Women’s Soccer

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Report: Real Madrid wants to sign USWNT star Rapinoe as ‘Galactica’

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Megan Rapinoe is looking at a return to Europe, and her preferred club’s rivals lurk with interest.

The FIFA’s Best award winner for 2019 has expressed her love for Barcelona, with AS in Spain reporting that her love for the Blaugranas won’t stop Real Madrid from courting the Seattle Reign star and USMNT living legend.

[ MORE: Zidane urges calmness over Hazard struggles ]

Real is taking over the Deportivo Tacon team and rebranding it as the first Real Madrid’s women’s team in 2020, and president Florentino Perez loves a splashy signing. The term ‘Galactica‘ is being thrown around in a nod to Real’s habit of signing massive money signings on the men’s side.

Rapinoe has played for Sydney FC in Australia and Lyon in France, winning a French title and finishing as runner-up in the 2012-13 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Imagine the offer that could be headed Rapinoe’s way from Perez.

The 158-times capped Rapinoe is a two-time World Cup champion, has a pair of NWSL Shields, and has won Olympic gold. The idea of spearheading a first-year Real team would have to be interesting, but Barca is far closer to a UWCL title.

In fact, Barca is already in the Round of 16 and faces Belarusian side Minsk. The Blaugranes have world superstars Lieke Martens, Caroline Hansen, and Vicky Losada in the fold. A pretty attractive proposition, to be sure.

Boca routs River in 1st superclasico of Argentina women’s soccer

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Boca Juniors routed archrival River Plate 5-0 on Tuesday in the first “superclasico” of Argentina’s new professional women’s soccer league.

Veteran Fanny Rodriguez scored a hat trick for the host at the Bombonera stadium in front of about 2,000 fans. Captain Florencia Quinones and Fabiana Vallejos also netted a goal each.

[ MORE: Premier League Club Power Rankings ]

Argentina’s new women’s league started this past weekend, after the country’s soccer federation announced its formation in March.

Women’s soccer is on the rise in Argentina, with the national team qualifying for the latest World Cup in France for the first time in more than a decade. The South American nation is bidding to host the women’s World Cup in 2023.

However, the salaries in the professional women’s league are equivalent to those for men in the country’s fourth division.

Olympic champion Semenya signs for South African club

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Like Usain Bolt before her, Olympic champion Caster Semenya is trading her track cleats for soccer boots.

At least for now.

Unable to compete in track if she refuses to take testosterone-altering drugs, the two-time 800m gold medalist has signed for a South Africa women’s soccer team.

[ MORE: USMNT strengths and weaknesses ]

Semenya joined JVW FC, a six-year old club founded by South African women’s national team captain Janine van Wyk (Surely no ego was spared in the naming of the club!).

Here’s the explanation from Olympic Talk’s Nick Zaccardi.

Semenya made this move after a Swiss court ruled in late July that she can’t in her best events while she appeals a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decision that upheld the IAAF’s new rule that bars her. Semenya took that ruling to mean that she won’t be able to defend her world title in Doha in three weeks.

Can she finish? That’s the big question (and we’re also assuming that, like Bolt, she’ll be used in attack).

Here’s what Van Wyk said about adding Semenya to the club (Van Wyk, it should be noted, does not play for the club that bears her initials):

“I am extremely elated to have such an iconic athlete join my football club. I am absolutely honored that out of all the other women’s clubs around the world, she has chosen JVW as the club where she would like to start showcasing her football skills. I welcomed her at her first training with the team on Tuesday, and was impressed to see that she definitely has all the fundamentals. I look forward to her working with Coach Ciara and our First Team where I am sure she will sharpen up and get ready to play in 2020. Although I won’t be here for the rest of the year, as I have just signed with Fortuna Hjorring, I have no doubt that Caster will fit right in, and enjoy her time at the club.”

Women’s World Cup will expand to 32 team in 2023

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The Women’s World Cup is ready to expand, in a move which certainly benefit the confederation which landed seven of the eight quarterfinalists at this summer’s tournament.

The 2023 tournament will include 32 teams, and the short-term results will be more growth of the game worldwide as well as a few more blowouts in the group stage.

[ MORE: Lampard praises Pulisic ]

The tournament expansion also means the end of poor third-place teams getting spots in the knockout rounds.

According to FIFA, “The expansion reaches far beyond the eight additional participating teams; It means that, from now on, dozens more member associations will organie their women’s football program knowing they have a realistic chance of qualifying. The FIFA Women’s World Cup is the most powerful trigger for the professionalization of the women’s game, but it comes but once every four years and is only the top of a much greater pyramid.”

The big winners here are Europe and CONCACAF teams not named USA and Canada.

Ellis stepping down as USWNT coach

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Two-time World Cup champion Jill Ellis is going out on top.

Ellis, 52, is stepping away from the United States women’s national team after 127 matches and a 102W-7L-18D record since 2014.

[ MORE: Gana Gueye joins PSG ]

The Portsmouth, England native won everything but Olympic gold with the USWNT, and was named the 2015 Women’s World Coach of the Year.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer announced that Ellis will stay with the team through the victory tour and then moved into an ambassador’s role. It also says the new USWNT general manager’s hiring is “imminent.”

From USSoccer.com:

“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them. I want to sincerely thank the world class coaches and staff with whom I’ve had the privilege to work – they are quintessential professionals and even better people. And finally, I want to thank the Federation for their support and investment in this program, as well as all the former players, coaches, and colleagues that have played an important role in this journey.”

Ellis sometimes confounded with her lineup choices, but ultimately did a masterful job navigating the deepest squad pool and group of egos in the world. She transitioned the USWNT from a side focused on Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd to a group that utilized a more complete attack, and won World Cups with both Wambach and Lloyd accepting super sub roles.

Who the USSF chooses to take her place will have a gigantic hill to climb, as Europe is investing heavily in women’s soccer and the sport is as competitive as ever. The new coach will also have to help keep the USWNT on track on the field as it battles the federation for equal pay and conditions.