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USWNT roster snubs: Mia Fishel, AD Franch still waiting in wings

AD Franch has not received consistent USWNT call-ups since the 2021 Olympics. (EM Dash/USA TODAY Sports)

U.S. women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovski released his 24-player roster Thursday for the squad’s October friendlies against England and Spain.

While the biggest snub was forward Midge Purce, who has appeared in 11 games for the USWNT this year, several other players could have legitimate grips about their absence from the roster.

Mia Fishel

Fishel once again was left off the latest USWNT roster, despite Alex Morgan’s knee injury opening a spot on the forward lineup.

U.S. youth national team star Alyssa Thompson joined mainstays Sophia Smith, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe, Ashley Hatch and Trinity Rodman on Andonovski’s forward list, with Fishel nowhere to be found.

While Thompson has shown tremendous upside at 17 years old, Fishel is enjoying success at the professional level, leading Mexico’s Liga MX Golden Boot race. Logging 14 goals and four assists for Tigres Femenil so far in the 2022-2023 season, Fishel has emerged as a world-class finisher at the age of 21.

“So Mia is on our depth chart and is I wouldn’t be wouldn’t be able to say where she’s at,” Andonovski told reporters following the roster drop. “We’re monitoring her form and her performances I had a conversation with only a very good conversation. She understands where she’s at.”

Fishel was selected fifth overall in the 2022 NWSL draft by the Orlando Pride but opted to sign with Tigres Femenil instead.

AD Franch

Franch is no stranger to the USWNT. She joined the squad as a backup goalkeeper at the 2019 World Cup and then again at the Tokyo Olympics. But she has not received consistent call-ups since the bronze-medal run at the Summer Games in 2021.

Andonovski has put a strong emphasis on club form throughout his tenure with the USWNT, and he has shown a strong bias toward the NWSL, which makes Franch’s absence on the October roster particularly baffling.

The Kansas City Current keeper has registered five clean sheets, averaging 3.4 saves per 90 minutes, to help her club to a 10-6-5 record.

Andonovski, however, has opted for consistency over experimentation in the back, selecting Alyssa Naeher, Casey Murphy and Aubrey Kingsbury despite the deep and growing goalkeeper pool.

“I feel like we’ve talked more about the goalkeeper sometimes than some of the other positions but it is important and we were excited about it because ultimately that’s what we want,” Andonovski said, acknowledging the well of goalkeeping talent. “We do want good competition. We want the last in each position to push each other as much as possible and get better with it.”

Carson Pickett

Carson Pickett is another player who consistently has proven herself in the NWSL yet has failed to break through on the USWNT.

The North Carolina Courage defender leads the NWSL in assists with six through 19 matches, logging a staggering 47 chances created during the 2022 campaign.

In June, the 29-year-old earned her first USWNT cap under Andonovski, playing 90 minutes in a 2-0 win against Colombia.

Pickett fits well in the USWNT’s fullback system, boasting strong defensive abilities while triggering the team’s attack from the flanks.

“Carson did very well in training for us in last week and with the management of minutes for Emily Fox that we had, we felt like Carson would be a good replacement, and I’m happy that she was able to perform well for 90 minutes,” Andonovski told ESPN of Pickett’s debut.

While it’s difficult to argue against the inclusion of Crystal Dunn or Hailie Mace on the October roster, Pickett has proven herself worthy of a follow-up to her national team debut.

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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