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‘We want to carry on her legacy’: Carli Lloyd completes final mission with USWNT

(Bri Lewerke/Just Women’s Sports)

When Carli Lloyd stepped onto the pitch Tuesday night for the last time in a U.S. women’s national soccer team jersey, a starting lineup of young players took the field with her.

This was Lloyd’s farewell match, but she told the starters in the locker room before kickoff that the game was about them, and it was their opportunity to shape the future of the USWNT. The players took her message to heart, dismantling Korea Republic with clinical play in the final third for a 6-0 win.

“We all kind of separately and collectively said we want to carry on her legacy of just her work rate, her commitment going forward and that we need that,” said Andi Sullivan, the 25-year-old midfielder who was a part of the starting XI.

“That’s what has made this team so successful, is people like Carli and people before her who have helped shape her and pave her way and she’s done that for us, so we need to continue to do the same. It’s been very emotional, but we’re going to use that all as fuel and use it to help us be successful in the future.”

Lloyd has said she had “tunnel vision” in the past. She dedicated herself to her craft, often putting in more training hours than anyone else on the team. That laser focus is what made her so successful, winning two FIFA Player of the Year awards and scoring some of the most notable goals in USWNT history, but it’s also what caused her to drift from her teammates and coaches at times.

After the game Tuesday, Lloyd said that she wouldn’t have done anything differently during her career, but she’s also been more attentive this year to making sure the USWNT is well equipped for the future. That’s included passing down her wisdom to the younger players, helping them understand the culture of the team and the responsibility that comes with wearing the crest.

“I feel that I’ve really been alive and just been a bit more vulnerable these last several months after announcing my retirement,” she said. “I’ve just went about my career as somebody who just wants to get better every single day, and to hear the impact that I’ve had on so many players, so many younger players, is almost more rewarding than anything I’ve ever achieved.”

Lloyd wraps up her career with 316 caps and 134 international goals, the fourth most all-time in women’s and men’s U.S. national team history. She didn’t net any, however, in Tuesday’s win over Korea Republic. Perhaps it was an ending symbolic of Lloyd’s final charge with the USWNT, to leave the team better off than when she joined it in 2005.

Last week, Lloyd announced she would hand off the No. 10 jersey to Lindsey Horan after Tuesday’s game. It was fitting then that Horan scored the first goal of the game in Carli Lloyd fashion, in the ninth minute while wearing her No. 9 jersey for the final time.

Horan, who described Lloyd as her role model, was able to hear more about Lloyd’s experiences with the national team when the two shared a meal table at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Having conversations with her and hearing her stories and what she’s been through with this national team, things that no one else knows, is really, really cool,” Horan said. “I think those are the moments that last forever for us and are kind of the most important.”

Sullivan has also shared many valuable encounters with Lloyd. She sits behind the 39-year-old on the team bus and sometimes picks her brain for wisdom. In the camp before she was cut from the Olympic roster, Sullivan asked Lloyd for advice on how to make a soccer career so successful.

“You have to not care what people think about you, in a positive way, where you have this undeniable belief and confidence in yourself,” Lloyd told her.

“I think that has really sat with me and helped me through my NWSL season that helped me to come back here, so I’m definitely going to carry that with me in my career,” Sullivan said on Tuesday.

Sullivan was one of six players on Tuesday’s roster aged 25 or younger. At the Tokyo Olympics, there was only one (Tierna Davidson).

“I think there’s been a little changing of the guard,” said Lloyd. “There’s obviously a different generation. Players are so technically gifted. We have some unbelievable talent that’s coming through the mix and tonight you got to see that, which I think is really exciting.”

Lloyd still has two regular season games left with her club, NJ/NY Gotham FC, and more in the playoffs should they advance. But on the international stage, she’s signing off.

“I’m excited to see the future of this team,” Lloyd said. “I’m saying goodbye on the field, but I want to continue to help in any way possible. I’m going to be the biggest fan, the biggest cheerleader, and I want to see this team continue to succeed.”

Two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas Re-Signs with Barcelona on Two-Year Deal

Alexia Putellas on the field for barcelona
The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years. (Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Alexia Putellas has re-signed with FC Barcelona on a new two-year deal that will run through 2026. The agreement includes an option for a one-year extension. 

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years, and her previous contract was set to expire next month. However, she’s spent the better part of the last two seasons battling injuries, starting with an ACL tear that kept her out of the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship and limited her participation in Spain’s FIFA Women's World Cup win last summer. 

Putellas returned in March from her latest injury setback, making 25 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona this season and scoring 10 goals. 

In total, the midfielder has made 400 appearances for Barcelona. Among her 20 major trophies with the club include eight Liga F titles and two UEFA Champions League titles — including helping the team to its first European trophy in 2021. 

She then won the Ballon d’Or in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022. 

Putellas could add a third Champions League trophy next weekend, when Barcelona faces familiar foe Lyon, a team they’ve lost to in two previous Champions League finals. Should they secure the UWCL, they would win the quadruple for the first time, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

WNBA on Pace for Record-Breaking Season

onquel Jones #35 of the New York Liberty rebounds during the game against the Indiana Fever on May 18, 2024 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Indiana's game against New York on Saturday was the most-watched WNBA game to ever air on ABC. (Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA continues its historic trajectory one week into the season, with attendance and viewership skyrocketing across the board. 

Indiana’s Saturday game against the New York Liberty was the most-watched WNBA game ever on ABC, drawing 1.71 million viewers. The Sparks vs. Aces matchup that followed became the third most-watched WNBA game broadcast on ABC with 1.34 million viewers.

On Monday, the tense finish between Indiana and Connecticut drew 1.56 million viewers to ESPN, the second most-watched WNBA game to ever air on cable.

Outside of the league’s viewership, both in-person attendance and merchandise sales have also been on a meteoric rise. On Saturday, the game between New York and Indiana shattered the single-game ticket revenue record in the WNBA, with the Liberty pulling in $2 million in sales. 

New York and Indiana played their home openers in front of more than 17,000 fans, with attendance up 14% year-over-year, according to the league. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Aces, the Liberty, the Wings, the Dream, and others have already sold out of their 2024 season ticket allotments.

Since April’s WNBA Draft, revenue from the WNBA’s official online store is up 2,260%, already blowing past total sales for the entire 2023 season.

While the numbers may cool somewhat as teams settle into their seasons, the pop in demand has already overwhelmingly delivered for the WNBA in 2024.

Angel Reese Adds USL Team Owner to Growing Résumé

chicago sky rookie angel reese speaking at an event
Star rookie Angel Reese is all in on the USL Super League. (JC Olivera/Variety via Getty Images)

Chicago Sky rookie Angel Reese continues to add to her résumé, becoming the newest member of the DC Power Football Club’s ownership group

The No. 7 pick in the WNBA draft joins an group that includes the MLS team DC United as well as other DC-area community members and business owners. One of the USL Super League’s inaugural clubs, DC Power FC is set to begin play in August. 

"I want to help grow women's sports and elevate female athletes across the board," Reese, who's from Maryland, said in a statement. "We're taking over, and I'm honored to be able to support Power FC and invest in women's soccer in the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia) community."

The USL is a sanctioned Division I league, meaning that it is on par with the NWSL and MLS in the United States. The league's eight current clubs are Brooklyn FC, Carolina Ascent FC, Dallas Trinity FC, DC Power FC, Fort Lauderdale United FC, Lexington SC, Spokane Zephyr FC, and Tampa Bay Sun FC.

DC Power FC will also be playing their home games in a familiar location: Matches will be hosted at DC’s Audi Field in partnership with MLS side DC United. Audi Field also home to the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.

"Angel's decision to be a founding investor alongside us in Power FC is groundbreaking," Jason Levien, DC United's CEO and co-chair, said in a statement. "As a Maryland native, Angel is so passionate about being a catalyst for positive change in women's sports in the DMV as well as globally while inspiring the next generation of female athletes. We're looking forward to her partnership in the boardroom as an equity partner."

It's been speculated that the Super League ultimately intends to compete outright with the NWSL. But in its first year, the league will focus on featuring the depth of women's soccer talent in the US.

Former NWSL players like Taylor Aylmer (Spokane), Jordyn Listro (Tampa Bay), Erika Tymrak (Tampa Bay), and Domi Richardson (Tampa Bay) have already announced a return to professional soccer via the USL.

The league is aiming to provide counter-programming to summer women's sports in the States, with a season running from fall to spring like the European calendar.

In a social media post, Reese said that she’s "grateful & blessed" to be part of the new ownership group. It’s the latest move in what has been a whirlwind spring for Reese, which included getting drafted, attending the Met Gala, signing a new partnership with Good American, and debuting with the Chicago Sky, among other achievements.

"Looking forward to creating new opportunities for women in professional soccer," she tweeted. "I’ve always had to desire to invest in a local team as a Maryland native!"

Reese is the latest female athlete to buy into a women’s sports team, joining the likes of Naomi Osaka, who owns a stake in the North Carolina Courage, and Serena Williams, who's part-owner of Angel City FC. 

Other pro athletes involved in women's sports team ownership include Patrick Mahomes, who shares ownership responsibilities of the Kansas City Current with his wife Brittany. Kevin Durant and Eli Manning are part-owners of Gotham FC, while NFL superstar Tom Brady is part-owner of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

Nelly Korda Continues Unprecedented LPGA Run

LPGA golfer Nelly Korda poses with Mizuho Americas Open trophy
Nelly Korda took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nelly Korda continued her unprecedented LPGA run on Sunday, winning her sixth tournament in the last seven starts. 

The 25-year-old Florida native took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first LPGA player to record six wins in a single season since 2013 — and that’s with three majors and a little over half the season left to play.

"Oh, my gosh, six," Korda said after the win. "I can't even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah and I had pretty much all day. Wasn't my best stuff out there today, but fought really hard on the back nine."

Korda is just the fourth player on tour to win six times before June 1st, joining LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias (1951), Louise Suggs (1953), and Lorena Ochoa (2008).

Should her victory run continue, Korda could break the current record for single-season wins, currently set at 13 by Mickey Wright in 1963.

Korda ended Sunday's tournament one shot ahead of Hannah Green, finishing the 18th with a par putt to win it all.

"I mean, to lose to Nelly kind of like is — it's sad, but then it's also Nelly Korda," Green said of her second-place finish. "You know, like she's obviously so dominant right now. To feel like second behind her is quite nice. Unfortunately the bogey on the last has a little bit of a sour taste."

Next up is the US Women’s Open, a tournament that Korda has yet to win in her career. 

"Obviously it's on the top of my priority list," she said. "I just know there is never any good when you put more pressure on yourself. Just going to stay in my bubble that week and take it a shot at a time."

Earlier this year, Korda became the fastest player to collect $2 million in prize money over a single season. This latest win earned her an additional $450,000, bringing her season total up to $2,943,708.

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