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Jenni Hermoso breaks silence on Spain women’s soccer’s ‘worst moments’

Jenni Hermoso spoke out in support of her Spain teammates amid a dispute with the national federation. (Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

Jenni Hermoso, the all-time leading scorer for Spain’s women’s national soccer team, is speaking out in support of her teammates in the midst of a dispute with their national federation.

“I wish with every ounce of my soul that I didn’t have to write this, but I understand that not doing so would leave control of my message in the hands of others and my name to be subjected to manipulation by third party interests,” she wrote in a statement.

Hermoso called the disagreement between players and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) “one of the worst times in the history of Spanish women’s football.”

Last week, RFEF announced that 15 players on the team said they would resign rather than play under coach Jorge Vilda.

The players took issue with that characterization, saying they did not resign but rather asked not to be called up to the national team until their concerns for their health and well-being were addressed.

In a statement posted to several players’ Twitter accounts last Friday, the players said they had not called for the firing of Vilda. They also made clear that had wanted their correspondence with the federation to remain private.

While Hermoso did not post that statement to her Twitter account, she posted her own statement Tuesday.

“The reality is that I haven’t slept for days, thinking of solutions and looking for explanations to the emptiness so great that I feel inside of me,” Hermoso said. “And it is that, after all that we have worked for, that breaks my heart to recognize that we are experiencing the worst moments in the history of women’s football in Spain.

“I want to publicly express my support for all my colleagues who a few days ago decided to communicate their position. Not only do I understand your reasons, but I have also experienced many of the feelings and concerns you have communicated.”

Hermoso admitted to feeling “immense loneliness within the national team” in recent years.

Per an ESPN report, sources have said that players are unhappy with the current management structure of injuries, locker room atmosphere, team selection and training sessions. As a result, players’ relationship with Vilda has broken down.

“It is important to understand that the situation we are experiencing does not come overnight,” Hermoso said. “It is evident that it is the consequence of a cluster of events, behaviors, decisions, failed attempts and exhaustion from trying to make the player’s voice heard.”

RFEF has thrown its full support behind Vilda, who is under contract until 2024. The federation also has threatened bans of two to five years to players who refuse a national team call-up.

USWNT stars Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan have voiced their support for the Spanish players.

The two teams are set to face off on Oct. 11, and Spain is scheduled to play against Sweden on Oct. 7. Vilda is expected to name his squad for those two friendlies on Friday.

Hermoso said she will accept a call-up but is still hoping for a solution.

“I am lucky to have worn the [Spain] jersey for 15 years, and I have tried to enjoy every stage that I have lived to the fullest,” Hermoso said. “In that time, I have always put the group first and this time it will be no different because for me, defending my country is, and always will be, a source of great pride and motivation.

“All of the players that decided to raise their voices are committed to the national team and wish to be part of the preparation process for next year’s World Cup.

“For this reason and from my position as a player fully committed to football, to Spanish women’s football and to the national team, I want to find solutions so that we can put our sport where it deserves to be. I sincerely hope that we will soon see a united, committed and enthusiastic national team again. I will raise my voice and listen to anyone who wants to fix this situation.”

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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