This week we look at some more fallout from last week's expansion to Salt Lake City by the NWSL, as the FC Kansas City franchise was shuttered. We also look at some coaching and player movement between Europe and Australia's W-League, particularly affecting Arsenal. We conclude with a review of Australia's two games this past week again China.
FC Kansas City Folds—Player Contracts will be Transferred to the New Real Salt Lake club
To follow-up on last week's NWSL expansion to Salt Lake City, among heightened speculation that FC Kansas City would be moved or folded, the NWSL announced this week that the two-time NWSL championship side was being wound up by the league.
NWSL Director of Operations Amanda Duffy said: "First, we'd like to recognize and thank Elam Baer and FC Kansas City LLC for their efforts this past year. We appreciate his commitment in helping the NWSL move forward. As the league moves on, and as difficult as it is to share this news about FC Kansas City, we feel it is in the best interest of the league and the players at this time. Most importantly, we would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank all the fans and the city of Kansas City for their support of this club, the league and the sport over the past five years.
This is a landmark point for the league, which has had three expansion sides (Houston Orlando and now Salt Lake City since being founded ahead of the 2013 season but has not seen a team fold, though Western New York moved last season from Buffalo/ Rochester, New York to Cary, North Carolina. A team folding typically sends shivers through North American women's soccer fans veins, as it has always called into question the stability of the league but this is different from Women's Professional Soccer from 2009 to 2011.
Small stadiums, owner instability and the reluctance of MLS side Sporting Kansas City to get involved with the side doomed FC Kansas City and it should actually help the league to grow and attract clubs like Real Salt Lake and other MLS franchises to invest in the women's game. FC Kansas City hosted the first game in league history on April 13, 2013 in front of over 6,000 fans, which remains the team's highest individual game attendance. Last season, it averaged only 1,788 fans a game, with 1,312 attending what ultimately was their final game. The club attracted almost 1,000 fewer fans per game than the next lowest drawing club Sky Blue FC, which itself struggles along in a small stadium and needs a better long-term solution.
Significantly, the rights to the former Kansas City players will be assigned by the NWSL to the new Salt Lake City franchise. In addition, Kansas City's picks in the 2018 NWSL College Draft and their spots in the Discovery and Waiver Tie-Breakers as well as the Distribution Ranking Order have been transferred to the new club. The club will also be provided the No. 1 overall pick in the first round of the 2019 College Draft (typical of expansion franchise—based on their 2017 performance of finishing seventh, FC KC would have selected fourth in each round of the College Draft). In essence then, the FC Kansas City side has been transferred to Utah. It remains to be seen if the history will transfer as well or they will be considered as two distinct clubs in league records.
Melbourne City's Westfield W-League winning manager (2015/16) Joe Montemurro has been appointed as the new coach of Arsenal's Women's Football Team last week. The 48-year-old coach takes over immediately for Spanish coach Pedro Martinez Losa. Montemurro's appointment is a triumph for the women's game in Australia, a sign that both on the national team and league level, Australia has certainly made gains over the past few years and is now considered among the top nations in the women's game. The ten-year-old W-League has been a big part of the national team's growth. Montemurro assisted City's women's side again last season before joining the men's side in the Hyundai A-League as an assistant coach.
While Montemurro went to England, there was player movement in the other direction as English international Jodie Taylor left Arsenal to join Melbourne City as a guest player for seven games. Taylor will then join the Seattle Reign in the NWSL for the 2018 season, having left the Portland Thorns following the 2015 season to join Arsenal. Taylor (31) was the FA Women's Player of the Year after helping England make the semifinals of the 2017 European Championship, where she won the Golden Boot with five goals, including a hat trick in their opening match 6-0 victory over Scotland.
Taylor said about her double move: "I'm delighted to be joining Melbourne City—a club which is widely recognised as continuously raising the bar for women's football. I've played all over the world and I know how passionate the support is for the game in Australia. I cannot wait to get out and play for the fans." About her move back to the NWSL she said: "I am really excited to be joining Reign FC. I've spent a lot of time playing in America, and I'm really pleased to be coming to Seattle. They're a top club that I've admired, and the core values of the team are quite evident from the outside."
In two previous seasons in NWSL (2014 with Washington Spirit and 2015 with the Thorns) Taylor scored 16 goals in 28 appearances. Taylor has 15 goals in 30 caps for England. She played in Australia previously for Melbourne Victory in the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons, scoring 12 goals in 21 games and then 10 goals in 12 matches for Sydney FC in 2013/14, when she won the Golden Boot as the league's top scorer. She also played collegiately in the States for Oregon State University. Despite her scoring success, she has not won a league title in the W-League and will want to change that fact this season with City.
Norwegian star Thorsnes leaves Avaldsnes for Canberra
Canberra United have signed Norwegian international and Avaldsnes star Elise Thorsnes on loan for the remainder of Westfield W-League season. Thorsnes has over 100 international caps for her country and scored the match winning goal in the Norwegian Cup Final for her Avaldsnes as they finished 1-0 winners earlier this month. She scored over 100 goals at club level and played all 90 minutes in her first club match outside of Norway, a 3-2 home win over Perth Glory.
Thorsnes signing was a boost for the all-important Perth match, since head coach Heather Garriock was missing Australian internationals Michelle Heyman and Ellie Carpenter away with the national team for the China series (see below). The win left Canberra United on 9 points after Week 5 and level at the top with Perth, Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets.
Australia Faces China in Two Friendlies
Australia's women's national team ended a very successful year with emphatic 3-0 and 5-1 victories at home against regional rival China. Tameka Butt scored once and Sam Kerr scored twice in Australia's 3-0 win on November 22 in Melbourne's AAMI Stadium. Sam Kerr again scored a brace, while Kyah Simon and Chloe Logarzo and an own goal by China gave the Australians the win in Geelong, outside of Melbourne.
The entire roster was currently playing in the W-League, except for German based Elise-Kellond-Knight and Caitlin Foord, who plays in Japan. Five are currently contracted with NWSL clubs but on loan to W-League sides during the professional league's off-season.
Australia Women's National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3):Lydia Williams (Melbourne City / Seattle Reign FC), Mackenzie Arnold (Brisbane Roar), Eliza Campbell (Adelaide United)
DEFENDERS (5): Steph Catley (Melbourne City / Orlando Pride), Ellie Carpenter (Canberra United), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Alanna Kennedy (Melbourne City / Orlando Pride), Laura Alleway (Melbourne Victory)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar/ Vegalta Sendai), Elise Kellond-Knight (Turbine Potsdam), Emily van Egmond (Newcastle Jets), Chloe Logarzo (Sydney FC), Tameka Butt (Brisbane Roar), Kyah Simon (Melbourne City)
FORWARDS (7): Lisa De Vanna (Sydney FC), Caitlin Foord (Vegalta Sendai), Sam Kerr (Perth Glory / Sky Blue FC), Hayley Raso (Brisbane Roar), Larissa Crummer (Melbourne City/Seattle Reign FC), Amy Harrison (Sydney FC), Michelle Heyman (Canberra United)
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