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USWNT turns the page from 2023 World Cup with latest roster

Mia Fishel and Jaedyn Shaw walk to the field before USWNT training on Sept. 19. (Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images for USSF)

While the search for a permanent head coach remains ongoing, the U.S. women’s national team announced its roster on Wednesday for two October friendlies against Colombia. The group consists of both longtime veterans and exciting young talents, including the first senior team call-up for 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie.

If the 2023 World Cup squad looked like a team in transition, the USWNT we’ve seen this fall only leans deeper into the winds of change. Legends have said their goodbyes, and young players are getting their chance to prove their value on the international stage. In between, the U.S. has many holdovers to help maintain the team’s longtime standard before a new coach comes in to make their stamp on the team.

The post-Pinoe era

The USWNT’s October friendlies will be the first international break since the retirements of Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe, which are already being felt on the depth chart. Ertz’s absence should make way for more consistent opportunities for Portland Thorns defensive midfielder Sam Coffey, who is likely competing with Emily Sonnett for time despite Sonnett being listed on the roster as a defender.

The U.S. is also left searching for center-back depth after Ertz took over a starting role during the 2023 World Cup. Tierna Davidson misses out on this roster after suffering a face injury in the NWSL, and Abby Dahlkemper has yet to be called back into U.S. camp since returning from back surgery in August. Becky Sauerbrunn makes her welcome return to the roster after missing the World Cup with a foot injury, providing a vital infusion of veteran leadership. But looking beyond 2024, the central defense will need more players with experience to join the depth chart with Alana Cook and Naomi Girma.

Sauerbrunn’s return speaks to the larger cycle refresh now that Rapinoe has hung up her boots. Lindsey Horan, named a captain by Vlatko Andonovski for the 2023 World Cup, suddenly has the third-most caps on the team behind Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan. Morgan has shown how she can galvanize a team around her in San Diego this NWSL season. As the spirit of the team reshapes around younger stars, Morgan will be tasked with connecting with the next generation.

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Alyssa Thompson is the most experienced of the USWNT's youngsters after making the World Cup roster. (Hannah Peters - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Teenage dream

The October roster features three teenagers: 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, 18-year-old Jaedyn Shaw and 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie. Thompson is already a mainstay with the team after making the roster for the 2023 World Cup, and fans will be eager to see how Shaw and Moultrie adapt to the international level after impressive seasons with their respective NWSL clubs.

Shaw has the ability to slot in as a winger, a position where the U.S. doesn’t lack for talent, but she can also drift further back into the midfield to facilitate playmaking in the absence of Rose Lavelle. In September, interim manager Twila Kilgore opted for a defensive midfield shape with Andi Sullivan, Sonnett, and Lindsey Horan. If the USWNT feels comfortable with a more attacking style in October, Shaw will be a huge asset.

Moultrie’s addition is particularly notable based on the position she plays. The Thorns player is a sharp passer and a connecting midfielder who can break lines and set up the attack. In recent years, the USWNT coaching staff has been more comfortable integrating young players into attacking roles and letting midfielders develop through league play. If Moultrie gets time against Colombia, she’ll have significant responsibility as the team’s engine, and the earlier she can get comfortable with the speed of play, the better.

There’s also something to be said about rewarding teenagers who made the leap to professional clubs with serious USWNT consideration. After their World Cup disappointment, USWNT players and U.S. Soccer officials alike have said they want to build a cohesive style of play that prioritizes holding the ball and begins at the youth levels. For Thompson, Shaw and Moultrie, there’s no time like the present, with the hope that more players feel encouraged to follow in their footsteps.

Play the kids

Kilgore was somewhat cautious with the young players she brought in last month, letting Shaw get acclimated to the U.S. camp environment and waiting to play Chelsea striker Mia Fishel until the second game of their series against South Africa. As the U.S. gets further away from the World Cup, Kilgore may feel more emboldened to let players test their mettle against Colombia, a major tournament quarterfinalist.

In September, the USWNT was balancing heavy emotions as they said goodbye to close friends and icons and looked to rebound from a confidence-shaking summer. But preparation for the 2024 Olympics needs to begin sooner rather than later, and reverting to a conservative midfield of experienced players and only late substitute minutes for incoming attackers would be a disappointment in October.

Kilgore could pair Sam Coffey with Andi Sullivan or let the young No. 6 stand alone in a more attacking structure. She could also start Fishel to give Morgan rest in one of the two matches, work Moultrie into the midfield alongside Horan or as her replacement, and have Shaw make slashing runs in tandem with Sophia Smith or relieve her as she builds minutes from a knee injury.

There is a healthy amount of connective tissue for every player new to the U.S. environment this month. But one of the team’s tasks going forward is to worry less about the safety net, and more about the future.

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

USWNT to face Costa Rica in final Olympic send-off

uswnt sophia smith and tierna davidson celebrate at shebeilves cup 2024
The USWNT will play their final pre-Olympic friendly against Costa Rica on July 16th. (Photo by Greg Bartram/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the USWNT will play their last home game on July 16th in the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

The 2024 Send-Off Match against Costa Rica will take place at Washington, DC’s Audi Field — home to both the Washington Spirit and DC United — at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 16th. The friendly rounds out a four-game Olympic run-up campaign under incoming head coach Emma Hayes’ side, with the last two set to feature the finalized 2024 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team roster.

Hayes will appear on the USWNT sideline for the first time this June, helming the team as they embark on a two-game series against Korea Republic hosted by Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on June 1st followed by Allianz Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 4th. 

The team is then scheduled to meet a talented Mexico squad on July 13th at Gotham FC’s Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, where the Olympic-bound lineup will attempt to rewrite February’s shocking 2-0 loss to El Tri Femenil in the group stages of this year’s Concacaf W Gold Cup. And while clear roster favorites have emerged from both of this year’s Gold Cup and SheBelives Cup rosters, a spate of recent and recurring injuries means making it to the Olympics is still largely anyone’s game.

Broadcast and streaming channels for the USWNT's final July 16th friendly at Audi Field include TNT, truTV, Universo, Max, and Peacock.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA start to serve as 2024 Olympic tryout

Clark of the Indiana Fever poses for a photo with Lin Dunn and Christie Sides during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024
The talented Fever rookie is still in the running for a ticket to this summer's Paris Olympics. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The USA Basketball Women's National Team is still considering Caitlin Clark for a spot on the Paris Olympics squad, says selection committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti. 

On Monday, Rizzotti told the AP that the committee will be evaluating the college phenom’s Olympic prospects by keeping a close eye on her first few weeks of WNBA play with Indiana.

The move is somewhat unconventional. While Clark was invited to participate in the 14-player national team training camp held earlier this month — the last camp before Team USA’s roster drops — she was unable to attend due to it coinciding with Iowa’s trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Judging by the immense talent spread throughout the league in what might be their most hyped season to date, competition for a piece of the Olympic pie could be fiercer than ever before.

"You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it's for now or the future," said Rizzotti. "We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty and experience. It's got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It's still not going to be fair to some people."

Of course, Clark isn’t the first rookie the committee has made exceptions for. Coming off an exceptional college season that saw her averaging 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for UConn, Breanna Stewart was tapped to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil less than two weeks after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm. Eight years prior, fellow No. 1 pick Candace Parker punched her ticket to the 2008 Games in Beijing just two weeks after making her first appearance for the L.A. Sparks.

In the lead-up to Paris’ Opening Ceremony on July 26th, USA Basketball Women’s National Team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games. They'll first go up against the WNBA's finest at the July 20th WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix before facing Germany in London on July 23rd.

While an official roster announcement date hasn’t yet been issued, players won’t find out if they’ve made this year’s Olympic cut until at least June 1st.

WNBA teams make history with 2024 season ticket sell-outs

Arike Ogunbowale on the wnba court for the dallas wings
The Dallas Wings are now the third team to sell out their entire season ticket allotment in WNBA history. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

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