All Scores

USWNT 2022 player grades: Alyssa Naeher still No. 1 goalkeeper

Alyssa Naeher played fewer minutes than Casey Murphy in 2022 but remains the favorite heading into 2023. (Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

It’s the end of the calendar year for the U.S. women’s national team, with 2022 performances all wrapped up in a bow. Naturally, that also means it’s time for end-of-year report cards to evaluate how each player did in the run-up to the 2023 World Cup.

First, a quick set of criteria: Despite the team’s first three-game losing streak in decades, the U.S. lost only three games total in 2022. A failing grade would indicate a player is wildly unprepared for the game at this level, which is not something we saw from the group playing the lion’s share of minutes this year. Likewise, an A+ indicates a player with all-star, team-on-their-back, best-in-the-world status.

Throughout this series, which will grade players by position, I’m going to avoid those who didn’t get minutes in 2022 and those who have missed significant time due to injury.

Today, let’s take a look at the goalkeeping pool.

Alyssa Naeher – B+

Naeher started all eight matches she played in 2022, conceding only four goals over the course of the year. After returning from a hyper-extension in her knee that kept her sidelined for the USWNT’s post-Olympics stretch in 2021, she looked especially sharp coming off her line. Her kick-save in the final match of the year against Germany, which was essentially a must-win game, swung momentum back in favor of the U.S. and spurred their 2-1 comeback victory.

Naeher is 34 and appears to have her successor developing closely behind her. But in the minutes she did get in 2022, she gave no clear reason to think that now is the time to shake up the USWNT’s hierarchy at the top. Naeher’s wealth of experience in big moments has led to discipline and calm control of a rotating defense in front of her, and she’s still the keeper I’d call upon in a high-profile matchup.

Casey Murphy received plenty of opportunities this year to steal the top goalkeeper spot. (Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Casey Murphy – B

When evaluating a new USWNT goalkeeper, it can be important sometimes to grade on a curve. The point of getting Casey Murphy as many minutes as possible in 2022 was to prepare her for 2023 should she find herself in the same situation as AD Franch at last year’s Olympics, when Naeher hurt her knee and Franch was thrust into the lineup. Murphy’s caps jumped from four to 12 in 2022, and the USWNT newcomer did show some nerves in high-pressure moments.

The 26-year-old clearly has the mechanics to be a great USWNT goalkeeper, but hesitation at the back stopped her from becoming the team’s obvious No. 1 when presented with the opportunity. Murphy played very well against Australia last December but looked less comfortable in Concacaf W competition, including the team’s semifinal against Costa Rica. She actually played her best game of the year in the USWNT’s loss to Germany in November, perhaps setting the stage for steps forward in 2023.

Aubrey Kingsbury – B-

Kingsbury performed perfectly well in her first and only USWNT cap of the year, a 9-0 blowout win over Uzbekistan. But her inability to break into the team’s current two-player rotation makes her spot on the 2023 World Cup roster far from a guarantee. Kingsbury is one of the best American goalkeepers in the NWSL, but her consistent call-ups came in the wake of the Washington Spirit’s championship win in 2021.

In 2022, Washington struggled and Kingsbury eventually found herself on the outside looking in of the USWNT as AD Franch made her return to camp at the end of the year. Franch herself never saw the field for the USWNT this year, but the choices made in January camp will indicate where Kingsbury currently stands on the depth chart and whether she needs different results in the NWSL to move back up.

AD Franch had a standout NWSL season for Kansas City in 2022. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Adrianna Franch – Incomplete

I’m already breaking my own rules here, but Franch deserves a mention because she probably should have had USWNT minutes in 2022. Franch held her own in the midst of a difficult situation at the Tokyo Olympics, and she certainly was not the reason Canada advanced over the U.S. and to the gold-medal match off a penalty. She led her NWSL club, the Kansas City Current, all the way to the 2022 Championship and received a USWNT call-up in November. Naeher and Murphy split the two games, leaving Franch without an opportunity to prove herself.

It’s possible that Franch has played herself back into the conversation for the USWNT’s third goalkeeper spot, but she should also be in consideration for on-field time. As a pure shot-stopper, Franch continues to excel above the competition.

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

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 Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a 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.

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