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The Week in Women's Football: A-League Preview PII - plus Matildas update

This week we present part 2 of our annual A-League Women in Australia Preview for 2022/23, following up on part in last week's column (see: The Week in Women's Football: A-League Preview - including big name transfers ins & outs - Tribal Football).

We also have the roster and result for the two friendlies for Australia's Matildas last week in Melbourne and Gosford against Sweden and Thailand, respectively.


2022/23 A-League Women Preview—Part 2

This week we will review: Canberra United, Newcastle Jets, Western Sydney Wanderers, Wellington Phoenix and expansion side Western United. We also touch briefly on the Central Coast Mariners, who will join the league for the 2023/24 season. Last week we covered the top six finishers from last season in order of their 2021-22 season finish, which is shown in paratheses—Sydney FC, Adelaide United, Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar.


Canberra United (2-7-5—13 points—Seventh)

After five years away, Canberra United defender Ellie Brush (34) has re-joined the Liberty A-League side. She has over a century of matches for Canberra over two spells and won a pair of A-League Women Championships (2011/12 and 2014/15). An ACL injury ended her 2021-22 campaign before it even began for Sydney FC and before that she played across town with the Wanderers. She was capped twice by the Matildas. She said, "I am extremely excited to be returning to Canberra for the new season and reacquainting myself with the club and its fantastic supporters. I have very many happy memories of my time with Canberra United and being part of a wonderful football club in a terrific city. It's a team that has a special place in my heart and I am thrilled to be back….I can't wait to get started and get back out on the field in front of some of the best supporters in the league."

For more on other signings for the Greens, including forwards Nicky Flannery, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, New Zealand international Grace Jale from Wellington, all-time A-League Women goal scorer Michelle Heyman and defender Grace Taranto from Adelaide United, see: The Week in Women's Football: A-League & Matildas; chat with NZ's Gabi Rennie; Chelsea star Sam Kerr on FIFA - Tribal Football.


Newcastle Jets—(2-4-8—10 points—Eighth)

Wing back Tessa Tamplin (21) has returned to the Jets for the coming A-League Women's season after a year in Switzerland with Servette; she made her A-League debut in 2019 for her hometown club. Jets Coach Ash Wilson is happy to have Tamplin back in Newcastle. "I'm thrilled to be able to welcome Tessa back home to Newcastle and can't wait to see the impact she has the potential to make on this competition. As a local product that came through the [Emerging Jets] academy, Tessa takes so much pride in representing the Jets, representing her home and community and her work ethic as well as attitude reflects this and what Newcastle is about. We obviously missed Tessa last year, but we were so proud of the steps she was taking to gain valuable experiences. Her time in Servette and playing Champions League has seen her grow even more as a player and I'm excited to be able to work with her again….She is fit, fast and explosive and likes to contribute to attacks, which is what we want to see in the brand of football we want to play. I'm sure the fans are going to enjoy seeing her back in gold."


Tamplin is excited to return to her hometown club, "I'm excited to be back playing in my hometown with the Jets. I've missed it! Spending time in Switzerland with Servette FC helped me grow both as a player and person and I'm looking to bring everything I've learnt into the team and hopefully help in a positive way at the Jets this season under Ash."

Tamplin is a dynamic right back and is a strong addition for the Jets this season. See more about Tess Tamplin in our interview with her last season when she was playing in the UEFA Women's Champions League 16-Team Group Stage with Servette: The Week in Women's Football: UCL Round 2; Tess Tamplin interview; New USL franchises - Tribal Football.

The Jets brought in goalkeeper Georgina Worth for the 2022-23 season from the Brisbane Roar, where she made her A-League debut against the Jets in 2017. Coach Ash Wilson is happy to welcome Worth to the club, "Georgina is someone who has great presence in goal, experience playing at this level and has a strong desire to have success in Newcastle. She is someone who will continue to create a challenging and supportive environment in that role and it's important for me to have two quality keepers [joining 26-year-old Claire Coehlo, who is in her 9th season with the Jets] that will push each other to get the best out of themselves and the team. Her ability to deal with high balls, shot-stopping and passing range are some of her technical qualities but she also communicates well and is driven to contribute to the goals, culture and ultimate success we are aiming for this season and I'm looking forward to her being a Jet."


Among a core of returnees from last season, Jets midfielder Cassidy Davis (28) is back for her 10th consecutive season at the club. The Jets also re-signed attacker Lauren Allan (25) for the 2022/23 A-League Women's season. Allan first joined the club in 2019 and has played over 33 matches for the Jets, scoring six goals. Allan returns to the club after winning the player of the match honors for Warners Bay in the Northern New South Wales Women NPL (state league) Grand Final win over Newcastle Olympic (4-2), where she scored two goals. She played collegiately in the States at Butler University in Indiana and Anderson University in South Carolina. Forward Ash Brodigan (23) is also coming back for 2022/23; she has played over 30 times for the Newcastle Jets, having previously represented Australia at youth level.

Matildas defender Teigen Allen, who has played in the league since the 2009/10 season, joins the Jets for the first time after a season at Western Sydney Wanderers. She has also played with Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Sydney FC as well as in Norway; she was also briefly with Western New York in the NWSL in 2014.


Some new Jets signings from abroad include American forward Murphy Agnew, who recently played in Iceland with Thróttur Reykjavík and scored six goals in 16 games. American forward Sarah Griffith of the Chicago Red Stars has joined the Jets on loan. She played at Purdue University and, as a rookie in the NWSL this season, had 2 goals in 20 games, with six starts.

Also joining from the NWSL Red Stars on loan is defender Emily Garner (26), who has previously played for Fortuna Hjørring in Denmark and Empoli FC and Napoli in Italy. She was signed by Chicago as a National Team Replacement Player in early July but did not see any action during the regular season.

These international signings are a tidal change in squad building for the Jets Women, as for a couple of seasons in recent years they were unable to afford any imports at all. This season should see some vast improvement in the standings as they vie for only their third ever playoff spot.


Western Sydney Wanderers (1-4-9—7 points—Tied for Ninth)

Defender Margaux Chauvet (20) moved from WSW after last season (her second with the club) to KR Reykjavik, where she appeared in 13 games for the side, which was relegated at the end of the 2022 season.

American goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer (24) has come on loan to the Wanderers from Racing Louisville of the NWSL. She did not play in any regular season games this season; she played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin and was selected by Louisville with the 26th pick in the 2022 NWSL draft. Another American, midfielder/forward Tess Boade (23—ex-Duke University) of the Carolina Courage, is coming in on loan through February of 2023, when the NWSL pre-season camps will start. She had two goals and one assist in five regular season matches for the Courage in 2022 as a rookie.

Australian youth international defender Angelique Hristodoulou has returned to the Wanderers, where she started her career in 2016/17 before playing five seasons at Sydney FC, where she won a league title in 2018/19.

New Zealand international midfielder Malia Steinmetz returns for her second season at Wanderland and third in the league, starting her A-League Women career with Perth Glory in 2020/21.

Australian international midfielder Amy Harrison is back with the Wanderers, after playing in the Netherlands. Her last stint for the Wanderers was the historic 2019/20 season when the club made the playoffs for the first and only time in club history. Harrison returns to Australia after a two-year stint in the Eredivisie Women where she made 44 appearances with PSV Eindhoven. She also played for a season in the NWSL with the Washington Spirit in 2019; she has signed a two-year contract with WSW.

Matildas midfielder Amy Harrison is back with the Western City Wanderers for the 2022/23 A-League Women season.

Photo courtesy A-League Women.



Wellington Phoenix (2-1-11—7 points—Tied for Ninth)

Wellington Phoenix promoted last year's assistant coach, Natalie Lawrence, to head coach for 2022/23, replacing inaugural boss Gemma Lewis who took a job in her home nation of Wales with the FA (for information on the coaching changes and some Wellington Phoenix signings for 2022/23, see: The Week in Women's Football: A-League & Matildas; chat with NZ's Gabi Rennie; Chelsea star Sam Kerr on FIFA - Tribal Football).

New Zealand international Annalie Longo (31) was a target for the team until she suffered a major knee injury on international duty in September against Mexico in Los Angeles. She has played with Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in the A-League Women in the past as well at home in the New Zealand Women's League and has over 120 full caps.

Marisa van der Meer, a youth international defender for New Zealand, has joined the Phoenix after a year with Melbourne City, where she played in 10 matches. She played for New Zealand at the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Uruguay, where her side won the bronze medal, and at this summer's U-20 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica, where they fell at the group stage.

The Phoenix signed Australian youth international defender Claudia Cicco (18) (according to league rules, they have to have five Australian players on their roster) who joins from APIA Leichhardt in the New South Wales National Premier League Women. Cicco played in 21 games as Leichardt made it to the league semifinals in September of 2022 before falling to the eventual champions Macarthur Rams (2-1). She joins other 2021/22 Phoenix players from Australia: Isabel Gomez and Brianna Edwards and winger Michaela Robertson. Cicco, who grew up in Sydney, admitted that she has never been to New Zealand, explaining that, "I've always wanted to play professionally, so I feel like I have to start somewhere. It's not too far from home. It's only three hours and 40 minutes [by plane]. It's not too bad….With APIA, our whole squad are basically A-League players and I've learnt off them and what's needed at the next level. It's helped a lot."

New Zealand international Emma Rolston (25), a native of Wellington has returned to her homeland to join the Wellington Phoenix after years of playing abroad. Rolston, who made her professional debut for Sydney FC in 2017-18, missed a season because of a bad back. She said, "It all stems from my back. I wasn't able to run, walk, go to the gym or do anything and there wasn't a load of support around me. When I came back that's when I started to get injuries. I think my back is probably going to be a problem for as long as I play football, because it's nerve damage down my leg. I think that's something we have to learn to manage…but I'm not going to give up football, especially with the World Cup and Olympics coming up."

Rolston is excited to have an A-League Women franchise in her hometown, "I haven't lived in Wellington for nine years so playing for the Phoenix women's team is pretty cool. It's pretty amazing to have a professional football club in New Zealand. It's been a long time coming and it's great to finally have that here to give opportunities for girls coming through. To be playing in my hometown is incredible and to be pushing for World Cup selection, this is a great spot for me to be." Rolston played for Norway's Avaldnes IL in 2022, having also spent time with Arna-Bjornar in the Toppserien and in Germany with Duisburg. She played at the U-17 Women's World Cup Finals in 2010 and the U-20 Finals in both 2012 and 2014. She is the third Football Fern to join the Nix for the 2022-23 season, along with Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell. This author surmised last year that we would see more Australian and New Zealand internationals—along with other imports—joining the A-League Women ahead of next summer's Women's World Cup and that is exactly what we are seeing take place; it should make for a very exciting league season in 2022/23.


'I'm not going to give up football': 'Nix recruit putting troublesome back aside as WWC looms

New Zealand international Emma Rolston while doing 2023 WWC promotional work; she hopes to play in next summer's Finals—her first at the full national team level after appearing in three FIFA youth Finals—and has joined Wellington Phoenix in the A-League Women for the 2022/23 campaign.

Photo courtesy of A-League Women.



Western United (Expansion Franchise)

Western United has been active abroad in acquiring players for their inaugural season in 2022/23, adding them around a base of NPLW powerhouse Calder United players. Racing Louisville sent Hillary Beall (23), who did not play in any of Racing Louisville's regular season games in 2022, on loan to Western United. She will return to Racing after the A-League Women season ends in April of 2023, though the NWSL club retains the right to recall her at any time. She played at the University of Michigan.

2023 U.S. Women's World Cup winner Jessica McDonald (34), was also loaned by Racing Louisville to Western United. She will return to Louisville at the end of January in time for Racing's 2023 preseason camp. One of the NWSL's most decorated players, McDonald finished the 2022 regular season as the league's all-time leader in assists (31) while ranking fourth all-time in goals (54) and games played (178). In 2022, she had four goals and five assists across all competition and scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time of Racing's season-ending victory over the Kansas City Current, who ultimately made the Championship Final. This is McDonald's second time playing in Australia as she helped Melbourne Victory FC reach the 2013 W-League Grand Final by scoring seven goals in 13 appearances. She converted the match-winning penalty in the playoff semifinals that year.

McDonald said about her loan agreement, "I am super stoked to have another opportunity to play in Australia. It's always a great opportunity as an athlete to test your soccer knowledge and continue to learn in different ways, adjusting to the game how it's played elsewhere. Hopefully I can help another program succeed with what I can bring to the table."

Australian international midfielder Chloe Logarzo (27) also will play with the expansion franchise in their first A-League Women campaign. She has been with the Kansas City Current since January of 2021. She played six games during the 2021 season before tearing her ACL with the Australian National Team in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in September of 2021 and did not appear in any matches for the Current in 2022. She did play for the Matildas against Canada last month and was called in for October friendlies versus Sweden and Thailand (see below). The veteran midfielder played seven seasons with Sydney FC from 2011 to 2015 and from 2017 to 2020—winning two Grand Finals—and one season with the Newcastle Jets from 2015 to 2016.

This is clearly a bid by Logarzo to hone her fitness and play ahead of the 2023 WWC. Logarzo has been an integral member of the Matildas since her debut in 2013, capped 55 times prior to suffering her ACL injury. Logarzo said, "I am really excited to be returning to the A-League with a new club, new city and a new challenge ahead of the World Cup. There is no better time to return home to the A-League than now, leading into the World Cup and with Western United, a new and ambitious club. I feel incredibly confident that this is the correct decision for my return to playing." Western United head coach Mark Torcaso added: "Chloe's game needs no explanation; she is a world class talent and she will be huge for our group and for the league. I'm really excited and proud that we can give Chloe a platform to continue her return to the pitch ahead of the World Cup next year. She is the type of player that can change a game in an instant and I can't wait to work with her and see her help us on the pitch, but also off the pitch with the knowledge she can share with our younger players." Logarzo also played at Colorado Pride of the W-League and the NWSL's Washington Spirit in the United States, Avaldsnes in Norway, Swedish side Eskilstuna United, and Bristol City in England.

In addition to Beall and McDonald, the club signed American forward Hannah Keane, who played collegiately at San Diego State University. Keane (29), who previously spent time in Victoria with NPL Women's side Alamein FC in 2016, joins Western from SC Huelva in Spain's top flight, where she scored five league goals last season and helped the team reach the Copa de la Reina final against double winners Barcelona. She played Champions League football with Braga of Portugal in 2019-20.

Western United new signing Hannah Keane (#15) celebrates scoring for Braga in Portugal.

Photo courtesy A-League Women.


Another American import is Sydney Cummings, who plays internationally for Guyana. She played collegiately at Brown and Georgetown Universities and was a national team replacement player for the San Diego Wave this summer but did not see any action.

Western have signed Philippines international midfielder Jaclyn Sawicki. A native of Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver in British Colombia, she played at the University of Victoria and professionally in Japan and Sweden. She played for Canada at the U-20 level and had one cap at the senior level in 2011 as a 90th minute sub against the U.S., but qualified for her parents to play for Poland and the Philippines; she has also played professionally in Sweden and Japan.

'Hopefully I'll give my mum a reason to book a flight': What's fuelling Western's new Filipina recruit

Philippines international midfielder Jaclyn Sawicki (in blue) will join 2022/23 expansion franchise Western United in Melbourne.

Photo courtesy A-League Women.


Sawicki was a key member of the Philippines Women's National Team that won the 2022 AFF Women's Championship (Southeast Asian tournament) last July, coached by former Sydney FC and Matilda head coach Alen Stajcic, who early this year led the Philippines side to next summer's Women's World Cup. Philippines—the host nation for the regional tournament that was originally to be held in 2022 but delayed by COVID—finished second in its first-round group with 12 points to Thailand (13 points) but ahead of Australia's U-23 national team, which finished third on 10 points and missed the semifinals. Philippines' 1-0 win over Australia U-23 on the opening day of the tournament on July 4 was crucial for the hosts to ultimately advance. On July 17, the Philippines defeated Thailand 3-0 to take their first ever AFF Women's Championship title in front of a crowd of 8,257 in Manila. Sawicki said about her move to Western United, "My first camp with the [Philippines] National Team was also in Australia and now I'm going to get settled in here leading up to the tournament so it is all just kind of a funny coincidence. "

Kahli Johnson (18) was with Australia's 2022 Women's U-20 World Cup Finals team in Costa Rica and has also signed for Western United. She played five games in the A-League Women last season for Premiership winners Sydney FC.

Tyla-Jay Vlajnic (31), a long-time A League Women player—mostly with Melbourne City since 2015, who has won two league titles and capped by Serbia in 2022—is a strong pickup for the new club. She played this season in the Victoria State League with Bulleen Lions and for a short time with Spartak Subotica in Serbia for their 2022-23 UEFA Women's Champions League campaign.

Western United joins Melbourne Victoria and Melbourne City as the third team in the state of Victoria and they want to reach new fans outside of Melbourne. They will build a state-of-the-art training facility in suburban Tarneit that will include a 5,000-seat stadium. Mark Torcaso was named Western United's head coach in late June, reporting to Amanda Stella, the club's women's football manager. Torcaso has been in charge of Western's women's development squad since August of 2021, and coached Melbourne NPLW power Calder United for six seasons, winning the NPLW league/championship double on two occasions, in 2016 and 2019. The club has been preparing for the move for some time and this season had a team in the Victoria State League, building off of their relationship with Calder United for the core of the side.


Central Coast Mariners are officially in for next season

The club stated in their announcement when joining the league, "At a club with a thriving academy for boys and girls, there has always been one screaming anomaly—the talented boys could see a pathway right to the top without leaving their local area. The talented girls, not so much." The club was finding that female players, "were either having to travel long distances to find teams of the appropriate level as they got older—or, worse, they were just quitting football. Various hurdles along the way have been cleared, most notably the lack of appropriate dressing rooms at Central Coast Stadium for women to play as well as men. In the past three years, facilities there have been upgraded to an extent that the Mariners could in theory host a triple-header, and every team would have its own changing rooms." The club's first signing is Annalise Rasmussen, who came up through the Mariner's Academy system.


Matildas Roster for Sweden and Thailand matches

Head Coach Tony Gustavsson selected a 24-player squad for Australia's WNT to take on Sweden at AAMI Park on November 12 and then travel north to play Thailand at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford, New South Wales on November 15. Of the 24 players selected, six are currently on 2022-23 Liberty A-League rosters: Brisbane Roar's Larissa Crummer and Katrina Gorry, Western United's Chloe Logarzo, Sydney FC pair Cortnee Vine and Jada Whyman and Melbourne Victory midfielder Alex Chidiac. The uncapped Whyman comes into her second Matildas camp of 2022 in place of the injured Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham United in England's WSL). Ellie Carpenter (Olympique Lyonnais in France), Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur in England), Emily Gielnik (Aston Villa of the WSL) and Tameka Yallop (Brann of Norway, who played with West Ham United last season) join Arnold on the sidelines.

For the Matildas, experienced midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight will look to end a near-500-day absence from Matildas duty after being called up for the November friendlies. Kellond-Knight, who has 113 Matildas caps, was last included in a Matildas squad for a warm-up match for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games against Japan on July 14, 2021. Defender Clare Polkinghorne is set to earn her 150th Matildas cap with her next appearance in green and gold and a feat only achieved by two past players: Cheryl Salisbury (151) and Lisa De Vanna (150).


COMMBANK MATILDAS SQUAD | NOVEMBER FIFA INTERNATIONAL WINDOW

NAME

POSITION

CLUB

CAPS (GOALS)

JUNIOR CLUB / MEMBER FEDERATION

Steph CATLEY

Back

Arsenal WFC

104 (3)

East Bentleigh, SE Cougars /

Football Victoria

Alex CHIDIAC

Midfielder

Melbourne Victory on loan from Racing Louisville FC

21 (1)

Croydon Kings/ Football South

Australia

Kyra COONEY-CROSS

Midfielder

Hammarby IF

20 (0)

Ballarat City / Football Victoria

Larissa CRUMMER

Forward

Brisbane Roar

28 (4)

Peninsula Power / Football QLD

Caitlin FOORD

Forward

Arsenal WFC

104 (25)

Warilla Wanderers / Football NSW

Mary FOWLER

Forward

Manchester City

30 (8)

Leichhardt / Football QLD

Katrina GORRY

Midfielder

Vittsjö GIK

86 (16)

Mt Gravatt Hawks / Football QLD

Charlotte GRANT

Back

Vittsjö GIK on loan from FC Rosengård

11 (0)

Cumberland United Women's FC / Football South Australia

Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT

Midfielder

Hammarby IF

113 (2)

Runaway Bay / Football QLD

Alanna KENNEDY

Back

Manchester City

108 (8)

Campbelltown Cobras /

Football NSW

Sam KERR

Forward

Chelsea WFC

114 (59)

Western Knights / Football West

Chloe LOGARZO

Midfielder

Kansas City Current

55 (8)

Carlingford Redbacks /

Football NSW

Aivi LUIK

Back

BK Hacken

40 (1)

Palm Beach SC / Football QLD

Matilda McNAMARA

Back

AGF Fodbold Women

0 (0)

Adelaide City FC / Football South Australia

Teagan MICAH

Goalkeeper

FC Rosengård

12 (0)

Brisbane Blue, Brisbane Central / Football QLD

Courtney NEVIN

Back

Hammarby IF

16 (0)

Oakville Ravens / Football NSW

Clare POLKINGHORNE

Back

Vittsjö GIK

149 (14)

Wynnum Wolves, Capalaba /

Football QLD

Hayley RASO

Forward

Manchester City

64 (9)

Banora Point / Football QLD

Amy SAYER

Midfielder

Stanford University

6 (0)

Northbridge FC / Football NSW

Emily VAN EGMOND

Midfielder

San Diego Wave FC

122 (30)

Dudley-Redhead / Northern NSW Football

Cortnee VINE

Forward

Sydney FC / Sydney Olympic

9 (2)

Peninsula Power FC /

Football QLD

Clare WHEELER

Midfielder

Everton WFC

11 (0)

Adamstown Rosebud /

Northern NSW Football

Jada WHYMAN

Goalkeeper

Sydney FC

0 (0)

Macarthur Rams / Football NSW

Lydia WILLIAMS

Goalkeeper

Paris Saint-Germain

102 (0)

Tuggeranong, Woden Valley /

Capital Football

In the first game on November 12, Australia played their first game in Melbourne in three years and drew 22,065 fans while defeating Sweden 4-0; a tremendous victory for Swedish native Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson, as the team has struggled for form and wins under his two-year reign. Caitlin Foord scored a brace and Sam Kerr (her 60th international goal) and Mary Fowler also scored. Center back Clare Polkinghorne won her 150th cap. Tegan Micah earned the clean sheet in goal.

In the second game on November 15 in front of a strong crowd of 11,271 in the scenic seaside stadium in Gosford, Australia defeated Thailand 2-0 with goals from Haley Raso and Sam Kerr. Though the Matildas did not score as proficiently as they did against Sweden, they still dominated Thailand offensively—who made the 2015 and 2019 Finals and are participating in the Intercontinental Playoffs next February in New Zealand for a las chance to make the 2023 field—with a 31-5 advantage in shots, 10-1 for shots on target and 8-3 for corners. Elise Kellond-Knight appeared as a substitute late in the game in her long-awaited return to the national team after a long-injury layoff.

Tegan Micah recorded her second consecutive shutout for the Matildas, who finished the year with four consecutive wins (including a 4-1 win over South Africa in England—Cortnee Vine scored a brace within the first 25 minutes—and a 3-1 win over Denmark in Viborg in October friendlies, with Caitlin Foord scoring a brace within 9 minutes in the second half against the Danes. These end of season victories—particularly as South Africa, Denmark and Sweden have all qualified for next summer's Women's World Cup—should encourage fans after some difficult and even heavy losses over the past two years.



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



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