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USWNT roster: Who is the future at goalkeeper?

Casey Murphy served as the backup goalkeeper for the USWNT at the 2023 World Cup. (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The problem with picking a starting goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s national team is this: There might not be a deeper or more talented position pool from which to choose.

Alyssa Naeher has held the starting spot since before the 2019 World Cup. But the 35-year-old was left off the national team roster for the last camp of 2023 in favor of giving other goalkeepers some looks. That’s not unusual and is in fact a good sign for the team, which will have the opportunity to evaluate its options as the coaching staff plans for the 2024 Olympics.

Still, Naeher’s absence does beg the question: Who is the future at goalkeeper? Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at who could be next in line.

One note: Left off this list is Aubrey Kingsbury. While the Washington Spirit starter has proved herself as a viable USWNT backup, the 32-year-old is only three years younger than Naeher. If the national team is looking for its next long-term starter, it is a little more difficult to make the argument for Kingsbury over the names on this list.

Casey Murphy

Murphy, 27, already is an experienced USWNT backup who now has one World Cup under her belt. She also has experience starting for the USWNT, having made 16 total appearances in goal, 12 of which were shutouts. She has not conceded a goal in her three starts so far in 2023.

On top of being a reliable option for the USWNT, Murphy also is the starting goalkeeper for the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage. She was among the league’s best goalkeepers in 2023, conceding just 20 goals in 20 starts and holding a 74.2 save percentage, good for seventh in the league. Her nine clean sheets in 2023 ranked first in the NWSL, her second time topping the league in clean sheets in three years.

Murphy also has some international experience, having played for Montpellier in France’s Division 1 Féminine. Murphy’s international experience, combined with her standout performance in club play, make her a compelling candidate for taking over the starting spot when Naeher eventually steps away.

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(Charlotte Tattersall/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Phallon Tullis-Joyce

If there is one player who could fit under the new-look USWNT squad led by new coach Emma Hayes, it’s Phallon Tullis-Joyce.

The 27-year-old departed OL Reign in 2023 for Manchester United, which is also home to World Cup Golden Glove winner Mary Earps. Earps is rumored to be departing Manchester United at the end of the Women’s Super League season, which could set up Tullis-Joyce to step into the starting spot for one of England’s best clubs.

Tullis-Joyce already is a top-notch keeper, having finished her time with OL Reign with 47 appearances, 135 saves and 15 clean sheets. She holds the club record for most clean sheets in regular season play with 13, and she ranks third on the club’s all-time regular-season saves list (110). In 2022, she ranked first in the NWSL in clean sheets (9), save percentage (81.3) and goals against per 90 (0.86). She also ranked fourth in saves and third in clean sheet percentage.

While she struggled to start the 2023 NW season relative to her 2022 performance, the move to Manchester United could prove beneficial for Tullis-Joyce and for the USWNT. Under Hayes, it’s likely that international club experience will be valued highly. After all, much has been made about the changes in the international game and how the USWNT’s players need to change with it.

A goalkeeper who has experience playing against some of the world’s best players in Europe (and keep in mind Tullis-Joyce also played professionally in France) could prove vital, especially as the 27-year-old takes this season to play under one of the best goalkeepers in the game in Earps.

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(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Jane Campbell

The 2023 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Campbell has been playing her way back into consideration for the USWNT. And she was given that chance this month, as she was named to the national team roster for the December friendlies against China.

Campbell’s NWSL season was an outstanding one for the Houston Dash, with the keeper making a league-leading 93 saves and recording eight shutouts all while boasting an astounding 0.83 goals against average in 22 games played. She also conceded the fewest goals (18), even though she ranked third in the league in shots on target faced (108).

With Campbell in net, the Dash came within one goal of the NWSL record for fewest goals conceded in a season. (The record of 17 was set by the North Carolina Courage in 2017 and matched by the Portland Thorns in 2021.)

Campbell has spent time in USWNT camp before, having bounced in and out of senior national team camp since 2013 and making her international debut in 2017. She also spent extensive time in U.S. Soccer’s youth development system. The 28-year-old has made seven international appearances, and she was on the USWNT roster for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where the team won bronze.

As a player in which the USWNT already has invested time, if Campbell continues the trend she started in 2023, she could find her way not just back onto the national team but into the starting spot.

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(Kiyoshi Mio/USA TODAY Sports)

Claudia Dickey

At just 23 years old, Claudia Dickey very well may be the goalkeeper of the future for the USWNT. A former UNC Tar Heel who was the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NWSL draft, Dickey took over the OL Reign starting spot from Phallon Tullis-Joyce during the 2023 Challenge Cup. She made three starts in the Challenge Cup, recording 12 saves and not allowing a single goal.

She then started in the remaining six games of the season as Tullis-Joyce departed for Manchester United. In the playoffs, she helped lead the team to an appearance in the NWSL championship final, setting the club record for shutouts in the NWSL playoffs with two. She also became just the fifth NWSL goalkeeper to earn a shutout in her postseason debut.

“My thing with her is just how much she’s improved since taking over the Reign starting job midseason, and she’s particularly fearless coming off her line,” Just Women’s Sports writer Claire Watkins says. “So I like her intangibles. She’s young, so the rest can be coached.”

While Dickey is inexperienced, she’s shown bright spots with a club that boasted big USWNT names such as Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett. While still young, she will continue to develop under head coach Laura Harvey after signing a contract extension through 2025. By the time that the 2027 World Cup rolls around, she could at the very least warrant a look for the backup position – if not the starting spot.

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 unveiled its 2023 NWSL championship rings earlier this week.

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. 

And 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,” he 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 him to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.” Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

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."

“You have to understand that there’s something about you that makes you special” Haley Jones on her WNBA journey.

COLLEGE PARK, GEORGIA - JUNE 23: Haley Jones #13 of the Atlanta Dream dribbles against the New York Liberty during the first half at Gateway Center Arena on June 23, 2023 in College Park, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

No one understands what Caitlin Clark and the 2024 WNBA draft class has ahead of them better than Atlanta Dream guard Haley Jones.

Jones is a product of her own vaunted draft class, selected sixth overall in 2023 upon finishing a college career at Stanford that produced a 2021 national championship. Since joining the WNBA, Jones had steady output as a rookie, playing in all 40 of the team's games in her first season.

The transition wasn't always easy. Jones had to balance finishing her Stanford degree with the early months of her first professional season, competing against seasoned veterans while closing a chapter of her life as a student.

"In college, it's a job-ish. But now it's really your life, right? And not only are you competing for yourself, but the women that you're going against, this is their lives. They have kids to provide for, families, so it's a different mindset when you come in," she told Just Women's Sports at the 2024 Final Four in Cleveland. "They're so smart, they're so efficient. And so you'd be doing the same things, but they get there quicker."

Only one year removed from her own college career, watching the upcoming 2024 draft class maneuver the same schedule has been somewhat surreal for Jones. She says she remains close with many of the players at Stanford, including incoming WNBA rookie Cameron Brink, and with the NCAA tournament now behind them she knows just how quickly their lives are going to change.

"The whirlwind that it is when your season ends, you get like three days if you're going to declare for the draft or not," she says. "Then you figure it out, boom, the draft is next Monday. So no time, it's quick. And then they're gonna [have the] draft on the 15th, training camp starts the 26th or 27th, so you have 11 days to move your life to wherever you're going, figure out the new city, get your car there, do all these different little things that come along with it."

Once players arrive in training camp, their spots in the league are anything but guaranteed. With expansion still on future horizons, this year's draft class will be competing with established veterans (including, now, Jones) for limited roster spots. It's not unheard of for even WNBA lottery picks to struggle in establishing a foothold in one of the most competitive leagues in the world.

"A lot of us get to the point of being in the W, you get there because you're hypercritical," Jones says. "That's why you've been able to be so good, your work ethic is insane. So you're watching everything that you do, you're correcting yourself, you're watching film, you're doing all these things."

"I think my biggest advice is really just like the present and understand that you're there for a reason. I think that there's impostor syndrome sometimes when you get to the league. But you have to understand that there's something about you that makes you special, to be where you are."

The rookie wall is real, Jones says, and her own hypercritical nature got the best of her at times during her first year in the WNBA. But she also feels that once a player can find a sense of rhythm, there's a simplicity to the life of a professional athlete that allows them to further expand their horizons.

Misconceptions about NIL opportunities continuing beyond women's college basketball careers have abounded in recent months, with current WNBA players having to correct the record. Jones is a product of the NIL era, and has only seen her professional opportunities expand since leaving Stanford.

"Most of the deals I had in NIL I'm still with now," she says. "Because those contracts [extended] or they just renewed now that you're in the W."

"Then you take what you were making [in college] and then you add in your W salary, so — thank you. Now I have my 401k system. I have health care, all these different things — so you kind of honestly add on when you get to the W, on top of better competition, all these different things."

Removing schoolwork from her daily schedule has also given Jones more time to pursue other projects, like her podcast "Sometimes I Hoop", in partnership with The Players' Tribune. As the WNBA continues to build its own ability to market and promote its players, Jones has relished the opportunity to not only meet players she admires through the podcast, but add to an increasingly vibrant media landscape following women's sports.

"There's a lot of men's basketball podcasts out there, a lot of player-led ones," she says. "There's not a lot of women's basketball. There's some women's basketball focused pods, but not a lot of player-led ones."

"I think it's great for me to be able to give back to women’s basketball in my own way."

Jones's experience with the podcast has also given her a unique perspective on what possibly comes next for the WNBA, as the league looks to capitalize on a wave of popular young talent while still serving the players already on team rosters.

"Everybody in the league, they were All-Americans at one point in time. They were national champions, like we all have that resume," she says. "I think it's just the W expanding on their storytelling. I think doing a better job with that will do a lot, also like buying into what the players are doing."

She notes the impressive personal brands that players like Clark, Brink, and Angel Reese have built on their own.

"The W has a fan base, but then each individual player has a fan base," she continues. "So by locking into those and making them not only Angel Reese fans, Caitlin Clark fans, Cam Brink fans, making them W fans as well will be big."

As Jones grows into her second year as a professional, her perspective of her own college career has also shifted with time. Winning a national championship is difficult, and Stanford's ability to come out on top in 2021 is an achievement she's appreciated even more in the years since winning the title.

"You don't really realize it until later on," she says. "As I look at it now, I realize how big of an accomplishment that that was."

"Talking to my parents, they're like hey, how many people can actually say they won one?" she continues. "How many people become college athletes? DI athletes? Win a natty? One team a year."

The ambitions for Jones in 2024 are even bigger, with the Dream looking to improve upon their fifth-place finish last season. But she also believes the key to growing the game of basketball can be found in connecting with the community, following in the footsteps of college titans like Dawn Staley at South Carolina.

"People buying into these programs because you see them in the community is huge. I feel like for the W to be continuing to do that, continue with community initiatives, all these different things that we're doing. I think that you'll get a lot bigger fan bases."

Chelsea reaches deal with Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor to succeed Emma Hayes

Sonia Bompastor. (Photo by Christian Hofer – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

Chelsea is closing in on Emma Hayes’ replacement, reportedly having reached an agreement with Sonia Bompastor to succeed their longtime coach.

According to the Telegraph, Chelsea and Olympique Lyonnais have agreed on a deal for Bompastor, who will take over Chelsea upon the conclusion of the season.

Personal terms with Bompastor had already been agreed to, but compensation between the two teams still had to be figured out in order to release the coach from her contract a year early. 

Following Bompastor will be assistant coach Camille Abily. Bompastor takes over having won two Champions League titles as a player at Lyon, and one as coach during the 2021-22 campaign. The club also has won two straight league titles under Bompastor. 

The French coach has reportedly been Chelsea’s number one target when looking to replace Hayes. Hayes will depart Chelsea at the end of the season to take the helm of the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT). 

Hayes leaves big shoes to fill. Since taking charge in 2012, she’s led the team to six WSL titles and five FA Cups. The only trophy that eludes Hayes is the Champions League – which she still has hopes to win this year. 

They face Barcelona in the semifinals of the Champions League beginning on April 20. Should they advance, they could face Bompastor and Lyon in the final. 

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