This week, in part two of annual A-League Women Preview, we look at Adelaide United, Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets, Western Sydney Wanderers, Wellington Phoenix and expansion side Central Coast Mariners, as well as the rosters and results from New Zealand's internationals during the recent September international window and Australia's roster for the upcoming Women's Olympic Qualifiers for Asia.
Last week, in part one, we looked at Sydney FC, Western United, Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory, Canberra United and Perth Glory (see: The Week in Women's Football: A-League preview (Part I) - imports flood in; but are all top drawer? - Tribal Football).
Part Two—2023-24 A-League Women Preview
As an aside, the salary cap for the A-League Women increased from $500,000 to $600,00 for the coming year. The league minimum wage for players this season is $25,000.
Western Sydney Wanderers (5-4-9—19 points—Seventh)
Kat Smith is out as Wanderers head coach and Robbie Hooker will guide the team in 2023/24. Hooker had previously coached in the first U.S. women's professional league—the WUSA—as an assistant with the New York Power. He returned to Australia in 2008 and was the inaugural coach of Canberra United, who made the first Grand Final appearance, where they lost to Brisbane Roar. He then was an assistant coach with the Socceroos (men) and Matildas teams.
Clare Hunt (24)—who joined Western Sydney for the 2021 season, was club captain and had a very good Women's World Cup for the Matildas this summer, has joined Paris St. Germain. WSW head of women's football Tom Sermanni and former national team coach of Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. said: "It is fantastic to see Clare being rewarded for her outstanding performances for Wanderers and the Matildas. She is a great example to all Liberty A-League players as to what can be achieved by consistency performing at the highest-level week in and week out. It is also a great compliment to the Wanderers who have helped her develop her potential and achieve her goal of playing football at [the] highest level." Sermanni was one of the original architects of the A-League Women (then W-League) for the 2008/09 season after he led the Matildas to a quarterfinal berth at the 2007 WWC in China.
WSW brought in goalkeeper Kaylie Collins from the Orlando Pride, another American with little playing time in the American league. In college she won the NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship (in 2016) and Pac-12 Conference Goalkeeper of the Year at the University of Southern California and was the number 34 selection in the 2021 NWSL college draft but has only played three games in the league. The Pride extended her contract through 2024 and she has been with the club since 2021.
Another a new signing is American defender Vicky Bruce (29) from Bristol City, where she played in 21 games last season and helped the club win the second division Challenge Cup.
Bruce said: "I've heard nothing but good things about the A-League. A lot of my friends, competitors or former teammates have played in Australia and they have raved about it. The league is known for having a high standard and its professionalism, so I'm really excited to be part of that culture. I know the Wanderers are incredibly competitive and put up a good fight every game. This season, I'm hoping to become not just a better player, but a better person and teammate… Having played professionally abroad for over seven years, I have a lot of useful advice and wisdom that I can share. I want to support my teammates in any way that I can and I hope I can help lead the team to a title!" She played at Davidson College in North Carolina and has played in Cyprus, Denmark, England, Germany, Iceland, Scotland, Sweden and now in Australia.
Australian defender Madison McComasky (23) signed with WSW, coming from Canberra United; she played collegiately at the University of Incarnate Word and Northeast Texas Community College. She played six games last season at Canberra as well as the past two seasons at Macarthur Rams at the State league level.
Adelaide United (5-3-10—18 points—Tied for Eighth)
Alana Jancevski and Hannah Blake—both previously with Perth Glory—are new signings by the Reds this season. Australian full international Dylan Holmes (26) is back for her seventh season with the club and signed deal until 2025. Holmes was born in Brazil, raised in California and spent a short spell with Colgate University; she has also played in England and in Sweden with BK Hacken in 2020-21
From Nottingham Forest of England comes Australian/New Zealand attacking midfielder Rosetta Taylor (22); she previously had a seven-year stint at Valencia CF Femenino in Spain. Last season, Taylor helped Forest to the FA Women's National League Cup. She has spent time with New Zealand's U-20 WNT.
Photo courtesy A-League Women.
English native Fiona Worts has left for Sydney FC—after winning the Golden Boot and MVP in 2021/22 as Adelaide qualified for the playoffs for the first time, she scored only three goals in 2022/23 as Adelaide was far off the pace last season. They need to make the playoffs this season or coach Adrian Stenta could be dismissed after four seasons in charge.
Brisbane Roar (4-2-12—14 points—Tied for Eighth)
The Roar signed American goalkeeper Jordan Silkowitz on loan from the Kansas City Current of the NWSL. She was a second round (number 18) draft choice this year and played at Ohio State and Iowa State Universities.
American striker Mia Corbin (26) comes in from Parma of Italy, where she scored three goals with two assists in twelve games last season. After playing at the University of California-Berkley, the Seattle native spent a short time with the Reign of the NWSL. In 2022, she spent a year in Costa Rica in the Liga de Fútbol de Primera División with Alajuelense, scoring over 20 goals for the Golden Boot as the club won the League Championship.
An important signing for the club was Matilda central defender Jenna McCormick (who won two AFLW titles with the Aussie Rules' Adelaide Crows when she was playing both codes), and has been capped by Australia and played with the Roar in 2018/19—she rejoined the team after playing last season with her home state side Adelaide United, her third stint with the Reds. She has also played abroad with clubs in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Spain.
American defender Leah Scarpelli joins from Sporting Lisbon in Portugal and is excited to play in Brisbane, where her father played 42 years ago during the U-20 World Cup in 1981. Craig Scarpelli– a goalkeeper in the North American Soccer League (which ran for 1968-1984)—and most notably played indoor and outdoor soccer for the Ft. Lauderdale and then Minnesota Strikers.
Jamilla Rankin has left for Melbourne Victory. India Paige-Reilly of New Zealand's 2023 WWC Finals side moved to PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands and American forward Shea Connors went to Sydney FC. Goalkeeper Keely Richards (28) is a very good pickup after playing the past three seasons at Canberra United.
Hollie Palmer and Brazilian-born Mariel Hecher signed new contracts. Tameka Yallop (32) returned home after two seasons at Brann in Norway and a season with West Ham United in England (2021-22). The veteran Matilda with over century of caps has played 12 previous seasons with the Queensland club.
Newcastle Jets (4-2-12—14 points Tenth)
The Newcastle Jets made a major acquisition for their forward line for the 2023/24 season as Melina Ayres, who won two league titles with Melbourne Victory in the past three years, moved to the Northern New South Wales club. Ayres has scored 30 goals in 84 appearances across all competitions with both Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory and has previously represented the Junior and Young Matildas. She won the 2015/16 and 2016/2017 Grand Finals with City and the 2020/21 and 2021/22 Grand Finals with the Victory. Ayers was also hugely impactful at the NPL level in Victoria, claiming back-to-back Women's Golden Boot awards for 2016 (24 goals) and again in 2017 (40 goals). She joined the Victory in 2017/18 and played abroad in 2022 with Breidablik of Iceland. She should help replace the goals lost to the off-season retirement of Newcastle native Tara Andrews, who finished with 45 league goals in 131 games across 13 seasons with the Jets.
The Jets also signed Young Matildas defender Claudia Cicco after she played for Wellington Phoenix in the 2022/23 season, making 13 appearances. She grew up in Sydney and played for the Football NSW Institute junior program. She was capped by the Young Matildas (U-20's) and scored a hat trick against Guam.
The Newcastle Jets also signed American goalkeeper Izzy Nino (24) for the 2023/24 season; she played the last six seasons at the University of Michigan. She is likely to be selected in the 2024 NWSL draft and a good performance in Australia should help her NWSL prospects, but she arrives as quite a bit of an unknown product.
Maggie Shaw joins the Jets from the Chattanooga Red Wolves of the USL's W-League, where she played in 2022 and collegiately at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, where she was a two-time Southern Conference defender of the year. She went in January for a two-week trial with Slavia Prague of the UEFA Champions League. She also had interest from Gintra of Lithuania but Slavia covered her flight and accommodations for the tryout. She is delaying her nursing career to play professionally.
The Jets also signed Switzerland international defender Lorena Baumann (26), who has played in Switzerland for FC Zürich Frauen, FC Neunkirch and FC St Gallen, as well as Reykjavik in Iceland and SF Damaiense in Portugal. Across her career, Baumann has won six Swiss Championships titles along with five Swiss Cups. Baumann has also represented Switzerland at the U-17 and U-19 level before making her full senior international debut in 2019. She was not on their WWC Finals team this summer.
Defender Tessa Tamplin (22) returns for her fifth season with the Jets—she has also played in Switzerland with Servette in Geneva. Midfielder Cass Davis, a native of Newcastle, is back for an 11th season with the Jets and has played 129 A-League matches.
She explained: "I am excited to be signing for my 11th season with my hometown club. Off the back of the World Cup, women's football has gained a lot of attention and I am hoping that this interest and support filters through to the upcoming A-League Women's season and beyond. The Newcastle community is a big reason why this club is special to me and I cannot wait to get out on the field in front of our members and fans."
Newcastle was a late cut as a 2023 WWC venue as Australia used five cities and New Zealand to host games.
Defender Alexandra Huynh is also joining the Jets for the 2023/24 A-League Women's season and played this year with Macarthur Rams in the NSW NPLW. She played for the Jets from 2010-2012 and collegiately in the States for the University of Colorado and Troy University in Alabama, She then moved to Europe in 2020 to sign with Napoli Femminile in Italy before moving to Fortuna Hjørring in Denmark in 2021. It was during this time that Huynh was called up to the Matildas for a friendly match against Germany and earned her first cap.
Wellington Phoenix (3-4-11—13—Eleventh)
After two years of league mandated limitations on international signings, largely to restrict the Nix to New Zealand and Australian internationals—they were however permitted to sign an international at the expense of a New Zealand international, which didn't seem to make sense ahead of the WWC so they didn't have any—this year they were permitted to sign imports and brought in three Americans (see below).
In addition, the Nix signed 131-time New Zealand international and two-time Liberty A-League champion Annalie Longo (32) for the 2023-24 season. The former Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory midfielder suffered a season-ending knee injury which forced her to sit out the entire 2022-23 campaign for the Phoenix before returning to fitness and representing New Zealand at the Women's World Cup. She won A-League Women titles with Sydney in 2012/13 and the 2020/21 Grand Final with the Victory.
Longo (32) said that playing professionally in New Zealand with the Phoenix was a childhood dream and filled in a "missing piece" in her career, explaining that: "As a little girl growing up, I always wanted to play professional football in New Zealand… I've had a very long career but I've always had that dream of playing at home."
Longo also won seven national league titles, including six in eight years with Canterbury United Pride in Christchurch.
Talking about the World Cup, in which she played in two games, Longo said: "It's pretty special. I think everyone was sad when it all finished. To experience a World Cup here in New Zealand and see all the support that went into the campaign and now post, with the legacy and all the initiatives happening afterwards, it's an exciting time in women's football. It was a dream come true to play in that and to now keep the momentum going, I'm back here playing in New Zealand and get the crowds and support we've seen in the World Cup and we've seen [it] is possible in New Zealand."
Longo is the first player in the world to compete at all Under-17, U20, Women's World Cup and Olympic Games tournaments.
The Phoenix has a new head coach this season in Paul Temple, who was club's academy technical director, and replaced Natalie Lawrence in May.
Three players are coming in from America, the first was Hope Breslin (24), an attacking midfielder, was Angel City FC's first-ever draft pick in the National Women's Soccer League in 2022 but then signed for the Houston Dash. In two years in the NWSL, she has only played 74 minutes in regular season games. She played collegiately at the University of Illinois. The second signing was Venezuelan-American Mariana Speckmaier, who has 12 caps for Venezuela since her debut in 2021; she currently plays for the D.C. Spirit in the NWSL.
The third is American defender Hailey Davidson (22) who comes from Swedish Elitettan club Mallbacken. Davidson says the allure of joining the club was because of the strong reputation of the league, explaining that: "The A-League has had a history of hosting many Americans that are in and out of the NWSL. I would say it's very pro-American, which is nice. I've always been the type of person that is fine with moving to the other side of the world, if it means it sets me up for success and I can evolve as a player. I'm excited to experience a different league and I've had many friends who have played for different teams in the A-League."
She played at the University of Oklahoma for two seasons and finished at the University of Pittsburg, where 2023 WWC Nigeria's head coach Randy Waldrum also coaches. She chose Sweden over a pre-season invite from the Houston Dash after finishing at Pitt.
Canadian goalkeeper Rylie Foster (25) hasn't played a competitive game since suffering horrendous injuries in a car accident two years ago—she was a passenger and was thrown through the windshield of car that flipped over in Finland—and was only cleared to play again in July but hopes that she can relaunch her career in the A-League Women with Wellington.
Rylee Foster said: "The fact that I'm alive is phenomenal. The injury that I sustained is known to kill you instantly, if not become a tetraplegic, which is what Christopher Reeve [actor in roles like Superman] was. Joining the Phoenix is very symbolic. It's a new becoming. It's an arising from something that was literally in ashes. I've been through a lot in the last two years, more than most people go through in their whole lives.
"There have been a lot of sacrifices and blood, sweat and tears to get to this point, and a lot of hurdles in regard to physical and mental health. I'm so happy that you'll not only get to see me as a footballer here, but the new and improved side of myself with all the lessons that I've learned over the last two years and the adversity I've faced… It was a massive risk, and it was a risk for all parties, not just the coaching staff, but the physios, the medical team, the stakeholders and the owners. The fact that they want to commit to my future, take care of me as a person and my overall well-being, but also be along for the journey and very invested in it is important. When people buy into you, you buy into them, and I've been craving that trust and that organization to put their trust in me, and I feel that here I feel at home, and I feel ready to go and do what I need to do to pay back that trust."
One of those 15 players signed on for 2023-24 is Macey Fraser (21), who has signed a three-season contract with the 'Nix' after spending three years in the club's academy, playing for Temple in his former role. Fraser was a part of New Zealand's squad that finished third at the 2018 FIFA U17 Women's World Cup, as well as in the 2022 U-20 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica. Goalkeeper Brianna Edwards did well last season and was called into the national team last month for two games versus Chile.
New Zealand full and youth international Paige Satchell (25) has left the league—after playing with Wellington last season and prior to that spending one year each with Sydney FC and Canberra United has left for the London City Lionesses of the English Championship (second tier). Satchell has also played in Germany. Fellow Football Fern international Emma Rolston has also left the club; she has previously played for two clubs in Norway and one in Germany and is thought to be exploring opportunities again in Europe.
Central Coast Mariners (Expansion Side for 2023/24)
The expansion side, though in reality a reincarnation of the women's team that played during the first two years of the league but was mothballed for financial reasons, made a huge signing with veteran Matilda (with over 100 caps) Kyah Simon (32)—she made her debut with Central Coast Mariners almost 15 years ago. She joins after three years abroad with PSV Eindhoven and Tottenham Hotspur.
She returns to the A-League Women as the fourth-top scorer in history with 50 goals from 108 games across stints with the Mariners, Sydney FC and Melbourne City. Only Michelle Heyman (94), Sam Kerr (70) and Tameka Yallop (58), the latter has also returned home after the Matildas' history-making Women's World Cup campaign to Brisbane (see above), have outscored Simon, who took home the 2010-11 Julie Dolan Medal and Golden Boot Award. Simon was a part of Tony Gustavsson's 23-player squad after narrowing missing the 2019 WWC Final side in France but did not get the chance to add to her 111 appearances and 29 goals for the Matildas, who was still recovering from an ACL injury from last year
In the inaugural season of the women's league in 2008-09, Simon scored five goals in nine matches for the Mariners at the age of 17 and then moved to Sydney FC, where she won two league titles along with one with City in 2017-18. For the Matildas, she scoring the winning penalty for Australia to win the 2010 Asian Cup, appearing at the 2011 and 2015 Women's World Cups [scoring the winner against Brazil in the Round of 16] and also playing at the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
Kyah Simon in the uniform of Central Coast Mariners, who she has joined after playing with the club as a 17 year old in 2018/19.
Photo Courtesy of A-League Women.
The Central Coast Mariners brought in Annalise Rasmussen and Bianca Galic from Western Sydney, American Rola Badawiya and Shadeene Evans from 2023-23 champions Sydney FC, Isabel Gomez and Annabel Martin from Wellington, Taren King from Newcastle. American defender Jazmin Wardlow (25) joins from Fiorentina of Italy. She also played for Serbia's Spartak Subotica. She played at Santa Clara University and the University of Oregon. In 2019, she was the first Oregon Duck to be drafted by the NWSL and spent a year with the Houston Dash but only played in an exhibition against UANL Tigres of Mexico and then was released.
The Central Coast Mariners signed Chinese International forward Wurigumula (27), who is of ethnic Mongolian background and studies at Inner Mongolia Normal University in Hohhot, the capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. She arrives from the Chinese Super League's Changchun Jiuyin.
She played for China in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and in the 2023 Asian Games. The forward scored a double against Mongolia in the current Asian Olympic Games qualifiers. Wurigumula said: "I am thrilled to have signed with the Mariners for the A-League season. I have heard great things about Australian football and the Central Coast Mariners as a club, so I am excited to be joining them. It is great to have the team returning to the competition this season and I can't wait to be a part of it. The Mariners have been so supportive so far and I am excited to get started."
Another new import from abroad is defender Faye Bryson (26), joining from Reading FC in England, who were relegated from the Super League to the championship at the end of the 2022-23 season and the team has changed to a part-time status in the Championship. She had 37 appearances over two seasons with the club and previously played with Bristol City.
Bryson said: "I am really excited to have signed for the Mariners for this upcoming season. It has always been an ambition of mine to play abroad and since arriving on the Central Coast the club have welcomed me with open arms, making it already feel like a home away from home."
Goalkeeper Sarah (Willacy) Langman (28) is in her eighth season in the league, after time with Adelaide, Western Sydney and a single year at Perth in 2022/23. Langman recently discussed the low salaries and that she has had to hold other jobs as a part-time player, explaining that: "In my first season in the A-League, I didn't get paid. In the second season, it was about $1,200."
This year, she will commute almost two hours from Sydney to Gosford for training, as well as travelling for games, while holding a part-time job as a massage therapist in Maroubra (an Eastern suburb of Sydney). Australia's A-League Women schedule is shorter than the men's A-League and contracts last 35 weeks compared to all-year-round contracts for the men. The minimum wage for players will be AU$25,000 for the next season—an increase from AU$20,608 from last season.
According to Professional Footballers Australia, 60 per cent of A-League Women players work outside of their football commitments, compared to 15 per cent of players in the A-League Men. Almost half of working players also study.
Langman added: "It's a bit hard if you're paying for rent and food and petrol as well. It's just not a livable income for a professional soccer player. A lot of my energy is going into driving and coming back for work. I could put 100 per cent commitment into the sport [on a full-time wage]. It's a privilege to do what you love and kind of get paid for it. But I think if we got paid some more, even the same [as] the men … it would be a weight off my shoulders. Younger players need a stepping stone and I think closing that gap will definitely help the future of football Australia."
The experienced Langman will help keep the defense tight but this team needs some scorers and Kyah Simon could be the difference maker if the Mariners make a challenge for the playoffs under head coach Emily Husband (see: The Week in Women's Football: Are Sydney FC the A-League's greatest? KC Current coach axe - Tribal Football).
Football Ferns friendlies against Chile
There were nine Liberty A-League-based players in New Zealand's squad to face Chile twice in September. Chile won both matches, 3-0 in Santiago on September 23 and 2-1 in Quillon on September 26. In the latter game, Betsy Hasslet scored a 90th minute tying goal but Karen Araya (33) of Madrid CF scored a 94th minute winner for the home side. Araya has played in Spain since the 2018-19 season and previously played at home and in Brazil.
Melbourne City team-mates Hannah Wilkinson and Rebekah Stott were named in the side as were Wellington Phoenix quintet Brianna Edwards, Michaele Foster, Kate Taylor, Annalie Longo and Grace Wisnewski, Perth Glory's new recruit Grace Jale and Western Sydney Wanderers forward Milly Clegg. Edwards was not part of the World Cup squad as the Football Ferns narrowly missed out on the knockout round, while Phoenix duo Taylor and Wisnewski have been recalled as full squad members after they were training partners during the Finals. In addition to the nine players in the A-League Women (5 in New Zealand and 4 in Australia) along with players abroad in England, (4), Denmark (3), U.S. (2—one in the NWSL and one in college), Finland (1), Iceland (1), Italy (1), Netherlands (1), Scotland (1) and one is unattached.
Defenders: CJ Bott (Leicester City—England), Katie Bowen (Inter Milan—Italy), Claudia Bunge (HB Koge—Denmark), Michaela Foster (Wellington Phoenix), Ally Green (AGF—Denmark), Grace Neville (London City Lionesses--England), Ali Riley (Angel City—United States), Rebekah Stott (Melbourne City—Australia), Kate Taylor (Wellington Phoenix).
Midfielders Olivia Chance (unattached—ex Celtic--Scotland), Betsy Hassett (Stjarnan—Iceland), Annalie Longo (Wellington Phoenix), Malia Steinmetz (FC Nordsjaelland—Denmark), Grace Wisnewski (Wellington Phoenix)
Forwards: Milly Clegg (Western Sydney Wanderers—Australia), Jacqui Hand (Aland United—Finland), Grace Jale (Perth Glory—Australia), Gabi Rennie (Arizona State University—United States), Indiah-Paige Riley (PSV—Netherlands), Paige Satchell (London City Lionesses—England), Hannah Wilkinson (Melbourne City—Australia)
Australia names squad for Women's Olympic Football Qualifiers this month
Matilda head coach Tony Gustavsson named 21 players from their WWC fourth place side from this summer for three 2024 Paris Olympic Games qualifiers in Perth against IR Iran (October 26), the Philippines (October 29) and Chinese Taipei (November 1) in Group A action. WWC members Aivi Luik (BK Hacken of Sweden) and Kyah Simon (Central Coast Mariners—see abroad) were not brought in as they are still rehabbing injuries, replaced by U-23 Women's National Team captain, Amy Sayer (21) of Kristianstads of Sweden) and Charlize Rule (20—Brighton and Hove Albion in the WSL) returning to the senior national team environment for the first time since November 2021 in a train-on / development squad position.
Perth native Sam Kerr (Chelsea of the WSL) will captain the side in the Western Australian city for the first time since 2018. The Asian Qualifiers will see six matches played across three different match days with the group winner joining the winners of Group B and Group C, as well as the best-ranked runners-up, in Round 3. Round 3 will take place on 24 and 28 February 2024 with the winners of the two home-and-away series progressing to Paris.
The roster includes players from seven countries: England (11), Sweden (4), Australia (3), France (2), Mexico (1), Spain (1) and the U.S. (1).
JUNIOR CLUB /
West Ham United FC—ENG
Burleigh Heads SC / Football Queensland
Cowra and District JSC / Football New South Wales
Steph CATLEY (VC)
East Bentleigh, SE Cougars / Football Victoria
Tigres UANL Femenil—MEX
on loan from Racing Louisville
Croydon Kings/ Football South Australia
Bli Bli United FC / Football Queensland
Warilla Wanderers / Football New South Wales
Manchester City WFC—ENG
Leichhardt FC / Football Queensland
Mount Gravatt Hawks FC / Football Queensland
Cumberland United Women's FC / Football South Australia
Paris Saint-Germain FC—FRA
Grenfell Junior Soccer Club / Football New South Wales
Manchester City WFC—ENG
Campbelltown Cobras SC / Football New South Wales
Sam KERR (C)
Western Knights SC / Football West
Brisbane Blue, Brisbane Central / Football Queensland
Leicester City WFC—ENG
Oakville Ravens SC / Football New South Wales
Wynnum Wolves, Capalaba Bulldogs / Football Queensland
Real Madrid Femenino—SPA
Banora Point SC / Football Queensland
Brighton & Hove Albion—ENG
Queens Park FC / Football New South Wales
Northbridge FC / Football New South Wales
Emily VAN EGMOND
San Diego Wave FC—USA
Dudley Redhead United FC / Northern NSW Football
Peninsula Power FC / Football Queensland
Adamstown Rosebud / Northern NSW Football
Tuggeranong, Woden Valley / Capital Football
Mudgeeraba SC / Football Queensland
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham is on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey