The Sports Report: NWSL, U.S. women's soccer team are struggling … – Los Angeles Times

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From Kevin Baxter: Shortly before NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman arrived at the Women’s World Cup in Australia, the U.S. was eliminated from the tournament. The metaphor was obvious: the NWSL, once home to the majority of the top players on the planet, and the U.S. national team, a four-time World Cup champion, are now both struggling to keep up.
In 2015, nearly 1 in 10 World Cup players came from the league. Four years ago, the percentage was even higher. This summer, however, England’s Women’s Super League surged past the NWSL, placing 94 of its women on World Cup rosters, accounting for nearly 13% of the players in the tournament. Seventy of those players were on teams that reached the round of 16, according to Sportico, and 40 made the semifinals, half of them playing for England.
Spain’s Liga F sent the second-most players to the tournament with 72, followed by the NWSL, which was a distant third despite placing a league-record 61 players on the 32 teams that started the tournament. With the U.S. team’s early exit in the round of 16, only three NWSL players reached the semifinals.
More former NWSL players advanced.
Australian captain Sam Kerr, the NWSL’s all-time leading scorer, now plays in England for Chelsea. England’s Rachel Daly, MVP of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, plays for Aston Villa, while former Houston Dash teammates Lydia Williams and Clare Polkinghorne, both on the Australian team, play for clubs in England and Sweden, respectively. Mackenzie Arnold, who spent a season as a backup goalkeeper with the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, now starts in England for West Ham United, while Australian teammates Stephanie Elise-Catley, who played for three NWSL clubs, is now in England with Arsenal; former NWSL champion Alanna Kennedy plays for Manchester City; and Ellie Carpenter, once the youngest player in NWSL history, is with Lyon in France.
But if that’s the NWSL’s loss, it’s clearly global soccer’s gain. Especially since the rest of the world is following the NWSL blueprint, increasing investment in top-flight leagues and improving the level of play everywhere. This summer’s World Cup, the largest and most competitive in history, is proof of that.
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Schedule, results
All times Pacific
Spain vs. Sweden, 1 a.m., Fox
Australia vs. England, 3 a.m., Fox
1 a.m., Fox
3 a.m., Fox
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From Mike DiGiovanna: The bedrock upon which so many Dodgers playoff teams were built seemed more like quicksand in July, the club’s usually stout rotation posting a 6.18 ERA, the worst mark of any month since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958.
Then the calendar turned, and Dodgers starters found their footing with a 2.22 ERA in the first 13 games of August, with elements of the rotation resurgence conjuring up that Old English rhyme about the items a bride should have on her wedding day.
There was something old (the return of veteran left-hander Clayton Kershaw), something new (the emergence of rookie Bobby Miller as a rotation mainstay), something borrowed (trade-deadline acquisition Lance Lynn) and something blue (the arrivals of the sad-sacks Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies in Chavez Ravine).
Kershaw, 35, ended a six-week stint on the injured list because of a shoulder injury with a five-inning, one-run, three-hit, four-strikeout effort in a 2-1 win over the Rockies Thursday night, the 67-pitch effort a promising first step for a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner whom the Dodgers need for a deep playoff run.
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All MLB box scores
Dodgers, 71-46
San Francisco, 63-56, 9 GB
Arizona, 59-60, 13 GB
San Diego, 56-63, 16 GB
Colorado, 46-73, 26 GB
top three teams qualify
Philadelphia, 65-54
San Francisco, 63-56
Miami, 63-57
Chicago, 61-57, 1 GB
Cincinnati, 62-58, 1 GB
Arizona, 59-60, 3.5 GB
San Diego, 56-63, 6.5 GB
For full standings, go here
Angels star outfielder Mike Trout said Monday he’s improving every day from a fractured left hamate bone that has kept him out of the lineup since July 3, but he said there is no set date for his return.
“I know that it’s just a pain tolerance thing,” Trout said before the Angels’ game against the Texas Rangers. “Once it gets to a point where it’s bearable, I’ll be out there.”
The three-time AL MVP and 11-time All-Star began taking swings against a hitting machine last Friday before the club’s three-game series in Houston. He said he hasn’t yet faced the machine at top velocity.
Trout has been working out in the outfield, saying the injury primarily affects batting.
“Defense right now, every day has been good,” he said. “There are certain movements I do in the outfield where, backhand, where I hit it funny, it acts up a little bit. But nothing’s holding me back on defense. It’s just the swinging part.”
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Max Scherzer allowed only one infield single and one walk while striking out a season-high 11 in seven innings to record his third win in three Texas starts as the Rangers beat the Angels 12-0 on Monday night.
Marcus Semien had two hits and a season-high five RBIs, including a three-run home run in the seventh inning. Three batters later, Adolis Garcia increased his AL-best RBI total to 91 with a two-run shot that was his 30th of the season.
Scherzer’s strikeouts included his first two career matchups against Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
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Angels box score
All MLB box scores
Texas, 71-48
Houston, 68-52, 3.5 GB
Seattle, 63-55, 7.5 GB
Angels, 59-61, 12.5 GB
Oakland, 33-86, 38 GB
top three teams qualify
Tampa Bay, 72-49
Houston, 68-52
Toronto, 66-54
Seattle, 63-55, 2 GB
Boston, 62-56, 3 GB
New York, 60-59, 5.5 GB
Angels, 59-61, 7 GB
Cleveland, 57-62, 8.5 GB
For full standings, go here
From Ben Bolch: A college freshman’s palate is predictable, whether he hails from France, Slovenia or Riverside. Mick Cronin knew what would satisfy them all when he invited the largest group of newcomers he’s assembled at UCLA over to his Encino home for a team pool party.
“The cheeseburger,” Cronin said Sunday night during a telephone interview with The Times, “is a worldwide sandwich.”
The Bruins played Jenga and cornhole, soaked in a backyard hot tub and scarfed down enough cheeseburgers to cause a local beef supply shortage. A variety of accents wafted through the afternoon air as a handful of Europeans mingled with their domestic teammates as part of an almost entirely new roster.
Freshmen Aday Mara and Berke Buyuktuncel sent their regrets — they remained overseas with their respective national teams preparing for the FIBA World Cup — but Jan Vide and Ilane Fibleuil were among the foreign imports who enjoyed their coach’s hospitality on a warm late-summer day.
A toast might have been in order given the worldwide haul of talent Cronin and his staff brought in, having recently completed an eight-man recruiting class that includes seven freshmen and transfer guard Lazar Stefanovic. Cronin and former assistant coach Ivo Simovic combined to make multiple trips to Europe while also navigating the sometimes tricky admissions process involving international prospects.
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From Ben Bolch: The kid took his finger and drew a play in the dirt. The coach who also happened to be his father eyed the play, then his son and told him to stop it.
You don’t like my plays? I think my plays are pretty good.
To that point, D’Anton Lynn and his father had always been in lockstep when it came to the boy’s football roles. Mascot. Cheerleader. Ball boy. Peewee quarterback. That was the logical progression when your dad plays the game and his former high school sweetheart has an unplanned pregnancy his redshirt junior season at Texas Tech.
The boy followed Anthony Lynn everywhere, weaned on sidelines and in locker rooms. The biggest boosters couldn’t pay for the kind of access little D’Anton enjoyed inside Jones Stadium. His dad’s teammates pitched in, babysitting whenever the star running back who became a three-time team captain went on a date.
Curiosity about the sport came naturally as the boy grew and his father transitioned into coaching. D’Anton would flip through his father’s thick playbook, mesmerized by the Xs and Os going this way and the other. The boy drew up his own plays, scrawling one in the dirt during his first season playing the game.
“I was like, this is odd, you know?” remembered Anthony, who would go on to become the Chargers coach for four seasons and now serves as the San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach. “Most 7-year-olds can’t draw a play.”
A quarter of a century later, with D’Anton having cycled through nearly a decade as an NFL coach before becoming UCLA’s new defensive coordinator, the 33-year-old’s roots in the profession can be traced to that finger in the dirt, the boy truly becoming his father’s son.
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1948 — Babe Didrikson Zaharias wins the U.S. Women’s Open golf title over Betty Hicks.
1950 — Ezzard Charles knocks out Freddie Beshore in the 14th round to retain his world heavyweight title.
1965 — Dave Marr edges Jack Nicklaus and Billy Casper to take the PGA Championship.
1993 — Greg Norman lips his putt on the PGA Championship’s second playoff hole, giving Paul Azinger the title and leaving Norman with an unprecedented career of Grand Slam playoff losses. Norman, despite winning his second British Open title a month earlier, has lost playoffs in three other majors — 1984 U.S. Open, 1987 Masters, 1989 British Open.
1995 — Monica Seles returns to the WTA Tour after a 28-month absence following her 1993 stabbing with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Kimberly Po at the Canadian Open.
1999 — Tiger Woods makes a par save on the 17th hole and holds on to win the PGA Championship by one stroke over 19-year-old Sergio Garcia. Woods, 23, becomes the youngest player to win two majors since Seve Ballesteros in 1980.
2004 — In Athens, Greece, the U.S. men’s basketball team loses 92-73 to Puerto Rico, the third Olympic defeat for the Americans and first since adding pros. American teams had been 24-0 since the pro Olympic era began with the 1992 Dream Team. The U.S Olympic team’s record was 109-2, entering the game.
2005 — Phil Mickelson delivers another dramatic finish in a major, flopping a chip out of deep rough to 2 feet for a birdie on the final hole and a one-shot victory in the PGA Championship.
2007 — Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy pleads guilty to felony charges for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games he officiated in a scandal that rocked the league and raised questions about the integrity of the sport.
2010 — Martin Kaymer wins the PGA Championship in a three-hole playoff against Bubba Watson. Dustin Johnson, with a one-shot lead playing the final hole at Whistling Straits, is penalized two strokes for grounding his club in a bunker on the last hole. The two-shot penalty sends him into a tie for fifth.
2012 — Felix Hernandez pitches the Seattle Mariners’ first perfect game and the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the Tampa Bay Rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory. It’s the third perfect game in baseball this season.
2012 — The U.S. breaks a 75-year winless streak at Azteca Stadium with an 80th-minute goal by Michael Orozco Fiscal and Tim Howard’s late sprawling saves in a 1-0 victory over Mexico.
2014 — Mo’Ne Davis, one of two girls at the Little League World Series, throws a two-hitter to help Philadelphia beat Nashville 4-0 in the opener for both teams. Davis, the first girl to appear for a U.S. team in South Williamsport since 2004, has eight strikeouts and no walks.
—Compiled by the Associated Press

Until next time…
That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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Houston Mitchell is an assistant sports editor, writer of the Dodgers Dugout newsletter and editor of all of the sports newsletters for the Los Angeles Times.

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