Abby Dahlkemper looks back on her time with the North Carolina Courage with mixed feelings. In 2017, Dahlkemper was named NWSL Defender of the Year and then helped the team win the NWSL Championship the following season.

But Dahlkemper said on The RE-CAP Show that those years now feel “grimy.” The Courage were coached by Paul Riley, who was banned from the NWSL for life in 2023 after revelations of sexual and verbal abuse.

“Doesn’t take away from the success I had, or our team had, but it does feel a little heavy for me,” she said. “Wishing it could’ve been for a better human.”

Riley was fired from the Courage in September 2021 after a report in The Athletic detailed his abuse from 2011-15.

“When you’re in the situation and you’re kind of getting a little gaslighted, you’re not really realizing what’s happening,” Dahlkemper said. “It’s hard to notice the bad behavior and what’s happening.”

Christen Press, co-host of the The RE-CAP Show alongside fellow USWNT veteran Tobin Heath, noted she endured a similar situation playing for the Chicago Red Stars under then-coach Rory Dames.

“It was an abusive and toxic environment the whole time, and I didn’t even know it,” Press said. “I have this whole complex of, I can’t leave the girls, I can’t leave the girls. I tried to fix everything from the inside. I thought I was the one who could stand up.”

Press eventually asked Dames to be traded because of his treatment and filed a formal complaint against him with US Soccer.

Dames was also banned from the league for life, along with Christy Holly and Richie Burke.

Press said it feels like players are living on a “knife’s edge,” because of the financial rewards tied to playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team. And than can be a disincentive for players to speak out against coaches.

“Scoring goals in club, meant I got to go into camp, which means I actually have a job that I can support myself with,” she said. “We’re, like, living in this world where, anything that goes awry, it feels like it’s going to take our whole dream away.”