All Scores

Vivianne Miedema credits recent scoring tear to ‘step back’ from sport

The Arsenal star has scored four goals in four games. (Alex Burstow/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Vivianne Miedema is on a hot streak, scoring four times in four games to help move Arsenal into second place in the Women’s Super League standings.

In Sunday’s game against Aston Villa, Miedema scored the team’s second goal in a 4-1 win. Arsenal has 24 points on the season, three behind first-place Chelsea.

The Dutch forward also helped Arsenal beat Juventus last Wednesday, scoring the lone goal of the game. That victory moved Arsenal into first place in Group C of the Champions League standings and one win closer to the knockout rounds of the WCL.

Miedema credits her recent barrage to the extended break she took from the sport in November, which included a trip to Australia. Before her sojourn, she had lost her starting spot to teammate Frida Maanum and hadn’t scored in six appearances.

Since her return, the 26-year-old has been vocal about the need for rest — for herself and for all athletes.

Last Tuesday, Miedema spoke once again about her recovery from COVID-19, which kept her out of several matches at this summer’s Euros tournament and in bed for 10 days with a high fever. She returned for the Netherlands’ final game, playing the full 120 minutes.

After the Euros, training for the WSL season began almost immediately. For Miedema, the schedule meant little rest or recovery.

She spent the beginning of the season “almost on autopilot,” she said, before missing the October international window with an illness.

“I just didn’t feel mentally and physically ready to actually play,” she said ahead of Arsenal’s game against Juventus. “I think you could see that in the way that I was playing. I didn’t enjoy my football at that moment. And I think the moment you start not enjoying it, and start waking up in the morning not wanting to go in, I think that’s the moment that you need to make a switch.”

While in Australia, Miedema was able to get herself fit – something she had been unable to do ahead of the season as she recovered from her bout with COVID-19, she said. The game has once again become “easy” for her, she added.

“I feel physically a lot fitter now, and you have seen that in the recent games,” she said.

Miedema hopes that, by prioritizing her health, she can help encourage other players to take breaks. The recent women’s soccer schedule has not allowed for much time off. And an increase in player injuries – particularly torn ACLs – has been a point of concern for many.

Miedema called the injuries a “worrying pattern” in a column for Dutch newspaper AD. Both Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza have just returned from injuries for Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Miedema said in her column that her Arsenal teammate and partner Beth Mead likely will miss next summer’s World Cup for England with a torn ACL. Others who have suffered torn ACLs in 2022 include Alexia Putellas, Christen Press and Catarina Macario.

An increase in the number of international windows, leaving club teams with a limited number of players, also has increased player workloads, Miedema said. Women’s national teams have six international windows, while men’s teams play just four.

“As a player you want to play in the big tournaments, the biggest difference is we have more international windows than the men have,” Miedema said. “We also play the Olympics with our A team instead of the U23s. I think that’s something FIFA and UEFA need to start looking at.

“In women’s football, we also don’t have the same sorts of numbers within a squad. Man City’s men’s team probably has 22, 23 full-time, amazing players. This year, I think we’ve got 18,19 players that are capable of being in the squad for us.”

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall also has spoken about the issue.

“There is always the balance between freshness and having continuity in the training and playing,” he said in November. “We need to strike that balance.”

The rise in popularity of the women’s game has also shed light on the lack of depth in the player pool. More needs to be done to develop talent and increasing the number of “very good football players,” Eidevall said, including the development of better player academies.

“We cannot only focus on the top of the pyramid,” he continued. “We can have more players that are able to play more games and have a better foundation when they step up to be a professional to handle the demands.”

New Washington Spirit Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez Arrivin DC

head coach Jonatan Giráldez
Jonatan Giráldez joins the NWSL from FC Barcelona Femení. (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Five months after announcing that the Washington Spirit had hired Barcelona Femení coach Jonatan Giráldez as the team's new head coach, Giráldez has joined the club in Washington, DC.

Giráldez is coming off of a successful season with the Spanish side, having won UEFA Women's Champions League, Copa de la Reina, Supercopa, and Liga F in his final season to complete a lauded Quadruple.

While Giráldez was finishing out his tenure in Europe, Adrián González filled in as Spirit interim head coach. González has also seen success, leading the team to its third-place standing with a 9-3-1 record through 13 games.

“I’m thrilled to join the Spirit and begin this next chapter with the club,” Giráldez said in an official team statement. “To be part of the vision Michele Kang has for the Spirit and women’s soccer globally is an exciting opportunity.”

Giráldez has worked at Barcelona since 2019, initially coming on as an assistant coach before moving up to head coach in 2021. The team went 30-0-0 on the season under Giráldez during his first year as manager.

He brings along with him Andrés González and Toni Gordo, who will serve as the Spirit's Fitness Coach and Club Analyst, respectively.

US Track & Field Olympic Trials Touch Down in Oregon

Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the women’s 200-meter preliminary round during the USATF Outdoor Championships
Sha’Carri Richardson will have some competition this week as athletes vie for an Olympic berth. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Track & Field Trials begin on June 21st, kicking off a 10-day quest to determine who will represent the US in Paris this summer.

The crucial meet will take place in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three finishers in each event will punch their ticket to the 2024 Olympics. As with this past week's US Swimming Trials, even the most decorated athletes must work to earn their spot — and one bad performance could undermine four years of preparation.

Reigning 100-meter World Champion Sha'Carri Richardson headlines this year's field, as the 24-year-old looks to qualify for her second Olympic Games and compete in her first. Richardson is a world champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, but missed the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC shortly after the last US Olympic Trials.

Other standouts include 400-meter Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who's currently the most decorated athlete in the active women's US Track & Field pool. McLaughlin-Levrone qualified to run in the 200-meter and 400-meter flat races alongside the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials, but opted to focus solely on her signature event.

800-meter specialist Athing Mu will also be a huge draw this week, as the Olympic gold medalist looks to shake off a lingering hamstring injury while pursuing her second Summer Games. Gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Moon will also attempt to qualify for her second-straight Olympic Games.

Ole Miss star McKenzie Long could be Richardson's greatest competition in the 100-meter and 200-meter events, as well as Richardson's Worlds teammate Gabby Thomas in the 200-meter. In field events, watch for Oregon senior Jaida Ross going head-to-head with reigning world champion Chase Jackson in the shot put, as both push for their first Olympic team berth.

Regardless of why you tune in, the US Olympic Trials are a perpetually thrilling and sometimes brutal qualification process. If you're able to make your way to the head of the pack, a shot at Olympic glory might just be waiting at the finish line.

Fans can catch live coverage throughout the Trials via NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Top Teams Square Off in NWSL Weekend Slate

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda
Orlando Pride, led by forward Barbra Banda, will take on Utah in this weekend's NWSL action. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the NWSL season continues, a few top-performing clubs will have a chance to boost their standings this weekend.

First-place Kansas City will travel to Providence Park to take on fifth-place Portland, as the Current look to keep their unbeaten streak intact. And in New Jersey, third-place Washington will take on fourth-place Gotham FC, with both teams attempting to extend multi-game unbeaten streaks.

A six-point gap has opened between the fifth and sixth spot on the NWSL table — with just six points also separating the league's top five. Kansas City, Orlando, Washington, Gotham, and Portland have recently proven themselves to be a cut above the rest of the competition. With eight postseason spots up for grabs and half the season behind us, a pattern is forming that indicates the playoff race could come down to spots six through eight on the NWSL table.

Of those top five teams, only Orlando faces an opponent in the bottom half of the league this weekend: The Pride will take on 14th-place Utah, who nonetheless are coming off a win — just their second of the season — over Bay FC last weekend.

But despite Kansas City and Orlando having yet to lose a game, Gotham might be the squad coming into the weekend with the most momentum.

Clutch goals from Rose Lavelle and rookie Maycee Bell gave the Bats a 2-0 midweek win over San Diego on Wednesday, in a rematch of the 2024 Challenge Cup. Gotham's unbeaten streak dates all the way back to April, as rising availability and sharpened form have honed this year's superteam into a contender.

Bottom line? As the NWSL season passes the halfway mark, some matches might begin to feel more like playoff previews than mere regular season battles.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.