This week we look at five new clubs for the semiprofessional UWS league in North America, examine some late NWSL signings of Australian internationals and one Norwegian international who spent the winter in the W-League, present the Norway and Japan rosters for the Algarve Cup, look at some major international signings by Chinese Women's Super League clubs and the national team's new Icelandic coach, and close with Trinidad and Tobago's withdrawal from the 2018 Cyprus Cup.
UWS Welcomes Five New Clubs for 2018
The United Women's Soccer League (UWS), the semiprofessional women's soccer league in the U.S. and Canada (Calgary Foothills is the loan franchise north of the 49th parallel border), is beginning its third season in May with five new clubs entering the loop, including one in each of its three conferences, taking the league up to a healthy 20 teams. The new teams include:
LA Galaxy OC
Genesee FC (Michigan)
Lansing United (Michigan)
Worchester Smiles (Massachusetts)
In the West Conference, the Colorado Pride returns to the UWS for 2018, after playing in 2016 but sitting out last season. The Pride was a powerhouse in the final seasons of the USL's now defunct W-League, making it to the league championship in 2015 and featuring Australian internationals Tara Andrews and Chloe Logarzo. PRIDE Soccer Club, the largest youth club in Colorado Springs, serves youth players ages 4 through 19 by offering Recreational, Intermediate, Junior Academy and Competitive soccer programs. Currently, the club has 85 competitive teams and over 2,000 recreational players. Pride is also a member of the US Soccer Developmental Academy (DA) which includes elite-level boys' teams in the U12-U14 age groups.
LA Galaxy OC (Orange County) is an official Alliance club of the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS). LA Galaxy OC has over 70 competitive youth soccer teams and a recreation program with over 2,000 players. La Galaxy OC Director of Operations Tim Woodcock explained the move: "LA Galaxy OC is the fastest growing soccer club in Southern California, and the addition of a women's team competing in UWS is another huge step forward for us as a club. We are proud to be bringing a team to UWS. We have a strong girls program at our club, and this will not only strengthen the program, but provide an opportunity for top female players to play beyond club soccer."
Two new Michigan franchises are also joining the Midwest Conference, taking the number of Michigan teams in the league up to five, joining 2017 UWS Champion Grand Rapids Football Club, the Detroit Sun and Michigan Legends. Lansing United has hired Jason Crist as the team's first-ever head coach and general manager. Crist is currently in his 18th year as the women's head coach at Spring Arbor University where he has compiled a record of 292-78-24 (.772) and won the NAIA National Championship in 2015.
Genesee FC of Flint will play at Atwood Stadium, an 11,000 seat stadium owned by Kettering University and located in downtown Flint.
In the East Conference, the Worcester Massachusetts Smiles will play at Foley Stadium and be coached by Anthony Cosky as its first head coach. Cosky is currently the Head Women's Soccer Coach at Becker College. Cosky was formerly an assistant at Assumption College and WPI. They held tryouts over the weekend locally to help build the roster.
Three Australians and One Norwegian playing in the Westfield W-League join NWSL Teams for 2018
Australian international midfielder Katrina Gorry has signed with the Utah Royals for the 2018 season. The Australian and AFC 2014 Female Player of the year is in her second stint in the NWSL, having won a league title in 2014 with FC Kansas City, who moved to Salt Lake City after last season. Royals head coach Laura Harvey said: "Katrina is a player that I have watched for a few years now; she has experience of playing in the U.S. with FC Kansas City. Since she was here, she has gone away and developed her game further, and now together we felt it was the right time for her to come back to the league. Katrina has proven she can play anywhere in the world and I'm excited to get her back to the NWSL." She won a Premiership title (regular season championship) this season with Brisbane Roar, who fell 2-0 last week in the semifinals to Melbourne City. Gorry has also played with Vegalta Sendai in Japan and the W-League's Ottawa Fury in 2012 and has played 9 of the W-League's 10 seasons, six with Brisbane, two with Melbourne Victory and 1 with Adelaide United, with 23 goals. For the Australian full national team, Gorry has 59 caps and 14 goals.
Australian international midfielder Emily Van Egmond also is coming back to the NWSL to join the Orlando Pride after playing in Seattle in 2013 and Chicago in 2014; she won a WPSL Elite title in 2012 with the Western New York Flash. In Orlando, Van Egmond will join former Matildas head coach Tom Sermanni in Orlando. A two-time FIFA Women's World Cup participant and 2016 Olympic Games player, she is the daughter of former A-League men's coach Gary Van Egmond, who himself was an Australian international and played most of his career at home other than a short stint at Roda in the Netherlands. Van Egmond played this season with Newcastle Jets and contributed 4 goals and 5 assists, helping propel the team to their first playoff berth since 2008/09. In the W-League, Van Egmond played for Newcastle, Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers in 8 seasons, totaling 19 goals. She played in Germany with 1. FFC Frankfurt (1 goal in 17 appearances) in 2015-16 and WfL Wolfsburg in 2016-17. At Wolfsburg, van Egmond scored six goals in 12 appearances, leading the club to the double of a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal titles. She also played with Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark in 2011.
Seventeen year old Australian international defender Ellie Carpenter has signed for the Portland Thorns for her first stint abroad. She played in the Rio Olympics at the age of 16—the youngest ever female footballer in the Olympics. Carpenter has 13 full caps with the Matildas and one goal. Thorns FC head coach Mark Parsons said:"This is an exciting move for us and for Ellie. We are signing a powerful, attacking fullback that can help us now and also has huge upside in the long term. Ellie has strong technical ability with an attacking attitude that will add to our play out of the back. Her winning mentality to improve and compete makes her a great addition to our group."
At the club level, Carpenter began her career in the W-League with Western Sydney Wanderers in 2015, playing two seasons with the side until recently joining Canberra United ahead of the 2017-18 season. This past season with Canberra, Carpenter appeared in 10 matches (10 starts), tallying two goals and two assists, and was named Supporters' Player of the Year and Player of the Year.
Carpenter, whose NWSL contract will start on April 28, will arrive in Portland after the conclusion of the AFC Women's Asian Cup, which doubles as FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying for Australia, spanning April 7-22 in Jordan. The hosts will face China PR, Thailand and Philippines in Group A. In Group B, Japan, Australia and Korea Republic—who all made the 2015 Women's World Cup—will also have Vietnam, who fell to Thailand in the 2015 AFC qualifiers to make the Finals in Canada. Five AFC teams again will qualify for the 2019 edition with all four semifinalists and the winner of the 5th/6th place game advancing.
In other news for Portland regarding Australian internationals, Caitlin Foord ruptured her lisfranc ligament in her foot last week during Sydney FC's exciting 3-2 semifinal win over Newcastle on the weekend. Foord will need surgery and is likely to be out several months. She played for Sky Blue in 2015 but did not return to NWSL, playng in Australia and Japan with Vegalta Sendai in 2017. She was sent to Portland in a three-way trade that involved the Seattle Reign FC. Foord should be a lock for a 2019 Women's World Cup roster berth, if the team—as expected—qualifies from the AFC qualifiers in April.
The Utah Royals signed another player with experience in Australia's W-League—Norwegian forward Elise Thorsnes—who was a big help to Canberra United this year despite the team finishing fifth and just out of the playoffs. Thorsnes joined Canberra after 3 games and scored 6 goals in 9 appearances. Thornes first played with the senior side in 2006 for Norway and has appeared in 110 games with 17 goals. Thorsnes had previously only played club ball in Norway, where she won the Toppserien Player of the Year Award and Golden Boot (19 goals) for Arna-Bjørnar. She also won the league scoring title in 2011 (27 goals) with Roa and in 2013 (19 goals) at Stabaek. Thorsnes made 55 appearances for Arna-Bjønar, scoring 39 goals, before moving to Røa in 2008. She won two league championships at Roa in 2009 and 2011, with a total of 79 appearances and 61 goals. She next moved to Stabæk in 2013, totaling 31 goals in two seasons, winning both the Toppserien and Norwegian Cup championships. She then joined Avaldsnes IL, where she played for three seasons, scoring 26 goals in 58 appearances before joining Canberra this winter. In total, Thorsnes has won three Toppserien championships, four Norweigan cup victories, and three Toppserien goal-scoring titles.
Norway Squad named for Algarve Cup next month
Norway, who will play Australia, China PR and Portugal in the first round of the 2018 edition of the Algarve Cup, has named 19 players, with three from Sweden, two each from England, Germany, and Italy, with one each in Australia and China; 8 are based at home. Note that Isabell Lehn Herlovsen was with Jiangsu Suning of China last season but will play at home with Valerenga this coming season.
Ingrid Hjelmseth (Stabaek Fotball)
Cecilie Haustaker Fiskerstrand (LSK Kvinner)
Ingrid Moe Wold (LSK Kvinner)
Maria Thorisdottier (Chelsea—England)
Ingrid Ryland (Djurgardens IF—Sweden)
Stine Pettersen Reinas (Valerenga Fotball)
Ina Gausdal (Kolbotn IL)
Elise Thorsnes (Canberra United—Australia/Utah Royals USA)
Maren Mjelde (Chelsea—England)
Ingvild Isaksen (F.C. Juventus—Italy)
Ingrid Marie Spord (Fiorentina Women's FC—Italy)
Frida Leonhardsen Maanum (Linkopings FC)
Emilie Bosshard Haavi (LSK Kvinner)
Kristine Minde (VfL Wolfsburg—Germany)
Caroline Graham Hansen (VfL Wolfsburg—Germany)
Synne Sofie Kinden Jensen (Stabaek Fotball)
Lisa-marie Karlseng Utland (FC Rosengard—Sweden)
Guro Reiten (LSK Kvinner)
Isabell Lehn Herlovsen (Jiansu Suning Ladies FC—China)
Japan's Algarve Cup Roster
Asako Takakura's first squad for the Algarve Cup includes one player based in France, Germany, Spain and the United States, with 19 based at home. Japan will play in a very challenging Group C beginning on Feb 28 against Netherlands, and Denmark, and Iceland—the first two the finalists at the 2017 European Championships while Iceland was a quarterfinalist.
2 Umetsuki Rumi (Seattle Reign—USA)
3 Samejima Aya (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
4 Kumagaya Saki (Olympique Lyonnais—France)
5 Ichinami Nana (Begaluta Sendai Ladies)
17 Takagi Hikari (Nojimasutera Kanagawa Sagamihara)
20 Miyake Histori (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
22 Shimizu Risa (Beza)
23 Oya Ayumu (Ehime FC Ladies)
6 Ariyoshi Ariyoshi (Beleza)
7 Yumi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
10 Miho Sakaguchi (Nitere Bellaza)
12 Gray Hikari (Urawa Reds Ladies)
14 Hasegawa Yui (Beleza)
16 Sumida Yu (Beresa)
19 Rika Masuya (INAC Kobe Leonessa)
News from China
The Asian Football Confederation has long been a powerhouse in women's football, with China finishing second in the Women's World Cup in 1999, fourth in 1995 and Japan winning the title in 2011 and finishing second in 2015, with the Americans their opponents in both finals. Australia has been progressing nicely and could be a Final Four side in 2019 in France based on their results in 2017. One country that has been in the doldrums a bit has been China—after missing out on the Finals in Germany in 2011, they finished in the last eight in Canada. Their head coach is now Siggi Eyjofsson of Iceland, replacing France's Bruno Bini short run which began in September of 2015. Eyjofsson coached Iceland's women's team for seven years, with 2 UEFA final tournament appearances and finished second in the 2011 Algarve Cup Finals to the U.S., defeating Sweden, Denmark and ironically China to make the final.
Eyjolfsson had gone to China in 2017 to coach the Chinese Women's Super League side Jiangsu Suning. Under his guidance, Jiangsu, which narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, finished in third with 27 points from 14 games, 5 points behind Champions Dalian Quanjian and then won the FA Cup
It is on the club side that China has recently made headlines with some high profile international signings, including Isabell Herlovsen from LSK Kvinner FK in Norway in 2016, who played with Jiangsun Suning last season but—as noted above—will play with Valerenga in Norway this coming season. Nigerian international WWC 2015 forward Asisat Oshoala transferred from Arsenal to Dalian Quanjian for the 2017 season and Cameroon forward Gaelle Enganamount left Rosengard of Sweden for Dalian Quanjian, also in 2017. Brazilian forward Cristiane moved from PSG to Changchun Zhouyue last year as well. These high profile moves to Chinese clubs have replicated what has transpired on the men's side, with Chinese clubs signing a number of top internationals from around the world.
This trend has continued for the 2018 season. Just last week Spanish international forward Veronica Boquete (30), who has played in the Women's Professional Soccer League in Chicago in 2010 and was Player of the Year with the Paul Riley-coached Philadelphia Independence in 2011, which fell in the WPS's final title game against Western New York Flash on penalty kicks. She then played in Russia, Sweden, Germany, and in the NWSL with Portland Thorns—again for Riley in 2014. She was playing in France when she cut short her contract with PSG to join Beijing BG this month. She has 42 caps and 12 goals for Spain.
That same week, Elena Sadiku left Hammarby of Sweden for Beijing BG as an assistant coach to Manager Kim Bjorkegren. She had to retire early with knee injuries at the age of 25 and had played for years in the Damallsvenskan. Sadiku was born in Germany but moved to Sweden when she was 8. Sadiku explained her move to China: "I decided to sign for Beijing BG Phoenix as it's a really big opportunity for me, to work as a fitness coach, and to assist Kim Björkegren as a trainer in the daily operations. To be able to work with this on a full-time basis, without having to have 1-2-3 other jobs outside of football, gives me the best opportunities to develop and to focus on this assignment. I'm sure I will learn very much, and to get a great deal of experience while in China. I'm sure my 8 years of playing at the top level and my knowledge about fitness coaching will be the main benefits for the club when hiring me. My experience from training to prevent injuries, and rehab training will also be an asset for the club. My ambition for this season is to develop the girls' body-control, increase their physics, and to develop everything within that area. The fitness parts in China is not at the same level as in Europe, and I'm going to bring my experience to develop that in our club now."
Korea DPR substitutes for Trinidad and Tobago at Cyprus Cup
In another body blow for the reeling T&T football federation, after their women's U-17 didn't even make the semifinals from CFU, the U-20's finished last in the group stage when hosting the CONCACAF finals recently, and Italian coach Carolina Morace walked out on the job with her assistants in a pay dispute last year. Korea DPR will play Hungary, Slovakia and South Africa in their Cyprus Cup Group.
Hungary, Slovakia and South Africa.
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey