HAO Commits to Being a Gunner:
Long-time United States Women’s National Team midfielder Heather O’Reilly has announced she will be playing in the Women’s Super League (FA WSL 1), England’s top league for women’s soccer. Simply known as HAO, she recently retired from international play, but at just 32 she still has plenty left to give to the sport. O’Reilly played college ball at UNC, won three Olympic gold medals, was crowned World Cup champion in 2015, and accumulated 231 appearances over 15 years for the National Team.
The one thing left to try would be a move overseas, to experience something new and to have a different kind of challenge. The club she chose is Arsenal Ladies, a club that has a stellar reputation and a few connections to the NWSL here in the states. For one, they are the most decorated club in the WSL, earning 43 titles since the debut in 1987. Secondly, they’ve had legendary coaches and players throughout their history; including Kelly Smith, Katie Chapman, Faye White and current Seattle Reign coach Laura Harvey.
With the addition of HAO, Arsenal once again has an impressive roster to compete for the championship. They have plenty of star power to chose from; Fara Williams, Jodie Taylor, Danielle van De Donk, Asisat Oshoala, and Kim Little. HAO brings an explosive element on the wing, relentless energy, and unmatched passion. I’m sure fans cannot wait to get the season started.
Sky Blue Lands Corboz:
Daphne Corboz has played in the WSL for Manchester City since graduating Georgetown in 2014. She earned 15 starts and tallied two goals for the club. The young midfielder recently won the league with City in 2016, the first major trophy for the club since joining the WSL in 2014.
Corboz is the latest addition to a talented Sky Blue squad that boasts Kelley O’Hara, Christine Rampone, Natasha Kai, Leah Galton, Raquel Rodriguez and Sam Kerr. In the College Draft, Sky Blue got some more serious young talent, including USC duo Kayla Mills and Miranda Freeman. They later chose Kailen Sheridan out of Clemson, and Madison Tiernan from Rutgers.
Corboz adds another technical component to the midfield along with a creative fire that is always burning. I think Sky Blue could finally return to the top of the table in 2017 after a three-year absence.
W-League Doesn’t Disappoint:
In last week’s fixtures, plenty was at stake as it nears the end of the regular season; premiership still undecided, home advantage, a spot in the top four, and momentum going forward.
The top four are as follows; Sydney FC, Canberra United, Perth Glory and Melbourne City FC. The weekend saw Sydney lose to Newcastle, Canberra dropped by the Western Sydney Wanderers, Glory lose to Adelaide, and City win a crucial game against Brisbane.
As far as points go, the top three are secured, but Melbourne City needs to draw or win to officially grab the fourth spot. Sitting in fifth are Newcastle with 15 points, so they need a win to give themselves a chance.
One player who has stood out this season is Sofia Huerta, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL March-November. Last week she scored a hat trick to lead Adelaide United to a wild 10-2 win over Sydney Wanderers. In just 11 games in the W-League Huerta has tallied seven goals and four assists, leading Adelaide United to second in the league in total goals scored with 26. Chicago fans will look forward to her return stateside in the next few months.
Americans Head Overseas:
Two recent graduates and collegiate stars here in the states have announced they will play overseas. If you follow NCAA DI soccer you should be familiar with Savannah Jordan and Lindsey Harris. Both were crucial to their respective team’s success, especially this year.
First up is Jordan, who attended Florida all four years, playing in 94 games, recording 81 goals (23 game-winning) and grabbing 27 assists as well. The exciting forward has blazing speed and is a joy to watch on the ball — combine that with excellent finishing ability and she is a quality player. Jordan has signed with Glasgow City FC, the top club team in Scotland. City is the defending champions, a 10-year reign that is impressive and has earned them plenty of UEFA Champions League experience.
Another top player to find a home overseas is UNC grad Harris. She was UNC’s first choice goalkeeper her senior year after rotating the previous three years. Harris is known for making big saves, similar to another former UNC and now NWSL star with Orlando, Ashlyn Harris. Apart from a few keepers, UNC is primarily known for producing excellent talent in field players, but Lindsey Harris made a name for herself in those three years. Harris has signed with Iceland side FH for the upcoming season. FH have won the league once in 2011 and were runners-up the last two years.
DMath to Seattle (This is Not a Typo):
For much of this NWSL offseason, Washington Spirit has been the front-runner for headlines due to all the high-profile departures since November. Six key players for the Spirit will be elsewhere come April; Ali Krieger, Crystal Dunn, Christine Nairn, Megan Oyster, Estefania Banini, and now Diana Matheson. The Spirit have sent Matheson to the Seattle Reign. In return, they have acquired the rights to Arielle Shipp, who was Seattle’s third-round draft pick out of UC Berkeley.
Commonly referred to as DMath, she spent four years in Washington, helping them to the playoffs the last three years; most recently to a Championship title match. Matheson is the Spirit’s all-time leading goal scorer with 23 goals and 12 assists in 67 appearances. The tiny and reliable Canadian midfielder will be re-united with another former Washington player in Christine Nairn.
This move will certainly help Seattle’s midfield, which saw Kim Little and Keelin Winters depart in the offseason. This addition along with Nairn, Jess Fishlock, Beverly Yanez, and Megan Rapinoe, makes me wonder, can the Reign return to the top four?
Orlando Wheeling and Dealing:
Tom Sermanni has made not one, not two, but three trades within the last week. In his latest attempt to avoid the 2018 draft, the Orlando Pride coach has sent a first and fourth-round pick to Portland in exchange for recent UConn grad and talented forward Rachel Hill. Sermanni’s second move was picking up Houston forward Chioma Ubogagu for a third round pick. His last and biggest trade was sending second-year player Sam Witteman to NC Courage for Australian defender Alanna Kennedy.
The Pride’s main agenda in their second year seems to be centered on the forwards and defenders. To be honest, it’s a bit confusing considering the midfield is the weakest position in my opinion. Nonetheless, they’ve certainly got my early vote for one of the best defenses in the league after adding Krieger and Kennedy this off-season to complement Steph Catley and Laura Alleway. Certainly, only time will tell how well these trades will work out, but Sermanni seems to know what he’s doing.