After yesterday’s exciting news that a new 5-year CBA agreement had been reached, the USSF followed today with the names of those players to be allocated in the NWSL this season. 22 players across nine teams in the league will have their salary paid for by US Soccer, an arrangement that benefits both sides as players are able to continue playing competitively outside of their National Team duties and teams are able to feature players they might otherwise be unable to afford in a league where the minimum salary is still below $20,000.
After the loss of Whitney Engen, their sole US player from last year, fans weren’t sure who would be allocated to the team in 2017. But when Rose Lavelle was selected first overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft earlier this year, it was a pretty sure bet that the rookie, who already has two caps at the senior level, would find her name on the list.
— Boston Breakers (@BostonBreakers) April 6, 2017
Chicago Red Stars
It’s no surprise to us here at Backline Soccer to see defender Casey Short’s name on this list. The newly allocated player has earned several caps on the senior team during the off-season. Her performance on Chicago’s backline in the 2016 season earned her a well-deserved call-up to the USWNT and she’s continued to put in her Chicago-style work ethic to the test on the international stage.
Other allocated players (no surprises here) are defender Julie Ertz (nee Johnston), goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, and forward Christen Press.
FC Kansas City
FCKC’s three allocated players include recently returned Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux in addition to one of our favorites, Becky Sauerbrunn. Leroux and Rodriguez took a year off from the USWNT to give birth to their sons and once back in form, we expect them to slip right back into the US’s attack.
— FC Kansas City (@FCKansasCity) April 6, 2017
Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian make up the US allocations for the Houston Dash, and with good reason. The two make up key pieces of the USWNT’s midfield, and Lloyd is a formidable element in the attack. Even with Lloyd over helping the FAWSL’s Manchester City in their quest to win this year’s UEFA Champion’s League and Brian recovering from a minor injury that’ll keep her from the Russian friendlies this month, the Houston Dash look to make their name in the table this season, and these two will be big contributors in that drive.
Two Dash players included in U.S. Soccer’s allocation list
— Houston Dash (@HoustonDash) April 6, 2017
In the Courage’s inaugural season, midfielder Samantha Mewis and forward, and last year’s NWSL Golden Boot winner, Lynn Williams, have been allocated. Mewis has been a steady contributor to the team since her first cap at the 2014 Algarve Cup, and was one of Western New York Flash’s allocations for the 2016 season. Williams is newly allocated after her stellar 2016 season earned her a call-up to the USWNT, where she’s notched two goals in seven appearances.
— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) April 6, 2017
In their second season, the Pride have been allocated some of the USWNT’s best defensive and offensive players. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defender Ali Krieger have a long and successful history on the backline together, playing at the international and league level, and Orlando’s backline will be a tough one to crack with those two directing the defense. And Alex Morgan may be away in France on a temporary loan to Olympique Lyonnais, but the long-time USWNT forward scored four goals in fifteen appearances for the Pride last season and will be in prime shape to net even more in 2017.
NEWS: Harris, Krieger and Morgan named 2017 Pride allocations.
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) April 6, 2017
The Portland Thorns once again lead the list with five allocated players. Between defenders Emily Sonnett and Meghan Klingenberg, and midfielders Tobin Heath, Allie Long, and Lindsey Horan, Mark Parsons’ powerhouse should be a contender for the Shield again this season, especially considering that the allocated players won’t be absent for large chunks of the season due to National Team duties. If they can all stay healthy, the Thorns should be right up there at the end of the season, making a play for the Championship.
Five Thorns return to the team as #USWNT federation players.
— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) April 6, 2017
For the first time in their history, the Seattle Reign have only one allocated player from the US. But considering that player is Megan Rapinoe, they’re probably just fine with that. Back to full-strength this season after an injury suffered on National Team duty, and then the trip to Rio, kept her off the Memorial Stadium pitch for most of 2016, the Reign will be eager get Rapinoe back in their mix and work their way back up the table after last year’s disappointing absence from the post-season.
— Seattle Reign FC (@ReignFC) April 6, 2017
Sky Blue FC
Kelley O’Hara is this year’s lone allocation from the USWNT in the Sky Blue kit. The forward-turned-defender has been converted back to the attack this season by coach Christy Holly, and so it might almost seem there are two O’Haras in the world of WOSO at the moment–the USWNT’s #5 defender and Sky Blue’s #19 forward. But no matter who she’s playing for or in what position, it’s always exciting to watch O’Hara on the pitch.
— Sky Blue FC (@SkyBlueFC) April 6, 2017
Maybe you’ve noticed that the Washington Spirit didn’t tweet out any allocation news this morning? For the first time in their NWSL history, the Spirit don’t have any players allocated to their roster. They lost one in 2015 when Ashlyn Harris was traded to the Orlando Pride in the Expansion Draft, and then two just this past off-season, when owner Bill Lynch and coach Jim Gabarra traded Ali Krieger to Orlando in exchange for a higher position in the distribution ranking order, and forward Crystal Dunn announced she’d signed with the FAWSL’s Chelsea Ladies. After their franchise-history making season, and a heart-breaking loss at the Championship match in Houston, the Spirit are putting all their eggs in new talent acquired through the 2017 Draft or off-season trades. And, it could pay off. At the very least, their season will give us all a look at some potential future USWNT call-ups if their performance on the pitch grabs our attention.