Get ready for the 2023 NWSL Championship with the Just Women’s Sports Super Show, hosted by Sarah Gorden and Christine Williamson.

The two break down the matchup between OL Reign and Gotham FC while also recapping a hectic 2023 season. Special guests include San Diego Wave’s Jaedyn Shaw, Gotham FC’s Kelley O’Hara and Allie Long, Angel City FC’s Sydney Leroux and Ali Riley, Kansas City’s Lo’eau LaBonta, and Just Women’s Sports’ own Claire Watkins.

It’s the funnest, rowdiest NWSL Championship preview you’ll find anywhere.

Cassius Leroux is the biggest mood when it comes to his mom scoring a bicycle kick goal in Angel City’s playoff-clinching 5-1 win Sunday over the Portland Thorns.

The 33-year-old forward extended the team’s lead to 4-0 with a jaw-dropping move that had everyone – including her son Cassius – in disbelief.

“Ask and you shall receive,” Leroux wrote on social media, accompanied by a video of her son reacting to the goal. Fans had been looking for the young boy’s reaction on social media.

After the match, Leroux said that she practices bicycle kicks in training.

“It’s really funny because all of my teammates were laughing because I do do that in training and so I said, one day during my career I’m going to hit one, and today it happened,” she said. “It was really fun.”

Netherlands forward Lineth Beerensteyn celebrated the U.S. women’s national team’s exit from the 2023 World Cup. After the Dutch squad’s elimination, former USWNT forward Sydney Leroux returned the favor.

Ahead of her team’s quarterfinal match against Spain, Beerensteyn chided the USWNT for its overconfidence entering the World Cup. When she heard about the two-time defending champions’ shootout loss to Sweden in the Round of 16, she had one thought: “Yes! Bye!”

“From the start of this tournament, they had really big mouths, they were talking already about the final,” Beerensteyn said. “I was just thinking, you first have to show it on the pitch before you’re talking.”

After the Netherlands’ 2-1 loss to Spain in the quarterfinal round, Leroux directed a similar message to the Dutch team.

“One thing we’ve learned is wait to talk shit until after you’re on the podium with a gold medal because now… you’re bye too,” said Leroux, who won the 2015 World Cup as a member of the USWNT.

The USWNT played the Netherlands to a 1-1 draw in the group stage at this World Cup, and Netherlands went on to win Group E. The teams also had faced off at the previous two major tournaments, with the U.S. beating the Dutch in the 2021 Olympic quarterfinals and in the 2019 World Cup final.

Beerensteyn insisted that she maintains “a lot of respect” for the USWNT players.

“But now they’re out of the tournament, and for me, it’s a relief,” she said. “For them, and it’s something they will have to take with them in the future: Don’t start to talk about something that is far away. I hope they will learn from that.”

Spain advances to the semifinals with its win over the Netherlands. La Roja will face Sweden at 4 a.m. ET Tuesday with a spot in the World Cup championship match on the line.

Sydney Leroux made her long-awaited return to Angel City FC in Monday’s match against the Chicago Red Stars, and she marked the occasion with a goal in her first game back from an ankle injury.

While Angel City fell 2-1, Leroux provided a bright spot for the club in front of their home crowd.

The 33-year-old forward entered as a substitute in the 75th minute, then scored 13 minutes later to get her team on the scoreboard. The goal was her first since May 2022, her first with Angel City and her 40th career NWSL goal.

Leroux said she knew she was “gonna get there first” when it came to chasing down the ball from Alyssa Thompson, who was credited with the assist on the goal.

Angel City FC acquired Leroux in a trade last June, but she played just three matches with the club before missing the rest of the season with an ankle injury. She underwent surgery for the injury last summer, and she called her return nine months later “super emotional.”

“It meant a lot to me,” Leroux said of the goal and of her return. “It’s definitely been an emotional year. I didn’t know if I would be able to put on this jersey again and be able to play the way that I know I can play. 

“So to come on, to feel like I’m back, to not have any issues and to play without pain was really special. We wish that the score was a little different, but I think we showed that we can play tough and that’s what we need to do, but for 90 minutes plus.”

She also got to share the moment with her two children, who were with her on the pitch after the game. 

“They were such a huge part of my journey coming back,” Leroux said. “We spent a lot of days where they were really helpful. It was really special to share that with them. And, when I scored, [Cassius Leroux] started crying. It’s the most special thing to share that with them tonight.”

While Leroux will remain on a minutes restriction to ensure a safe return, per coach Freya Coombe, her presence provides a boost for Angel City.

After years of waiting, and then an extra week’s delay, the NWSL finally debuted Wednesday in the popular “FIFA 23” video game. But almost immediately, NWSL players began to voice their displeasure with their digital likenesses.

Angel City FC forward Sydney Leroux called out the game regarding her player avatar and those of other players. And while she injected humorous disbelief into her critiques, she made clear that the issue cuts deeper than surface-level jokes.

“I know you expect women to just be thankful and grateful that you’ve given us a little sliver of publicity but please stop wasting our time,” Leroux tweeted. “Some of us are bald.”

The bald player included in Leroux’s post seems to be Canada women’s national team goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan — who at least sports her usual full head of hair in her San Diego Wave avatar, if not in her Canada avatar, as she noted on her own Twitter account.

Leroux’s Angel City teammate Madison Hammond also took issue with her representation in the game.

“Somebody please lmk when they find me, Madison Hammond #99 from Angel City!” she tweeted. “Because this … is simply not it!”

Houston Dash defender Caprice Dydasco posted a photo of herself alongside a screenshot of her avatar to present a stark comparison.

“I’m grateful EA Sports is finally including the NWSL but this does not represent me,” she tweeted.

Dydasco is among a small group of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander players in the NWSL, which makes her avatar even more disappointing.

With so few AAPI players in the league, “it’s really important to be that much more thoughtful and deliberate about appearances,” The Athletic’s Steph Yang tweeted.

Incongruous avatars and player ratings can leave NWSL players feeling like they remain on the outskirts of the soccer community, despite what has been marketed as a milestone for inclusion.

“When EA Sports didn’t put me in the top 10 for speed I was mad but I was like eh we will show them,” Angel City FC defender Sarah Gorden tweeted. “But when they gave me a 48 rating in speed I realized they have never and will never actually watch a NWSL game.”

Sydney Leroux applauded Angel City FC’s hiring of Black stylists for its media day.

The Angel City FC forward called the availability of Black hair and makeup artists “an absolute necessity for 2023” in her Instagram story, as highlighted by soccer writer Tamerra Griffin. Leroux also posted a photo of her teammate Simone Charley getting her hair done by a Black stylist.

“The importance of having black hair/makeup artists at shoots and events is KEY and should be an absolute necessity in 2023,” she wrote. “Thank you Angel City.”

Júlia Belas, who writes about women’s soccer for The Guardian, agreed with Leroux that such inclusivity is “so important.”

“Had a TV thing (with hair and makeup) a couple of years ago and paid to braid my hair beforehand because no way I’d just let someone I didn’t know take care of it. Simone’s face says it all,” she wrote on Twitter.

Women’s soccer players have discussed the lack of behind-the-scenes representation and support for players of color in the past. For example, U.S. women’s national team defender Crystal Dunn pointed out the lack of resources available to Black players such as herself during photo shoots, as not every stylist understands how to work with Black skin and hair.

“Whenever there was a photo shoot, it was always a struggle for me to feel comfortable speaking to someone who’s doing my hair and makeup, which is something a lot of my teammates don’t understand,” Dunn told Andscape in 2021. “They take it for granted that they just get set up with someone who does their hair and makeup.”

When Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson announced his decision to sell the NWSL club, a social media furor followed among players.

Several Thorns players, including captain Christine Sinclair and longtime defender Emily Menges, took to Twitter to thank the embattled owner. The Sally Yates report, released in October, implicated Paulson in perpetuating a culture of abuse in the league.

“Merritt, thank you for taking the chance on women’s soccer 10 years ago that so few were willing to make,” Sinclair wrote. “With your leadership, Portland has shown what is possible when our game is invested in.”

Other players, though, pushed back against such sentiments. Angels City FC forward Sydney Leroux offered the clearest rebuke.

“When you have someone in a position of power who has covered up the abuse of your teammates and you thank him for what he’s done for women’s soccer, it’s extremely disappointing,” Leroux wrote. “We ask people to support women’s soccer yet we can’t even support our own. Do better.”

Leroux played for the Orlando Pride for four years before she was traded in June. Amanda Cromwell, who was named coach of the Pride ahead of the 2022 season, was placed on leave in June for retaliatory conduct, then was banned from the NWSL after the season.

Leroux also had stints with FC Kansas City and the Western New York Flash and played for the U.S. women’s national team. While she did not play for any of the coaches named in the Yates report, she took a strong stance in the wake of its release.

“It’s my belief that when serious allegations are brought to you and you ignore us… you should have absolutely nothing to do with this sport ever again. Period,” Leroux wrote in October.

Sinclair and Menges’ Thorns teammate, Becky Sauerbrunn, did not respond directly to their thanks of Paulson, but she took to social media to send support to victims of abuse in the NWSL.

“Giving thanks, and sending strength and love to all the women who courageously came forward to share their experiences and demanded much-needed change in our league,” Sauerbrunn wrote.

The Thorns have multiple holes to fill after head coach Rhian Wilkinson resigned on Friday following an investigation into a series of messages she exchanged with Menges. Wilkinson was cleared of wrongdoing, but a group of unnamed Portland players said they felt “unsettled and unsafe” in a letter to the NWSL.

The Thorns are coming off a 2022 season in which they won the NWSL Championship and Wilkinson was a nominee for Coach of the Year.

The recognized supporters group of the Orlando Pride, Black Swans Drinking Club, is speaking out after the club traded Sydney Leroux to Angel City FC on Wednesday.

The star forward’s exit comes after a series of high-profile players have left Orlando in recent months, including Alex Morgan, Taylor Kornieck, Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger and Ali Riley. Last month, head coach Amanda Cromwell and assistant coach Sam Greene were placed on temporary administrative leave pending an investigation into “alleged retaliation in violation of the NWSL Policy to Prevent and Eliminate Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying.”

On Thursday, Black Swans Drinking Club addressed Leroux’s trade and the broader player exodus from the Pride amid other controversies.

“You could say it’s been a struggle to be an Orlando supporter, we’ve trusted the process and now we’re here,” the group wrote on social media. “Accepting losses on the pitch is one thing, but compounding those losses with losing key players, turmoil in the locker room, rumors on social, investigations into coaching and losing fans gets disheartening and frustrating. We’re feeling a little helpless and in the dark.”

The fan group concluded their note with a message to the players, writing, “We see you. We understand you just want to play the game you love. You want to win as much as we do. We’re not f****** leaving.”

In exchange for Leroux, the Pride received Angel City’s natural first-round pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft and $75,000 in allocation money.

Orlando, seeking its first NWSL playoff appearance in five years, is currently 11th in the league standings with a 2-2-5 record. On Friday, the Pride announced the signing of promising young forward Haley Bugeja from US Sassuolo in Italy’s Serie A league.

Angel City FC and the Orlando Pride agreed to a trade Wednesday that sends forward Sydney Leroux to Los Angeles in exchange for draft picks and allocation money.

In return for Leroux, the Pride receive ACFC’s natural first round pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft and $75,000 in allocation money. Additional performance-based incentives could also see the Pride receive $10,000 in allocation money in 2022 and an additional $10,000 in 2023.

“Sydney gave all she could for the Club every time she pulled on the jersey. We want to thank her for everything she has done for both our team and our community,” Orlando Pride general manager Ian Fleming said. “We’ll miss having Sydney and her family here in Orlando, but we believe this trade is best for all parties. We wish Syd the best of luck in this next chapter.”

Leroux joined Orlando in 2018 following a trade with the Utah Royals. In five seasons with the Pride, she’s made 63 appearances and tallied 18 goals.

“I’d like to thank the Club, the fans and the community for embracing me and my family over the past five seasons,” Leroux said. “We had many exciting memories and moments throughout my time here, and I always will remember my time in Orlando fondly.”

The forward has been a member of the NWSL since 2013, when she played for the Boston Breakers during the league’s inaugural season. Since then, she’s played with the Reign, the Western New York Flash and the Royals.

So far this season Leroux had two goals through seven appearances for Orlando, tying for first on the team with Mikayla Cluff. She led the team in goals last season with eight – three more than Alex Morgan, who is currently leading the league in goals with San Diego Wave FC.

Orlando has had a rocky start to the season, sitting 11th out of 12 teams in the league with a 2-5-2 record.

On June 7, coach Amanda Cromwell was placed on leave amid an investigation into “alleged retaliation in violation of the NWSL Policy to Prevent and Eliminate Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying.”

On June 17, the team bought out Amy Turner, who joined the team last June from Manchester United.

For Angel City FC, the addition of Leroux comes as the team tries to recover its early season form. The club sits in the sixth and final playoff spot with a 4-4-1 record.

Christen Press had also been leading the attack before going down for the season with an ACL tear. Savannah McCaskill paces Angel City FC with two goals.

The Orlando Pride exploded in the first half get past the North Carolina Courage 2-1 on Wednesday.

North Carolina is still down several key players to injury and COVID-19 protocols, which led to the postponement of their game against Gotham last week. The Pride also shuffled their lineup to allow for some players to get some rest.

Sydney Leroux got things started in the fourth minute off a deflection from a shot by Mikayla Cluff.

The Pride have now gotten a goal within the first five minutes in both of their regular season road games. The other early goal also came from Leroux, in the third minute against Angel City FC.

“It’s huge,” Cluff said about the early goals. “We talked about the big moments in the game and the times that we let them get shifted. The first five minutes of the game is some of the biggest parts. So it’s nice when we’re able to come out and get a strong start.”

The Courage had chances throughout the first half, but it was the Pride who managed to double their lead in the 44th minute. Cluff found the back of the net this time, scoring her first NWSL regular-season goal.

Several more chances for both teams came in the second half, but the Courage didn’t record their first shot of the half until the 75th minute. Eventually, in the 85th minute, they got one as Brianna Pinto brought the team within one.

The Courage wouldn’t find the back of the net again, however, and have yet to win a game in the regular season. Orlando, meanwhile, sits in second place in the league, two points behind San Diego, which sits atop the standings.

Goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who signed a contract extension with the team Thursday, faced 10 shots and made one save in the game.