By Tim Grainey
This week the Roundup examines the W-League’s Seattle Sounders Women’s superb attendance figures for two exhibition matches versus local college sides, more WPSL signings and we preview the second year of England’s FA WSL, focusing on players with North American experience. We also show the roster for the upcoming U.S. Women’s National Team Camp in Florida.
Seattle Sounders Women Are Huge Draw for Exhibition Matches in the Northwest
Since the WPS shut down at the end of January, the focus of domestic women’s soccer has been primarily on the new eight team semiprofessional WPSL Elite division offshoot of the approximately 70 member amateur Women’s Premier Soccer League. However, lost in the shuffle has been the United Soccer League’s W-League, which began play in 1995. With 30 teams scheduled for 2012, though with fewer than half the number of teams of the WPSL, the W-League still has a vital role to play in the future of top level women’s play in this country as demonstrated by over 8,000 people turning out last week to see the Seattle Sounders Women play two exhibition games, against Seattle-Pacific University and Seattle University, two local college sides. Both games were played at the Starfire Soccer Complex in suburban Tukwila. Even natives of the state—including this writer—can have difficulty finding Tukwila, which is a good 45 minutes south of downtown Seattle and near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Indeed, well known explorers Lewis and Clark might even get lost on their way to a game.
To have crowds averaging over 4,000 per game—nearly capacity at Starfire--for early season exhibitions sends a message to the rest of the country that Seattle is ready to play a major role in hosting a top women’s side as well as important international matches. By comparison, last season the six WPS teams averaged 3,514 per game. The fans were attracted to the quality of the roster, including U.S internationals Hope Solo, a native of Richmond Washington who played collegiately at the University of Washington in Seattle, Stephanie Cox, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux. Winger Megan Rapinoe also has signed for the Sounders but did not play in either game.
In the first game on April 10, the Sounders Women won 5-0 over Seattle Pacific, with goals from Lyndsey Patterson, Veronica Perez, Kara Kuttler, Victoria Frederick and Morgan. Sounders head coach Michelle French called the atmosphere “absolutely incredible.”
The Sounders Women defeated Seattle University by the same 5-0 score in front of a near capacity crowd of 4,300 on Friday, April 13 with Sydney Lerouz scoring a hat trick. Keelin Winters and Veronica Perez also scored. The Sounders Women have one more exhibition match against the University of Washington on May 4 before their season begins later in the month.
Fury signs U.S. International Heath
The New York Fury of the WPSL Elite has signed U.S. National Team midfielder Tobin Heath for the 2012 season. Heath played with Sky Blue FC in 2011 and the Atlanta Beat in 2010, but injuries both seasons limited her time on the field. Heath is a contender for a spot with the U.S. in the Olympic Games. She has 42 caps and five goals for the Americans and played in last year’s Women’s World Cup Final. She won three NCAA titles in four seasons with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
England’s FA WSL Season Two Preview
England’s FA WSL second season started last week. We briefly look at each of the eight teams, highlighting well-known internationals as well as players with North American ties.
Arsenal is the reigning FA WSL league champions and is led by forward Julie Fleeting, a high-scoring Scottish international who played with San Diego Spirit in the WUSA in 2002 and 2003, notching 14 goals. English international midfielder Katie Chapman played with the Chicago Red Stars in 2010 while Rachel Yankey appeared briefly in the W-League with the New Jersey Wildcats in 2005. Defender Faye White, another England international, played for the W-League’s Ottawa Fury in 2007. International stars Kelly Smith and Alex Scott have signed with Arsenal after leaving the Boston Breakers of WPS since the league went on hiatus. Smith has 45 goals in 110 international appearances and Scott has 12 goals and 85 caps.
The Bristol Academy Ladies, who finished fifth in 2011 on 16 points from 4 wins, 4 ties and 6 losses, signed Spanish international forward Laura Del Rio for 2012. Del Rio played with Boston Breakers and the Philadelphia Independence in WPS and was an all-league performer with FC Indiana in 2008 and 2009, leading the league in goals with 18 in the latter season. Forward Ann-Marie Heatherson played with the 2010 W-League champions Buffalo Flash while goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain, an England international, played for the W-League’s Vancouver Whitecaps that same season. Two Bristol players, Wales international midfielder Jess Fishlock and England youth international Alex Culvin, played in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar.
Birmingham City has two strong England international forwards who hope to finish one place higher than their second place spot in 2011, which was only three points behind winners Arsenal. Eniola Aluko, who played last season with Sky Blue FC and before that with the Atlanta Beat and St. Louis Athletica, and Karen Carney, who played two years with Chicago Red Stars in 2009-2010, will be important offensive forces for City this season. Another forward, Jodie Taylor, played at Oregon State University, Ottawa Fury and most recently in Australia with Melbourne Victory. English international defender Rachel Unitt played with the New Jersey Wildcats in 2005.
Chelsea Ladies finished a disappointing sixth last year on 15 points but return New Zealand National Team Captain midfielder Hayley Moorwood, who had played with Ottawa Fury in 2009.
The Doncaster Rovers Belles, who finished seventh last season with only two wins in 14 games, have two Canadians joining this season: midfielder Alyssa Lagonia and defender Tania Pedron. Lagonia and Pedron were teammates for Ottawa Fury and Laurier University. Midfielder Katie Holtham played with the Buffalo Flash in 2010. Sue Smith, who has played 92 international for England as well as in the 1999 FIFA All-Star Game versus the U.S., will be influential in the midfield. Defender Tanya Oxtoby, an Australian international, joined the Rovers from Perth Glory in Australia’s W-League.
Everton, who finished seven points adrift of Arsenal in 2011 for third place, has long-time forward Jody Handley, who has 38 caps for England’s National Team and played for the University of Detroit-Mercy in the late 1990’s. Defender Lucia Bronze won an NCAA title with the University of North Caroline Tar Heels in 2009. Defender Rachel Unitt, won a W-League title with the New Jersey Wildcats and has won over 80 caps for England. Long-time England National Team goalkeeper Rachel Brown played collegiately for the University of Pittsburgh.
For Liverpool Ladies, who finished last in 2011 with only one win and seven points from 14 matches, Nicki Harding--who has played for the England U-19’s, and for the W-League with the New Hampshire Lady Phantoms for three summers—will be a lynchpin in defense. Goalkeeper Aroon Clansey, an Australian international, joins the Reds after winning an Australia W-League title with Canberra United a few months ago.
Lincoln Ladies finished a respectable fourth last season on 21 points from 6 wins, 3 ties and 5 losses. Lincoln have signed Australian international midfielder Collette McCallum, who played with Sky Blue FC when they won the WPS title in 2009. Defender Casey Stoney, who played 82 times for England, will be a pillar of the side.
In the first round of FA WSL games last week, Chelsea defeated Doncaster Rovers Belles 3-1 with Canadian Alyssa Lagonia scoring for the Belles. Arsenal defeated Everton 3-2 with Katie Chapmen scoring the winner in the 66th minute. Lincoln and Birmingham tied 2-2, with Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko each scoring once. Bristol Academy defeated Liverpool 4-1 with Wales international Jess Fishlock scoring twice, once from a penalty.
Sundhage Names 27 To Florida U.S. National Team Camp
On Friday April 13, U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Pia Sundhage named 27 players to a training camp in Florida from April 18-30, another step in the preparation phase for this summer’s Olympic Games. The team will train at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The only player without previous experience with the full national team is Christen Press, who won the 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy while at Stanford and now plays in Sweden with Kopparbergs in Gothenburg. Three other players have been invited to previous camps but have yet to play in a full international: Ashlyn Harris, Kristie Mewis and Keelin Winters.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris, Jill Loyden, Hope Solo
DEFENDERS (9): Rachel Buehler, Stephanie Cox, Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Amy LePeilbet, Heather Mitts, Kelley O’Hara, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn
MIDFIELDERS (9): Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath, Lori Lindsey, Carli Lloyd, Kristie Mewis, Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, Amy Rodriguez, Keelin Winters
FORWARDS (5): Lauren Cheney, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Christen Press, Abby Wambach
The adidas Nitrocharge is the most talked about new cleat in years. It was released on May 15 and will take your pitch by storm.
The push for more color on their cleats, adidas has added the infrared colorway to the adiZero f50 Line.
The Juventus jersey for the 2013/14 was released earlier this week. Be the first to wear the colors of the Old Lady.
Bayern Munich are kings of Germany and hope to be crowned kings of Europe at Wembley later this month!
One of the top soccer cleats for control the Nike CTR360 will not let you down on the field in tight spaces.
adidas has added some color to the Predator line with this new colorway. Released on May 17. Be the first to own a pair.
Chelsea won the Europa League on Wednesday. The Blues defeated Benfica 2-1 on injury time goal from Ivanovic.
Ajax has released their away soccer jersey for the 2013/14 season. Get in the Gear.
The Liverpool 2013/14 soccer jersey is available for pre-order. The Reds are eager to compete for silver next season.
The new PUMA evoSPEED 1.2 FG. A great new soccer cleat with classic look and first time for PUMA to be on the cleat.