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OL Reign coach: Rose Lavelle may not return to NWSL before World Cup

Rose Lavelle, who has played with OL Reign since 2021, is an unrestricted free agent. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

Rose Lavelle may not make her NWSL return prior to the 2023 World Cup, OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said Tuesday.

The 28-year-old midfielder has missed the last eight matches across all competitions for OL Reign with a knee injury. During the U.S. women’s national team’s first friendly against Ireland in April, she picked up what coach Vlatko Andonovski described as “a little knock.” She missed the second friendly and hasn’t taken the pitch since then.

While Lavelle “was really on track to be back,” she has suffered a setback in her recovery, Harvey told Equalizer’s Bella Munson. Lavelle’s status “changes all the time,” according to the coach.

“I would love her to be on the field tomorrow,” she told Munson. “I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I hope that we get to see her before the World Cup but honestly right now I don’t know.”

Just 10 days earlier, Harvey had provided a more optimistic status update, noting that the midfielder had returned to training with the team.

Lavelle starred for the USWNT at the 2019 World Cup, and she is expected to make the roster for the upcoming tournament. The roster is set to be announced in June, and all national team players will be released from their NWSL duties on June 26 to prepare for the World Cup, which kicks off July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

The USWNT already is dealing with a number of injuries, with Mallory Swanson, Catarina Macario and Sam Mewis among the players who will miss the tournament. Those injuries make Lavelle’s status all the more important for the two-time defending World Cup champions.

Chelsea Wins WSL Title, Sends Emma Hayes Off to USWNT in Style

chelsea fc celebrating their wsl title win
The Blues lifted the WSL trophy once again after beating Man United on Saturday. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Emma Hayes is bowing out of the WSL in style, with Chelsea winning its fifth consecutive WSL title on Saturday.

The Blues needed a win over Manchester United on Saturday and they got one in true Chelsea fashion, beating United 6-0 to take the WSL crown. While the team tied Manchester City in points at 55 apiece, they beat City on goal differential, outscoring their northern opponents 53 to 46.

The title is the team's fifth in a row and seventh under Hayes, who now departs Chelsea after 12 years as manager.

"I can't say it's my most enjoyable but it's definitely been the toughest, without doubt, and for that reason probably the sweetest," she told Sky Sports. "I'm just so relieved it's over. The hardest thing to do is five in a row because people take their eye off the ball. My legacy is winning while building a team for the future."

Midfielder Erin Cuthbert called the title the "hardest one yet" for Chelsea, but also the sweetest. A month ago, the team was virtually all but out of the title race, with Hayes conceding as much. Chelsea went on to right the ship, however, putting on a stunning eight goal performance against Bristol City to insert themselves back into the conversation.

"In the moments that really matter, we find a way," Cuthbert told BBC Sport. "We've never really backed down from a challenge. The fans have been with us from the start, they've been incredible this year.

"There have been a few rough moments, this title has taken about 10 years off my life if I'm being deadly honest. The hardest one yet, the sweetest one yet, so I'm going to enjoy tonight."

Hayes will now leave to manage the USWNT, telling BBC Sport on Saturday that the team and its fans will always in be in her heart.

"I don't think I have the words really. I am full with a ton of different emotions," she said. "I am ready, I have given everything I've got. [I am] ready for my next adventure."

Las Vegas Investigated for Aces Sponsorship, Per Reports

aces logo on basketball court
It's not the first time the Aces have found themselves in hot water over CBA violations. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A first-of-its-kind sponsorship has hit the WNBA, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) announcing on Friday it would be supporting all 12 players of the two-time WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.

The deal grants each player $100,000 dollars in exchange for representing the city in 2024 and 2025.

"The offer's really simple: We want you to just play, we want you to keep repping Las Vegas, and if you do a three-peat, that'd be icing on the cake," LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill told the team in a video released Friday.

The news comes as WNBA salaries and team caps continue to be a point of contention in the league. With many players making less than $100,000 a year, outside sponsors have long helped bridge the financial gap for players. 

On Saturday, Aces coach Becky Hammon said that the local tourism bureau had reached out to all of the players individually via their agents, leaving the Aces organization out of the conversation entirely. The goal was to avoid breaking cap circumvention rules established by the league’s CBA.

"I'm going to put it to you real simple like this: Most of sponsorship people go after the top two people," Hammon said. "[A'ja Wilson] is taken care of — she's got plenty of stuff going on. [Kelsey Plum] has plenty of stuff. In this situation, from what I understand, is they wanted the whole team. So they went and called individuals, agents. I don't know the details. 

"I have nothing to do with it; the Aces don't have anything to do with it. It's just odd, but that's basically what happened."

Despite the apparent separation, the WNBA has launched an investigation into the legality of the sponsorship, according to multiple sources

While the sponsorship does not directly violate the league-wide salary cap because the LVCVA did not orchestrate the sponsorship with the club, other teams are likely to raise questions about its fairness and whether or not it violates the spirit of the cap rules. The deal could potentially upend the balance of what teams are able to offer players in the free agency market.

"We have 100 influencers we pay to represent Las Vegas," Hill told the Associated Press. "This isn’t any different then that. All of these ladies are completely eligible to have sponsorships. We are just asking them to represent Vegas."

It’s not the first time the league has investigated the Aces for cap circumnavigation. Just last year, the team faced consequences — Hammon was suspended for two games while the team lost its 2025 first-round draft pick — for crossing league rules regarding impermissible player benefits and workplace policies.

"We get [things] from our agents all the time; they wanted it to be a big moment because it's something that's never happened before," Aces star forward A'ja Wilson said about the LVCVA's offer. "I don't understand the investigation; I haven't dived into it yet. I just looked at my phone [after the game] and was like, 'Oh, wow, just another day in the life of the Aces.' We can't ever start just normal, it's always going to be something, and that's okay."

Lynn Williams Laps Kerr as NWSL’s All-Time Leading Scorer

gotham fc's lynn williams celebrates a goal against chicago red stars
Lynn Williams celebrated her record-breaking goal 79th goal in Sunday's match against Chicago. (Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)

Gotham FC's Lynn Williams etched her name into the NWSL history books on Sunday, becoming the all-time leading goalscorer across all NWSL competitions. 

Coming in the 57th minute of Gotham's 2-1 win over Chicago, Williams's 79th goal breaks a tie with Sam Kerr for the league record. The header was her ninth-career headed goal, and her first since 2021.

"I don’t get the goals without my teammates. I have played with so many incredible people over the 10 years," Williams said after the game. "At the end of the day, I think I just owe it all to the people that are around me — all my teammates, all my family members. I just owe it all to them, and I can’t put any single one of those goals away without them."

Kerr still holds the regular season record, with 77 of her 78 goals having come in the regular season. Williams sits in second place with 66 regular season goals scored, having long been the top-scoring American in the NWSL. 

The USWNT regular has won four championships with the WNY Flash, North Carolina Courage, and reigning champions Gotham FC.

"Her commitment to make sure the team wins, even the last kick of the game is her kicking out of the box, no? She has that commitment, that passion, and that quality to be scoring goals in key moments for us, for the US, for whatever team she’s playing (for)," Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amorós said on Sunday. "She’s wearing the armband. Having people like her in this club is what we want."

"I’m just really proud of myself. I think that I have exceeded a lot of people’s expectations," Williams added. "For a very long time, I have believed in myself, and a lot of moments along the way I’ve been told, 'No, you’re not good enough.' And I think that every single time I score a goal, every single time I’m put on the field, it’s another moment for me to continue to believe in myself."

The striker even got a shoutout from one of the greatest of all time: Serena Williams. 

"Congrats cuz," she tweeted after the Gotham victory.

2023 MVP Breanna Stewart Drops 31 Points in Liberty’s Huge Win Over Fever

breanna stewart and jonquel jones of the new york liberty celebrate win over indiana fever
Stewie and the Liberty dominated the court throughout Thursday's Fever home opener. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

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