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The Week in Women's Football: Comprehensive NWSL preview for the 2019 season

This week we preview the 2019 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Season, team by team in the order that they finished the regular season in 2018.



2019 NWSL Season Preview

North Carolina Courage (17-6-1--57 points—First)

North Carolina was the dominate team in NWSL all season—winning the regular season title as well as the championship final over Portland away—led by American forwards Lynn Williams (14 goals and 5 assists), Jessica McDonald (7 goals and 8 assists) and Crystal Dunn (8 goals and 5 assists). It appears that neither McDonald or Williams will be on the national team squad in France, but Dunn should be (she was a late cut ahead of WWC 2015 and played with Chelsea during the 2017/18 season) which makes the Courage absolutely lethal during the World Cup while other teams are depleted of World Cup-bound players. One member of the organization told this reporter recently that the club had the best central defenders in the league in: "the two Abby's: New Zealand international Abby Erceg and U.S. international Abby Dahlkemper"—a claim which you certainly cannot argue against as they led the best defense in the league in 2018 (only 17 goals allowed). Unfortunately, both will be away in France, as likely will be midfielders McCall Zerboni and Sam Mewis, but the Courage has stronger depth than arguably any other team in the league. 2015 WWC winner Heather O'Reilly is still important in midfield. The Courage made minor changes for 2019—if it is not broken, don't fix it—with a switch of Canadian back-up keepers as Sabrina D'Angelo went to Sweden to Vittsjo and former Washington Spirit Steph Labbe came back to the NWSL from Linkoping, while Swedish international midfielder Julie Spetsmark joins from Djugarden (she had a short stint with Manchester City in 2018). Spetsmark scored in a 4-0 preseason win on March 23 against Orlando Pride, with the other goals coming from Williams, McDonald and Meredith Speck, an American defender who played in 15 games last season. Speck played at Yale and then with Vasteras in Sweden in 2015. She has been with the WNY Flash and Courage for 3 seasons and won two league titles.

In a plus for the growth of the global women's club game, it was announced last week that the Women's International Champions Cup will be held for the second consecutive year, this time at the Courage's home field at Sahlen's Stadium in Cary, North Carolina, from August 15 through August 18. The Courage won the first event held last year in Miami, with Olympic Lyon, PSG and Manchester City participating. This year the competition includes Spanish La Liga Iberdrola's 2018 champion Club Atlético de Madrid Femenino, 2018 UEFA Champions League semi-finalist along with 2018 FA Women's Super League runner-up Manchester City and five-time UEFA Champions League champion Olympique Lyonnais Féminine of the French D1 Féminine. Club Atlético de Madrid enters the tournament as the 2018 champion of La Liga Iberdrola and is on its way to a third consecutive title. The club is led by Spanish international Jennifer Hermoso, who has scored 22 goals so far this season to lead the league, after playing last season at PSG and before that at now-defunct Tyreso in Sweden. Brazilian international pool player Ludmila has done well for the offense with 11 goals (she had 11 last season in her first season with the club), while Spanish goalkeeper Lola Gallardo anchors a defense that has only conceded 17 goals in 25 games this year.

Currently sitting in second place in England's Women's Super League standings, Manchester City WFC boasts a roster full of England National Team players. They are led in attack by English duo Nikita Parris and Georgia Stanway, who have combined for 39 of the team's 49 goals. The club will be participating in the tournament for the second time, after finishing third in last year's ICC.

Olympique Lyonnais also returns to the tournament with a record-setting 16 French titles and six French Cup trophies in addition to their five UEFA Champions League titles. Their roster is comprised of top European talent, including inaugural Ballon d'Or recipient and Norwegian international Ada Hegerberg, who leads the team with 18 goals scored. Others to watch include former Portland Thorns midfielder and current French national team captain Amandine Henry, former University of North Carolina defender and English international Lucy Bronze as well as French scoring star Eugenie Le Sommer.

The tournament games this season will be shown on ESPN


Portland Thorns (12-6-6--42 points—Second)

U.S. international Lindsey Horan had a MVP season last season in leading the 2017 NWSL champion Thorns to second in the table with 13 goals and 2 assists, but she struggled with injury during the off-season with the national team. The former Paris St. Germain star's health is important to the fortunes of the American women this summer in France and for the Thorns.

Christine Sinclair of Canada is still an important force from midfield—her scoring has declined over the last few years but she is only five goals away from surpassing Abby Wambach as the all-time international goal scoring leader (184)—she went to college in the city and is the emotional heartbeat of the team. Australian international forward Haley Raso has returned from a tragic season-ending back injury just before the playoffs when she had to relearn how to walk, but started playing during the Brisbane Roar's last few regular season games this winter. If goalkeeper Adrianna Franch goes to France with the Americans, Britt Eckerstrom can step in superbly; she has been outstanding in the last two off-seasons for Newcastle Jets in the W-League and in ten games last season for Portland while Franch was out. Celeste Boureille, who played with Raso for the last three seasons in Australia (one with Canberra United), is underrated in midfield and is a superb passer and supports from deep in the back of midfield. Australian internationals Ellie Carpenter and Caitlin Foord are back and both are currently in outstanding form while Foord won a W-League title this winter with Sydney FC. American midfielder Tobin Heath and defender Emily Sonnett should be ready for a big summer with the national team and but the Thorns and their 17,000 average crowd is a priority and they will try to gain three points in as many early games as possible before France, so that they are not having to chase a playoff spot when they return. It would be a shock if the Thorns don't make the playoffs again.

The Thorns spiced up their preseason preparation by playing a 13-year-old during an exhibition game. Olivia Moultrie, who turned professional last month, appeared a 1-0 loss to the U.S. U-23 national team during the preseason. Thorns head coach Mark Parsons said: "If we sit there and count her actions and look at her decision-making, which is what the game is about, I think you've got to be very, very happy." Moultrie accepted a scholarship from the University of North Carolina when she was 11 but on February 25 explained that she would not play in college in order to sign a deal with the Wasserman Media Group, a sports agency, along with a six-figure endorsement deal with Nike. Moultrie and her family now live in Portland and she plays in the Thorns Developmental Academy. NWSL teams cannot sign a player under the age of 18 and FIFA prevents players moving from abroad until they are 18, with rare exceptions. Preseason games are exempted from these rules. Parsons explained: "I think it's really important for any player to be in an environment where they get to be the best player on the pitch, middle of the road and the bottom end, to taste all of that throughout the week. [Olivia] is going to have a unique development path here with us, with the Thorns' first team, with the academy, and there might be some action with the boys as well. I think giving her different things as a staff, providing her the opportunity to continue to grow, is no different than how we try to continue to develop and grow all our players."


Seattle Reign/Reign FC (11-8-5--41 points—Third)

For a team that made the semifinals last season and took Portland down to the wire in a 2-1 away loss to end the season, the Seattle Reign (now rebranded as Reign FC) has seen some turnover during the offseason. Ghana international forward Elizabeth Addo was released after one season so she could join a team in China. Other departures include Canadian international forward Adriana Leon, who was released by the Reign and not signed by any other league team; she is now playing in England with West Ham United.

The Reign has some impressive newcomers for 2019. Australian international Elise Kellond-Knight will bring her experience of playing in Denmark, Germany, Japan, and Sweden—as well as in the W-League—to the Reign defense, joining fellow Matildas' goalkeeper Lydia Williams and wingback Steph Catley. Shea Groom comes from TeamBlue Sky is Falling in New Jersey (see more below) to link up with coach Vlatko Andonovski again; she played for him for 3 years in Kansas City, scoring 17 goals with 8 assists in 54 games and winning a NWSL title in 2015. With Sky Blue, she had 2 goals and 3 assists in 21 games, for a team that only scored 21 goals all season. U.S. international Taylor Smith comes from the Washington Spirit and won a league title in 2016 as a rookie with the Flash; she tore an ACL this winter while playing on loan with the Newcastle Jets and is not expected to play this season.

This internationally loaded team also has U.S. international Megan Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock of Wales, Rumi Utsugi of Japan, Theresa Nielsen of Denmark, Jodie Taylor of England and Celia Jimenez Delgado of Spain, who all—except Fishlock—are expected to be at the Women's World Cup in France along with the three Australians. Andonovski's challenge will be to pick up points during the World Cup with so much talent gone.

One thing to watch with the Reign is the results of their move to Tacoma from downtown Seattle after 5 seasons playing in ancient Memorial Stadium, in the shadow of the iconic Space Needle. Typically suburban teams have not thrived in women's professional soccer and ownership essentially gave up on Seattle—a decision we have discussed recently

(https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-nz-side-for-cup-of-nations-seattle-reign-rebranding-algarve-cup-draw-4269399), which can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour away, without traffic delays. If Tacoma can support the women, with competition from the men's Seattle Sounders 2 USL Second Division team (now called the Tacoma Defiance) and Tacoma Rainiers baseball side is yet to be seen. This franchise, so strong most seasons on the field, needs to find stability and success at the gate in Tacoma or they could be primed for another move and the move out of Seattle will quickly be labeled as a mistake.


Chicago Red Stars (9-10-5--37 points—Fourth)

The Red Stars stay pretty pat from last season, when they qualified for their fourth consecutive playoff spot but again lost in the semifinals. Their goal is to make the finals and though they have Australian international Sam Kerr—shooting for her fifth consecutive scoring title across the NWSL and Westfield W-League at home—and Japanese international Yuki Nagasato returning, they may find themselves just south of the playoffs. They have a strong mix of U.S. internationals, with Alyssa Naeher in goal, Julie Ertz in midfield and recently capped Danielle Colaprico in midfield. New additions are Mexican international Katie Johnson, with her third team in three years (after Seattle in 2017 and Sky Blue FC last season). First round draft choice Tierna Davidson is a rare talent but is expected to be with the national team in France.

New Zealand international Rosie White (ex-Liverpool and UCLA) took time off from the Red Stars until after the WWC. She has played in two World Cups and one Olympics for the Football Ferns and appeared in 12 Red Stars games last year, scoring once. She said in a statement:"Thank you so much Chicago for everything, especially to the great fans and my amazing teammates. It's time for me to open a new chapter in my career and redirect my focus for the World Cup and Olympics in what will be an exciting time for Team New Zealand. I am sad to say I won't be returning to the Red Stars, as my main focus will be for my country. I wish my teammates all the best of luck."

Rory Daines has been head coach of the side since 2013 and prior to that led their reserves to the WPSL final in 2011 and then the Red Stars to the WPSL Elite Final in 2012. He is as sharp a coach as they come, but this team could use some more attacking options so they are not so dependent on Sam Kerr, though Johnson has the capability to be an 8-10 goal scorer, playing off of Kerr and talented midfielders Nagasato and American Vanessa DiBernardo.


Utah Royals (9-8-7—35 Points—Fifth)

Spanish international Vero Boquete is a huge addition to help an anemic scoring side in 2018 which just missed the playoffs (see our interview with the well-traveled former Spanish international last week at: (https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-exclusive-with-vero-boquete-schmidt-makes-nwsl-return-india-claim-saff-title-4275134). American forward Katie Stengel had a subpar off-season with Newcastle Jets after a so so season in Utah leading the attack (she was first in goal scoring for the Royals with 6 goals, though 5 goals came in the last 11 games of the season and 3 of those against second from bottom side Washington Spirit). She needs to consistently score in the 8-12 goal range to justify a starting position on the side.

In midfield, American Taylor Lytle (30) is key—she played five seasons with Sky Blue FC before she was traded along with U.S. international wingback Kelly O'Hara ahead of the Royals' first season in Utah. The U-23 international had 2 assists in 10 games. Icelandic international midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir (1 goal and 2 assists) played every minute last season and also had 1 goal in Adelaide this winter, again missing the playoffs by one game; she then scored 3 in a preseason win over California State—Long Beach (4-0) on the road. Makenzy Doniak is ready for a full season in midfield; she came last June from the Courage but missed all of 2018 with an ACL injury. Doniak played 2 seasons with Western New York/North Carolina but had seven goals in 12 games with Adelaide United in 2017/18.

Goalkeeper is very strong as Abby Smith (25), who is in the national team pool and played two seasons with Boston before joining Utah, was a revelation last season. Rachel Corsie of Scotland and Katie Bowen of New Zealand will miss games due to the World Cup as will Americans O'Hara—assuming that she is fully recovered from issues following ankle surgery in October, which forced her to withdraw from U.S. national team friendlies against Australia and Belgium this month—and forward Christen Press.

Christen Press scored a hat trick in a 4-0 win against college powerhouse the University of Southern California while Vero Boquete scored her first goal for her new club in the preseason match held in Long Beach, California. Trialist Raisa Strom-Okimito (ex-University of Hawaii who had 22 goals and 13 assists in her career, 6th and 8th respectively all-time in Rainbow women's soccer history) scored a late fourth goal after Jonsidottir's hat trick in the shutout against Cal State-LB.


Houston Dash (9-5-10--32 points—Sixth)

All change at the top in the Space City with English-born head coach James Clarkson taking over from Vera Pauw, but there still is a strong core on the field here that he can build upon to improve on a franchise best 2018 season. Some questioned the fact that Clarkson had never coached women but he has been with the parent Dynamo MLS club for a decade, primarily on the Academy side. Perhaps Phil Neville of England can provide him some guidance of how to achieve success as a first time coach for women; to this reporter, Clarkson is an inspired choice. He has a squad littered with internationals from North and Central America, Europe and Asia, which helped drive the Dash to a club record number of wins (9) and points in a season (32). I will go out on a limb and say that this side will make the playoffs in 2019 for the first time in six seasons.

English international Rachel Daly (10 goals and 2 assists, finishing fourth in the league in scoring) most probably will miss time away for the World Cup, showing that a NWSL-based player can make the England squad, even though much of her last several years have been with a U.S. College and the Dash (the same can be said for Chi Ubogagu of Orlando—who played for Arsenal in 2015 after a career at Stanford University and then joined the Dash for a season before moving to Orlando in 2017). Daley will combine with returnee and American international Kealia Ohai (5 goals and 4 assists) who bounced back nicely from an injury-plagued 2017. A midseason acquisition from Chicago, U.S. and former Mexican international Sofia Huerta, won a W-League title with Sydney FC this winter. Forward Veronica Latsko added to her 4 goals and 2 assists as a rookie with the Dash by scoring 9 goals this winter with Adelaide in the W-League.

Young American goalkeeper Jane Campbell is in the national team pool but probably a World Cup cycle away from regular play at the senior level and needs to cut down on her goals against numbers. Claire Polkinghorne of Australia is solid in front of her in either defense or in a midfield role.

The South African contingent of Linda Motlhalo (1 goal and 1 assist) and Thembi Kgatlana (2 goals and 3 assists) and defender Janine van Wyk are all gone as well as former SA international coach Vera Pauw, who directed the Dash to a record season, but decided to return to the Netherlands while there were grumblings of player unrest.

New acquisitions include Mexican international defender Ari Romero from Valur of Iceland (ex-University of Nebraska who has played in Norway and Australia and played with the Dash in 2014 and the Washington Spirit in 2015) along with U.S. pro league veteran Christine Nairn, who was acquired in midseason from Orlando, and Canadian international midfielder Sophie Schmidt, who arrived from Frankfurt and should add bite and guile to midfield. Last week we profiled Schmidt's move to Houston: (https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-exclusive-with-vero-boquete-schmidt-makes-nwsl-return-india-claim-saff-title-4275134). Schmidt, along with Dash teammates Lindsay Agnew and Allysha Chapman in defense and forward Nichelle Prince, were all with Canada for a friendly against England on April 5.

Daley, Latsko and Ohai all scored in a 3-0 preseason victory over strong college side Texas A&M on March 23, while Ohai, Schmidt, Jamia Fields (a trailist who scored 2 goals and played last season in Norway after one season with Western New York and two with Orlando) and CeCe Kizer (ex-Ole Miss and a fourth round college draft choice in January) scored in their last preseason game, a 5-0 over Texas Tech on March 30.


Orlando Pride (8-6-10--30 points—Seventh)

Former Birmingham City coach Marc Skinners needs to re-energize Brazilian international midfield superstar Marta, who seemed jaded at times last season, but with Americans Alex Morgan and Rachel Hill up front and Australian international Alanna Kennedy and U.S. international and 2015 Women's World Cup winner Ali Krieger—recently called back into the U.S. national team after two years out of the mix—in defense with fellow 2015 WWC champion team goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris in goal, this team can bounce back nicely from a shocking seventh place finish in 2018 to achieve the playoffs as they did in 2017. Defender Shelina Zadorsky of Canada (who played at the University of Michigan and then in Australia and Sweden) is underrated and English international forward Chioma Ubogagu had a good season with Brisbane Roar while shuttling twice from Australia for England call ups. Carson Pickett, another loanee to the Roar this winter, is a solid wing defender. U.S. international attacker Sydney Leroux is on maternity leave and out for the season.

Skinner replaces Scottish native and former Australian and U.S. women's national team coach Tom Sermanni, who ended up with a plumb job with New Zealand's women's national team and is World Cup bound this summer. Sermanni, so strong on interpersonal relations with his players, coaches, the media and fans, was just what the Football Ferns needed after the turmoil with the previous coach Austrian Andreas Heraf—who was clearly out of his depth and seemed to feel that losing by a few goals to Japan was an admirably successful venture for the team, who didn't take kindly to his odd sort of motivational (or demotivation) skills—and with the federation over pay and working conditions. Meanwhile, Skinner will bring a fresh voice to an experienced squad that is not the easiest to manage; with so many successful internationals, some of whom can be a little headstrong. Skinner's hire also reemphasizes the important coaching pipeline from the English League to the Sates, following in the hires of Laura Harvey (Seattle/Utah from Arsenal), Matt Beard (defunct Boston Breakers from Liverpool and now at West Ham) and Emma Hayes in the WPS (Chicago from Arsenal and now directing Chelsea). Skinner's hire also helps to deepen the link between the two national leagues and look for him to bring in some new ideas and approaches to the league.

Hill scored a hat trick in 6 minutes in the second half of a March 30 preseason 6-0 pasting of the University of South Florida. Hill had 9 goals for Perth Glory in 2017/18 and 5 last winter after scoring 4 for the Pride in 2018, her second season with the club. Ubogagu also scored in the first minute and as did Marta along with an UCF own goal. The Pride finished their pre-season with a game at home on April 7 against the Puerto Rico Sol, coached by former Haitian and Puerto Rican National Team coach Shek Borkowski, on April 7. The Pride won 5-0 through a brace by Brazilian Camilla and singles from Americans Rachel Hill, Carson Pickett and former University of Central Florida and trialist Bridgett Callahan, who played one minute last season as a replacement player during international call up periods.

Note: We will have a story on the Puerto Rico Sol, a new professional club on the island that is having a dominating first season in their domestic league, including interviews with Borkowski and a few players, in the coming weeks.


Washington Spirit (2-5-17--11 points—Eighth)

The Spirit selected an experienced coaching hire in Liverpool native Richie Burke (replacing Jim Gabarra and interim coach Tom Torres), but again—as with James Clarkson in Houston—with a decided dearth of time coaching women. The pinnacle of Burke's coaching career was as manager of a Livingston in the Scottish men's First Division in 2013. The Spirit defense has needed rebuilding after letting in 35 goals in 2018 (third worst in the league); Caprice Dydasco (ex-UCLA) and U.S. international Taylor Smith—who won a College Cup at UCLA—were shipped to Sky Blue FC and Seattle respectively.

Burke brought in McKenzie Berryhill as a trialist; she went to Arizona State University with forward Cali Farquharson—with the side since 2016 but Farquharson appeared in only 5 games last season as she missed many games with a left tibial stress injury. Berryhill spent a few years in Portland and Orlando but then went to Norway last season, finishing second with Klepp, and has played for the U.S. in the futsal World Cup in 2017, making the Quarterfinals with the Americans. Burke also imported two Australians from Sydney FC—midfielders Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison. Logarzo previously played in the States with the Colorado Pride in the now defunct W-League and in Norway and is an established presence in the Matildas' set-up, while Harrison at 22 has a few caps but has played for Sydney for seven seasons and won two titles. This duo should drive some improvement on a team with some other young talents, including U.S. international Mallory Pugh (2 goals and 1 assist while missing 9 games due to injury and international games), Ashley Hatch (4 goals and 1 assist) and Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan (both 0 goals).

The Spirit had an interesting preseason match on March 23, hosting Girondins de Bordeaux of France. The Spirit took a 1-0 first half lead from Mallory Pugh's header off of an Ashley Hatch cross which went past New Zealand international goalkeeper Erin Nayler but it rebounded off of the post; Chloe Bornes—a native of France who is in her second year at Bordeaux—turned into her own net. Bordeaux rebounded by scoring three goals in the second half from two full French internationals, Viviane Asseyi (2) and Claire Lavoge. Nayler seems at home with Bordeaux and is expected to be the starting goalkeeper for the Female Ferns at the World Cup this summer, as she was in Canada in 2015. She has played in two FIFA U-20 World Cups, played a year collegiately in the U.S. and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and was on the books of Sky Blue FC for about a month in 2016. After the Olympics, Olympique Lyon signed her but she didn't receive playing time as third in the goalkeeping lineup for the powerhouse and went on loan to second division Grenoble and then signed with Bordeaux for the 2017-18 season; Nayler is now on a 2 year contact for Bordeaux, who are currently in fourth place in the French top league with a 9-3-7 record and 30 points, 3 points behind third place Montpellier but 20 points behind joint leaders Lyon and PSG. Bordeaux also had first year Canadian international Vanessa Gilles of Ottawa, who played at the University of Cincinnati and was with Canada on their trip to England this month to play England and Nigeria. Gilles has played for France at the U-23 level as she is a dual citizen.


Sky Blue FC (1-6-17--9 points—Ninth)

It could be another long, hot summer for head coach Denise Reddy as she tries to improve on a disastrous one win season in 2018, her first as head coach of the Central New Jersey club, that probably had an even more difficult time off the field as the stories of player disregard and outright mistreatment—particularly on housing and facilities—disseminated throughout the league (though some of the issues had been known, but kept largely kept under wraps; they came bursting out like a dam break late last year). The fact that the sitting governor of New Jersey—Phil Murphy—is the major shareholder played into the dialogue and NWSL is monitoring a situation that needs to improve appreciably, but it will take substantial changes and maybe even a franchise move to undue the stink that is now firmly attached to this club. Sky Blue FC was one of the original clubs in the WPS in 2009, majestically winning the first league title over host and heavily favored L.A. Sol with Marta and other international stars, after Christie Rampone took over as player/coach late in the season and guided the side to four wins in five matches.

Sky Blue's top two 2019 College Draft choices, Hallie Mace of UCLA and Julia Ashley of North Carolina, both refused a chance to play at home and signed for clubs in Sweden. One high profile player who was weighing the NWSL versus Europe told this reporter that she would rather play "in a poor team in Siberia" before she would play for Sky Blue FC. 2019 will largely determine if the team can survive in New Jersey or will fold like the Boston Breakers after the 2017 campaign or move to another state, like FC Kansas City did to Salt Lake City, Utah before last season.

Sky Blue does have talent on the side, including 2015 WWC Final Hat Trick Scorer Carli Lloyd and Savannah McCaskill (3 goals and 3 assists), who after a rookie season in New Jersey won the W-League Title with Sydney FC this winter, scoring twice in the Grand Final win over Perth. Canadian international goalkeeper Kaitlyn Sheridan returns for her third season, having started in goal since her first year. Japanese international midfielder Nahomi 'Naho" Kawasumi is an inspired addition from Seattle and Imani Dorsey had 4 goals and 1 assist last season as a rookie, after joining the club after the season started due to finishing school. Caprice Dydasco is a strong addition in the back from the Washington Spirit and this will be her fifth season in the league. Katie Johnson (4 goals and 2 assists) went to Chicago and Shea Groom (2 goals and 3 assists) is off to Seattle, which hurt the offensive options of the side. New Zealand international Rebekah Stott (Melbourne City in the off season) is now playing with Alvadsnes in Norway.

A 0-0 tie in preseason on March 23 against West Virginia University—a very strong side but which is playing in their off-season—does not bode well. Sky Blue did end pre-season against the team they share their home field with, Rutgers University, with a 2-0 win. Jen Hoy (ex-Chicago Red Stars who had no goals last season in 10 games) and Paige Monaghan (the number 10 pick overall in the 2019 draft from Butler University) scored to lift Sky Blue over the Scarlet Knights.

American midfielder Madison Tiernan tore her ACL and MCL during preseason training on March 29 and is out for the season. She played in 2017 and 2018 for Sky Blue FC and played collegiately at their home field for Rutgers University.

If things don't improve quickly the league needs to find new owners or shut the team down as it is impacting competitiveness—the NWSL always says that it is the best league in the world because all of its teams can win any game, but Sky Blue was pretty much a free pass all season for their opponents, and with top players not wanting any part of playing there, they have no way to improve, plus on-field mediocrity will keep the few fans that they have away. I don't see enough changes on or off the field to see much of an improvement in the table over last year, for which attitude was a big crippler. It is sad to see because Denise Reddy, a veteran of years playing and coaching in Sweden, deserves better.



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

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