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Tobin Heath and Christen Press break down ‘disastrous’ half for USWNT

Jill Roord gave the Netherlands a 1-0 lead against the USWNT in the first half of the group-stage match. (Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images)

Tobin Heath and Christen Press gave voice to what plenty of U.S. women’s national teams fans are thinking following the 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in the World Cup group stage.

The two-time World Cup champions are watching this year’s tournament from home and are breaking down each USWNT match as the hosts of “The RE-CAP Show.” On the latest episode, Heath and Press criticized the team’s decision-making, especially in what Heath called a “disastrous” first half.

“If I was to close my eyes right now, and if you were to tell me that we tied the Netherlands 1-1, I think I would have said, ‘OK, not terrible,’” she said. “But I didn’t close my eyes and watch that game. They were wide open. And what I will say is there’s a result and then there’s performance.”

Looking at the result, a 1-1 draw still gives the USWNT a solid chance to win Group E with a win against Portugal at 3 a.m. ET Tuesday.

“But performance — I mean, that first half was disastrous. And I don’t think there’s any one individual that you point to and say that individual didn’t play well,” Heath said. “I think I looked out on the field and I saw a lot of people that didn’t know what they were doing.”

After the USWNT entered the half trailing 1-0, a much-improved second half saw the team tie the score on a Lindsey Horan header. The energy and belief in the final 45 minutes reminded everyone “what we love cheering for about the U.S.,” Heath said. She also described how Horan had manifested her game-tying goal in conversation with Heath before the match.

“I’m so proud of her,” Heath said. “She told me that she was gonna do that, and she did it. Like, that to me is a U.S. women’s team captain. When the team needed something, she brought it.”

While the USWNT scored on a corner kick and finished with 11 in the match, Heath keeps “coming back” to the ways in which the team could be more effective on corner kicks and other set pieces. A lack of consistency has made it hard for the team to get the timing right, she said.

Later in the show, injured Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema came on to discuss the match with Heath. Miedema echoed Heath’s tactical analysis, noting that the USWNT would have done well to create more width in their attack.

“If they would have made it a bit wider, you could have run at them. As you know yourself as a winger, you would have loved to get the ball and then go into one-on-one,” Miedema said. “I think you guys then create those opportunities.”

Miedema also questioned whether the USWNT’s tactics played to the strengths of its roster, specifically referring to Alex Morgan, who head coach Vlatko Andonovski has said is playing in a “bit of a different role” at this World Cup.

“I think it’s hard to see some of your players not being able to actually get into their strengths,” she said. “I think if you look at Alex Morgan, she’s probably one of the best strikers in the world for more than a decade now. But she obviously doesn’t get the balls into the box that she probably needs. So you probably need to adjust a bit to the players that you have, and I felt like in our game that didn’t happen.”

To Miedema, Rose Lavelle made a “big difference” in the second half, which helped the USWNT play better from that point.

Still, despite some stronger and weaker individual performances, the team’s play as a whole is the root of the problem. Press described an “intangible feeling” that is lacking so far from the 2023 squad.

“The reason that the U.S. women’s national has won consistently is because of the intangible, and the intangible feeling was there,” she said. “I was even just reading what people were saying in the second half and it was the feeling that every single person in this country believed that we were going to come back and score, and they played like that.

“And I’ve been on the pitch with this team and I haven’t felt that. And that’s what scares me the most.”

That does not mean the team will not be able to build its identity during the World Cup. And that process already is underway.

“To me, it’s another performance where in that first half I saw 11 individuals out on the field trying to play a game of soccer,” Heath said. “And then in the second half I saw 11 individuals that came together as the U.S. women’s team to try to win a game.”

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

Despite fans launching a Change.org 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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