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USWNT vs. England: How does U.S. match up with Euros champ?

Lucy Bronze of England during the UEFA Women’s Euro England 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images)

The United States women’s national team is still No. 1.

According to the latest FIFA rankings released Friday, the USWNT still sits atop the women’s soccer world after its ninth Concacaf W Championship win in July.

Several European teams, though, are nipping at the heels of the reigning World Cup champions. England, fresh off its maiden Euros title, rose to fourth, behind Germany in second and Sweden in third.

The Lionesses’ ascent sets up an epic clash with the USWNT.

The teams are set to face off on Oct. 7 in London’s Wembley Stadium. Tickets for the event sold out in 24 hours, following up England’s record Euros final crowd of 87,192 at the iconic stadium.

The fall friendly will serve as a precursor to the World Cup and Olympic cycle, with both sides looking to make a statement on the international stage. Just Women’s Sports takes a look ahead to the highly anticipated contest.

How does USWNT match up with England?

Form

England will present a formidable test for the USWNT ahead of the 2023 World Cup, with the Lionesses entering the Wembley match in top form. Under manager Sarina Wiegman, England is unbeaten through 20 matches and has scored 106 goals.

While the end of Europe’s World Cup qualifying competition stands between now and October, all signs point to continued dominance for England.

As the Lionesses’ attack appears to be ramping up, logging 5.3 goals per game under Wiegman’s leadership, the USWNT’s offense is not yet synced up. The U.S. has averaged 3.83 goals per game this year, with finishing a topic of conversation in the Concacaf W Championship. While the team grew into the tournament, creating more chances in the final third as the competition continued, the USWNT struggled to put those opportunities away.

It would be too harsh to say the USWNT’s form lags behind England’s, as the U.S. has surged to an 11-0-1 record on the year, but it’s safe to say the Lionesses have faced a more competitive schedule, lifting the group to another level of performance.

Midfield

While many hail the Lionesses for their ability to get up the flanks with stellar attacking-minded outside backs in Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly, England has also shown its strength in the middle of the park.

Fran Kirby, Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh made up England’s starting trio in the midfield throughout the Euros, lining up in front of a seasoned backline. The midfield lineup was vital in England’s press, helping the team to deploy pressure higher up the pitch and provide reinforcements to slow down the counter-press.

The USWNT holds a less commanding presence down the spine of the pitch, with the midfield unit yet to fully click. Julie Ertz’s extended absence and maternity leave have loomed large over the U.S., with the team yet to nail down the No. 6 position. Andi Sullivan has stepped up as the team’s defensive midfield anchor but has battled injury throughout the 2022 season.

Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan appear to have locked in the remaining spots in coach Vlatko Andonovski’s starting midfield lineup. Despite carrying a heavy load during the Concacaf W Championship, Horan looked to be carrying a knock through the Mexico-hosted tournament. When given space to link up with the offense and show her creativity, Lavelle can be dangerous, but that version of the OL Reign star didn’t fully emerge in Monterrey.

Expect England to rival the USWNT in the center of the field. The U.S. midfield will be tasked with halting a well-oiled Lionesses attack while finding space on the other side of the ball against an organized squad.

Depth

The USWNT’s deep talent pool has long set the squad apart from the international competition. But the U.S. is no longer the only team with impressive roster depth.

England’s substitutes played a critical role in their Euros title run, with Alessia Russo making a name for herself as a reserve for striker Ellen White. The 23-year-old’s backheel goal cemented the young star on the international stage.

Ella Toone and Jill Scott were also key off the bench in the midfield, and Chloe Kelly, who scored the game-winner in the final against Germany, was vital up top.

The USWNT, of course, has depth at nearly every position, with Margaret Purce and Trinity Rodman emerging as game-changers on the front line and Ashley Sanchez adding a surge of creativity to the midfield.

October’s contest may just come down to which side’s impressive reserves can impact the game the most.

The USWNT and England will face off on Friday, Oct. 7, at Wembley Stadium. The match will air at 3 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

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 has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

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. 

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,” Manning 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 Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

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."

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