Arsenal and North Carolina Courage are in advanced talks to send star defender Emily Fox across the pond. 

Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall has hinted at adding more players this offseason, and Fox could be sent to Arsenal on a free transfer, according to a report from OneFootball. Fox may be moving in the January transfer window, per Arsenal reporter Tim Stillman. Fox is a restricted free agent, though, so nothing is certain yet.

“Ideally was hoping to say this after a win (!) but I understand that USWNT right-back Emily Fox to Arsenal in January is at an advanced stage,” Stillman wrote on X, formerly Twitter. 

The 25-year-old defender made 17 starts for the Courage in the 2023 season. She also started in all four matches for the U.S. women’s national team at the 2023 World Cup. She is versatile enough to play both left and right back and is a key target in the Gunners’ plans, according to the latest reports.

Several NWSL head coaches have spoken out against the expansion draft.

Sean Nahas of the North Carolina Courage, Laura Harvey of OL Reign and Casey Stoney of the San Diego Wave all condemned the draft for the lack of control it creates for players and existing teams.

All three coaches had multiple players selected from their squads in Friday’s expansion draft for Bay FC and Utah Royals FC, both of which will join the league in 2024.

“I don’t think people actually realize the damage that is created by this process and what it does to players, clubs and those relationships. We should be protecting the league and not 9 players per roster. There needs to be another way,” Nahas wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Before the draft, North Carolina and San Diego engaged in trades with the new teams to try and limit their losses in the draft and to maintain more control over the future of their lineups. OL Reign did not make any trades with either Bay FC or Utah Royals FC.

Yet all three teams lost two players to the new clubs. And coaches and players aren’t happy with the lives being uprooted.

“I’d just like to make it official. I dislike the expansion draft. I also dislike that I chose to be in England whilst it was on, so now it’s 1.30am and I’m wired. Thanks very much!” Harvey wrote on X.

Many NWSL fans seem to be in agreement with coaches and players about disliking the expansion draft. Some have proposed earlier free agency, so teams can sign all of their own talent with more control from existing teams and players. None of the coaches who spoke out offered specific solutions — but they believe a new way could be found.

“We have to find a different way!!!! It can be done because I have done it!!!!!!” Stoney said on X.

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.

(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.

(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.

(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 pits OL Reign against Gotham FC. The league is guaranteed to crown a new champion, as neither franchise has ever won the title before.

In honor of this year’s championship match, Just Women’s Sports takes a look back at the nine previous winners.

2022: Portland Thorns FC

The Thorns won their league-leading third championship, fending off the Kansas City Current in the title game.

After finishing second in the league standings with a 10-9-3 record, Portland received a first-round bye as a result, then beat the expansion San Diego Wave in the semifinals. The 2-1 victory included a goal from Rocky Rodriguez and a stoppage-time winner by Crystal Dunn, who had only recently returned from maternity leave.

The 2-0 win over Kansas City in the final included a memorable goal (and celebration) from Sophia Smith as well as an own goal in the 56th minute. Smith – who became the youngest player to win league MVP that year – also was named Finals MVP.

2021: Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit won their first title after finishing the regular season in third place with an 11-6-7 record. Ashley Hatch won the league’s Golden Boot that year with 10 total goals.

Hatch provided the stoppage-time winner for Washington in its first-round match against the North Carolina Courage. In the semifinals, goals from Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez sent OL Reign packing in a 2-1 win. The Spirit faced the Chicago Red Stars in the championship, with Kelley O’Hara providing the stoppage-time winner.

Note: The NWSL did not hold a regular season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, teams competed in the first iteration of the Challenge Cup tournament, which was won by the Houston Dash.

2019: North Carolina Courage

The Courage won the second of their back-to-back titles after also winning the Shield in both seasons. They finished the regular season with 49 points and a 15-4-5 record while also gathering an astounding +31 goal differential – more than double that of second-place Chicago. Lynn Williams was once again the team’s leading scorer with 12 goals.

The Courage beat the Reign, 4-1, in the semifinals thanks to goals from Heather O’Reilly, Debinha and Crystal Dunn, as well as an own goal from the opposing team. And then they topped the Red Stars, 4-0, in the championship game, with Debinha, Dunn, Jessica McDonald and Sam Mewis all getting in on the scoring.

2018: North Carolina Courage

North Carolina won the title and the Shield after finishing the regular season with a 17-6-1 record, 15 points ahead of the second-place Thorns. Goals from Jessica McDonald and Sam Mewis in the semifinal round propelled the team to a 2-0 win over Chicago.

The Courage went on to beat Portland, 3-0, in the final off a McDonald brace and a goal from Debinha. Lynn Williams finished as the team’s leading scorer with 14 goals, while McDonald ranked first in the league in assists.

2017: Portland Thorns FC

Portland’s second NWSL title came four years after its first. The team was led in goals by Christine Sinclair, who had eight on the season. The Thorns finished second in the league in the regular season with a 14-5-5 record, two points behind the North Carolina Courage.

A 4-1 win over the Orlando Pride in the semifinals set up a clash with the Courage in the championship, which Portland won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Lindsey Horan in the 50th minute.

2016: Western New York Flash

The Western New York Flash won the title in 2016 after finishing the regular season fourth in the NWSL standings and barely sneaking into the playoffs. They beat out the Reign for the final playoff spot by two points, finishing with a 9-5-6 record – winning just one more game than Seattle. Lynn Williams was the leading scorer for the team and the league with 11 goals.

The playoffs that season featured extra time in every single game played, with New York beating Portland in the semifinals, 4-3, thanks to a stoppage-time winning brace from Williams.

The Flash would go on to face the Washington Spirit in the final, which finished in a 2-2 tie after regulation and extra time off goals from Williams and Sam Mewis and Williams for New York and a Crystal Dunn brace for Washington. The Flash took home the title with a 3-2 win in the penalty shootout.

2015: FC Kansas City

For the second year in a row, the Reign won the Shield and FC Kansas City won the NWSL title, with the Seattle club finishing as the runner-up. Kansas City finished third in the regular season with a 9-5-6 record, led by Crystal Dunn who had 15 goals.

They beat Chicago in the semifinal, with a brace from Rocky Rodriguez propelling them to a 3-0 win. Rodriguez would play hero again in the championship game, scoring the game’s lone goal in a 1-0 win for Kansas City. This marked the Reign’s last appearance in the NWSL championship until 2023.

2014: FC Kansas City

FC Kansas City won the first of their two NWSL titles in 2014, finishing the season second in league standings with 41 points and a 12-5-7 record. The Reign were far and away the best team of the regular season with 54 points and a +30 goal differential.

Kansas City beat Portland, 2-0, in the semifinal round, setting up a championship showdown between the two best teams of the regular season. Rocky Rodriguez netted a brace to give Kansas City the 2-1 win.

2013: Portland Thorns FC

Portland’s winning history in the NWSL dates back to the first-ever league championship, with star players including Christine Sinclair, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath gracing the field for the club.

The Thorns beat FC Kansas City in the semifinal round and then Shield winners Western New York Flash, 2-0, in the championship match to take home the title off goals from Heath and Sinclair.

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



NWSL Championship

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

Kerolin is the 2023 NWSL MVP.

The league announced the 23-year-old Brazilian forward as the Most Valuable Player, making her the first Latin American player and the first North Carolina Courage player to win the award. Eight previous Courage players had been nominated, but none of them took home the hardware.

Kerolin scored 10 goals on the season, finishing as runner-up to Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith (11 goals) in the Golden Boot race. She’s just the third Brazilian and the fourth Courage player to finish with a double-digit goal total in an NWSL regular season. With three assists, she also finished second in the league in points.

Her expected goals ranked third in the NWSL, while she ranked sixth in total shots and fourth in shots on target per 90. She finished first in the league in shot-creating actions with 91 and successful take-ons with 67. She ranked in the top 10 in the league in 28  statistical categories.

A member of the NWSL 2023 Best XI first team, she also led North Carolina to its second straight NWSL Challenge Cup title, scoring the team’s winning goal. It was the Courage’s seventh league trophy, the most in NWSL history.

Kerolin beat out four other nominees for the MVP award: Smith and Sam Coffey of the Portland Thorns, Debinha of the Kansas City Current and Naomi Girma of the San Diego Wave.

From Gotham FC, Juan Carlos Amorós was named Coach of the Year and Jenna Nighswonger won Rookie of the Year. Girma was named Defender of the Year, while Jane Campbell of the Houston Dash was named Goalkeeper of the Year.

Kerolin will miss the 2023 NWSL playoffs for the North Carolina Courage.

The 23-year-old Brazilian midfielder tore the ACL in her right knee in the regular-season finale. The 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit clinched a postseason berth for the Courage, but they will enter Sunday’s quarterfinal against Gotham FC without their best player.

Kerolin joined North Carolina in 2022, signing a three-year deal with the club, but her breakout season came in 2023. She finished second to Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith in scoring with 10 goals, including a hat trick on June 10 against the Chicago Red Stars. But with Smith missing nearly a quarter of the season with injury, Kerolin stood out as the front-runner for the MVP award.

In addition to her regular-season success, she led the Courage to a second consecutive NWSL Challenge Cup title. She scored the game-winning goal in the championship match, a 2-0 win against Racing Louisville on Sept. 9. And she played for Brazil at the 2023 World Cup.

The No. 3 seed Courage will host No. 6 seed Gotham FC in a quarterfinal contest at 7 p.m. ET Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. The match will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. The winner will advance to face the No. 2 seed Portland Thorns in the semifinals on Nov. 5.

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

With just two games left in the regular season, the race for the NWSL Shield is coming down to the wire.

Just five points separate first-place San Diego and sixth-place OL Reign — and mathematically, no team has been eliminated from the playoffs yet. That means that the final two weekends of the regular season will be a race to the finish line. The top six teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will make the playoffs.

OL Reign have dropped off in recent weeks, which leaves them just barely hanging on to the final playoff spot with 28 points. The San Diego Wave, meanwhile, have jumped back into the top spot of the league rankings.

Stock up: San Diego Wave

Once again, San Diego is trending upward, back atop the NWSL standings courtesy of Saturday’s 2-0 win against second-place Portland. Star forward Alex Morgan got her first goal in four months, a good sign for the Wave as they became the first (and, so far, only) team to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

“All-around, it was a huge performance from every single one of us,” midfielder Danielle Colaprico said after the game.

And now, San Diego is setting its sights on its next goal: the NWSL Shield. The Wave are playing in just their second season since joining the league as an expansion franchise, but they have won four of their last five matches.

“I can’t speak highly enough of my squad tonight,” San Diego head coach Casey Stoney said. “I think they bought in, they were engaged, they were focused. They worked so hard, and I thought they deserved the win tonight.

“Now it’s about that mentality next week, because yes we clinched playoffs, great, but what can we now achieve? That’s the standard that we’ve set tonight and really, really proud of them.”

Stock down: OL Reign

OL Reign managed to hold onto their playoff spot by their fingernails Sunday in a 1-1 draw with the North Carolina Courage. But the reigning NWSL Shield winners have managed just four points in their last five games, and they aren’t coming up with the wins needed to secure a playoff spot, let alone the prize for the best team of the regular season.

With several teams, including the Houston Dash and Angel City FC, hot on their heels, OL Reign is going to have to find a spark if they want to send off retiring star Megan Rapinoe with an NWSL championship. But the Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars likely will provide tough challenges to close out season.

Potential sleeper: Nobody

Recent run of play makes it difficult to find a potential sleeper for the Shield. While many teams are in the mix for the playoffs, several of the teams in postseason position are just trying to hold onto their spots.

Gotham FC are in third place, but they have won just one game in their last five — but that is better than fourth-place North Carolina, which has won zero. While the Spirit won this weekend, they went winless in the four games before that. Angel City FC have not lost in five games, but clinching the Shield is a mathematical impossibility. Even winning their last two matches would bring them to just 31 points – less than the Wave’s 33.

At this point, the NWSL Shield looks like San Diego’s to lose.

NWSL standings (Oct. 2, 2023)

  1. San Diego Wave, 33 points
  2. Portland Thorns, 32
  3. Gotham FC, 30
  4. North Carolina Courage, 29
  5. Washington Spirit, 29
  6. OL Reign, 28
  7. Houston Dash, 26
  8. Orlando Pride, 25
  9. Angel City, 25
  10. Racing Louisville, 24
  11. Chicago Red Stars, 24
  12. Kansas City Current, 22