Lynn Williams played hero on Wednesday night, helping Gotham to its first win over the Houston Dash since May 15th, 2021.

Coming in the eighth minute, the forward's goal was all it took for the Bats to ink the 1-0 victory. It was also her 78th across all NWSL competitions, landing her neck-and-neck with former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr for the most career goals in league history.

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"Wow, that’s really cool. To have my name there with Sam Kerr is amazing. But I don’t get that goal, I don’t get those things, without my teammates," Williams said of her accomplishment.

Williams' effort also marked the team’s 300th club goal across all competitions. 

"I think the players executed the game plan almost to perfection," echoed Gotham head coach Juan Carlos Amorós after the match. "I am very, very proud of how they’ve been able to perform like that in such a shorter space of time."

The goal was Williams’ second in as many games, giving her two goals through five matches played this season. Gotham will next travel to San Diego to face the Wave at Snapdragon Stadium on Sunday.

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

The Houston Dash have made Maria Sánchez the NWSL’s highest-paid player, the Wall Street Journal and the Equalizer reported Monday.

The 27-year-old forward has signed a three-year deal with a fourth year option worth nearly $1.5 million total, per the reports. It’s the highest-value contract in NWSL history, surpassing Trinity Rodman’s $1.1 million deal over four years with the Washington Spirit.

Sánchez, who first joined Houston on loan from Liga MX in 2021, led the Dash with four goals and four assists in 2023.

“Her left foot is like magic,” Dash general manager Alex Singer told the Wall Street Journal.

In 2023, she played every single regular-season match for the Dash. Sánchez also plays for Mexico women’s national team, having made 64 international appearances. She played her high school soccer in Idaho, where she caught the attention of publications including Sports Illustrated.

“My end goal was to be a professional soccer player,” Sánchez said. “Back then, I didn’t realize how hard my dream actually was.”

She played collegiate soccer at Idaho State and Santa Clara. In 2019, she was drafted by the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars. At the time, she was offered $14,584 a year to play.

“I remember looking at the contract and saying, ‘Wow, this is going to be a struggle,’” she said.

After receiving little playing time in Chicago, she played in Liga MX in 2020 and 2021, and then she joined the Dash. The rest is history.

“We are excited to share the signing of Maria Sanchez, a pivotal player and person on and off of the pitch,” Singer said in a news release. “Maria’s is a difference maker who embodies the ambition our club has – her world class left foot and attacking abilities, her desire to be a champion in Houston, and authentic connection to our community are what makes her a club leader.

“Securing Maria’s long-term future was a priority as we know she will play an important role for the Dash for years to come. Signing Maria to this robust, new deal signifies our commitment to investing in infrastructure and talent on the pitch and direction of our club.”

The problem with picking a starting goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s national team is this: There might not be a deeper or more talented position pool from which to choose.

Alyssa Naeher has held the starting spot since before the 2019 World Cup. But the 35-year-old was left off the national team roster for the last camp of 2023 in favor of giving other goalkeepers some looks. That’s not unusual and is in fact a good sign for the team, which will have the opportunity to evaluate its options as the coaching staff plans for the 2024 Olympics.

Still, Naeher’s absence does beg the question: Who is the future at goalkeeper? Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at who could be next in line.

One note: Left off this list is Aubrey Kingsbury. While the Washington Spirit starter has proved herself as a viable USWNT backup, the 32-year-old is only three years younger than Naeher. If the national team is looking for its next long-term starter, it is a little more difficult to make the argument for Kingsbury over the names on this list.

Casey Murphy

Murphy, 27, already is an experienced USWNT backup who now has one World Cup under her belt. She also has experience starting for the USWNT, having made 16 total appearances in goal, 12 of which were shutouts. She has not conceded a goal in her three starts so far in 2023.

On top of being a reliable option for the USWNT, Murphy also is the starting goalkeeper for the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage. She was among the league’s best goalkeepers in 2023, conceding just 20 goals in 20 starts and holding a 74.2 save percentage, good for seventh in the league. Her nine clean sheets in 2023 ranked first in the NWSL, her second time topping the league in clean sheets in three years.

Murphy also has some international experience, having played for Montpellier in France’s Division 1 Féminine. Murphy’s international experience, combined with her standout performance in club play, make her a compelling candidate for taking over the starting spot when Naeher eventually steps away.

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(Charlotte Tattersall/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Phallon Tullis-Joyce

If there is one player who could fit under the new-look USWNT squad led by new coach Emma Hayes, it’s Phallon Tullis-Joyce.

The 27-year-old departed OL Reign in 2023 for Manchester United, which is also home to World Cup Golden Glove winner Mary Earps. Earps is rumored to be departing Manchester United at the end of the Women’s Super League season, which could set up Tullis-Joyce to step into the starting spot for one of England’s best clubs.

Tullis-Joyce already is a top-notch keeper, having finished her time with OL Reign with 47 appearances, 135 saves and 15 clean sheets. She holds the club record for most clean sheets in regular season play with 13, and she ranks third on the club’s all-time regular-season saves list (110). In 2022, she ranked first in the NWSL in clean sheets (9), save percentage (81.3) and goals against per 90 (0.86). She also ranked fourth in saves and third in clean sheet percentage.

While she struggled to start the 2023 NW season relative to her 2022 performance, the move to Manchester United could prove beneficial for Tullis-Joyce and for the USWNT. Under Hayes, it’s likely that international club experience will be valued highly. After all, much has been made about the changes in the international game and how the USWNT’s players need to change with it.

A goalkeeper who has experience playing against some of the world’s best players in Europe (and keep in mind Tullis-Joyce also played professionally in France) could prove vital, especially as the 27-year-old takes this season to play under one of the best goalkeepers in the game in Earps.

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(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Jane Campbell

The 2023 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Campbell has been playing her way back into consideration for the USWNT. And she was given that chance this month, as she was named to the national team roster for the December friendlies against China.

Campbell’s NWSL season was an outstanding one for the Houston Dash, with the keeper making a league-leading 93 saves and recording eight shutouts all while boasting an astounding 0.83 goals against average in 22 games played. She also conceded the fewest goals (18), even though she ranked third in the league in shots on target faced (108).

With Campbell in net, the Dash came within one goal of the NWSL record for fewest goals conceded in a season. (The record of 17 was set by the North Carolina Courage in 2017 and matched by the Portland Thorns in 2021.)

Campbell has spent time in USWNT camp before, having bounced in and out of senior national team camp since 2013 and making her international debut in 2017. She also spent extensive time in U.S. Soccer’s youth development system. The 28-year-old has made seven international appearances, and she was on the USWNT roster for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where the team won bronze.

As a player in which the USWNT already has invested time, if Campbell continues the trend she started in 2023, she could find her way not just back onto the national team but into the starting spot.

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(Kiyoshi Mio/USA TODAY Sports)

Claudia Dickey

At just 23 years old, Claudia Dickey very well may be the goalkeeper of the future for the USWNT. A former UNC Tar Heel who was the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NWSL draft, Dickey took over the OL Reign starting spot from Phallon Tullis-Joyce during the 2023 Challenge Cup. She made three starts in the Challenge Cup, recording 12 saves and not allowing a single goal.

She then started in the remaining six games of the season as Tullis-Joyce departed for Manchester United. In the playoffs, she helped lead the team to an appearance in the NWSL championship final, setting the club record for shutouts in the NWSL playoffs with two. She also became just the fifth NWSL goalkeeper to earn a shutout in her postseason debut.

“My thing with her is just how much she’s improved since taking over the Reign starting job midseason, and she’s particularly fearless coming off her line,” Just Women’s Sports writer Claire Watkins says. “So I like her intangibles. She’s young, so the rest can be coached.”

While Dickey is inexperienced, she’s shown bright spots with a club that boasted big USWNT names such as Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett. While still young, she will continue to develop under head coach Laura Harvey after signing a contract extension through 2025. By the time that the 2027 World Cup rolls around, she could at the very least warrant a look for the backup position – if not the starting spot.

The 2023 NWSL Championship is just around the corner, with Gotham FC and OL Reign facing off for the title.

No matter which team wins, the league will see a first-time champion. Gotham had not won a playoff game until this season, while the Reign claimed their first postseason win since 2015.

Gotham squeaked into the playoffs with the sixth and final berth, but they upset the No. 3 North Carolina Courage and then the No. 2 Portland Thorns. The No. 5 Reign bested No. 4 Angel City FC in the quarterfinals, then upset the No. 1 San Diego Wave in the semifinals.

The NWSL Championship is set for 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 11, at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium.

2023 NWSL playoffs: Seeding

Six teams will compete in the 2023 NWSL playoffs, with the top two seeds receiving byes to the semifinal round.

  1. San Diego Wave — 37 points, 11-4-7 W-D-L
  2. Portland Thorns — 35 points, 10-5-7
  3. North Carolina Courage — 33 points, 9-6-7
  4. OL Reign — 32 points, 9-5-8
  5. Angel City FC — 31 points, 8-7-7
  6. Gotham FC — 31 points, 8-7-7

Six teams did not make the cut for the postseason.

  • Orlando Pride — 31 points, 10-1-11
  • Washington Spirit — 30 points, 7-9-6
  • Racing Louisville — 27 points, 6-9-7
  • Houston Dash — 26 points, 6-8-8
  • Kansas City Current — 26 points, 8-2-12
  • Chicago Red Stars — 24 points, 7-3-12

2023 NWSL playoffs: Schedule

Quarterfinals

Semifinals

NWSL Championship

  • (4) OL Reign vs. (6) Gotham FC
    • 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 11 — CBS

Jane Campbell has been named the 2023 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year after turning in a stellar season for the Houston Dash.

The 28-year-old from Kennesaw, Georgia, turned in a career year, with her highest saves total (91) and lowest goals-against average (0.83) across her six NWSL seasons. The Dash selected Campbell out of Stanford in the 2017 NWSL draft, and she has spent her entire professional career in Houston.

No other Dash player has won an NWSL end-of-season award in franchise history. Campbell beat out Katie Lund of Racing Louisville and 2022 winner Kailen Sheridan of the San Diego Wave.

“It’s a huge honor,” Campbell said. “I mean, it was an honor to get nominated, and I’m glad Houston got the recognition that the team deserved.”

She led the league in saves and goals against average while playing every minute of the regular season. She also conceded the fewest goals (18) and had eight shutouts across 22 appearances, even though she ranked third in the league in shots on target faced (108).

With Campbell in net, the Dash came within one goal of the NWSL record for fewest goals conceded in a season. The record of 17 was set by the North Carolina Courage in 2017 and matched by the Portland Thorns in 2021.

The NWSL playoff race is coming down to the wire, with eight teams vying for the final four spots in simultaneous matches on the final day of the regular season.

Just four points separate the third- and 10th-place teams in the standings. While the Chicago Red Stars and Kansas City Current already have been eliminated, the Houston Dash, Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, Orlando Pride, OL Reign, Washington Spirit, Gotham FC and North Carolina Courage are all still fighting for postseason berths.

While the Portland Thorns and San Diego Wave are locked into the top two seeds, those teams are fighting for the NWSL Shield, adding to the drama.

Check out the playoff scenarios here.

NWSL Decision Day: Schedule for Oct. 14

  • North Carolina Courage 1, Washington Spirit 0
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC 2, Kansas City Current 2
  • Orlando Pride 1, Houston Dash 0
  • OL Reign 3, Chicago Red Stars 0
  • Angel City FC 5, Portland Thorns 1
  • San Diego Wave FC 2, Racing Louisville 0

All games will be aired on Paramount+ at 5 p.m. ET Sunday. CBS Sports Network is also set to air a live whiparound show tracking the progress from each match and evolving playoff scenarios.

Just Women’s Sports will be updating this story with live results from each game.

With one matchweek remaining in the NWSL regular season, just two teams have clinched playoff berths, and just two teams have been eliminated from contention.

A mere six points separate first and sixth place in the standings, and five points separate sixth and 12th place. That sets up a frantic finish to the playoff race, with the Portland Thorns and San Diego Wave already into the postseason and eight other teams vying to join them.

Prepare for a chaotic decision day at 5 p.m. ET Sunday, with four playoff spots on the line. Just Women’s Sports breaks down the postseason picture, with help from Alison Gale’s playoff explorer. CBS Sports Network will feature whiparound coverage of all six matches.

NWSL playoff-clinching scenarios: Oct. 15

Portland Thorns FC (35 points, +14 goal differential)

  • Already clinched:
    • Top 2-seed
    • First-round bye
  • Clinches Shield with:
    • A win
    • SD loss
    • A draw + SD draw
    • A loss by seven goals or less + SD draw

San Diego Wave FC (34 points, +7)

  • Already clinched:
    • Top 2-seed
    • First-round bye
  • Clinches Shield with:
    • A win + POR draw/loss
    • A draw + POR loss by eight goals or more

North Carolina Courage (30 points, +6)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw
    • A draw + NJY draw/loss OR RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + favorable goal differential (over LA/ORL)
    • A loss + no more than three of NJY, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential (over LOU)

NJ/NY Gotham FC (30 points, +1)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw + RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + favorable goal differential (over LA/ORL if both win)
    • A loss + no more than three of NCC, WAS, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential (over LOU)

Washington Spirit (30 points, -2)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw + NJY loss OR RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + favorable goal differential (over LA/ORL if both win)
    • A loss + no more than 3 of NJY, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential (over LOU)

OL Reign (29 points, +2)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw + no more than 3 of NCC, NJY, WAS, ORL, LA, reach 31+ pts + favorable goal differential
    • A loss + ORL draw/loss + LA draw/loss + LOU draw/loss + favorable goal differential

Orlando Pride (28 points, -2)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + favorable goal differential
    • A win + NJY loss OR RGN draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + RGN loss + LA draw/loss + LOU draw/loss + favorable goal differential

Angel City FC (28 points, -3)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + favorable goal differential
    • A win + WAS win/loss + ORL loss/draw OR RGN draw/loss OR NJY loss

Racing Louisville FC (27 points, +3)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + no more than three of NCC, NJY, WAS, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential

Houston Dash (26 points, -1)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + RGN loss + LOU draw/loss + LA draw/loss + favorable goal differential

NWSL schedule: Oct. 15

  • All games kick off at 5 p.m. ET Sunday
    • Angel City FC vs. Portland Thorns
    • Chicago Red Stars vs. OL Reign
    • Gotham FC vs. Kansas City Current
    • Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash
    • San Diego Wave vs. Racing Louisville FC
    • Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage

The Houston Dash have parted ways with head coach Sam Laity, the club announced Wednesday.

With just four matches remaining in the NWSL regular season, the Dash sit six points out of the final playoff spot. Their 4-8-6 record (W-D-L) puts them in 10th place overall with 20 points, and they have not won a regular-season match since June 3.

“We have high ambitions and continuously work to build a competitive team that will represent the city at a high level,” Dash general manager Alex Singer said. “After considerable evaluation as to what is best for the team at this time, we made the decision to make a change.”

While the team did not name an interim coach, only saying one would be announced “in the coming days,” first assistant coach Sarah Lowdon is expected to take the helm for the rest of the season, The Equalizer’s Theo Lloyd-Hughes reported.

The Dash hired Laity in December 2022. A longtime OL Reign assistant, the 47-year-old Englishman had coached for the Seattle club since the NWSL’s inaugural season in 2013. He served as OL Reign’s interim head coach for six games in 2021.

He followed two coaches who had been implicated in the the NWSL and NWSLPA investigation into “widespread misconduct” in the league in James Clarkson (2019-22) and Vera Pauw (2018).

“On behalf of the Club, community, and our team, I want to thank Sam for his dedication and contributions to our organization,” Singer said. “We sincerely wish him all the best.”

The Ireland women’s national team is parting ways with head coach Vera Pauw, who led the team to a historic World Cup appearance but also was dogged by controversy.

The Football Association of Ireland confirmed Tuesday that it will not offer a new contract to Pauw. She had led the team since 2019.

Under Pauw, Ireland made its first-ever Women’s World Cup appearance. But she faced questions and criticism over her behavior while a coach in the NWSL, and she butted heads with team captain Katie McCabe during the World Cup run.

The NWSL investigation into coaching misconduct found that the former Houston Dash coach had “shamed players for their weight and attempted to exert excessive control over their eating habits.” In July, a report from The Athletic detailed more of Pauw’s behavior, which players called “abusive” and “belittling,” though Pauw strongly denied the allegations.

In the final match of the World Cup, Pauw got into a public spat with McCabe over player substitutions.

“If Katie McCabe says that she wants a change that doesn’t mean [we change]. She’s not the coach, eh?” she said. McCabe responded to the barb with a zipped mouth emoji on social media.

Still, at the time, Pauw said she didn’t feel as if the 0-0 draw with Nigeria would be her last game with Ireland.

The decision not to extend Pauw came as the result of a six-hour meeting, which included a report detailing the team’s campaign dating back to September 2021. The report featured contributions from players, Pauw and her management team.

FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill said in a statement about Pauw’s departure that they “wish her well” and thanked her for her “hard work and commitment” over the past four years.

“In particular, I wish to acknowledge the role she played in leading Ireland to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 where our women’s team made history and inspired a nation,” he said. “The future is bright for women and girls’ football and our focus now is building upon the work done by Vera and the historic achievements of our women’s team, which we see as a platform to support the next phase of the journey for the team, and more broadly the development of women and girls’ football in this country.”

No information has been provided on who could replace Pauw, although Eileen Gleeson has taken over as interim head coach, with Tom Elms assisting.