Spring is finally here and the NWSL inaugural season is just about ready to get underway. Teams are gearing up for the start of the season and Dragonwing girlgear is offering a unique perspective of the preseason of each NWSL team. Here is a team by team update:
Update: U.S. national team members Heather O’Reilly and Sydney Leroux joined their new team on Wednesday March 20th, after competing with the national team in Portugal in the 2012 Algarve Cup. The WNT won 2-0 to Germany.
Since receiving their respective allocated players, the Breakers signed two discovery players: defender Julie King, who played for the Breakers last year in the WPSL elite league and Lisa Marie Woods. Discovery players are those who were not selected in the Supplemental Draft that was held on Feb. 8th. The two discovery players will join six other players who were selected in the supplemental draft as well as the six players allocated during the winter.
Other news: On March 18th, the team announced that they are partnering with the Andover Soccer Association (ASA) to launch the Boston Breakers Academy Program that will be “targeting players who need/desire extra development and advanced training to supplement what they do within their local community soccer program,” according to the press release from the NWSL news website.
First game: Sunday, April 14th vs. the Washington Spirit
Chicago Red Stars:
Update: The Red Stars have been busy since Day 1 updating their roster with four free agent signings since the allocation and college draft including midfielder Lori Chalupny, defender Taryn Hemmings, forward Ella Masar and midfielder Leslie Osborne. The team added some international players to the mix with defender Sonja Fuss and forward Inka Grings, both from Germany. Fuss and Grings will join their new team starting on May 20th and are the first German players to play in the NWSL. Preseason has delivered some bad news however as the Red Stars will be without star defender Amy LePeilbet for six to eight months due to a torn ACL in January.
Other news: Along with the Seattle Reign, the Red Stars completed the first ever trade in the NWSL, sending midfielder Keelin Winters to Seattle in exchange for a first round pick in the 2014 college draft with future considerations.
First game: April 14th at home vs. Seattle
Update: In gearing up for the season, the Spirit scheduled five preseason matches with some of the country’s top college programs, four of whom are in the ACC (Maryland, UNC, Duke, and UVA). The Spirit already defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 1-0 on March 17th and will look to use these college friendly matches as a gauge for their preseason progress.
“We are thrilled at the chance to take on top quality college opponents as we gear up for the NWSL season,” Spirit head coach Mike Jorden said in an interview with NWSL news. “This marks an important step in our preseason preparations, and will be a great opportunity for fans to get a first look at their new team.”
Other news: The Spirit signed three additional draft picks-including MAC finalist Caroline Miller on March 8th. The team also signed Discovery player Domenica Hodak.
First game: April 14th, at Boston
FC Kansas City
Update: After holding an open tryout back in February, Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski and the “The Blues” have narrowed down their roster to 17, featuring some of the country’s top talents. Additionally, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, defender Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Lauren Cheney and midfielder Kristie Mewis were all named to the USWNT Algrave cup team
Other News: The team welcomed Title Boxing as it’s official sponsor and will feature the company’s logo on the players’ jerseys.
First game: Will play host to the Portland Thorns in the first inaugural game of the NWSL season on April 13th.Portland Thorns
Update: The Thorns signed their two discovery players- forward Danielle Foxhoven and defender Jazmyne Avant. The team opened training camp on March 11th with an opening roster of 27, but will have the cut six players by April 5th to meet the roster cap at 21. According the Thorns’ website, head coach Cindy Parlow Cone said, “This is a pretty select group that we have here right now,” Cone said. “I was able to invite in 32 players and I didn’t for a reason. I wanted it to be a select group with quality all the way through. … Just about every player on the roster (not including goalkeepers) will have to be able to play multiple positions.”
Other news: In January, forward Alex Morgan led the way for the USWNT in their Algrave Cup victory against Germany. Morgan scored the team’s only two goals in the match.
First game: April 13th at FC Kansas City
Sky Blue FC
Update: Sky Blue FC has been making a splash since the allocation by inking several quality players including Australian national team member Caitlin Foord. Foord joins forward Taylor Lytle as the team’s two discovery players. In addition, goalkeeper Jill Loyden broke her hand in a training session with the USWNT in Portugal in early March, prompting the team to sign Brittany Cameron, their second pick in the supplemental draft. Loyden will be out three to four months.
Other news: Former WPSL elite coach Erwin van Bennekom will join the coaching staff as an assistant coach and will co-head coach the club’s official reserves team, the Jersey Sky Blues.
First game: April 14th vs. the Western New York Flash
Western New York Flash
Update: Star forward Abby Wambach joined her new team on Wednesday, March 20th. She remains four goals behind Mia Hamm’s all-time record of 154 international goals. On March 18th, the Flash announced a 25-player preseason roster after signing five free agents including McCall Zerboni, Adriana Martín Santamaría, Brittany Taylor, Samantha Kerr and Sarah Huffman.
Other News: Wambach will be the only representative from the USWNT for the beginning of the season as midfielder Carli Lloyd broke her shoulder in the U.S match vs. Ireland. She will be sidelined for six to eight weeks but should only miss a small part of the season.
First game: April 14th at Sky Blue FC
Update: The Reign will be without goalkeeper Hope Solo who had successful surgery on her left wrist and will be recovering for four months. The team will be without forward Amy Rodriguez for the entire season as she announced in the winter she is pregnant with her first child. The Reign will also miss midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who will not report until June.
Other news: Rapinoe was named the Algrave Cup’s tournament MVP.
First game: April 14th at Chicago