NWSL College Draft Tidbits:
The 2017 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft was held in Los Angeles over the weekend and – no surprise – Rose Lavelle was taken number one overall. The first of 40 picks, the talented midfielder out of Wisconsin spent all four years a Badger and led her team to two (2014, 2012) trips to the postseason.
2016 National Champions USC had plenty to celebrate on the day, as five player’s names were called. Three players went in the first round; Morgan Andrews third to Boston, Kayla Mills fourth to Sky Blue who also grabbed Miranda Freeman with the 10th pick. Two more players were selected in the second and fourth rounds respectively as Seattle took a chance on Katie Johnson, while Samantha Prudhomme found a home in Boston.
The newest team in the NWSL, the North Carolina Courage (formerly the Western New York Flash) had three picks. They grabbed Ashley Hatch from BYU with the second pick, Darian Jenkins out of UCLA with the seventh and Claire Wagner from Clemson at 20.
Alex Morgan Suits up for Lyon:
In her first action for Olympique Lyonnais in the Division 1 Feminine, Morgan helped Lyon to a 3-0 victory over Guingamp. Morgan managed 72 minutes and grabbed her first assist to French superstar Eugenie Le Sommer. This was a positive result for OL, considering the last match between these clubs was all Guingamp in a 3-1 win over Lyon last November.
A few reasons for the turnaround could be the additions of the American Morgan, Canadian Kadeisha Buchanan and German Josephine Henning. On paper, this roster could now be the best in the world. Other stars include; Le Sommer, Dzenifer Maroszán, Wendie Renard, Ada Hegerberg, Camille Abily, and Caroline Seger. All these world-class players on one team should be certainly intimidating for the rest of the league. Lyon leads the league in most titles with 14 and I do expect them to win it again this year.
USWNT Called Into January Camp:
Jill Ellis has called 29 players in for the first United States Women’s National Team camp of 2017. This camp will serve as evaluation for the upcoming SheBelieves tournament in March.
22 players from last year are back, including Carli Lloyd, Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Tobin Heath, Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan and Julie Johnson. Ellis has also called in six players who have not yet earned a cap; Jane Campbell, Adrianna Franch, Rose Lavelle, Christina Gibbons, Kristen Edmonds, and Taylor Smith. The young and explosive forwards Lynn Williams and Kealia Ohai are also back.
Ellis has also decided to bring in five U-23 players to the senior camp; 16-year-old Brianna Pinto, Casey Murphy (Rutgers), Mandy Freeman (Sky Blue FC), Tierna Davidson (Stanford), and Savannah McCaskill (South Carolina).
The long-awaited return of fan-favorite forward Amy Rodriguez was a nice surprise. Out since giving birth to a baby boy in June 2016, her last appearance was November of 2015 during the World Cup Victory Tour.
SheBelieves Cup Details Announced:
The second edition of the SheBelieves Cup will be held March 1-7th in three different locations; New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. All four teams from last year have agreed to compete again, each ranked in the top five; United States (1), Germany (2), France (3) and England (5).
The venues chosen are Red Bull Arena (NJ), Talen Energy Stadium (PA), and RFK (D.C.). I would’ve liked the locations to be a little more south, as it could be a bit cold in March, but we will see how it works. Two of the USA matches will be shown on FS1, while the other one will be on FOX.
The Americans won last year, defeating Germany in the final match to secure the inaugural trophy.
England Legend Kelly Smith Retires:
The 38-year-old has decided to call her career in football over. The Lioness had a career most could only dream of. It started at Seton Hall where she set collegiate records, earned countless awards and scored 76 goals in just 51 matches and three years.
Her professional career started in 1994 and she played for several clubs; Wembley Ladies, New Jersey Lady Stallions, Philadelphia Charge, New Jersey Wildcats, Boston Breakers and Arsenal Ladies (three different stints).
Smith was a two-time FA POY and won 20 trophies in her time with Arsenal, including five FA Cups, winning the Premier League four times, the FA Cup three times and the UEFA Cup once. She finished her Arsenal career with 144 appearances and 125 goals, a remarkable ratio. In her brief time here in the States, her football style was enjoyable to watch, even when the sport was seriously struggling throughout the 2000s to gain attention.
What is amazing to think about is that even with a variety of injuries in her professional career, she managed to keep coming back and remind the world she belonged. She torn her ACL in 2002, broke her leg in 2004, picked up a stress fracture in her foot in early 2005, Achilles injury in 2011, and another stress fracture in 2012. Smith each time came back with resiliency, never giving up on herself.
One of her most notable accomplishments could be her international career with England from 1995-2015. She earned 117 caps and scored a record 46 goals in that span. Along with Rachel Yankey, Fara Williams, Casey Stoney, and Faye White, Smith carried the spotlight. She took on the responsibility of getting women’s football on the map; for me, she was what Mia Hamm was to the American fans. That’s how great she was, that’s how important she was to women’s football for England.
Personally, I believe Smith is one of the best players to ever step on the pitch. She will be missed but no doubt she will continue to teach the next generation of English footballers. Up next for Smith will be a full-time coaching role within Arsenal’s organization.
Goals Galore Down Under:
This past weekend in W-League fans of Adelaide United and Canberra United had plenty to cheer about. Adelaide destroyed the Wanderers by a score 10-2 while Canberra managed a 7-2 win against Perth Glory. Two top scorers for Adelaide were Sofia Huerta and Adriana Jones, both having hat-tricks in a wild game. As for Canberra, Ashleigh Sykes was the stand-out player who grabbed four goals on the day.
These goals explain why Adelaide and Canberra are leading the league in total goals scored with 28 and 24 respectively. But they also concede almost as many, with Adelaide giving up 23 while Canberra has given up 19. Through 10 matches Adelaide still sit at the bottom of the table and Canberra remains in second place.