Chelsea began Sunday with their WSL title hopes a distant dream... before closing out the weekend right back in the thick of the title chase.

The Blues made a last-ditch effort to claim their fifth consecutive Barclays WSL title on Sunday with an 8-0 win over relegation-bound Bristol City. The victory came after a visiting Arsenal upset current table-toppers Manchester City at Joie Stadium, besting the home side 2-1 on back-to-back goals from Stina Blackstenius. With the win, the third-place Gunners re-opened the door for Chelsea to finish level at the top of the table on points.

Chelsea remains second in the standing, with 49 points to Manchester City's 52. But the barrage of goalscoring over the weekend could be enough to overtake City's potential tiebreak advantage in goal differential, leaving even coach Emma Hayes in awe.

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Chelsea holds a game in hand, but the Blues will need to win their May 15th match against Tottenham to give them a shot at the title. Should they take all three points, the title race will come down to the final weekend, when Chelsea squares off with Manchester United while City faces Aston Villa on Saturday, May 18th. 

Set to take over the USWNT in June, Hayes acknowledged the likelihood of finishing out her time at Chelsea with zero trophies, after losing in both the Conti Cup final and UWCL semifinal last month. But for now, her initial pessimism has subsided.

"Let me be clear, it's not f*****g over," Hayes said after coaching her last home match with Chelsea on Sunday. "There's no time for sentimentality, all work drinks are canceled. There's a title to be won.

"This group of players taught me something so special this week — that you never ever give up."

On Tuesday, FIFPRO announced the launch of Project ACL, a three-year research initiative designed to address a steep uptick in ACL injuries across women's professional football.

Project ACL is a joint venture between FIFPRO, England’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), Nike, and Leeds Beckett University. While the central case study will focus on England’s top-flight Women's Super League, the findings will be distributed around the world.

ACL tears are between two- and six-times more likely to occur in women footballers than men, according to The Guardian. And with both domestic and international programming on the rise for the women’s game, we’ve seen some of the sport's biggest names moved to the season-ending injury list with ACL-related knocks.

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Soccer superstars like Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead, Catarina Macario, Marta, and England captain Leah Williamson have all struggled with their ACLs in recent years, though all have since returned to the field. In January, Chelsea and Australia forward Sam Kerr was herself sidelined with the injury, kicking off a year of similar cases across women’s professional leagues. And just yesterday, the Spirit announced defender Anna Heilferty would miss the rest of the NWSL season with a torn ACL. The news comes less than two weeks after Bay FC captain Alex Loera went down with the same injury. 

Project ACL will closely study players in the WSL, monitoring travel, training, and recovery practices to look for trends that could be used to prevent the injury in the future. Availability of sports science and medical resources within individual clubs will be taken into account throughout the process.

ACL injuries in women's football have long outpaced the same injury in the men's game, but resources for specialized prevention and treatment still lag behind. Investment in achieving a deeper, more specialized understanding of the problem should hopefully alleviate the issue both on and off the field.

U.S. women’s national team midfielder Kristie Mewis is officially headed to East London to play for West Ham. 

Mewis and Gotham FC mutually agreed to part ways on Dec. 22, per a statement from the NWSL club.

“Gotham has been the most rewarding community to be a part of for the last two years and will always hold a special place in my heart,” Mewis said in the press release. “I’m full of gratitude knowing the future is bright and I was able to be part of it. And most importantly, I’ll never forget our first championship, together.”

Mewis joined Gotham in 2021 and she appeared in 39 games for the team, netting four goals in her two seasons. 

Mewis’ move comes after her engagement to Chelsea star Sam Kerr. In the USWNT’s new Netflix documentary, “Under Pressure,” Mewis and Kerr discussed their long-distance relationship and how the wished they lived closer to each other. Now, with both stars in London, they can.

West Ham released a statement pertaining to Mewis’ signing on Dec. 22. Mewis stated it was a “dream come true” for her to play in the Women’s Super League. 

“When I visited London for the first time, I went to my first football match at Upton Park. The culture and energy of West Ham captivated me straight away and nothing has ever lived up to that moment – it was one of the happiest days of my life,” Mewis said in the release. 

“It feels like I have come full circle from that moment and it’s incredible to now be officially part of the West Ham family. I will work hard, try to lead by example and give everything for this badge.”

Kristie Mewis is headed to England.

As first reported by Meg Linehan and Charlotte Harpur of The Athletic, Mewis will join Women’s Super League club West Ham when the January transfer window opens. The move for the 32-year-old U.S. women’s national team midfielder is set to be officially announced later this week.

Mewis has spent most of her career in the NWSL, including time with FC Kansas City, the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars and Houston Dash before she landed at Gotham FC in 2022. She won an NWSL title with the club in 2023.

This will be her second stint in Europe, as she spent a year on loan at Bayern Munich in 2015-16. She’s also made 53 international appearances with the USWNT, including making her first World Cup roster this summer.

Mewis’ move from the NWSL to the WSL frees up roster space for Gotham, and it also moves her to London, where her fiancée Sam Kerr plays for Chelsea. Mewis has spoken previously about not wanting to do long distance with Kerr, including in the new USWNT documentary “Under Pressure.” West Ham sit second from the bottom in the WSL table in the 2023-24 season.

A number of USWNT stars have been linked to Gotham FC in free agency, including midfielders Rose Lavelle, Emily Sonnett and Crystal Dunn and defender Tierna Davidson.

Phallon Tullis-Joyce has been hard at work with Manchester United after making the move to the English club earlier this year.

Tullis-Joyce started 2023 as the starting goalkeeper for OL Reign before making the move to the Women’s Super League. Now she’s the backup for England starter Mary Earps, who was named the best goalkeeper at the 2023 World Cup in August. Earps, though, could be on the move at conclusion of the 2023-24 WSL season, which would put Tullis-Joyce in line for the starting spot.

As Manchester United head coach Marc Skinner told Chris Brookes, he’s been happy with how the 27-year-old American (and U.S. women’s national team prospect) has adapted since her move from the NWSL.

“She’s having to adapt to shorter passes, medium, and obviously some longer-range to make sure we mix up the opponent – but I think it’s about the speed in which she does that,” Skinner said, noting the increased ball possession in the English compared to the U.S. league.

Skinner is no stranger to the NWSL, having coached the Orlando Pride from 2019 to 2021.

“I’ve been to the NWSL and there’s a lot of quality there, a lot of individual dribbling quality, a lot of high-speed energy,” he continued, noting that the WSL is “a little bit more tactically designed,” which Tullis-Joyce is learning.

Even still, it isn’t taking much for her to adjust. Skinner likened the process to “sharpening her tools.”

“I’ll be very clear: she has all of the foundations,” Skinner said. “I’ve never seen a goalkeeper make the saves that she makes, honestly. … She’s so athletic. I think it’s just making sure she can make those in big moments.

“She’s such an astute learner, she literally takes a notepad into everywhere she goes. So, you’re going to see a real character that, I think after this season once she’s had these kind of games, I think you’re going to see a world-class goalkeeper. I really do. She’s got all of the qualities she needs.”

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].”

Mia Fishel’s first game with Chelsea got off to an impactful start.

Fishel, who signed with the legendary English club in August from Liga MX, made her debut — in the starting lineup — for Sunday’s match against Tottenham. Then, in the 28th minute, she made her presence felt.

The forward headed in a cross from about 10 yards out, giving Chelsea the opening goal in the Women’s Super League contest on the opening day of competition for the 2023-24 season.

Fishel screamed in celebration and was mobbed by her teammates as the Chelsea fans erupted. Chelsea went on to take a 2-1 victory.

Fishel, 22, signed with Chelsea after a successful run with Tigres UANL of Liga MX Femenil, the highest division of women’s soccer in Mexico.

She had long been a mainstay on the U.S. youth national team and made her debut for the senior team during the Sept. 24 friendly match against South Africa. Fishel entered in the 65th minute of what turned into a 2-0 victory for the USWNT.

Catarina Macario and Mia Fishel are fitting right in at Chelsea.

Although the pair are still learning the pronunciations of London’s Tube stations, their connection has brought them from the San Diego Surf youth soccer club all the way to one of the game’s biggest stages: the English Women’s Super League.

Emerging stars for the U.S. women’s national team, Macario and Fishel already have turned their names into a portmanteau — “Catfish” — and are looking forward to connecting on the pitch for club and country.

They’re set to help Chelsea defend the WSL title for a fifth straight season. And while they’re the biggest American names in the WSL right now, they’re not the first USWNT players to make the leap across the pond. Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath and Christen Press all played England in past seasons.

“They’ve always praised how intense the WSL is, how competitive it is,” Macario told the Daily Mail. “They’ve also told us where to go to buy some nice winter coats!”

Macario and Fishel come to Chelsea from different professional clubs, Macario from 2022 Champions League winners Olympique Lyonnais and Fishel from Liga MX’s Tigres UANL.

Fishel finished 2022 as Liga MX’s leading scorer, and the 22-year-old forward believes the environment in the Mexican league pushed her to be a better player.

“I decided to trust myself and go to another league [from the NWSL] which was an amazing experience. A new culture, a new language, and the best team in Mexico,” she told the Daily Mail. “I had like seven or eight national team players from Mexico on my team. It was a great environment that pushed me. I was able to flourish there.”

The 2023-24 WSL season kicks off Sunday, with Chelsea facing off in a London derby against Tottenham. While Fishel is set to compete right away alongside star players including Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby, Macario still is making her way back from an ACL tear. And while the 23-year-old midfielder is hoping to be back soon, she isn’t in any rush.

“It’s taken a little bit longer than I’d hoped for anyone would have expected,” Macario said. “One reason why I chose to go to Chelsea, Emma (Hayes) really focuses on doing the little things off the field. I feel like she has created a culture, not only on the pitch but off the pitch and really taking care of her players – not pressuring them to come back earlier than what they’re supposed to. I’m really happy where I am right now, I really trust the medical team here.”

Mia Fishel to Chelsea is officially official.

The club announced the signing Friday, confirming that the Liga MX Femenil star has signed a three-year deal through the summer of 2026. She joins Chelsea from Liga MX’s Tigres, where she has played since January 2022 after forgoing the NWSL following the league’s draft.

According to The Equalizer, Fishel’s transfer fee sits at $250,000, which is also what her deal is worth. That ranks among the highest transfer fees in the world, though less than the £250,000 paid by Chelsea for Denmark forward Pernille Harder in 2020.

“I’m super excited, it’s a dream come true and everything that I’ve worked for since I was a kid until now. It’s all worth it and it’s all paid off because now I’m playing for one of the best clubs in the world,” Fishel said in a statement. “I’m excited to know London, to meet the people and get to know everybody. I’m blessed and excited to start this journey with Chelsea.”

Fishel is the latest high-profile signing by Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, who also acquired USWNT and Olympique Lyonnais star midfielder Catarina Macario. And while Fishel likely won’t knock Sam Kerr out of her starting spot, she provides depth and can develop further as a player alongside some of the world’s best.

“Mia is an exceptional finisher whose box presence and movement make her elite,” Hayes said. “She can also create something from nothing and her prime years are to come.”

For Tigres in 2022, Fishel scored 33 goals total, including 17 times in 17 games. She also captured the league’s Golden Boot award and won a championship. She is still seeking her first senior national team cap with the United States, but the move to the Women’s Super League could increase her standing in the USWNT pool.

“Mia is a born goalscorer and we think that she’s at a great age to take the next step in her career,” Chelsea general manager Paul Green said. “We’re really excited and feel that her pace and power is going to be a big asset for the team in the upcoming years.”

Catarina Macario has signed a three-year deal with Chelsea, the team and the star midfielder announced Friday.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder will join the club on July 1, per the team’s release. Macario posted a photo of herself in a Chelsea jersey on Instagram with a straightforward caption: “Let’s get it.”

The deal will keep Macario with the Women’s Super League club through the summer of 2026. She has spent the last two seasons in France with Olympique Lyonnais. And after playing with some of the best in the game there, she now links up with Australian star Sam Kerr.

“I can’t wait to get started here!” Macario said in a release. “I’m really happy to sign for Chelsea and I hope to represent the jersey well over the next few years. I’m looking forward to linking up with so many good forward players such as Sam (Kerr), Lauren James and Guro (Reiten). It will be good to play with Kadeisha (Buchanan) again also.

“I’ve been fortunate to have some great experiences in Europe already with Lyon, playing with many top players and of course winning the Champions League also. I hope to carry on those experiences here and bring home the trophy for Chelsea as well!”

A staple of the U.S. women’s national team, Macario has spent the last year working her way back from an ACL tear sustained in league play with Lyon last June. Her recovery timeline lagged, and she announced in late May that she would not be ready in time for the World Cup.

The terms of the Chelsea deal were contingent on her medical clearance. According to the Chelsea release, Macario “continues to make good progress” with her rehab.

“Cat is one of the most intelligent, creative attacking players in the world who I think will blossom in this Chelsea team,” Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes said. “She brings a great deal of flair, European experience, and an unbelievable winning mentality. I think our fans will really love her.”