with a 1-0 win over Germany. It marked the third year in a row that the U.S. beat Germany in the tournament, including a gold-medal win over Germany in 2016, but the teams have not played since then.

Megan Rapinoe scored the game’s lone goal – the 35th of her career at the time – and was assisted by Alex Morgan. Fittingly, the two players will feature once again for the USWNT on Thursday.

June 30, 2015 – World Cup semifinal
USA 2 – Germany 0

The 2015 Women’s World Cup featured Germany as the top-ranked team in the world, but USWNT pulled out the upset win in the semifinal round.

Carli Lloyd and Kelley O’Hara each scored, and Hope Solo set the record for the longest shutout streak in U.S. World Cup history. Her 10th clean sheet also set the FIFA Women’s World Cup record.

But the game wasn’t without controversy, as Lloyd’s goal came on a penalty kick after a questionable call outside the box. O’Hara, though, provided a second goal to quiet the complaints and send her team to the final.

The USWNT would go on to win its third title, defeating Japan 5-2 in the final after Lloyd recorded her historic hat trick. Lloyd was named the tournament’s best player, tying for top scorer with Germany’s Célia Šašić at six goals apiece.

Carli Lloyd (right) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Germany at the 2015 World Cup. (Michael Chow/USA TODAY Sports)

Oct. 5, 2003: World Cup semifinal
USA 0 – Germany 3

Germany got the best of the USWNT in the World Cup semifinal in 2003 — and got revenge for its loss to the USWNT in the 1999 World Cup tournament.

German players gave credit in part to the eight-team WUSA, as the professional league gave them the opportunity to play with and against some of the best U.S. players outside of international competitions.

“This time, we knew we could play against them,” three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and all-time leading scorer Birgit Prinz told reporters after the game. “We knew that they are not better than us.”

In the 16th minute, Kerstin Garefrekes struck first. Two more stoppage time goals were added later as German goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg recorded the clean sheet.

Germany would go on to win the World Cup, defeating Sweden 2-1, and Prinz would be named Player of the Tournament after scoring a tournament-high seven goals.

Since that World Cup defeat, the USWNT hasn’t lost to Germany, going 10-0-5 in the last 19 years. (Full disclosure: That does include one regulation tie but shootout loss to Germany at the 2006 Algarve Cup, but the USWNT still has had the clear upper hand.)

The USWNT will face Germany at 7 p.m. ET Thursday at DRV Pink Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and at 5 p.m. ET Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Thursday’s game will air on Fox Sports 1, and Sunday’s game will air on ESPN.

Portland Thorns reassign head coach after winless NWSL start

Head coach Mike Norris of Portland Thorns FC watches practice before a 2023 match against Orlando Pride
Mike Norris' tenure as Thorns head coach has come to an end. (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)

The Portland Thorns are looking for a new head coach after a winless start to the NWSL season. 

The organization has reassigned head coach Mike Norris to a newly created technical director position. Assistant coach Rob Gale is set to take over as interim head coach while the club conducts a "global search" for its next head coach. 

Norris began his time at the club as an assistant coach before taking the reigns after former head coach Rhian Wilkinson abruptly resigned in 2022. Under Norris, the Thorns finished second in 2023's regular season standings, but suffered three losses in their last five games in a spell that saw them knocked out of the running for the NWSL Shield. They went on to lose their first playoff game in postseason play. 

At the start of the 2024 season, the Thorns went winless through four games for the first time in club history. 

"The results have not gone our way, and in a head coach position, the results do matter," Thorns GM Karina LeBlanc told The Athletic's Meg Linehan shortly after the Tuesday afternoon announcement. “But the results that we have, you can’t just pinpoint it on one position.”

Norris' reassignment marks the first major personnel decision made under the club’s new ownership. RAJ Sports' Lisa Bhathal Merage and Alex Bhathal, who also own the NBA's Sacramento Kings, bought the club in January from Merritt Paulson, who sold the Thorns amidst the fallout stemming from reports of misconduct within the NWSL.

Both the Bhathal family and the Thorns front office have been looking to make changes, and establishing a technical director topped the list. According to LeBlanc, Norris has what it takes to assume the position. 

"Where can we grow? Where are the gaps? How do we move forward with being the standard that people are used to with the Thorns?" LeBlanc continued. "One of [Norris’] strengths is to analyze and process, then come down to communicate what needs to happen."

Despite the dismal start, a quick turnaround could certainly be in the cards for Portland. The club currently leads the league in shots and shots on goal, as does star forward and USWNT standout Sophia Smith

"These changes will help us maximize our strengths as we continuously pursue championship-level success," LeBlanc said, voicing full support for the staffing shakeup.

Serena Williams is ‘super interested’ in owning a WNBA team

Serena Williams speaks on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 conference in San Jose, California
The tennis icon is all in on women's sports — and the WNBA is right on her heels. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage via Getty Images)

Could Serena Williams co-own a WNBA team in the near future? 

Speaking with CNN on Monday, Williams expressed her interest in that potential — as well as the mounting enthusiasm for women’s sports around the world. 

"I think women’s sport is having a moment that it should have always had," Williams said. "I feel like tennis has had its moment. It’s international, and it’s huge, and it’s always gonna be there.

"Now it’s time to lift up other sports — women’s soccer, women’s basketball — there’s so many other sports that women do so great, let’s put it on that platform. Women’s basketball is getting there, and it’s arrived."

When asked if she had any interest in adding a WNBA team to her roster of ownership stakes, the tennis great welcomed the idea. "I absolutely would be," Williams said. "With the right market, I would definitely be super interested in that."

"There is no risk — women’s sport is exciting," Williams added, citing the 2024 NCAA women's tournament's record-breaking viewership as evidence. "People are realizing that it is exciting to watch, so it's an overly safe bet."

Williams may not need to wait long to act on that bet. On Monday, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that she is "pretty confident" the league will expand to 16 teams — up from its current 12 — by 2028. 

The goal, she said, is to reach 14 by 2026. Oakland's Golden State is already on track to launch the league's 13th team in 2025. The move will mark the WNBA's first new franchise since the Atlanta Dream debuted in 2008.

"It's complex because you need the arena and practice facility and player housing and all the things," Engelbert said at a press conference before Monday's WNBA draft. "You need committed long-term ownership groups, and so the nice thing is we're getting a lot of calls."

Engelbert went on to name a few of the cities behind those calls, saying that the league continues to engage in discussions with Philadelphia, Toronto, Portland, Denver, and Nashville, as well as South Florida.

"These can either take a very long time to negotiate or it can happen pretty quickly if you find the right ownership group with the right arena situation," Engelbert added.

The Commissioner's 16 team goal is not only good news for WNBA fans, it's great news for current and future WNBA players. At 12 teams with just 12 roster spots each, the league is held to a total of 144 players for any given season. An abundance of fresh talent coming up through the NCAA ranks has put pressure on the organization to make room for more worthy competitors, and four additional teams might be just the ticket.

Hellen Obiri claims back-to-back Boston Marathon wins

Hellen Obiri, winner of the women's division of the Boston Marathon, poses with the Boston Marathon trophy
Hellen Obiri, winner of the 2024 Boston Marathon's women's division, poses with her trophy. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Kenyan runner Hellen Obiri won the 128th Boston Marathon on Monday, becoming the first woman to claim back-to-back titles since 2005.

She clocked a total time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 37 seconds in a women's division that race organizers described as "historically fast."

"Defending the title was not easy," Obiri said. "Since Boston started, it's only six women [that have repeated]. If you want to be one of them, you have to work extra hard. And I'm so happy because I'm now one of them — I'm now in the history books."

A two-time Olympic silver medalist and two-time 5000m world champion, Obiri is a clear favorite in this summer’s Paris Olympics.

“Last year I was pretty familiar to the marathon, but this year my training was perfect — we trusted everything we were doing,” Obiri said. “When we won last year, of course I was saying I’m going to win this one. Winning is like love. It’s something precious to me.”

Though, she wasn’t without a challenge. Fellow Kenyan Sharon Lokedi finished a mere eight seconds behind Obiri. Edna Kiplagat, who won the 2017 Boston Marathon, completed the podium sweep for Kenya with a third place finish.

Emma Bates, the race's top American finisher, came in 12th.

Obiri wasn't alone in making Boston Marathon history this year. The repeat champ walked away with $150,000 in total prize money allocated from a purse that topped $1 million for the first time ever. 

College rivals Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso drafted to the Chicago Sky

Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso competing at the NCAA SEC Conference Tournament Championship
Once rivals, Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso are now teammates. (Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Sky made a splash in Monday night’s WNBA draft, taking Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese in the first round. 

South Carolina’s Cardoso, who was the 2024 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, went third to the Sky. The day before, the team had swapped picks with the Minnesota Lynx to land the No. 7 pick as well, which they used on Reese, the 2023 Final Four MOP.

Now, the two will team up in Chicago after battling each other in both college and high school

"She’s a great player, and I’m a great player. Nobody's going to get no rebounds on us," Cardoso joked afterwards, while Reese expressed excitement about playing under new Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon.

"Being able to be a Black woman and as a head coach, and everything she's done at the NBA level, I just knew everything they were bringing to the table," Reese said of the Sky. "Player development is something that I was looking for and they looked for in me. I'm super excited for this move."

Former NBA star and Chicago Sky co-owner Dwayne Wade welcomed the pair to Chicago.

“The foundation is set,” he wrote.

The Sky have entered re-building mode after winning a WNBA title in 2021. This offseason, they traded franchise cornerstone Kahleah Copper to the Phoenix Mercury for a package that included the No. 3 picked used on Cardoso.

Now, Cardoso and Reese will be looking to jump-start the team's return to contention.

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