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Former coach Rory Dames accused of sexual misconduct in youth soccer

(Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Former Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames is facing more allegations of misconduct, with multiple players from his youth soccer club in Chicago accusing him of sexual misconduct in a bombshell report by the Washington Post on Tuesday.

The story unearthed allegations dating back decades, including from a former youth player who said Dames groomed her and had sex with her once she turned 18.

Dames stepped down as president of Eclipse Select, the youth club he owned in suburban Chicago and built into a national powerhouse, last year after he resigned as coach of the Red Stars. His resignation came as the Washington Post was preparing to report multiple allegations of emotional and verbal abuse against the coach from former NWSL players.

According to a police report obtained by the Post, Arlington Heights police formally investigated Dames’ conduct in 1998 when a former player (and minor at the time) complained that Dames had touched her inappropriately on her upper thigh.

Megan Cnota, a former teenage player for Dames who went on the record in the Washington Post story, told police that Dames had made sexual jokes about her. A handful of other players said Dames, who was 25 years old at the time, would make comments about sex and their bodies and seemed to be spending extended time with young players off the field.

After the accusers decided not to file formal complaints, the investigation was closed, and Dames kept his job as coach of the Eclipse Select youth soccer club.

“We tried to make it come to light 25 years ago,” Cnota told the Washington Post, “and nobody believed those teenagers.”

Dames continued to coach youth soccer, and eventually was hired as Red Stars head coach in 2013 for the NWSL’s first season. When he resigned in November, he was the NWSL’s longest-tenured head coach.

The Washington Post found that Dames was also the subject of a 2018 U.S. Soccer Federation investigation, after NWSL players made formal complaints on two separate occasions, but U.S. Soccer did not discipline him as a result. A spokesman for U.S. Soccer declined to comment on the recent allegations, citing an ongoing NWSL investigation.

One player on Dames’ youth team told the Washington Post that Dames started an inappropriate relationship with her when she was 14. In the early 2000s, while she was still playing under Dames, she says he had sex with her after she turned 18. The woman, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Post she felt like it wasn’t a choice, citing his power over her burgeoning soccer career.

Players also accused Dames of fostering a culture of abuse at the heralded Eclipse Select club, saying he called them names when they were teenagers, such as “c–t,” “fat ass,” “p—y” and “retarded.”

Dames was responsible for hiring John Soltani at Eclipse. Soltani was placed on a two-year probation after the U.S. Center sanctioned him for verbal acts of sexual harassment.

Mike Nesci, who replaced Dames as president of Eclipse Select last year, did not respond to questions from the Washington Post on whether Dames still owned the club.

A lawyer for Dames, Susan Bogart, denied the allegations of sexual harassment and grooming against him in an email to the Post. She said the former coach didn’t call players names and said the allegations outlined in the 1998 police report were “unfounded.”

The NWSL has opened multiple investigations into leadership within the league after multiple coaches were fired for misconduct last season.

New Washington Spirit Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez Arrivin DC

head coach Jonatan Giráldez
Jonatan Giráldez joins the NWSL from FC Barcelona Femení. (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Five months after announcing that the Washington Spirit had hired Barcelona Femení coach Jonatan Giráldez as the team's new head coach, Giráldez has joined the club in Washington, DC.

Giráldez is coming off of a successful season with the Spanish side, having won UEFA Women's Champions League, Copa de la Reina, Supercopa, and Liga F in his final season to complete a lauded Quadruple.

While Giráldez was finishing out his tenure in Europe, Adrián González filled in as Spirit interim head coach. González has also seen success, leading the team to its third-place standing with a 9-3-1 record through 13 games.

“I’m thrilled to join the Spirit and begin this next chapter with the club,” Giráldez said in an official team statement. “To be part of the vision Michele Kang has for the Spirit and women’s soccer globally is an exciting opportunity.”

Giráldez has worked at Barcelona since 2019, initially coming on as an assistant coach before moving up to head coach in 2021. The team went 30-0-0 on the season under Giráldez during his first year as manager.

He brings along with him Andrés González and Toni Gordo, who will serve as the Spirit's Fitness Coach and Club Analyst, respectively.

US Track & Field Olympic Trials Touch Down in Oregon

Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the women’s 200-meter preliminary round during the USATF Outdoor Championships
Sha’Carri Richardson will have some competition this week as athletes vie for an Olympic berth. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Track & Field Trials begin on June 21st, kicking off a 10-day quest to determine who will represent the US in Paris this summer.

The crucial meet will take place in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three finishers in each event will punch their ticket to the 2024 Olympics. As with this past week's US Swimming Trials, even the most decorated athletes must work to earn their spot — and one bad performance could undermine four years of preparation.

Reigning 100-meter World Champion Sha'Carri Richardson headlines this year's field, as the 24-year-old looks to qualify for her second Olympic Games and compete in her first. Richardson is a world champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, but missed the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC shortly after the last US Olympic Trials.

Other standouts include 400-meter Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who's currently the most decorated athlete in the active women's US Track & Field pool. McLaughlin-Levrone qualified to run in the 200-meter and 400-meter flat races alongside the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials, but opted to focus solely on her signature event.

800-meter specialist Athing Mu will also be a huge draw this week, as the Olympic gold medalist looks to shake off a lingering hamstring injury while pursuing her second Summer Games. Gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Moon will also attempt to qualify for her second-straight Olympic Games.

Ole Miss star McKenzie Long could be Richardson's greatest competition in the 100-meter and 200-meter events, as well as Richardson's Worlds teammate Gabby Thomas in the 200-meter. In field events, watch for Oregon senior Jaida Ross going head-to-head with reigning world champion Chase Jackson in the shot put, as both push for their first Olympic team berth.

Regardless of why you tune in, the US Olympic Trials are a perpetually thrilling and sometimes brutal qualification process. If you're able to make your way to the head of the pack, a shot at Olympic glory might just be waiting at the finish line.

Fans can catch live coverage throughout the Trials via NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Top Teams Square Off in NWSL Weekend Slate

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda
Orlando Pride, led by forward Barbra Banda, will take on Utah in this weekend's NWSL action. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the NWSL season continues, a few top-performing clubs will have a chance to boost their standings this weekend.

First-place Kansas City will travel to Providence Park to take on fifth-place Portland, as the Current look to keep their unbeaten streak intact. And in New Jersey, third-place Washington will take on fourth-place Gotham FC, with both teams attempting to extend multi-game unbeaten streaks.

A six-point gap has opened between the fifth and sixth spot on the NWSL table — with just six points also separating the league's top five. Kansas City, Orlando, Washington, Gotham, and Portland have recently proven themselves to be a cut above the rest of the competition. With eight postseason spots up for grabs and half the season behind us, a pattern is forming that indicates the playoff race could come down to spots six through eight on the NWSL table.

Of those top five teams, only Orlando faces an opponent in the bottom half of the league this weekend: The Pride will take on 14th-place Utah, who nonetheless are coming off a win — just their second of the season — over Bay FC last weekend.

But despite Kansas City and Orlando having yet to lose a game, Gotham might be the squad coming into the weekend with the most momentum.

Clutch goals from Rose Lavelle and rookie Maycee Bell gave the Bats a 2-0 midweek win over San Diego on Wednesday, in a rematch of the 2024 Challenge Cup. Gotham's unbeaten streak dates all the way back to April, as rising availability and sharpened form have honed this year's superteam into a contender.

Bottom line? As the NWSL season passes the halfway mark, some matches might begin to feel more like playoff previews than mere regular season battles.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

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