In the end, Angel City FC chose to stay in house for its new head coach, dropping the interim tag from Becki Tweed. But the decision came after serious deliberation.

The Los Angeles-based NWSL club was committed to finding the right fit. So committed, in fact, that Tweed was competing against roughly 52 candidates for the position, general manager Angela Hucles Mangano revealed Friday.

In the end, Tweed’s work in bringing together Angel City players in her months as interim head coach put her at the head of the pack. After stepping into the interim role in June, Tweed finished with a 6-1-4 record in the regular season, and she led the club to its first playoff berth.

“I think there was an early, very early inkling from the early success,” Mangano said Thursday. “But ultimately, and as [team president Julie Uhrman] mentioned before, one of the commitments that I had was to a thorough process.”

Angel City made sure to involve players in that process. But Mangano also didn’t want to make the search a distraction as they made their run to the playoffs.

“I did not want the process to be a distraction to Becky or the players,” Mangano said. “And so they kept winning and we wanted to be sensitive to the timing of their inclusion at the very end.”

Under Tweed’s leadership, the team went from 0.82 points per game to 2.0 while cutting goals against from 1.91 to 0.82. Angel City also had more success on tackles, goals scored and direct attacks.

Aside from that, Tweed also helped the club find its identity – something that players have been vocal about.

“She knows how we work,” M.A. Vignola said after Angel City beat Portland Thorns 5-1 on the final day of the NWSL regular season. “She knows how to say things to us and how each different player works. You can even just tell in training that she’s very in tune with everyone individually. That helps us as a collective because it helps talk to each other in certain ways or push each other.”

Even still, Angel City leaders had a timeline they wanted to follow. While they missed their initial Oct. 15 deadline by about a week, it was worth it to ensure that they hired the best possible person.

“It was also about having conversations internally to our staff just so that if there were questions that the expectation was known about what the timing did look like,” Mangano said. “I don’t think it was comfortable for anybody to be in that situation. But ultimately being able to get through the entire process being the goal and I think a very important one.”

With the interim tag officially dropped from her title, Tweed is excited to continue to build with Angel City into the 2024 NWSL season.

“It’s been an incredible journey and something that’s just started,” Tweed said Thursday. “I think we all look at: This is just a platform for us to grow from and move the needle and get bigger and better from next season.”

Ali Riley might have one of the most heartwarming stories of the 2023 World Cup, in a tournament that has been filled with them.

The New Zealand captain wore Pride-inspired colors on her nails because captains were not allowed to wear OneLove armbands in support of LGBTQ+ rights. She used nail polish to circumvent the “frustrating” FIFA ban, with the traditional rainbow Pride flag colors on one hand and the trans flag colors on the other.

And her small gesture took on a life of its own, even inspiring a mental health patient in an Auckland children’s psychiatric ward, she said on the latest episode of Just Women’s Sports‘ World Cup show “The 91st.”

“I just thought, this is a way to show what I believe in and to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and to show people that I love them and I support them and I celebrate them even if I can’t wear this armband,” she said.

Following New Zealand’s tournament-opening win – the Football Ferns’ first-ever win at a World Cup – her nails went viral, which she didn’t realize until well after the game. In her postgame interview, cameras caught a clear view of her nails, which inspired one young patient to paint her nails in the same way.

After the victory, Riley received a message from someone who spends time with patients in a children’s psychiatric ward in Auckland, who shared Riley’s impact on one young girl in particular.

“She had been admitted because she had tried to take her own life, and they came into her room the day after the game, and she was painting her nails,” Riley said. “They were asking what she was doing.

“She said, ‘I saw Ali Riley on TV last night and I saw her nails and it gave me hope and I don’t feel alone anymore.’ And they just saw something change in her and saw a light,” Riley continued, noting that she believes the girl has since been discharged from the hospital.

“I would love to meet her one day,” she said, calling the message “the most incredible thing” that she’s ever received. “And again this was through somebody else, but it gave me so much perspective, which again helped me through the rest of the tournament. When I was very disappointed and heartbroken that we couldn’t achieve our goal of getting out of the group, I just thought, wow, the impact we make with our platform and with this gift and this privilege of playing on the world stage. It was never anything about me, but it motivated me even more to continue to do whatever small gestures.

“One small gesture can go so far and it was such an amazing reminder of that. Football is a game. And getting knocked out sucks. But to impact people’s lives in a positive way, that’s winning.”

From the U.S. women’s national team posting its worst-ever group-stage result to Olympic champion Canada making an early exit, those watching the 2023 World Cup may notice some differences from years past.

Alongside the obvious markers of change, such as the expanded 32-team format, unexpected results have underscored the shifting women’s soccer landscape. What are some of the signs of history in the making? Just Women’s Sports takes a look.

Canada becomes first Olympic champion to exit in group stage

Canada was eliminated from the tournament in a crushing 4-0 loss to Australia, becoming the first reigning Olympic champions to go out in the group stage. The result caps a months-long dispute with Canada Soccer over their pay, which finally reached a tentative conclusion over the weekend – just before the team was set to fight for its World Cup life. The loss made an already tough couple of months for Canada even tougher. But after the match, players and coach Bev Priestman refused to put the blame on their struggles off the field.

“Has it been a really really tough year? Absolutely,” Priestman said. “But at the end of the day, we came here tonight thinking we should have been able to win. And we didn’t. And we have to reflect on that.”

Christine Sinclair, who was playing in her sixth career World Cup for Canada, agreed, but she did express hope that the result would serve as a “wake-up call” for the national federation.

“We’ve been battling our federation for support but I can’t put this [loss] on [Canada Soccer],” Sinclair said. “We’re 23 players and staff and we didn’t get it done tonight. More of it is a wake-up call for our federation, the lack of a professional league [in Canada], the lack of support for youth national teams, I think you’re just going to continue to see teams reach our level, surpass us, whatever you want to call it, if things don’t change.”

New Zealand is first host to bow out in group stage

Tournament co-host New Zealand started with a bang, earning its first-ever win World Cup win with a 1-0 result against Norway. It was a historic moment, and it captured everything the World Cup should be: the beauty of the game, the emotions of the players, what women’s football can mean for a country if we let it.

Yet while the Football Ferns made some positive history, they also made an unfavorable mark in the World Cup record books. They followed up their win with a stunning loss to the Philippines in their second game, then a draw with Switzerland, finishing third in their group and becoming the first tournament hosts eliminated before the knockout stage. Still, captain Ali Riley remained upbeat.

“I really think that we’ve inspired the country,” she said. “I hope that little girls across New Zealand and the world now will start playing sport and feel like they can achieve whatever they put their mind to and just dream bigger.”

Colombia hands Germany its first group-stage loss since 1995

Colombia has been one of the most exciting countries to grace this tournament, led by 18-year-old Linda Caicedo.

Caicedo provided the team’s first goal against powerhouse Germany, which stood as the lone goal in the match until the 89th minute. While Germany scored at the death, Colombia’s Manuela Vanegas wouldn’t let her team be denied. The 22-year-old scored the game-winner in the seventh minute of extra time to clinch the improbable 2-1 win and a spot in the knockout rounds.

While Germany dominated every aspect of the game, from shots to possession to passes, Colombia notched its biggest win to date — and the first group-stage win over Germany by any team since 1995. Colombia advances to the Round of 16 for just the second time.

“It’s a win that’s very, very important,” Vanegas said. “It’s a win against one of the World Cup favorites for a lot of people. But Colombia obviously played very well. It’s (a product of) all the work that people don’t see. We made history. What happened today is historic.

“We want to keep making history — not only today, but tomorrow, too.”

Four World Cup debutantes leave with group-stage wins

Four of the eight World Cup debutantes are leaving the tournament with a group-stage win: Morocco, Zambia, the Philippines and Portugal. Their success marks a historic moment for the tournament, which expanded to 32 teams from 24 this year, bringing it in line with the men’s World Cup.

Morocco is the first Arab country to take part in the Women’s World Cup, and it made its mark with a 1-0 win against South Korea. Additionally, Nouhaila Benzina became the first player to wear a hijab in a game in the history of the World Cup.

“We are just so pleased our efforts have paid off,” Morocco forward Ibtissam Jraïdi said. “This victory is for Morocco and Arabs — it’s the fruit of our hard work.”

USWNT wins just one group stage game for the first time

Add one more statistic to Vlatko Andonovski’s résumé: For the first time, the USWNT finished the World Cup group stage without at least two wins.

A 1-1 draw with the Netherlands and a lackluster performance against Portugal have the USWNT limping into the Round of 16. The possibility of a World Cup three-peat remains alive thanks to a goalpost; if not for a late Portugal shot ricocheting off the post to preserve Tuesday’s 0-0 draw, the USWNT would have made even more unfathomable history.

Perhaps what has been the most infuriating is Andonovski’s refusal to implement (or even consider) tactical changes. The group-stage results made clear that something needs to change, but he is unwilling to change it. The USWNT and its players might still hold the will to win, but what good is will when the way won’t change?

And as the runners-up in Group E, the two-time defending champions now face an even tougher road in the knockout rounds. The USWNT has never bowed out before the semifinals at a World Cup, but that could change this year.

New Zealand secured its first-ever World Cup win Thursday with a shocking 1-0 victory over Norway in front of an exuberant home crowd in Auckland.

The Football Ferns rose to the challenge on home soil in front of 42,137 fans, a record for women’s and men’s soccer in the country.

“There was just belief, belief that we were going to win,” said Hannah Wilkinson, who provided the lone goal of the match. “We had so many Kiwis to make proud tonight. I think feeling that support all around us, we kind of just knew that this was gonna be it for us. We were gonna get this. We were creating chances and even before we scored, we knew that it was coming. So when you get that kind of energy, it’s kind of indescribable.”

New Zealand captain Ali Riley had said before the tournament that the team felt the pressure to get its first-ever World Cup win.

“I know if we do that, so many little girls want to take up soccer and it will help our program have a successful future, which is so important to me on the back end of my career, having played for the team now since 2007,” she said on Snacks.

“There’s so many things that I want to happen after this World Cup and it starts to feel like a lot. But I know that if one little girl is inspired to pick up sport that it will improve her life and have her experience some of the amazing lessons that I’ve learned and how much sport has helped me, whether she becomes a professional player or a national team player or not.”

After her team achieved its goal to open the tournament, Riley found herself overcome with emotion in her postgame interview as she described the history-making moment.

“I’m so, so proud. We’ve been fighting for this for so long and we had a clear goal, that we wanted to inspire young girls, young people around this country and around the world,” she said. “And I really think we did that tonight. Anything is possible.

“It’s the best time of my life. But I think with the performance, we deserved it. We believed in ourselves the whole time. It looked like we wanted it more, and that gave us confidence. And we were pushing to score.”

California native Ali Riley grew up dreaming of the U.S. women’s national team, but she will lead the New Zealand squad into the 2023 World Cup.

The captain of the Football Ferns (and of the NWSL’s Angel City FC), Riley is thankful for the doors opened to her by her dual citizenship, she said on the latest episode of Snacks.

Her dad is from Christchurch, New Zealand, but moved to the United States after college, where he met Riley’s mom. The family opted to live in Los Angeles while Riley grew up, but that didn’t stop the family from spending “a lot of time” in New Zealand.

“Now with the national team, I’ve probably been there at least once a year for my entire life,” she said. “But never in the capacity of hosting a World Cup. So that will be new.”

As a child in California, Riley imagined playing for the USWNT and “wanted to be Briana Scurry.” While the dream of becoming a star goalkeeper “died pretty early,” she instead aspired to be a star scorer, following in the footsteps of Mia Hamm. But a USWNT call-up wasn’t in the cards.

“I didn’t know about the New Zealand national team,” she said. “So I grew up dreaming of playing for the U.S., but that didn’t seem to be a possibility.”

When New Zealand began to invest in their U-20 team during the first U-20 World Cup, Riley’s eyes were opened to the possibility of the Football Ferns.

In 2006, Riley sent in a DVD of highlights to shoot her shot for the U-20 World Cup team. She eventually got invited to train with the squad and “just fell in love.”

“There was no choice. I was never choosing between two teams, I was choosing if I wanted to play for a national team or not at the time,” she said. “And then of course, in retrospect, it’s so easy to say, what if. And I’m honored that people even think that there could be a what if or to think about things that could have been different.”

The defender went from playing in the U-20 World Cup in 2006 to playing for the senior team at the 2007 World Cup. The 35-year-old has played in every World Cup since then (2011, 2015, 2019) and has continued to fight for resources for the New Zealand team.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “The resources are definitely limited. And when I — playing in the U.S., playing for Chelsea, playing for Bayern Munich — see the resources, yeah, it’s a challenge. It’s also very motivating and what I get from playing here, especially from Angel City, what I learned, and the fuel it gives me to then fight for more and fight for better for my New Zealand teammates and being a part of FIFPRO.

“I just think it’s really shaped me to be the person I am and the player I am to start playing for the national team so young. So that’s kind of how it happened. But I still haven’t spent enough time to get that Kiwi accent. And they always want me to try but then are just offended. So I don’t know why they keep asking me.”

The 2023 World Cup, co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, could be game-changing for women’s soccer and for the Football Ferns. The tournament could be the most-attended in the history of the women’s game, which would bring more eyeballs to the national teams’ fight for more.

“It’s a huge opportunity to do so many things,” Riley said. “And it also comes with a lot of pressure to try to make a big impact to kick start something, thinking about what the ’99 World Cup did — of course, the U.S. won that World Cup.”

While the goal is always to win the World Cup, New Zealand is aiming to win its first World Cup match. Getting that on home soil, Riley says, would bring “chills.”

“There’s a lot of pressure to win a game and to actually have a good World Cup. So that’s our goal,” she said. “And I know if we do that, so many little girls want to take up soccer and it will help our program have a successful future, which is so important to me on the back end of my career, having played for the team now since 2007.

“There’s so many things that I want to happen after this World Cup and it starts to feel like a lot. But I know that if one little girl is inspired to pick up sport that it will improve her life and have her experience some of the amazing lessons that I’ve learned and how much sport has helped me, whether she becomes a professional player or a national team player or not.”

One of the NWSL’s highest-profile clubs is getting the Hollywood treatment this week, as the new three-part HBO documentary “Angel City” airs for the first time. The film covers the Los Angeles club from its inception, when a high-profile group led by team president Julie Uhrman, her business partner Kara Nortman and Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman brought their idea for a new kind of ownership model to life.

The film documents in great detail the building blocks to creating a team in the still-young NWSL, as Uhrman leads the charge in turning a dream into a very successful reality. It then follows the highs and lows of the club’s inaugural season as an expansion side, during which Angel City battles to make the 2022 NWSL playoffs.

“Angel City” portrays a strong proof of concept — that women’s sports can and should be treated as legitimate business — while also telling a classic sports story.

The film both serves as an entry point for casual fans to women’s soccer and provides diehard fans with an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the club. Footage of NWSL teams has been compiled in the past (the likely never-to-be-seen documentary on Paul Riley’s North Carolina Courage being perhaps the most notable), but no club has ever been the subject of quite so deep a dive.

Portman’s production company not only created the documentary, but the Oscar winner also pitched the players on the idea of filming their season, starting from the very first team meeting. Players suddenly had to balance their jobs on the field with their appearances on camera.

“Natalie came in and really sat down with us and said her vision and why she wanted to do it,” says Angel City captain Ali Riley. “And it made everyone feel so much more comfortable with it.”

Director Arlene Nelson immersed herself in the world of women’s soccer and also took a trust-building approach, giving players her phone number early on, with an open offer to share any concerns.

“I think you see some of these reality shows, and you just get worried about how you’re going to be presented and what kind of drama they’re going to be looking for,” Riley says, noting that players were assured no one was looking to create a villain in order to make the documentary compelling.

“It was a real dance to build trust,” Nelson agrees. “To show up, and at the same time to give them their space.”

Sports documentaries have increasingly become effective ways to grow fandom, as seen in the wildly successful Netflix Formula 1 series “Drive to Survive,” HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” and Amazon Prime’s extensive “All or Nothing” series. The goal with these films has been to explain the ins and outs of a team or league to newcomers, while also not shying away from the conflicts that arise from high-performance environments in professional sports.

The makers of “Angel City” took a very similar approach.

Players got a chance to share their backstories as they embarked on one of the more unique journeys in their NWSL careers, playing for sold-out crowds and in front of A-listers like Jennifer Garner and Serena Williams. The scenes of triumph are epic, but a documentary free of tension won’t inspire fans to engage in the same way, and “Angel City” draws viewers in enough to feel the stakes.

“I think that it’s important to show that it all doesn’t come easy, and that there is friction, and that is where the trust comes in,” Nelson says.

Angel City led the NWSL in attendance in its first year, averaging over 19,000 fans at home games. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The film offers a glimpse into many conversations between Angel City head coach Freya Coombe and general manager Eni Aluko, whose management styles clashed at times, leading to Aluko leaving the club before the end of the 2022 season. The team’s Challenge Cup campaign isn’t sugar-coated either, with Coombe calling the defensive performance “not even professional level” in a postgame exchange with Uhrman and season-long challenges presented by the team’s no-trade clause.

“Everyone’s worried about looking like an asshole on HBO,” Riley jokes. “But then you’re like, we don’t want this to be like everything is perfect.”

Angel City dealt with more than a few bumps in the road during their first year: It took them time to find a settled training facility, their head coaching hire came under intense scrutiny, and the NWSL fined the club for tampering before the season even began.

The film also doesn’t shy away from midfielder Katie Cousins’ controversial Instagram story about wearing Pride jerseys, her teammate’s reactions and the club’s internal response. And even as the team racked up accomplishments off the field — in both sponsorships and ticket sales — they weathered a series of serious injuries that greatly affected the course of their season. The setbacks at the center of the docuseries are the season-ending ACL tear forward Christen Press suffered halfway through the season and the limited availability of Sydney Leroux, whom ACFC acquired in a midseason trade with the Orlando Pride to aid the attack.

“I feel emotional just talking about it,” Riley says. “Because it’s hard to live it once, let alone to see it again in slow motion. The optimism of how the season was starting, and then with Christen getting injured and then having Syd [be injured], it’s just this rollercoaster. But that was so real.”

Christen Press, ACFC's first signing in 2021, is still recovering from a torn ACL. (Harry How/Getty Images)

In one scene, defender Paige Nielsen expresses her disappointment at missing the team’s regular season home opener due to an injury, while simultaneously contemplating the risk of moving her wife across the country to join her in Los Angeles.

“I just feel a lot of pressure sometimes,” Nielsen says quietly to a trainer before trailing off.

“We’re not being paid millions of dollars to do this,” Riley says. “We make a lot of sacrifices to do what we love. You see the passion. The injuries are such a real part of sport.”

The other part of the sport that “Angel City” prioritizes is the game footage, which is immaculate. Nelson brought up to six camera operators to Angel City home matches, capturing close-up and expansive footage that gives the viewer a sense of what it’s like to be on the ground level of an NWSL match.

“We wanted you to feel the sweat dripping off their brows and the clashing of these gladiator-like warriors, we wanted you to feel like you were immersed in the game,” Nelson says. “It was just as important to us as an intimate single camera interview.”

As fans of women’s soccer know well, those details matter because they represent a level of equity the NWSL is still pushing toward in its 10th season. No one in the film was more adamant for growth in NWSL broadcasts than Portman, who lightly grills commissioner Jessica Berman on the league’s TV presentation in one “Angel City” scene.

“We’ve talked so much about the quantity of coverage and women’s sports, but it’s also about the quality,” Riley says. “There’s studies even showing that women players, athletes, are sexualized in how they’re documented, or just the camera angles, and we struggle with it sometimes in NWSL.”

Kara Nortman, Natalie Portman and Julie Uhrman pose at the "Angel City" L.A. premiere on May 4. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In the pursuit of attracting new fans, the film embodies the concept that you have to educate as well as entertain.

“Sometimes you have to tell people what is cool and what to support. They don’t know what they don’t know,” Riley says.

Taking a page from the club it documents, “Angel City” is a story packed with ideas, successes and adversity, painting the picture of a club making incredible strides off the field while the team strives to join the upper echelon of the league.

“It’s something that I want every player to experience, especially women, to have the kind of attendance numbers we have, to be part of a club that has these strong values, that really wants to extend beyond ourselves,” Riley says. “What we have in Angel City is this huge platform and so many eyes on us, and I think the players are doing such an amazing job of taking advantage of that.”

“Angel City” premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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

Alyssa Thompson started her Wednesday in typical fashion for a high school senior: She went to school, then she did her homework.

The 18-year-old then capped her day with her professional debut for Angel City FC, including a beauty of a goal to open the scoring in the fifth minute of the match.

“I’m still like, soaking it in,” Thompson said after the 3-0 win over Liga MX’s Club América. “It’s still shocking, but it’s just an amazing feeling.”

The No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NWSL draft, Thompson looks at home with the second-year club. The Southern California native had committed to play for Stanford but decided to forgo her college eligibility to become the top pick for Angel City.

The NWSL’s regular season kicks off March 25, so Thompson will balance the first few months of her professional career with her studies at Harvard-Westlake School, as she did Wednesday.

“I went to school, had English, then I went back home and I was getting more nervous and as time progressed, I was trying to not think about it (the game) that much,” she said. “When I got here, I was trying to focus, just trying to feel comfortable and once I stepped on the field, I felt better and I felt comfortable with my teammates and I felt prepared for the game and what was going to happen.”

She appeared in Angel City’s starting lineup for the preseason friendly and played 76 minutes in front of the home crowd at BMO Stadium. On her goal, she dribbled past three Club América defenders and goalkeeper Itzel González before sending the ball into the net.

“Her goal she took so coolly, like she had played in 100 games in this stadium,” Angel City coach Freya Coombe said.

Thompson also has played with the U.S. women’s youth and senior national teams. She earned her first caps with the senior team in 2022, and while she was off the roster for the early 2023 camps, she shined for the youth squad during a two-match series against France in February.

The countdown to the 2022 NWSL Championship is on, as the last two teams remaining head to Washington, D.C. for Saturday’s primetime showdown.

Just Women’s Sports will be there for all the action between the Portland Thorns and Kansas City Current, including right before kickoff with The Warm-Up Presented by Ally, a live pregame show broadcast on site from Audi Field.

Reigning NWSL champion Kelley O’Hara and Angel City FC captain Ali Riley will serve as hosts alongside award-winning broadcaster Autumn Johnson. Fans watching at home can catch their expert analysis and commentary on the matchup starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on Paramount+. Those on site can head to the section in between Gate A and Fan Fest to watch the show live and meet the hosts afterward for autographs and photos.

Stick around after The Warm-Up Presented by Ally to watch the 2022 NWSL Championship, kicking off under the lights at 8 p.m. ET. The game will air live on CBS and be streamed on Paramount+ for U.S. viewers and Twitch for international viewers.

Ally believes investing in women’s sports means investing in women’s futures. Which is why they have committed to equal media investment in women’s sports media. Help them spread the word by sharing a photo of yourself watching women’s sports at home or the game with the hashtag #WatchtoChange.

The Current are making their first NWSL Championship appearance after defeating OL Reign 2-0 in Sunday’s semifinal, while the Thorns are making their fourth finals trip and first since 2018 after Crystal Dunn sealed their 2-1 win over the San Diego Wave.

All 12 NWSL clubs were back in action this weekend, with teams finding their form heading into the second half of the season.

The weekend’s six matchups featured upset wins, goals galore, and, of course, some stunning bangers.

The top three NWSL plays of the week:

Ali Riley’s curler

Angel City defender Ali Riley is usually stopping goals, not scoring them, but that changed Sunday. The 34-year-old notched her second goal of the 2022 regular season to helping ACFC to a 2-2 draw with her old club, the Orlando Pride.

Riley opened up scoring in the 4oth minute, streaking down the flank before ripping a curler into the side netting to put the scoresheet at 1-0.

Riley spurred the club’s attack from the outside back position, sending 10 passes into the final third while executing three successful long balls. On the other side of the ball, Riley won seven of her eight tackles while logging two interceptions and two clearances.

While Riley’s thrilling finish earns her a spot on the top plays of the week, her defensive efforts also deserve applause.

Ebony Salmon’s brace

Ebony Salmon is on a tear with Houston, recording six goals in five starts with the Dash.

In a stunning performance, the English striker added two goals to her tally in Houston’s 2-1 win over OL Reign Sunday.

Salmon opened her account in the 53rd minute, burying a penalty kick from the spot to equalize. Then, two minutes later, Salmon stamped her name on the scoresheet again, getting in behind OL Reign’s backline before striking a rocket past Phallon Tullis-Joyce for the go-ahead goal.

Salmon is fifth in the NWSL Golden Boot race, a stunning achievement given the 21-year-old played just 75 minutes for Racing Louisville before being traded to the Dash in June.

Hailie Mace’s banger

Hailie Mace’s second goal of the season was one to remember, with the Kansas City Current star helping her side to a rousing 2-1 win Sunday over the San Diego Wave.

The 25-year-old ripped a rocket from the top of the box after the Wave backline failed to mount a challenge. After getting the ball on her right foot, Mace struck a banger to the top right corner, putting the ball out of reach from Kailen Sheridan.

Mace created two chances for Kansas City, propelling her side’s offense to extend the Current’s unbeaten streak to nine games.

Honorable mentions

Sophia Smith dazzled for the Portland Thorns, scoring two goals in a brilliant individual effort. Megan Rapinoe also had a solid weekend, logging her first goal of 2022 with a cheeky half-volley.

The third season of Off the Ball is here, with host Ali Riley in a new location with some new teammates set to join the show.

The first two seasons featured Riley in Orlando with teammates from the Pride. This season, however, Riley will be stationed in Los Angeles, where she was traded to Angel City FC during the offseason.

Being in LA now at home, having these new teammates on this exciting expansion team, I think it’s going to be such a fun season, fun locations, very unique challenges,” Riley said. “We’ve definitely leveled up with all the challenges, and it’s such a cool way for people to get to know this club and these awesome players, my teammates.”

Riley says she’s learned a lot through the first two seasons of the show, be it the art of goalkeeping or new weightlifting exercises. But the most important — and the most fun — part has been learning more about her teammates.

“I think our interviews, even though they’re fun, it’s also really intimate to have two colleagues, two friends, sit down like this,” she said. “People are genuinely interested in women’s sports and women athletes, and there is absolutely space for this and a desire to see this. Just seeing the growth of the brand of Just Women’s Sports itself makes me really proud to be a part of it, and just seeing the support coming from all over the world.”

Past interviews include Alex Morgan — who also made the move to California with San Diego Wave FC — and Sydney Leroux.

The show gives the players a different medium in which to show who they are to the world. With a series of interesting questions and exciting challenges, players are challenged in new ways.

This season will continue to introduce new players to fans everywhere, with “outside of the box” thinking resulting in unique challenges and new locations. Additionally, with more experience under her belt, Riley says she feels more comfortable than ever.

“I think these episodes will be surprising, in terms of some of the challenges,” she said. “Also, I think it’s just really cool to have the support of the club and get to know maybe not just players but some other important people featured as well.”