All Scores

Where USWNT’s newest players stand after September friendlies

Hailie Mace earned her first two USWNT caps in friendlies against Nigeria this week. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team wrapped up another successful international window this week. The 2022 Concacaf champions swept their two-game friendly series against Nigeria, 4-0 on Saturday and 2-1 on Tuesday.

While head coach Vlatko Andonovski primarily stuck with his starting rotation from the Concacaf W Championship, several less experienced USWNT players did get opportunities to show what they can do. Most players who were newcomers in November — like Emily Fox, Alana Cook, Sofia Huerta, Ashley Hatch and Ashley Sanchez — have surpassed 10 caps and seem more locked into their roles at this point. But for the seven players who have fewer than 10 caps, it can be harder to tell.

Four got to see the field against Nigeria, two didn’t but have been in the environment before, and one attended camp for the first time.

The FIFA World Cup is less than a year away, and spots on the roster are limited. Here’s where Just Women’s Sports believes the newer players currently stand.

Casey Murphy, goalkeeper (9 caps)

With seven starts in 2022, Murphy has been locked in since her jaw-dropping debut against Australia in November 2021. She started three of five matches at the Concacaf championship in July, including the semifinal against Costa Rica. Against Nigeria, the North Carolina Courage keeper started the second match Tuesday, and although the 2-1 result snapped the USWNT’s nine-game shutout streak, she played a role in keeping that streak alive in the first place, recording seven shutouts in her previous eight caps. Murphy is here to stay.

Sam Coffey, midfielder (1 cap)

Defensive midfielder Sam Coffey played the full 90 minutes in her first cap with the USWNT on Tuesday. In the absence of Julie Ertz, Andonovski has been rotating different players into the six, including Andi Sullivan, Jaelin Howell and Lindsey Horan. Starting the Concacaf championship against Canada in July, Sullivan is the preferred defensive midfielder of the group.

The No. 2 spot is still up in the air, and if Andonovski chooses to bring a backup next summer, Coffey definitely made a case for herself on Tuesday. Her 82 percent passing accuracy with the Portland Thorns this season shined through on the international stage, with the 23-year-old sending dangerous balls into the attacking third and opening up the field with her positioning off the ball.

Naomi Girma, defender (7 caps)

After sitting for the first game against Nigeria, Naomi Girma played the full 90 on Tuesday alongside fellow center back Alana Cook. As always, the No. 1 NWSL draft pick showed her composure on the ball. Andonovski describes her as a calculated defender who knows exactly when to attack the space in front of her and when to hold back. On Tuesday, she demonstrated that boldness, taking the ball herself when she didn’t risk jeopardizing the defensive third.

Andonovski believes Cook, with nine more caps, is “slightly ahead” of the NWSL rookie, but he acknowledges that Girma is making big strides. The USWNT roster will usually feature three center backs, and if Andonovski prioritizes the veteran leadership of Becky Sauerbrunn and Tierna Davidson for the World Cup, he would probably include Cook over Girma at this point. But a lot can change in a year, and anyone who watches San Diego Wave FC knows how well Girma can meet a challenge.

Hailie Mace, defender (5 caps)

Hailie Mace was one of two players on the September roster who had never played an international match under Andonovski before the friendlies against Nigeria. Andonovski said last week that it’s difficult to evaluate new players after just one camp. Mace saw the field in both games, subbing in for Emily Fox in the second halves to earn her fourth and fifth caps.

Two appearances could be interpreted as a good sign, but the first rotation was made to give Fox a break before the second game, and Fox came out of the second match after receiving a hit to the head. Mace was called in to replace veteran defender Kelley O’Hara while she’s sidelined with an injury. Although Mace put in two solid performances, playing dangerous through balls and making good tackles, she’ll likely continue to serve as a replacement player, at least for the next couple of camps. 

Aubrey Kingsbury, goalkeeper (1 cap)

Aubrey Kingsbury seems locked into the roster for now, but in the third goalkeeper spot behind Alyssa Naeher and Casey Murphy. She’s appeared in every camp this year, including the Concacaf tournament, but the Washington Spirit keeper still has only one cap with the USWNT. It was surprising that she didn’t get any time against Nigeria this week. A friendly — especially at her home field in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday — would have been a good opportunity for Kingsbury to get comfortable in a USWNT game setting.

Savannah DeMelo, midfielder (0 caps)

Attending her first USWNT camp, the Racing Louisville midfielder didn’t see the field in either match against Nigeria. It isn’t uncommon for Andonovski to sit players in their first camp, with the intention of easing them into the environment. Although the NWSL rookie has arguably been Louisville’s best player this season, tallying three goals and an assist, it’s not likely that will translate into her getting a spot on the World Cup roster. The USWNT midfield is a tough space to crack into right now, and with players like Crystal Dunn and Sam Mewis on the road to return, the center of the park is about to get even more competitive.

Taylor Kornieck, midfielder (5 caps)

The San Diego Wave midfielder joined the USWNT for the second time this year after helping them win the Concacaf championship in July, though she didn’t see any time against Nigeria. Now that Kornieck been in camp for the June friendlies, the Concacaf tournament and the September window, the coaching staff should have what they need to decide whether she’ll stick around. It wouldn’t be a surprise if she did. She already has a goal with the national team and has built-in chemistry with forward and San Diego teammate Alex Morgan.

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

Kansas City, Orlando Raise the NWSL Bar With Weekend Wins

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda in action during a NWSL match against Seattle Reign
Banda registered a brace on Sunday, bringing her NWSL total to 10 goals in just 10 games. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Pride star Barbra Banda continued on her historic NWSL trajectory this weekend, scoring twice in Orlando’s 6-0 win over Utah on Friday. 

She’s the first NWSL player to register 10 goals in their first 10 league appearances. It was also her fourth brace this season, and marked her first goals in two games after her first multi-game scoring drought.

"For me when I have an opportunity and a chance, I have to take it wisely," Banda said in her postgame remarks. "When I get a chance, I have to put the ball in the back of the net. If any game I didn’t score, I just have to go to my drawing board and work hard so that in the next game so I can find a goal."

Meanwhile, Kansas City also kept up their winning ways, beating Portland 4-1 behind a brace from midfielder Lo'eau Labonta on Sunday.

Later that day, the Washington Spirit, who sit just a point behind KC in third place, topped fourth-place Gotham FC in a decisive 2-0 victory.

And after drawing with Seattle, eighth-place Louisville has 16 points on the season — representing a growing gap between the league’s top and bottom teams. Bringing up the bottom of the ladder, both Seattle and Utah have yet to surpass 10 points this year.

Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson Punches Ticket at US Olympic Track & Field Trials

Sha'Carri Richardson poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 100 meter final at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials
Sha'Carri Richardson punched her ticket to Paris on Saturday by winning the 100-meter dash at the US Track & Field Trails. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Sha’Carri Richardson has punched her ticket to the Paris Olympics after finishing first in 100-meter final at the US Olympic Track & Field Trials over the weekend. 

Her time — 10.71 — sets a record as the fastest time in the world this year. After finishing, she dropped to one knee and bent her head to savor the moment.

"Definitely still confidence, still my exciting normal self, but more so overwhelmed with just emotions of joy," Richardson said of her post-race celebration. "I know that the hard work I've put into, not just physically on the track but as well as mentally and emotionally to grow into the mature young lady that I am today and that I'm going to grow into was a full-fledged surreal moment for me to actually embrace and be able to show to the world and on the track."

It was a statement-making turn in a comeback story that saw Richardson disqualified from the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC after that year's Olympic Trials.

"Everything I've been through is everything I have been through to be in this moment right now," Richardson said. "There's nothing I've been through that hasn't designed me to sit right here in front of you to answer this question."

Now, Richardson is expected to bring home some hardware from Paris, having grown into one of the greatest sprinters in the world. She won the 100-meter and 4x100-meter relay events at the World Championships last summer. And before this year's Olympic Trials conclude, she’ll look to also qualify for the 200-meter event. 

"In the past three years, I've grown a better understanding of myself, a deeper respect and appreciation for my gift that I have in the sport, as well as my responsibility to the people that believe in and support me," Richardson said. "I feel like all of those components have helped me grow and will continue to help me grow into the young lady that I have been divined and by God been blessed to be."

Rookie Angel Reese Shines in Sky’s Tight Win Over Fever

WNBA star Angel Reese of the Chicago Sky shoots a free throw during the game against the Indiana Fever
Angel Reese posted a career-high 25 points and 16 rebounds in the Sky's comeback win over Indiana. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty are now the top team in the WNBA, leading the league with a franchise-best 15-3 start to the season. 

Breanna Stewart leads the team in points (19.9), while Jonquel Jones leads in rebounds (8.7), and Sabrina Ionescu in assists (6.4). On Sunday, Ionescu had her fifth career game with 25+ points and 10+ assists.

Meanwhile, Connecticut stumbled over the weekend, suffering back-to-back losses for the first time this season. They’re now tied for second in the league with a 13-3 record. 

Las Vegas's win over Connecticut began a two-win run for the reigning league champs, who look to regain their rhythm with the return of starting point guard Chelsea Gray. The team also became the first team in WNBA history to sell out all of its regular season home games. 

"I do think that the growth is just the beginning," Aces chief operating and chief financial officer Matt Delsen when asked about the surging ticket sales. "And I think that, you know, the viewership can and is going to continue to grow because these athletes are the best in the world at what they do."

On Sunday, the Chicago Sky got the tight 88-87 win over Indiana while Angel Reese posted a career-high 25 points and 16 rebounds in the win. Caitlin Clark was also impressive despite the loss, scoring 17 points and a franchise-record 13 assists, as well as six rebounds and four steals. 

"This is what I do: I come out and perform," Reese said after the game. "I do what it takes to win every single day."

A number of celebrities were spotted enjoying the matchup inside Wintrust Arena, including Chance the Rapper, Jason Sudeikis, Sheryl Swoopes, and Knicks star Jalen Brunson. 

"It's good for the game, good for women's basketball, but also good for women's sports," Reese said of the buzzy crowd. "You see NBA players, rappers, legends that played in the league for a great long time come out and show support. You know everybody's watching right now.

"I think this is one of the most important times right now, and we just continue to keep putting on. I think both teams tonight did an amazing job putting on a show. It was fun. I had a great time, I'm sure the other team had a great time. I'm just happy we won tonight."

Amy Yang Wins First Major Title at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

2024 KPMG Women's PGA Championship winner Amy Yang poses with the trophy
Amy Yang won the 2024 KPMG Women's PGA Championship on Sunday, marking her first LPGA major win. (Darren Carroll/PGA of America via Getty Images)

Amy Yang won her first LPGA tour event on Sunday, taking home the title at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

At 34 years old, Yang is the oldest major winner in the LPGA since 2018 when Angela Stanford won the Evian Championship at age 40.

"At one point I thought, 'Will I ever win a major championship before I retire?'" Yang said after securing the victory. "And I finally did it and it's just amazing. Golf is really just like a fight against myself. I think I proved myself that I can compete and I can do this."

The South Korea national ended the tournament with an even-par 72 to finish at seven-under 281. At one point, she was at 10 under and held a seven-shot lead that no challenger was able to overcome. 

It was also Yang’s 75th major start, the most before a player’s first major win since Stanford won hers in her 76th major start.

"It's been incredible all this week — everyone was rooting for me," Yang said. "I want to go sign some autographs for them."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.