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USWNT roster: Players with most to prove in Germany games

Trinity Rodman had a goal called back against England in October after it VAR ruled it offside. (David Rogers/Getty Images)

As the U.S. women’s national team takes on Germany this week in their final two games of the year, they’ll be balancing further squad development and a positive result. The U.S. could use a win after their October trip to Europe yielded two straight losses. Meanwhile, the team has been settling on a preferred starting XI as they await the returns of a number of key players from injury in 2023.

If head coach Vlatko Andonovski views the Germany games as an opportunity for further squad evaluation, a handful of players could use the playing time to prove their value. The competition within the team will only grow as the months tick down to the 2023 World Cup.

Taylor Kornieck

Kornieck was something of a surprise addition to the USWNT’s Concacaf W roster in July, but her play with the San Diego Wave this year explains why the U.S. is interested in her skill set. Kornieck’s prowess in the air, particularly on set pieces, is somewhat obvious (she’s a towering 6-foot-1), but she’s also proven to be an impressive line-breaker with the ball at her feet. The U.S. is still figuring out what to do at the holding midfielder position when Lindsey Horan isn’t on the field, and after Kornieck missed the last international window with an ankle injury, she could use time to carve out a role.

Sam Coffey

The USWNT’s defensive midfield has been in need of answers in recent months, meaning the opportunity for Coffey to make her mark on the team has only grown. Coffey played well beyond her years in her rookie season and during the Thorns’ 2022 NWSL Championship victory, and she’s familiar with both a rigid and a free-flowing midfield philosophy from Portland. Coffey has been fast-tracked as one of the USWNT’s key options for the No. 6, and this week could be the time to solidify the concept.

Trinity Rodman

Rodman is a generational talent, but she hasn’t had as much time with the USWNT attack as the other forwards vying for a spot in the team’s starting XI. In October, she played on the right wing while Sophia Smith filled in for Alex Morgan, but now that Morgan and Mallory Pugh are both back in the fold, Rodman has to figure out where she fits within Andonovski’s attacking rotations. She’s already an asset as a connecting player, and she bounces off the attacking midfield well. But if Andonovski feels his current starters need more time to build chemistry, balancing Rodman’s development at the international level becomes tricky.

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Ashley Sanchez has gotten more opportunities to prove herself with the USWNT this year. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Ashley Sanchez

Sanchez, like Rodman, is part of the USWNT’s present and the future. She was tasked with providing an attacking spark in the midfield at Concacaf W this summer, but she has featured more off the bench in 2022. Sanchez is a creative player who can be brought on to run at opponents with enthusiasm, but she hasn’t gotten a chance in games that require a stronger off-the-ball defensive plan. She’s also likely competing with Rose Lavelle for minutes, and Lavelle has been excellent in 2022. Getting a shot against a crisp midfield like Germany’s would be an indicator that Sanchez is ready to adapt to greater challenges.

Ashley Hatch

Hatch quietly had another strong NWSL season in 2022, scoring nine goals for the Washington Spirit, but the USWNT’s reliance on the 27-year-old has waned in recent months. Alex Morgan has gradually overtaken Hatch in the role of post-up, central forward on the team’s depth chart, and Andonovski’s decision to play Hatch in just one half when Morgan was out with an injury in October raises a few questions about what happens when Catarina Macario returns to the team next spring. Hatch has had a knack for goal at the international level, and her level of inclusion this week could suggest where she sits on the USWNT depth chart.

Casey Murphy

I don’t envy the task of rotating the three USWNT goalkeepers through these games. Alyssa Naeher needs time to continue to gel with a new-look defense, and Adrianna Franch has more than earned another look on the field. But the development of Casey Murphy hasn’t been as linear as expected in 2022, and more big-game experience could be crucial for evaluation. Murphy obviously has the ability to be an elite shot-stopper at the international level (her matches against Australia a year ago were examples of her high ceiling,) but she’s also shown some nerves this year. With Franch making a surge, the competition at goalkeeper is more interesting than ever.

Kristie Mewis

Three of the players on this list had rough club seasons with the Spirit this year, and Kristie Mewis likewise had a difficult year with last-place Gotham FC. Andonovski cited form when he left Gotham teammate Margaret Purce off the last two USWNT rosters, and Mewis has been competing for minutes off the bench with Lavelle and Horan tabbed as midfield starters. Mewis is very good in dead-ball situations, and her ability to chase a game late has provided a spark to the midfield in the past. But she needs to be able to showcase the form that got her back on the USWNT in 2021, with limited minutes to do so.

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 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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