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The Week in Women's Football: Big preview of NWSL - ins/outs and predictions

This week, we start our 2023 NWSL Regular Season Preview of the 12 teams who all returned from last season. We look at the top six finishers from 2022, who all made the playoffs last season.

In the weeks to come, we will look at the other six sides, some expansion team news for 2024 and updates on the U.S. minor amateur summer leagues and more plans to launch Division 2 professional women's leagues in 2024 and beyond, including interesting comments from Major League Soccer (MLS) Commissioner Don Garber, who brought up the idea to the media on his own volition.

2023 NWSL Regular Season Preview—Part 1

Six teams made the NWSL playoffs in 2022: Portland Thorns, OL Reign, San Diego Wave, Houston Dash, the Kansas City Current and Chicago Red Stars—with San Diego making it in their expansion year and Houston Dash qualifying for the first time in their nine league seasons. Note: the teams are rank-ordered by their 2022 regular season record, points and position in the table.

OL Reign (11-7-4, 40 points, First)

The Reign went to Southern California to start spring training but then went home to Washington State and defeated Liga MX Femenil power Club America of Mexico City 3-1 on February 25 in front of 2,686 fans in suburban Tukwila, where they played a decade ago when they entered the league (see more about the Club America game at: The Week in Women's Football: From Atlas to Pumas - previewing Liga MX Femenil & it's amazing growth - Tribal Football). The game was part of a three-way agreement between Club America and OL Reign and their parent club Olympique Lyon of France.

Club América Women Football Director Claudia Carrion: said earlier this year when the agreement was signed: "Today we are proud to achieve a historic alliance in women's football, in which three leading teams, from three different regions, come together to advance growth and set the course for women's football future globally. We are happy to share our work and experience, which will allow us to improve our practices and processes to continue promoting Mexican football in the world."

A second level of collaboration will be set up between the academies, embodied by exchanges on the organization of the structures, the strategies and the techniques of training between the educational teams, immersion courses and invitations on the youth tournaments. Finally, on the non-sporting side, synergies will be activated around joint communication campaigns on the values of sport, exemplarity and transmission to young people, sporting excellence and certain CSR themes. The sales and marketing teams will also share their networks and international partnership opportunities.

A number of players spoke to the media in February during their pre-season training camp.

Veteran Reign midfielder and Welsh international Jess Fishlock discussed the new Free Agency aspect to the league, which saw a number of players shift clubs in the offseason: "I think, honestly, free agency is going to be huge. It's going to change the landscape of the league and how the league works. You can see that with what clubs are doing—Kansas [City Current], they seem to be throwing a lot of money around, which is what clubs are going to have to do now moving forward. They can't just rely on the contracts that were in place, where the players don't have a say anymore, which is huge for us as a league and as women's football.

"Thankfully [defender Lauren Barnes and forward Megan Rapinoe] decided to stay. We not only need them just as people to get us through the days, but as players and as athletes, they are world-class. So, it's good that we can still keep these types of people with us. But yeah, we're going to have to step it up to bring in the same caliber of players, which probably won't happen, but we can try. I think that is what we need to do now…. But in saying that, our squad right now is pretty darn good, so we have to make sure that the people we are bringing in are going to add to what we have already and I think that is where we're looking forward. That's when free agency kind of helps because you can sell your club and we have a great club and it's something that we can sell; we just have to be better with that."

2019 WWC winning midfielder Rose Lavelle talked about being back in Seattle for the second season after the club played in Tacoma for three seasons (2019-2021): "I think Seattle is such a big sports city and sports community and I thought we drew some great crowds last year. I think, specifically, our last game, the atmosphere was incredible [attendance 21,491 for their semifinal defeat to Kansas City 2-0 on October 23, 2022], which then made it that much sadder that we lost. But yeah, I think it's been great how everyone has rallied around us. I think we're super happy to be back in Seattle and to be able to play in front of this city and this stadium [Lumen Field—home of the MLSSeattle Sounders and NFL Seattle Seahawks] and hopefully, we can continue to grow that fan base and draw even bigger crowds. But I think our first year at Lumen [Field], it was a really, really good experience."

OL Reign signed Brazilian midfielder Luany (20) through the 2025 NWSL season from Grêmio FBPA of Série A1 in exchange for an agreed upon transfer fee, which included Allocation Money, which teams can use to expand their yearly salary cap in order to keep or pursue elite players who might otherwise sign more lucrative deals with clubs abroad . Luany made seven starts in nine appearances for Grêmio during the 2022 season, scoring three goals, the second most for the club and became the youngest player in the league to score at least three goals in the regular season.

Luany also represented the U-20 Brazilian national team during the 2022 South American Under-20 Women's Football Championship, helping the country win the tournament and qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup after appearing in all seven matches, with six starts and one goal. Brazil's U-20s scored 22 goals and had shutouts in all of their games. At the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, the midfielder started in five of six matches and helped Brazil finish third for the first time since 2006, after defeating the Netherlands, 4-1 for the bronze medal. Reign Head coach Laura Harvey said: "Luany is a young player who has experienced success within early stages of her career. She is quick on the ball, has high energy and a competitive spirit, so we can't wait to have her with us and watch her develop with our squad."

Brazilian international midfielder Angelina was pleased to have a Brazilian teammate in Luany on the team for 2023: "It feels great, honestly. I'm really happy. I know her from the U-20 [Brazilian National Team]—it was my last year of U-20 and then she just came in and it was her first [year]. So yeah, she's just really great, high energy, really good person. So, I'm happy to have her here and bring a little bit more of the [Brazilian] culture to the team."

Forward Elyse Bennett came in from Kansas City in a January trade ahead of the 2023 draft; as a rookie she played in 24 regular season and playoff games, with three goals and two assists in the regular season. She was the seventh overall selection in 2022 by KC and played collegiately at Washington State University in Pullman. She discussed Laura Harvey's pressing style of play: "I feel like we kind of pressed in a similar fashion or were taught press that way in Kansas City as well and I feel like we kind of played a similar way in college, too, so I've been used to a high-press and used to going forward and making transition a priority. So, I feel like it hasn't been too difficult for me to learn and pick up here, but it's great to be on this team and to be in this environment."

Former Seattle Reign scoring star and Scottish international Kim Little played six games last season on loan from Arsenal during the WSL off-season but is not expected back this season, particularly since her side is in the UEFA WCL quarterfinals. However, returning to the Reign this season is defender Ryanne Brown (24), who played 10 games with FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark the 2022-23 season and at Wake Forest University. Defender Alyssa Malonson (23) played at Auburn University and accompanied Brown on loan to FC Nordsjaelland, where she played in 13 matches.

English native Laura Harvey is a tremendous coach and, with experienced talent like Megan Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock, Rose Lavelle and Lauren Barnes, combined with some talented young players, the Reign should definitely be in the playoffs in 2023 and probably again at or near the top of the table.

Portland Thorns (10-9-3, 39 points, Second)

Canadian international and all-time international leading scorer Christine Sinclair, Costa Rican international Rocky Rodriguez and young U.S. international Sam Coffee (24)—entering her second season—have re-signed for 2023 and should provide stability after a chaotic off-season for the 2022 league champions, as head coach and former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson was cleared by the league but fired by the club after she admitted to having growing feelings for a current Thorns player, which she had not taken any further (see: The Week in Women's Football: NWSL squad changes; Parsons chat; Yanez makes big move - Tribal Football).

Thorns assistant coach Sophie Clough was then investigated after a player reported feeling uncomfortable when Clough kissed her neck at the team's championship celebration in Washington, D.C., as well as some complaints about bullying, though she was cleared on those allegations and was deemed to not have exceeded the bounds of appropriate coaching—but the Thorns let her go as well. Their medical staff also was investigated and the club's athletic trainer was fired for giving two players a medication that contained codeine before the Thorns' October 22, 2022 semifinal. Codeine is a controlled substance that requires a prescription and should only be administered by a physician in the U.S.

New head coach Mike Norris, a native of Newcastle in England, has been coaching in Canada since 2006 and has coached Sinclair and fellow Tokyo Olympic Games Gold Medal winner Janine Beckie in the past; he was hired by former Canadian National Team goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. His transition into the NWSL will be aided by the Canadian core on this team. Note: Just before the start of the season, Janine Beckie tore an ACL and will miss the 2023 season as well as the Women's World Cup this summer. Her absence will be a loss for both teams and we wish her a speedy recovery.

The club has missed the playoffs only once in their 10 seasons in 2015 (the 2020 regular season was cancelled due to COVID) and won three league titles and the 2021 Challenge Cup. The team should again be among the table leaders at the end of the season. Some fans have been dissatisfied with ownership and executives on both the Thorns and MLS Timbers side. The fans support the players but their disgust with past executive decisions on handling player abuse and other issues could cause some to abandon their support, until new Thorns ownership—yet to be determined—are able to prove that they are player-focused in their behavior and policies.

San Diego Wave (10-6-6, 36 points; Third)

San Diego Wave is looking to look to build off their excellent 2022 season, making the playoffs in their expansion season under their brilliant head coach Casey Stoney. Midfielder Danielle Colaprico left the Chicago Red Stars for The Wave and signed a two-year deal. The 29-year-old Colaprico attended the University of Virginia, where she had the record for appearances and assists when she left. In 2015, the Red Stars drafted her ninth overall and she went on to win that season's Rookie of the Year award. From 2016 to 2019, she spent time playing on loan for Australian clubs Adelaide United and Sydney FC. Other free agent signings in the office-season include forward Rachel Hill, who played the last two seasons in Chicago and in Sweden and Australia, and midfielder Megan Dougherty Howard (27), who played two seasons in Orlando after four seasons with the D.C. Spirit.

Gone from the inaugural season are English international and 2020 UEFA WCL league winner Jodie Taylor (with Olympique Lyon in the summer of 2020) and Mexican international Katie Johnson, who moved up the road to sign with Angel City FC (see more in next week's preview of Angel City FC) and German youth international midfielder Marleen Schimmer (ex-Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University), who only started four games out of her 14 played with two assists across the Challenge Cup and regular season; she had no playing time in the playoffs during her rookie season. She took a valuable international roster spot on the Angel City FC squad and may be bound for Europe, like former ASU teammate and midfielder Eva van Duersen, who signed with Leverkusen earlier this year (see last week's column: The Week in Women's Football: Real Madrid land Linda Caicedo; Aminata Diallo joins Levante; Matildas WC sellout - Tribal Football).

San Diego Wave FC and English International goalkeeper Carly Telford (35) announced her retirement from professional football in mid-March. A 20-year professional veteran, Telford played for Sunderland, Leeds United, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea FC, Perth Glory in Australia, Notts County, Liverpool and the Wave. She had 27 caps for England and was on the World Cup squads for the 2007, 2015 and 2019 Finals. She won a Bronze Medal at Canada for the 2015 FIFA Finals but only played one WWC game in total—in 2019. She was also on the Great Britain Olympic Games Finals side in 2021 in Japan. At the club level, she won three WSL titles with Chelsea.

She explained her decision on social media: "After 20 years of playing this beautiful game, it's time for me to hang up the old boots and gloves. I feel so lucky and blessed to have been able to do this for so many years…. I can never thank football enough for the people it's brought into my life."

Wave head coach and former England teammate Casey Stoney said about Telford on the Wave's website: "Carly is an extraordinary person, athlete and professional and it's been an honour not just to be her coach, but a former team-mate as well."

For the Wave, Telford played in four regular season matches in a support role to current Canadian WNT starting goalkeeper (and 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist) Kailen Sheridan.

San Diego played closed-door contests against the University of Southern California on February 19, Houston Dash on March 5 and the Kansas City Current on March 11 (a 2-1 defeat). Its final preseason game was a high-profile game against Southern California rival Angel City on March 18 in front of season-ticket holders at Snapdragon Stadium. The game ended 2-2 with second year forward Amirah Ali scoring both goals for the Wave. Carly Telford played in the final match of her professional career against Angel City.

Coach Stoney made a huge impression in the league in her first season. Look to her to bring in a high profile international mid-season, perhaps after the Women's World Cup. U.S. international defender Abby Dahlkemper is their only player out injured, after having surgery on her back last October. The side should again be competitive and push for a playoff spot.

Houston Dash (10-6-6, 36 points, Fourth)

The Dash has been making a number of interesting international signings during the offseason, with Texas native and Venezuelan international Barbara Olivieri joining the side from C.F Monterrey in Liga MX Femenil., where she had 3 goals in 19 matches for Rayadas in 2022-23. She played at Texas A&M University in College Station, north of Houston, where she was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2020 before turning pro. After joining Monterrey in February of 2022, the midfielder made nine appearances and scored one goal in the 2022 Clausura season.

The Venezuelan-American made her debut for the Venezuela Women's National Team in December 2021, scoring the game-winning goal and adding an assist in December 2021 in a 2-1 friendly win over India in Manaus, Brazil. Oliveri also represented Venezuela in the 2022 South America U-20 Women's Football Championship and the 2018 South American U-17 Women's Football Championship. She is signed for the 2023 season with an option for 2024 with the Dash.

Mexican international forward Diana Ordonez, who reportedly asked to be traded to another NWSL team after a year in North Carolina, has joined the Dash who made a pre-draft trade to land the 30th pick in 2023's draft and Ordonez in exchange for the eighth pick, $100,000 in Allocation Money, a 2024 first-round pick, and an international roster spot in 2023. Ordonez, who scored 11 goals last season to set the NWSL rookie record, signed a three-year contract extension with her new team.

Ordonez put an end to the idea that she was leaving North Carolina because of anything untold that happened there—with the recent spate of player abuse and mistreatment issues in the NWSL, some people jumped to that conclusion—and told the media recently: "Coming back to Texas was always a goal of mine. This sport can take you anywhere and a lot of times it's not within your control, so it was something I prayed about for a long time and really wanted to come back home and be closer to my family. So, I'm feeling super-blessed and grateful to be here back in my home state…. I developed a lot at the Courage and had an incredible opportunity to earn my spot and I'm super grateful to the coaches there that gave me a chance to prove myself and earn my spot and that's what I did. I'm super grateful for them to give a rookie an opportunity, I know that's not always the truth in this league."

This reporter asked Ordonez about the chance to play with her Mexican international teammate Maria Sanchez everyday with the Dash: "Maria is an unbelievable player. Coming here, she had a lot of influence in what it would mean for me to play here. To get to play with her year-round and not only when we go to camps, it is important for the national team for the both of us to build a connection and be able to play, when we are not in camps together, will help us a lot when we are in camp; just being on the same page and knowing how each other plays will be huge for us, to get to know each other's tendencies better. Her crossing ability and her ability one v. one is world class, so I'm really excited to play with her more consistently and not just with Mexico at camps."

Ordonez also talked about her playing style: "I like to think of myself as a true [number] nine. My size plays a lot into my ability to hold up the ball and being a threat in the box—especially on crosses—having that height advantage is definitely something I need to get better at, but I think I did a better job of utilizing it last year. Last year, I played a little at the outside forward, which wasn't the most comfortable thing for me, but I think it helped me grow as a player and understanding a different position both offensively and defensively. Where I am most comfortable is as a true [number] nine, being able to hold up the ball and link with my teammates and getting in the box and just getting on the end of crosses and being there for opportunities, picking up the pieces and trying to get the ball in the back of the net."

Ordonez should work nicely with fellow forwards Maria Sanchez and English international Ebony Salmon, who scored 9 goals after a mid-year move from Racing Louisville in 2022. Salmon was on England's triumphant Arnold Clark Cup tournament squad last month (see last week's column: The Week in Women's Football: Real Madrid land Linda Caicedo; Aminata Diallo joins Levante; Matildas WC sellout - Tribal Football).

Also, during the off-season, the Dash acquired defender Courtney Peterson (25) from Orlando. Houston will also receive Orlando's natural third round pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft. In exchange, Orlando received $65,000 in Allocation Money and a conditional $25,000 if additional performance incentives are met this season. Peterson has made 30 starts and 41 appearances in two seasons in the league, with one goal and two assists. She played at the University of Virginia. Peterson was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft. She played for the U.S. in the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

The Dash also signed free agent midfielder Havana Solaun to a two-year contract. The well-traveled Jamaican international played with the North Carolina Courage the past two years.

Canadian internationals midfielder Sophie Schmidt and defender Allysha Chapman are back as well, though fellow Canadian international Nichelle Prince is still out with an injury. Nigerian international Michelle Alozie (25)—who grew up in California and played at Yale and the University of Tennessee—and American defender Natalie Jacobs signed two-year contracts. Alozie will start her third season with the Dash while Jacobs is in her second, but played previously at Real Betis in Spain and for the Washington Spirit in 2020 and 2021.

In early February, the Dash announced that they would loan Argentinian international forward Paulina Gramaglia (19) to Red Bull Bragantino FC Femenino of Brazil for the remainder of the year. Gramaglia agreed to a new contract with the Dash earlier this year, through the 2023 season with an option for 2024. Dash general manager Alex Singer—who played in the WPS and NWSL as well as in Norway, Sweden and Australia—explained: "At 19, Paulina has a big opportunity to earn a spot with Argentina's squad at the FIFA Women's World Cup this summer. Getting her in an environment to play consistent game minutes to prepare her was something we discussed and prioritized as part of our planning to make sure she's maximizing match play and furthering the opportunity for her development." Gramaglia first joined the Dash at the start of preseason in 2022 on loan from UAI Urquiza of the Argentine first division, where she had nine goals in seven games.

The Dash have two exciting young prospects from the draft: midfielder Sophie Hirst, who scored 10 goals and 12 assists in 60 appearances at Harvard, and defender Jyllissa Harris, who set an NCAA record for the most minutes played (9,395) at the Division 1 level while at the University of South Carolina.

The Dash did not pick up French international forward Valerie Gauvin's (26) contract option and she has returned to France with Fleury 91, after only playing three games last season in Houston, after her transfer from North Carolina. Cali Farquharson (ex-Arizona State University, KIF Orebro in Sweden and Washington Spirit) remains a free agent—she only played 62 minutes across six regular season matches. Midfielder Bri Visalli has left Houston after three seasons and is now playing in the WSL with Brighton and Hove Albion. She holds British citizenship as well as an American passport and previously played in the WSL with West Ham and Birmingham City.

The Dash will be a team to watch in new head coach Sam Laity's first season as head coach after 10 seasons in Seattle/Tacoma as an assistant coach with the Reign (see: The Week in Women's Football: NWSL Draft review; Angel City sign 'generational talent' Alyssa Thompson - Tribal Football) and hopefully he will provide stability for a team that had three head coaches last season, one of whom—fellow English native Sarah Lowdon—is still there after guiding the side successfully for eight games as the first interim head coach after James Clarkson was suspended and ultimately fired for player abuse charges. Despite all the off-the-field turmoil last season, the team still made the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons and will want to build off of that success in 2023.

Kansas City Current (10-6-6, 36 points, Fifth)

Kansas City has added a couple of Swedish internationals for the 2023 season. In late December, the Current signed Swedish international forward Mimmi Larsson (28) for two years. Previously, Larsson played with FC Rosengard in the Swedish league, winning titles in 2020 and 2021. She was part of Sweden's 2019 World Cup roster which finished third in the tournament.

In early February, the Current added Swedish international defender Hanna Glas through the 2024 season, with a mutual option for 2025. Current General Manager Camille Levin Ashton, who won a College Cup at Stanford and played in the NWSL, Australia, Italy Norway and Sweden and for the U.S. at the U-20 and U-23 levels, said: "Hanna is a world class defender that has proven herself at both the club and international level. She is consistently talked about as one of the best in the world at her position. Her qualities on both sides of the ball, winning mentality, and ambitions aligned with ours and we are thrilled to welcome her to Kansas City."

Glas comes to Kansas City from Bayern Munich in the German Frauen-Bundesliga. After signing in 2020, the 29-year-old defender played 40 matches for Bayern. Prior to her time in the Germany, Glas played 19 matches with France's Paris St. Germain over two seasons. Glas started her professional career in 2011, playing for Sundsvalls DFF in the Elitettan, Sweden's second division. She quickly moved up to the Damallsvenskan, Sweden's first division, with Umeå IK and then Eskilstuna United.

Internationally, Glas has been a mainstay on the Swedish national teams since 2009, when she started playing with the U-17 team. In 2012 she helped the Swedes win the UEFA Women's U-19 Championship. She made her senior team debut in 2017 against Norway. Since then, she has earned 59 caps and helped Sweden finish in third-place in the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France and capture a Silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

The potential downside with the signing of Glas is that she has a long-history with injuries and when she signed, has been out since September of 2022 with another injury. She hopes to be back to match fitness by this summer's Women's World Cup. If Hanna Glas can stay healthy, she could be a huge addition for the Current backline and to the NWSL in general.

The Current also signed rookie and 2022 MAC Hermann Trophy award winner [for the top NCAA collegiate player of the year] Michelle Cooper from Duke in North Carolina. She has signed for three seasons. General Manager Camille Levin Ashton said: "When we drafted Michelle last month, we felt she was a player that could be central to this club for years to come. Her strength on the ball and nose for the goal are incredible, and she also has shown a willingness and desire to learn and develop her game, which can only make this club better going forward. We are collectively committed to helping her develop and achieve her goals., both on and off the pitch." Cooper also played at the 2022 FIFA U-20 WWC in Costa Rica, where the U.S. did not qualify for the knockout stage, and went to high school at the IMG Academy in Florida—an elite training ground for top athletes in many sports.

U.S. international Sam Mewis (30), who did not play at all last season other than in two preseason Challenge Cup games and has undergone a second knee surgery in January, likely will miss this summer's WWC Finals and a good portion if not all of the 2023 NWSL season. She first had surgery on her right knee in August 2021, just after the Tokyo Olympics. She won the World Cup with the Americans in 2019 and has 83 appearances—she last played for the national team at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in the bronze medal game, which the U.S. won against Australia. The Current bought out the midfielder's previous contract and signed her to a new deal through the 2023 season, the team announced after her latest surgery.

Mewis has said on Twitter that: "This has been a really difficult time for me personally and I've been devastated to be away from soccer for so long.

"We do hope to see her back in the NWSL and with the American national team in the future and wish her all the best in her recovery period."

Two other players who are out to the start the season and are on the Season Ending Injury list include French international midfielder Claire Lavogez (who had two goals in ten games last season in her first stint outside of France) and American defender Mallory Weber (who only played 19 minutes last season before tearing her ACL), though both are expected to return at some point this season.

The Current went to Florida at the IMG Academy in Bradenton for pre-season for three weeks and then also spent time in San Diego. We are seeing NWSL teams playing other NWSL sides and even Liga MX Femenil teams—either in closed scrimmage formats or in scheduled games with fans—to a much higher degree than in the past. This is a good thing and something that coaches have desired for years, as previously preseasons usually consisted of matches against college sides who were in their off-season and only playing a few games in the spring time. The Current finished pre-season with a 1-1-1 record, with a 2-0 loss to Orlando and a 1-1 tie with Chicago in Florida, before defeating Sand Diego Wave 2-0 in California.

Expect Kansas City, having also signed free agent Brazilian midfielder Debinha (see: The Week in Women's Football: Debinha explains choosing Kansas over Arsenal; NWSL transfer wrap; expansion chat - Tribal Football)—a coup for the club and the league as Arsenal of the WSL was reportedly very interested in signing her—from North Carolina, to be further up the table this season from last season's fifth. On-and-off the field, they are rapidly positioning themselves to be a standard-bearer in the league, rivaling Angel City and Portland Thorns. They hope to make their second consecutive Championship Final in 2023.

Chicago Red Stars (9-6-7, 33 points, Sixth)

The rebuilding Chicago Red Stars have signed Brazilian international midfielder Julia Bianchi from Palmeiras and acquired midfielder Cari Roccaro from Angel City FC for $65,000 in allocation money. Bianchi (25) has 11 caps for Brazil, including two at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Bianchi was signed for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. She is the first Brazilian player to join the team in their NWSL history. Long-time Brazilian icons Cristiane and Formiga previously represented the club during their Women's Professional Soccer league era [2009-2011].

The midfielder is expected to start after the club lost starters and long-time Red Star players Danielle Colaprico (29—to the San Diego Wave), Morgan Gautrat (30—to the Kansas City Current) and Vanessa DiBernardo (30—who signed with the Kansas City Current) via free agency in the off-season. In addition, midfielder Sarah (Killion) Woldmoe (30) also announced her retirement. She entered the league in 2015 with Sky Blue FC and played the last two seasons in Chicago. She also was a U.S. youth international.

Bianchi will join the team from Palmeiras, where she played 77 matches and won three championships (Paulista Cup, Libertadores, and Paulista Championship). She previously played with Kindermann, Centro Olimpico and Ferroviaria—all in Brazil—and in Spain with Madrid CFF and Real Madrid. Bianchi (25) has represented Brazil at the youth level with U-17 and U-20 teams and has 11 caps at the full level before last month's SheBelieves Cup in the U.S., in which she reached the dozen caps level with one appearance coming in the 1-0 opening game win against Japan.

Regarding Roccaro, she grew up in suburban New York City, played collegiately at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and has been in the NWSL since 2016. She played previously with the Houston Dash, North Carolina Courage and one season at Angel City in Los Angeles. She is just shy of 100 NWSL appearances and been capped by the U.S. at multiple levels, including captaining the U-20 side at the 2014 FIFA Finals in Canada.

Mallory Swanson Pugh has been scoring great goals with the U.S. WNT this off-season and is key to the Red Stars attack. This is another side that could add one or two internationals after the season starts, or even after the Women's World Cup this summer, which may be contingent on new ownership acquiring the team from Arnim Whisler—who was accused of dismissing player complaints of abuse, particularly from former coach Rory Daimes, for years and is in the process of selling the team. Without reinforcements, with such a long-term effective midfield core of Colaprico, Gautrat and DiBernardo having moved to other NWSL clubs after the 2022 season, this could be a consolidation season and making the playoffs again will be a tremendous achievement for the Red Stars.

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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