Tobin Heath spent her Monday at the White House, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act.

The Act helped to make equal pay laws more enforceable, and Heath was present at the White House on Monday to talk about the U.S. women’s national team’s fight for equal pay.

“I’ve been so fortunate to be able to play on the U.S. women’s national team that’s become synonymous for the fight for equal pay,” she said during a White House Instagram story. “I’m so happy to be here with my fellow champions and trailblazers of equal pay, to be able to continue to champion the progress to really close the wage gap.”

Heath was a member of the group that sued U.S. Soccer in 2019 in the team’s fight for equal pay. In 2022, the federation and both national team announced a historic CBA that guaranteed equal pay for the women’s and men’s teams.

It’s not Heath’s first time having been to the White House. Twice she’s attended as a member of both the 2015 and 2019 World Cup winning teams.

“It’s an honor to be here today to discuss fair pay. I remember we were here after our 2015 World Cup win and at that time that was before we had actually sued our employer for equal pay,” she continued. “And it’s incredible the progress that then had been made right before the 2019 World Cup. We were fighting for equal pay and we won that World Cup and everything culminated in this moment where, we thought you know, the whole world would have been chanting USA and the whole world was chanting equal pay.”

While the USWNT was among the first to fully guarantee equal pay, there’s still work to be done. Other federations, like Canada, are fighting for equal pay.

“It’s important the work that’s being done,” Heath continued. “We need to continue to fight for the progress of equal pay. It will mean a better future for us all. And that’s what we’re here to celebrate and to continue to champion.”

Lindsey Horan wants to see better coaches and better youth development for the U.S. women’s national team.

A four-episode Netflix docuseries released Tuesday, titled “Under Pressure,” chronicles the USWNT’s journey at the 2023 World Cup, which ended in disappointment.

In the fourth episode, co-captain Horan offered up some criticism after the team’s exit in the Round of 16, which was its earliest ever at a World Cup. Horan, who plays for French club Olympique Lyonnais, attributes the disappointing result in part to the rest of the world catching up – and in part to the evolving style of play.

“The international game, it’s such a nice style of football,” Horan said. “You’re playing these little tiny passes here and there. They’re so confident on the ball. They’re so technical. We need to progress in this possession style of play. We need better coaches. We need better youth development. We need more investment there.”

Some of the issues with the USWNT also can be traced back to former head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who resigned following the World Cup.

“I don’t think we were set up well to go on and have the success to win it,” Lynn Williams said in the series. “When you only win three out of the ten games, there’s no way you’re gonna have that coach carry on. … When we’re held to this standard, the coaching staff also has to be.”

Alex Morgan, Horan’s co-captain, noted that both she and Horan had “really honest” conversations with Andonovski. But she also knows that not every player felt as comfortable or could be as vulnerable with their coach.

And Horan also acknowledged that some of the responsibility for the team’s failure fell on the players.

“Obviously Vlatko gives us the game plan every single game, but we’re the players on the field,” she said.

New head coach Emma Hayes has brought some life back to the squad, with players excited about the new direction. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will lead the team until Hayes joins in May following the conclusion of Chelsea’s season. But the Paris Olympics start in July, leading some to question whether or not the team can succeed in the short term. And for some, succeeding in the short term is imperative.

“How we silence the critics going forward now, in this moment,” former USWNT forward Tobin Heath said near the end of the series, “is we go to an Olympics, and we win an Olympics.”

Tobin Heath is opening up about the 2020 NWSL expansion draft and the heartbreak that came with it.

At the time, Heath was playing with Manchester United in the Women’s Super League, with the Portland Thorns retaining her NWSL rights. Heath, who had been with the club since their inaugural season in 2013, was selected by Racing Louisville in the expansion draft after going unprotected by Portland.

In the latest episode of “The RE-CAP Show,” Heath called her selection by Louisville “the biggest heartbreak of my life.”

“For me, playing in Portland was one of the greatest honors of my life. It gave me a childhood dream,” she said. “It was a big surprise to me to learn I was picked up in the expansion process. And I will say, I envisioned myself playing in Portland for the rest of my career.

“I envisioned myself living in Portland for the rest of my life and putting all of my football and everything that community gave me back into the club.”

While she was playing with Manchester United during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was told “by all parties” in the NWSL that she didn’t have to worry about the expansion draft. But she knew as soon as she got the phone call that she had been picked up.

“Immediately, I was kind of in denial,” she said, noting that she told her agent to tell Racing Louisville that “there’s no way I will ever show up.” She held true to that, continuing to play overseas before her rights were eventually traded to OL Reign. She played five games for the Seattle-based club in 2022 before being sidelined by injury.

“In one way, it had nothing to do with that particular club, but it had everything to do with the club I was currently on,” she said. “I have never cried harder in my life. I couldn’t console myself.”

Both Heath and co-host Christen Press also talked more generally about the expansion draft and the effect that it can have on players.

“Sometimes players are really excited about it. Sometimes players want to move,” Heath said. “So then there’s the very opposite of that, where maybe there’s a player that has signed a long-term contract with a club, has invested time there, has put down roots there, and they are left unprotected and therefore could be picked up.

“And I think there’s a little bit of chicken and egg that happens, where clubs play some games seeing which players they can leave unprotected and still have the feeling that they won’t get picked.”

Press talked about the issue with the NWSL basing its structure, including the expansion draft, off American sports leagues such as the NBA and NHL, rather than mirroring the European soccer system.

“My issue with our league being based off those leagues is multifaceted, but one big problem, I think, when it comes to reallocating or the way that players are moved around and traded around, it doesn’t work for this league because the players aren’t getting paid enough,” she said. “All of the moving pieces, which in this case are human beings, really matter.”

Megan Rapinoe underwent surgery to repair the torn Achilles tendon in her right leg, she and OL Reign announced Wednesday.

The longtime U.S. women’s national team and OL Reign forward sustained the injury early in the 2023 NWSL Championship, which also was the final match of her storied career.

“I wasn’t overly emotional about it,” Rapinoe said after OL Reign’s 2-1 loss to Gotham FC. “I mean, f—ing yeeted my Achilles in the sixth minute in my last game ever in the literal championship game.”

Her former USWNT teammate Christen Press, though, couldn’t hold back her own emotions while watching the game at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, as Tobin Heath shared on the latest episode of their podcast, “The RE-CAP Show.”

“I was looking around trying to see if the stadium was processing what was happening,” Heath said. “And I looked over you and you were crying. And it was such a complicated moment of feelings.”

“We just were not ready for the end to come right at the beginning,” Press said. “And when I texted Pinoe after the game, I told her: Three tears hit the floor. That’s what happened, three giant, real tears hit the floor underneath my shoes.

“And you know what I thought? I thought, those aren’t tears of pity. She’s too important. She’s had too big of a career. She’s had too much success and joy playing this sport for us to have pity. That would be a disservice to the legacy that she’s leaving.

“And the tears fell from my face with love and pride to be able to have shared the field and the locker room with someone who has had such a long-lasting impact and will continue to have that long-lasting impact.”

Rapinoe handled the injury with grace during the championship match, even as her teammates and opponents spoke of their devastation on her behalf. And that continued as she began her recovery.

“Surgery a success. Home, resting, being taken care of,” she wrote on Instagram, tagging her fiancée Sue Bird. “Thank you for all the love, well wishes and good vibes sent my way.”

Christen Press was as excited as the rest of the soccer community to watch Ali Krieger take home the 2023 NWSL Championship with Gotham FC.

On the latest episode of “The RE-CAP Show,” Press described herself as “on the edge of our seats” for the entirety of Saturday’s final. And one of the best parts of the match was getting to see how loved Krieger is. Press and Krieger played together on the 2015 and 2019 World Cup squads for the U.S. women’s national team.

“I think that it is warm and fuzzies to the max. This player, our friend, is so loved,” Press told co-host Tobin Heath. “She is adored by her teammates, by the teams that she plays on, by the entire community. … The Ali Krieger supporter group was massive and it was loud. We had Ali Krieger chants reverberating through the stadium the entire time, and that must be so cool to feel that in your final match.”

Part of what made it so satisfying to watch Krieger win the championship, Press said, is how Krieger has valued the NWSL from the very start of the league. While some treated it as a “stepping stone” for the national team, Krieger always has valued the NWSL on its own merit.

“I have never experienced someone who is able to put so much effort and energy and love into every single day of what she does,” Press continued. “She plays every single game like it’s the World Cup. She plays five-on-five in training like it’s a World Cup final.

“I’m like, aren’t you exhausted carrying this much for this long? I do not know how you do it. I do not understand how you could care that much all the freaking time.”

She also attributed part of Gotham’s energy and culture to what Krieger has established since joining the club last year.

“You’ve got a player that has done what she needs to do in her career,” she said. “And instead of being like, this is my victory tour, she says at the beginning of the season, ‘I want to win this trophy, I have not won this trophy.’ She frickin’ manifested that.”

Emma Hayes officially has been named the next head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday.

The 47-year-old from England is stepping down as Chelsea head coach at the end of the Women’s Super League season in May 2024. That announcement from the English club on Nov. 4 coincided with a flurry of reports connecting Hayes to the USWNT opening.

Hayes replaces Vlatko Andonovksi, who stepped down as USWNT manager in August in the aftermath of a disappointing World Cup run. Twila Kilgore served as interim head coach for the September and October training camps, and she will continue in that role before joining Hayes’ staff as an assistant coach.

Hayes joined Chelsea in 2012. In her 11 seasons at the helm, not including the 2023-24 season, she has won six league titles, five FA Cups, two FA League Cups and one Community Shield. While the club made a bid to keep Hayes, their offer could not match that of the USWNT, where her base salary reportedly will match that of men’s coach Gregg Berhalter, who earns $1.6 million per year.

“This is a huge honor to be given the opportunity to coach the most incredible team in world football history,” Hayes said in a news release. “The feelings and connection I have for this team and for this country run deep. I’ve dreamed about coaching the USA for a long time so to get this opportunity is a dream come true.”

Through six matches this season, Chelsea sit atop the WSL table with 16 points. And her current roster includes two up-and-coming USWNT stars in Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel.

Before joining Chelsea, Hayes worked in the United States as part of the Women’s Professional Soccer league, a precursor to the NWSL. Hayes served as the head coach for the Chicago Red Stars from 2008 through 2010 and then as the technical director for the Western New York Flash in 2011.

Hayes’ impending hire was met with cheers from across the women’s soccer world. England head coach Sarina Wiegman called it “good for the women’s game,” while USWNT star-turned-analyst Carli Lloyd is “excited” by the move. USWNT midfielder Kristie Mewis said Hayes is “exactly what we need,” while forward Tobin Heath referred to the choice as a “no-brainer.”

The praise comes even after Hayes called out issues within the U.S. program after the USWNT’s exit from the 2023 World Cup. She pointed to problems with the development system, which have helped leave the team “massively short of creative talent.”

“The realities are, it is going to be very, very difficult for the US to climb back to the top,” Hayes wrote for The Telegraph. “I’m not saying they won’t, with hard work and the right conversations around their model. They will have to respond to this World Cup.”

Kristie Mewis is excited to see what Emma Hayes will bring to the U.S. women’s national team.

While Hayes has yet to be announced as the team’s next coach, her impending departure from Chelsea has been confirmed. U.S. Soccer’s board of directors also has reportedly approved the hire.

In her 12 seasons with Chelsea, Hayes has led the club to six Women’s Super League titles and five FA Cup titles — including the last four WSL titles and the last three FA Cup titles. Mewis’ fiancée Sam Kerr has played under Hayes at Chelsea since 2020.

“She’s an outstanding coach and she has led Chelsea to so many championships and so many wins, and she’s a world respected coach,” Mewis said. “I’m super excited to see what she can bring to the team. She’s exactly what we need and I really just think that she’s going to take the team to the next level.”

USWNT forward Tobin Heath agreed, calling the hiring of Hayes a “no-brainer.”

“When I saw this announcement I thought to myself: ‘Great choice. No-brainer,’” she said. “Did I think she was available? No. So then I instantly kind of became a little confused as to the timing of when she would come. But when I think about Emma Hayes and the impact she’s had on the women’s game, and the success that she’s had at Chelsea, she’s a winner.”

England boss Sarina Wiegman, meanwhile, called the move “good for the women’s game.”

“For the bigger picture of the women’s game, I think it’s good,” she said. “What you hope is that with her visibility and with more coaches that are visible, that you get more female coaches that can do a great job. And whatever level you coach, we need more women in football. It’s a little bit sad for England and Chelsea, but it’s also good for the women’s game in general.”

And as far as who will lead Chelsea next, Hayes has said she’ll have a hand in picking the team’s next coach. It’s important to her that there is a succession plan in place to ensure that the team continues to dominate after her departure in May 2024.

“The time is right,” she said. “I will work with the club in the succession plan and do everything I can to make sure there is as good of a transition as possible so my successor can have the same level of success as I can.

“I think it will be so Chelsea of us to succession-plan my exit, so of course I will be involved in those conversations. It’s important that we really take the time to evaluate what the best fit will be.”

Tobin Heath and Christen Press became the latest to praise the U.S. women’s national team for its impending hire of Emma Hayes.

While Hayes’ role as the next USWNT coach is not yet official, her departure from Chelsea is, with the Women’s Super League club announcing that she will exit at the end of the 2023-24 season. U.S. Soccer’s board of directors also has reportedly approved the hire, with contract details still being worked out.

On Friday, Hayes said in a news conference that the “time is right” to leave Chelsea. She is in her 12th season, and she has led the club to six league titles.

“I’ve been in the post for 12 years, and I’ve dedicated my life to this place,” Hayes said. “I drive four hours to this place six days a week for 12 years. I have a 5-year-old that needs more of his mummy, for sure. That’s important. Family matters. I think I’ve dedicated as much as I possibly can to this football club. I’ve loved every minute of it.”

But she wouldn’t comment on the reports linking her to the USWNT.

“I’ve got a team to focus on,” she said. “I’ve got games to win.”

On the latest episode of “The RE-CAP Show,” though, USWNT forwards Press and Heath had no qualms about discussing the expected hire. Heath called the USWNT’s choice of the Chelsea manager a “no-brainer.”

“When I saw this announcement I thought to myself, ‘Great choice. No-brainer,’” she said. “Did I think she was available? No. So then I instantly kind of became a little confused as to the timing of when she would come. But when I think about Emma Hayes and the impact she’s had on the women’s game, and the success that she’s had at Chelsea, she’s a winner.”

In her 12 years at Chelsea, Hayes developed a “winning culture,” according to Heath, bringing in players that fit her system. Her tenure includes six Women’s Super League titles, including the most recent one in May of this year, which capped off a run of four straight. She also has led the team to five FA Cup titles, including a third straight in 2023.

Heath, who has played in the WSL for Manchester United and Arsenal, has heard from other players that Hayes is “a real coach that advocates for her players, advocates for the game.”

“She is unashamed to want to be the best coach in the world. Coach the best team in the world,” Heath continued. “She thinks she’s up for the job. She’s not afraid of the task. We know what the task is of the U.S. women’s national team. We know what the expectation is. And I think having a coach that’s coming in that already you get the sense has the confidence to take this team where it is and put it back where the team belongs.”

Press also pointed out that Hayes is “used to that pressure,” which is important given the immense pressure placed upon the USWNT head coach. But the co-hosts also questioned whether the hire will affect the USWNT’s Olympic aspirations, as Hayes will remain with Chelsea through May 2024.

“I think, ultimately, we’re going to be sacrificing an Olympics,” Heath said. “Let’s just assume it’s a wash, no Olympics for this team, and we’re going to be setting our sights on the next World Cup.

“And that’s really hard, I think, for any U.S. women’s national team fan or even player to grapple with, is this idea that this is a long-term play. Because that’s what it looks like. She doesn’t have the time to go into an Olympics and win.

“Could the U.S. women’s national team still win an Olympics with absolutely no coaching? Yeah, Of course. And also the Olympics isn’t as big of a deal as the World Cup. It’s not as strong of a competition for a lot of reasons. But ultimately, it’s not a good signal for the short-term development of course correcting what I think is a team that is really lost right now.”

Press agreed with Heath’s assessment, even as she struggled to wrap her head around it.

“I can’t wrap my mind around us going into an Olympics not to win,” Press said. “And to just say that’s a wash, like, I have a really hard time with that. I think it goes against the culture of the U.S. women’s national team. And I think it’s very confusing as a player to imagine a world where U.S. Soccer is thinking [that].”

Preview the 2023 NWSL Championship by tuning into the Just Women’s Sports Super Show Presented by State Farm, featuring surprise guest appearances by NWSL stars. Watch here.

The NWSL Championship will bring plenty of buzz. But “the most exciting NWSL players aren’t going to be in the final,” Christen Press said on a recent episode of “The RE-CAP Show.”

No. 4 OL Reign will meet No. 6 Gotham FC in the NWSL Championship at 8 p.m. ET Saturday — a game that will prominently feature Megan Rapinoe, 38, and Ali Krieger, 39, as they finish their legendary careers.

Press and co-host Tobin Heath are happy for “elder millennials” Rapinoe and Krieger, but they are “done with retirement games,” as Heath stated on the podcast.

“I want to see the best players in their prime, and the best players that are coming up, and right now, I don’t see any of those two things in this final,” she said.

In the same episode, Press and Heath discussed the playoff format and how it may negatively affect players that had a first-round bye or had to leave training to fulfill U.S. women’s national team duties. The two top-seeded teams — the San Diego Wave and Portland Thorns — fell in the semifinals after long periods of not playing together, making room for the lower-seeded Reign and Gotham in the championship match.

Yet while none of the five NWSL MVP nominees will appear in the final, Press and Heath did give the players and teams who did reach this point their due. They pointed to Gotham forward Lynn Williams and Reign midfielder Emily Sonnett as potential game changers.

Heath highlighted Rapinoe and Krieger’s retirements, which give the match a great storyline. And both were excited that this tournament will end with a first-time NWSL champion. Press and Heath missed the 2023 season with injuries, but Heath won two NWSL titles with the Portland Thorns, and both played with Rapinoe and Krieger on the 2019 USWNT World Cup squad.

“Really, really interesting obviously, two teams that have never won a championship that, for the first time ever, they’ll make history and that’s so exciting,” Heath said. “If you look at a player like Pinoe and Krieger, they both have never won an NWSL Championship either. So it’s huge, one of them is going to do something at the end of their career for the first time.”

The NWSL playoff format needs an overhaul, Christen Press and Tobin Heath argued on the latest episode of “The RE-CAP Show.”

Press and Heath broke down the format on their podcast, which they brought back for the NWSL playoffs. In 2021, the NWSL expanded the postseason to six teams, giving the top two seeds a bye into the semifinal round.

“It is bizarre and lopsided,” Press said.

With the top seeds getting a bye – and, this year, with an international break in between rounds – they face a two- or three-week break between their regular-season finales and their first playoff games. In this year’s playoffs, the No. 1 seed San Diego Wave and the No. 2 seed Portland Thorns both lost in the semifinals, while No. 4 seed OL Reign and No. 6 seed Gotham FC advanced to the championship match. And while both missed the 2023 season with injuries, both have been tracking the postseason.

“There’s a lot to be said for form and staying in form, and playing games and being in a little bit of flow versus just sitting on your hands waiting for your most important match of your season,” Press continued.

For Heath, the argument showed in two players: Sophia Smith and Rose Lavelle. Both players are coming off injuries. But Smith had to leave Portland to play with the USWNT during the international break, while Lavelle stayed behind and trained with OL Reign. And Lavelle got some minutes in her team’s quarterfinal game, which helped her ramp up for the semifinal round.

“And who knows, everybody is at a different form in their recovery,” Heath said. “But it just shows how disruptive it is to these players to have an international break for the top players.

“And then also the bye — like for Portland, they had lost. They had played their last game of the season, lost in a crazy loss to Angel City and then their first game of their playoff they play and they lose.”

Heath extended the argument to the NWSL calendar as a whole, which runs into FIFA’s international windows in September and October during the most important stretches of the league season.

“Imagine if it’s the NBA, and all of a sudden Team USA Basketball says, ‘Oh, you just won. Before you go to the final series, you’re going to come over and play with a different team for a couple of weeks, and then go back and try to win a championship with your team,’” Heath said. “It’s just unheard of. It would never happen. It’s disruptive. It shows that the best team isn’t going to be the most likely team to win a championship. It’s very hard to do.”

As Just Women’s Sports writer Claire Watkins pointed out ahead of the playoffs, quarterfinalists have made deep runs since the NWSL expanded its postseason format. Since 2021, five of the six finalists have played in the quarterfinal round, which Press calls “proof enough” that the format needs changing.

“So NWSL organizers, if you’re listening to this, I think we could use a little refresh of the playoff format,” she said.

Heath agreed, adding: “We just need to go to a European calendar. Period, full stop. It’s going to be disruption to the max until we’ve become legit.”

@justwomenssports It’s time for the #NWSL quarterfinals, a round that as produced three out of the last four finalists since the league changed their playoff format. San Diego and Portland are sitting on playoff byes wondering the age old question: is rest better, or momentum? #soccer #woso ♬ original sound - Just Women’s Sports