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The Week in Women's Football: NWSL 2022 Season Preview - Part 2; Melb Victory win A-League Women's play-offs;

This week, we preview the 2022 NWSL season teams who finished 2021 in 7th-10th—Houston Dash, Orlando Pride, Racing Louisville and Kansas City. We also recap the 2021/22 Women's A-League Playoffs to end the league's 14th season in Australia.

Note: Over the next few weeks, we will review the two new California expansion clubs: Angel City FC (Los Angeles) and San Diego Wave in Part 3 and look at the new league commissioner.

Part 2—NWSL 2022 Regular Season Preview (in team order per the 2021 regular season standings)

Note: Last week we previewed the Portland Thorns, OL Reign, Washington Spirit, Chicago Red Stars, NJ/NY Gotham FC and North Carolina Courage (see: The Week in Women's Football: NWSL Season Preview - Part 1; Champions League quarter-final review; - Tribal Football).

Houston Dash (9-5-10, 32 points, Seventh)

Head Coach James Clarkson has been an admirable calm port among the myriad coaching changes (11 are new from the start of 2021 season, with two new franchises) but after a Challenge Cup title win in 2020—his second season in charge—which bought him some time, the Dash absolutely must make the playoffs in 2022, for the first time ever since joining the league as the first expansion franchise in 2014. They hope to break through to the promised land of the playoffs in their ninth season (the league's tenth) but they have become viewed similarly to the Adelaide United side in the Women's A-League, which finally made it to the postseason this season in their 14th year, after struggling through years of mediocrity. Though competitive under Clarkson, the Dash shockingly lost their final three games at the end of the 2021 season when, in the end, a single point from any game would have seen them sneak into the sixth and final playoff spot. To pile it on, they failed to score in all three of those games. They even controlled their own destiny as the North Carolina Courage did not clinch the previous day on the last weekend and a single point in their game against Washington would sew up a spot. In an epic fail, Clarkson switched to a five-line defensive back bunker approach as the second half went on and it backfired due to a late Tiff Rodman goal. Once again, Houston was out, even with two more sides added to the postseason in 2022.

Given his long history with the Dynamo MLS franchise before moving over to the Dash, missing the playoffs again may not be a deal breaker for Clarkson but it would send a recurring message that the Dash is a much lower priority than the MLS Dynamo, despite holding league championship matches, international exhibitions and women's national team games and tournaments. There is also a feeling that the Dash roster is a constant carousel of players. Houston returns long-time forward and captain Rachel Daly, who is stellar and a consistent goal scorer (33 goals in 95 games through the 2021 season) since joining in 2016. Daly will miss time this season with England as the Lionesses try to win a European Championship at home. Kristie Mewis' moved to Gotham is a loss from the midfield.

American-born Mexican international Maria Sanchez played a few games on loan last summer from Tigres in Monterrey, Mexico and has made the move back to the NWSL permanently; she is an exciting addition for the midfield, joining 2020 Challenge Cup title hero Shea Groom in attack—as near to an untouchable on the roster, along with Daly and Jane Campbell in goal, as this team will ever have. Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist in Tokyo Sophie Schmidt is a workhorse in the middle of the park and hugely dependable and a fine leader to boot.

Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist forward Nichelle Prince, Michaela Abam (Texan-born who played at West Virginia University and then at Paris FC in France and Real Betis in Spain), Bri Visalli (ex-Pepperdine University and ex-West Ham and Birmingham City in England, who is an U.S. U-23 international but qualifies through parentage to play for England as well as the full level) and Makamae Gomera-Stevens (an 2021 third round draft choice from Washington State University who grew up in Hawaii and played in 13 games last season) could be a goalscoring answer but that continual feeling of turnover with this side still resides and one wonders if that has been to its detriment in the final table each year.

Their loanee from Argentinian side UAI Urgquiza, Paulina Gramaglia (19), was called into Argentina's U-20 women's national team during the April FIFA international winner. Argentina is participating in CONMEBOL's U-20 championship in La Calera, Chile from April 6-24. Gramaglia has also been capped at the full national team level. Argentina will play in Group A against Peru, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela, with the two top teams moving on to the knockout stage. She captained Argentina's U-17 national team and was named to's NXGN 2022 top 20 list of up-and-coming women's players in the world.

The Dash signed former Washington Spirit midfielder Cali Farquharson to a one-year deal just before the Challenge Cup tournament started in mid-March. She spent three seasons with the Spirit (31 appearances) from 2016-2019 but lost one season through injury. She had been a non-roster player with the Dash to start the preseason. She was drafted number 12 by Washington after playing forward at Arizona State University, where she appeared in 74 games, was second on ASU's all-time scoring list with 44 career goals and was the only player in program history to score 10 or more goals in each season. The forward was a four-time all-conference selection, earning All-Pac-12 First Team honors her senior and junior seasons and All-Pac-12 second team her sophomore year, after being named to the Pac-12 all-freshman team.

In addition, the Dash ended their loan of defender Ally Prisock to GPSO 92 in France early, so she could be available for Challenge Cup games at the end of March. Prisock, the number 12 pick in the 2019 College Draft from USC, appeared in 16 matches and started all but one during her time at GPSO 92. The loan agreement was originally to last through the end of the French League season in May.

Stability is vital for the Houston Dash in 2022; we expect that they will again be in a close race for a playoff berth, but this time end up in the top six and the postseason, utilizing the experience and momentum from last season's late collapse.

Orlando Pride (7-7-10, 28 points, Eighth)

Amanda Cromwell is the third Pride coach in the past nine months, leaving UCLA (who she led to the 2013 College Cup title); her hire is a good sign for the league as typically college coaches with her experience wouldn't leave the stability of salary and resources at universities for the professional ranks (Matt Potter in Kansas City and Chris Petrucelli in Chicago also were high profile moves from the college game in the off-season). She replaces Becky Burleigh (ex-University of Florida) who took over the Pride last summer but was recently retired from the college game and decided to not go back to coaching full-time. The Pride lost all five games after the September international break (shutout in three) to plummet down the table and were eliminated from the playoffs before the final weekend. The kicker was that the loss which eliminated Orlando was a drab 3-1 defeat to second-bottom Racing Louisville, after blowing an early lead.

On the field, the Pride traded off four international stars: Americans Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger to Gotham, Alex Morgan to San Diego and American-born New Zealand international Ali Riley to Angel City FC. They then essentially squandered their number 5 pick in the 2022 College Draft, Mia Fishel, who played for Cromwell at UCLA. Fishel followed the big money and signed with Tigres of Mexico, where she has been quite impressive over the past few months. Again, the NWSL clubs have shown that they are still woefully negligent in some instances in determining which top players from colleges are going abroad, no matter what they presume. Orlando and the NWSL may really rue missing out on Fishel, particularly as there is starting to be more movement between Liga MX Femenil clubs and Spanish sides, which would be her next likely destination rather than the NWSL.

Brazilian international legend Marta and former U.S. international Sydney Leroux remain as core leaders, with Leroux being stellar last year. However, in an early season Challenge Cup loss to North Carolina away on March 26 (1-0), the Brazilian international injured a knee and will have surgery, saying on Instagram that she will be, "out of the field for a while." She is very likely to miss CONMEBOL Women's World Cup qualifying in Colombia this summer, but Brazil—led by former U.S. and Swedish international head coach Pia Sundhage—has enough talent that they should qualify automatically as one of the top three finishers in the tournament (with the next two nations advancing to the Intercontinental Play-ins). Icelandic international Gunny Jonsdottir is popular but hasn't set the score sheet alight (2 goals and 6 assists in 52 matches through 2020 and 1 goal and 2 assists last season) since coming to the league with the Utah Royals in 2018. Darian Jenkins (27) came from the Kansas City Current, where she scored three goals last season, and could be a nice addition in attack; Jenkins has also played at NC Courage, the Seattle Reign as well as for Melbourne Victory in Australia and Bordeaux in France on loan. Attacking wingback and Spanish international Celia Jimenez Delgado has joined from OL Reign and also spent time on loan in Australia with Perth Glory and France with Olympique Lyon.

English imports and former international defender Amy Turner (30) returns for her second season after moving from Manchester United and played in 14 games last season. English international midfielder Jade Moore (31) is taking her half-century of caps back to England after a brief stay in America. After signing in early 2020 from Reading, where she spent four seasons in the WSL, Orlando's Challenge Cup season was cancelled due to a COVID flare up; in 2021 she did not play at all in the regular season due to a knee injury she received during the preseason 2021 Challenge Cup tournament; Moore signed in late January with Manchester United and former head coach Marc Skinner, who originally wanted her for the Pride when he was coaching in the city. Welsh international Angharad James is a useful pickup for 2022 in the Alex Morgan trade with San Diego; she had one goal in 17 games last season with the Courage.

The Pride will undoubtedly miss the playoffs (particularly with Marta's injury) for the fourth season in succession and fifth out of six campaigns in the NWSL. Cromwell—a former national team player who won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1996 and played for three different WUSA teams and Hammarby of Sweden—knows the game well and it will be interesting to see her additions over time, expected primarily to come from Americans abroad.

Racing Louisville FC (5-7-12, 21 points, Ninth)

Racing Louisville was a success off the field in 2021 as an expansion team but head coach Christy Holly was terminated for cause at the end of August, again with inappropriate comments/behavior allegations but still not yet fully revealed. Kim Bjorkegren from Sweden was hired in the off-season and is a curious choice, with only a short spell spent with Linkorping (albeit winning the Damallsvenskan in 2017 with a loaded team that Scooby Doo and Shaggy as coach could have won with) and time spent in Cyprus (really? Even if they played in the UEFA Champions League, that seems a bit of an obscure place to find a NWSL coach) and China. His selection was as puzzling to followers of the Damallsvenskan at home in Sweden as it was in the U.S. This hire feels like "Have Coach Will Travel," which could be soon if the team doesn't make a serious push for the playoffs this year.

Unlike Kansas City (see below) the 2021 expansion side in Kentucky was competitive and their attack at times was special, with young English forward Ebony Salmon—who got off to a fast start with three goals in her first five games and finished with six in 20 appearances—and veteran Danish international forward (and recently graduated medical doctor) Nadia Nadim. Nadim suffered a season-ending knee injury in September and is expected back in Mary, early in the regular season, after the Challenge Cup tournament in March and April. Nadim was vibrant in attack with three goals in eight matches before her injury.

Jaelin Howell, who many thought would be the top pick in the 2022 College Draft by San Diego Wave, was available for Louisville when Casey Stoney selected Naomi Girma (ex-Stanford University and a U.S. youth international) for her defense. Racing also selected midfielder Savannah DeMelo of USC in Los Angeles with the fourth pick in the draft. Together with Emily Fox (ex-University of North Carolina—who was superb at full back last season) as well as Salmon, Racing has young talent to mix with holdovers and U.S. international Jess McDonald (ex-NC Courage), who can link up with former clubmate Kristen Hamilton in attack; the latter was traded mid-last season and scored one goal for each side.

Another add from Bjorklund's Cyprus days is defender Julia Lester, who transferred from Björkegren's former club Apollon Ladies FC, by including her in their league discovery list. Lester then signed a two-year contract with an option for the 2024 season. Björkegren said about Lester, "Julia is a good player with amazing pace. She was the captain of my previous team, Apollon Ladies, has played in the UEFA Women's Champions League and won two titles in Cyprus. Her personality will suit in the group perfectly because she is a humble, hardworking player."

Over the course of two seasons playing for Björkegren at their former club, Lester worked on a defensive unit that conceded only 14 goals in 31 Cypriot First Division matches. She also made the league's Best XI in 2021. Lester scored in her final match in Cyprus, helping Apollon Ladies secure a league trophy with a 14-1-0 (W-T-L) record for their season. Lester made six UEFA Women's Champions League appearances, starting each of those games. Apollon Ladies have also won their most recent domestic Super Cup and advanced to their league cup final. Lester played collegiately at the University of Florida

Racing Louisville FC also signed forward Sh'Nia Gordon, who starred collegiately at West Virginia University and last played professionally for Russian club CSKA Moscow; she inked a two-year contract with Racing. Gordon left CSKA after FIFA ruled that foreign players and coaches on contracts with Russian clubs may void their deals in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. She spent the past seven months in Moscow with the two-time Russian Women's Football Championship winners and UEFA Women's Champions League qualifiers. Gordon explained her move, "This is my first time being back in America in two and a half years, and I'm really excited. I've always wanted to play in the NWSL, but first I wanted to play overseas. That's why I went to France—that was my dream. But long-term, I always thought about returning to America, and this was just perfect timing."

Before her time with CSKA, she totaled 7 goals and 4 assists for French club Dijon FCO's ninth-place finish in the top flight during the 2020-21 campaign. In the 2019-20 season, she played 16 matches as a first-year professional for French first-division side FC Metz, where she scored three goals. At CSKA, Gordon made two appearances in Champions League qualifiers, including 45 minutes in a loss to Kim Björkegren's Apollon Ladies.

Björkegren said, "Sh'Nia is a winger with great pace and power. I saw her already a couple of years ago, and this last year she played for CSKA Moscow, a team we played against in the Champions League with my former club. She has proven her level in different leagues, and we're excited to see her in the NWSL with us."

Louisville conceded a league-worst 40 goals in 24 games last season. Michelle Betos is gone (to Gotham FC) and the club is banking on young goalkeeper Katie Lund as the long-term starter. Lund played at Texas Christian University and the University of Arkansas and scored the winning penalty kick while saving four when Louisville defeated German powerhouse FC Bayern Munich in the Women's Cup Final last summer in Louisville. She went 1-2-1 (W-D-L) late in the season as the starter.

English international Gemma Bonner should be more impactful this season than in 2021 when she only played in 12 games after signing in April; she was not able to join the team until June because of delays due to COVID. Bonner played for WSL power Manchester City for the past three seasons. She likely will be able to play for Racing through the EUROS Finals this summer as she has not been selected by England's national team since 2019.

Swedish U-17 and U-19 international Freja Olofsson (23) was solid in the Louisville midfield last year, starting 20 of her 22 appearances. She should be comfortable with her new Swedish coach, having joined the club after five seasons at Orebro at home (interrupted by one year at Arna-Bjornar of Norway).

Just after the start of the NWSL Challenge Cup this season, Racing paid Birmingham City of the WSL for defender Rebecca Holloway, who they signed to a two-year contract. Holloway played over 50 matches for the Blues since joining them in 2019. She played collegiately in the States at Tennessee's Cumberland University in 2017 and 2018 and in the WPSL with the Nashville Rhythm in 2019. Holloway (26) was born in England but plays internationally for Northern Ireland and has three goals and three assists in 2023 Women's World Cup Qualifiers. She was called into the Irish side for the WWC qualifiers this month in Austria on April 8 and a huge match at home against England on April 12.

Northern Ireland International defender Rebecca Holloway has been transferred from Birmingham City (above) across the pond to Racing Louisville of the NWSL. Photo: courtesy of Birmingham City.

Louisville ranked second in the league in attendance in 2021 with over 6,500 fans and a good performance on the field this season should increase that total, if COVID restrictions are ceased for the entire regular season. Don't bet on them making the playoffs and an equal or worse record than in 2021 could see Bjorklund heading off to parts unknown to find a job in another country and league. Again, with the D.C. Spirit as a model from the last few years, Racing are building nicely around young talent, intermixed with some veterans from the U.S. and abroad.

Interestingly, Racing will have a team in the summer semiprofessional W-League, which could become a trend among the NWSL teams to create a formal reserve team structure; a few teams have used WPSL sides (for example the Chicago Red Stars utilized the Chicago Red Eleven successfully for years) She was called into the Irish side for the WWC qualifiers this month in Austria on April 8 and a huge match at home against England on April 12.

Kincaid Schmidt, a U.S. 'A' License holder who will coach Racing's W League side after spending last year with the academy program, explained, "Now that the divisions and schedule have been officially announced, everyone can see that the league is on track to be an integral piece of the women's professional development pathway in this country. For Racing to be one of the clubs involved from its inception affirms our commitment to develop players capable of playing at the highest levels of soccer. We have a strong division with terrific clubs, and it will certainly make for entertaining and tightly contested games. I can't wait to begin our work on the field and to showcase our talent to the community." Schmidt had previously worked for seven years at the Colorado Rapids youth soccer club and played at Flager College in Florida. Along with Schmidt, the new side will have an all-female staff which includes Louisville native Libby Stout (assistant coach), who played goalkeeper at Western Kentucky and then in France, Germany, England, Cyprus and with the NWSL Boston Breakers; since 2018 Stout has been an assistant coach to the women's team at Southern Illinois University. Kiley Polk, who played at the University of Louisville, will be the team administrator.

Kansas City Current (3-7-14, 16 points, 10th place)

Kansas City NWSL was the operating name in 2021 but was changed to the Kansas City Current at the end of last season. In 2021, they returned to Kansas City after three seasons in Utah and was an unmitigated disaster on the field in 2022 under Welsh coach Hue Williams, finishing bottom of the league; they didn't win their first game until 14 games through in the 2021 regular season. They have made a number of tremendous off-field decisions, including the new name Current, moving from a baseball stadium and playing temporarily in MLSSporting Kansas City's Children's Mercy Park until their own purpose build 11,000 seat downtown stadium is finished for the 2024 season. A new training facility will open later this season.

The team should be streets better on the field this season and has a new coach in Mere, England native Matt Potter, who also coached the U-23 women's national team and at Washington State University (3 NCAA Playoff appearances in his last four seasons; he coached at WSU from 2003 through 2011) and then at the University of Oklahoma from 2012 through 2019 (2 NCAA Playoff appearances). For the past two years he has been the full-time U.S. Soccer women's national team U-23 coach and was an opponent's scout for the Americans at the 2019 WWC in France. Hue Williams is now in the front office, after a long-time role with FC Kansas City as a successful general manager before the team moved to Utah for the 2018 season.

Adrianna Franch (31) was stellar in goal in Portland and will start her first full season in her home state (she is from Salina, Kansas) while Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams arrive from the NC Courage and will add much experience to the side. Williams can combine in attack with Kristen Hamilton, who came from the Courage mid-last season and had 1 goal in 14 games after scoring once in 10 appearances with the Courage—Hamilton scored 9 in the 2019 season and 7 after that season on loan at Western Sydney Wanderers, who made the playoffs for the only time in their history while both Williams and Hamilton were on the side. Unfortunately, Williams will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a knee injury in the Challenge Cup opener for the Current, a 1-1 tie away to Racing Louisville on March 18. Williams scored seven goals last season for the Courage and played at last summer's Olympic Games Finals, winning a bronze medal; she will be a loss for both the Current and the Americans in a WWC qualification year. We hope that her recovery is swift and successful as both the Current and the Americans can utilize her scoring talents, particularly with the 2023 World Cup looming in just over a year's time.

KC were shutout 13 times and scored only 15 goals in 24 games in 2021 but should be much better in the back, starting with Franch and Cassie Miller (26), the ex-Florida State University keeper who started much of the season in Chicago last year and played with PSV in the Netherlands and Apollon in Cyprus. Hallie Mace is a fourth addition from the Courage, though newer (in North Carolina only during the2021 season) and without a league title behind her name in the NWSL, though she won a Damallsvenskan title in 2019 in Sweden with Rosengard of Malmo.

Lo'eau LaBonta and Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Desiree Scott are solid in midfield but Scottish international centerback Rachel Corsie—who played in the NWSL since 2015, first coming to the Seattle Reign for three years before joining the Utah/KC franchise—has returned to Europe with Aston Villa. She was also a key leader for the NWSL Players' Association and will be missed on and off the field. Kristen Edmonds (ex-Rutgers University, who won a league title in Iceland and played in Russia) is an underrated defensive midfielder who played six years in Orlando and is in her second season in Kansas City.

Mallory Weber is quite strong as a midfield general and is still remembered fondly for her two seasons with Adelaide United in Australia; she seems to get better every year and has an engine that won't quit. Fellow midfielder Victoria Pickett has seen action for the full Canadian national team and was called into the squad for April matches against Nigeria in British Colombia. She played at the University of Wisconsin and, as a rookie last season, played in 19 matches during the regular season. She also played for Canada at the U-20 Women's World Cup Finals in 2014, which was hosted by her nation as a warm-up for the 2015 WWC Finals.

Just into the Challenge Cup season, the Current made a good signing with Jamaican international goalkeeper Sydney Schneider (22) inking one-year contract with a one-year option. Schneider is entering her second professional season after being selected by the Washington Spirit with the 29th overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft. The New Jersey native has 19 appearances for the Jamaican National Team. In 2018, Schneider led the Reggae Girlz to a third-place finish in the CONCACAF Women's Championship and a berth in the 2019 FIFA World Cup. Schneider played 44 games for the University of North Carolina-Wilmington from 2017-2019, only missing a few games in 2018 while playing for Jamaica. In 2019 she was First-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association and the first-ever recipient of the CAA Goalkeeper of the Year award.

We should see improvement in Kansas City over 2021 and Matt Potter is a very well-respected coach, but the Current is probably a year off from a playoff spot—check back in 2023.

2021/22 A-League Women Playoffs in Australia

Melbourne Victory, who squeaked into the 2021/22 A-League Women playoffs in the last round of the Regular season on goal difference over Perth Glory, romped through their three playoff matches and captured their second consecutive Grand Final win, again upsetting Premiership titlists Sydney FC.


In the battle between the top two teams in the regular season, Melbourne City (second) had built a 2-0 lead against host and Premiership winners Sydney FC with only a half-hour left, after a brace by New Zealand international forward Hannah Wilkinson (21' and 58'). Sydney stormed back in the last twenty minutes with a goal by second half substitute Cortnee Vine in the 73rd minute, who didn't start because of a calf injury from their game the week before. City's Serbian international Tyla-Jay Vlajnic was sent off for a straight red card for pulling down the last attacker and then Sydney substitute and Chilean international Maria Rojas tied up the match in the 91st minute. Sydney advanced to the Grand Final for the fifth consecutive season with a goal in overtime by second half substitute defender Sarah Hunter (18)—her first of the season—and then Vine scored from a Rojas assist to extend the lead to 4-2 seven minutes from the end of overtime. Goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri-Hudson was also sent off for City late in the overtime session for handling a ball outside of the penalty area and missed the Preliminary Final, as did Vlajnic. The loss to Sydney was their first post-season loss in Melbourne City's history; they had only surrendered two goals in eight playoff games—all ending with Grand Final victories.

In the other semifinal on March 13, Melbourne Victory forward Lia Privitelli gave her club the lead in the 29th minute with an assist from American forward Cat Zimmerman. Three minutes later Adelaide, against the run of play, tied the match through a brilliant 30-meter free kick goal by Japanese import Nanako Sasaki, which edged in off the crossbar. Melina Ayers (22), who only played 16 minutes this season due to an injury, started the game and scored in the 57th minute when she was left completely unmarked as she ran into the penalty box and hit a Privitelli cross on the volley to score the second goal. Ayers led the Victory last season with 8 goals in 14 matches.

Preliminary Final

In the first season utilizing the Preliminary Final or second chance for top finishing teams, which is used in the men's A-League and other Australian football codes, Melbourne Victory jumped to a 2-0 halftime lead over Melbourne City on goals by Melina Ayers (her second in two games), and New Zealand international defender Claudia Bunge on March 20. In the 53rd minute, Ayers assisted Lea Privitelli on her fifth goal of the season for a 3-0 lead. Tori Tumeth (21) scored her first ever A-League Women goal in the 80th minute, in her second season at City, to reduce the deficit to 3-1, which ended up being the final score.


On Sunday March 27, Melbourne Victory won its second consecutive A-League Women's Grand Final with a 2-1 victory in a absolutely riveting match in Sydney. In the first half, Sydney controlled play for the majority of the time. Then Melbourne grabbed the lead in the 49th minute when midfielder Amy Jackson scored on a header close to goal following a brilliant Kyra Cooney-Cross lofted ball from the other side of the penalty box. Jackson (34), has now won a record six league championships—three with Melbourne City. Then Cat Zimmerman scored from a deflected shot by Melina Ayers in the 64th minute.

Cortnee Vine scored her ninth goal of the season two minutes later but Sydney couldn't repeat their comeback from a 2-0 deficit as they did against City in the semifinal. Melbourne Victory were not to be denied of their third title (from four Grand Finals) and a record fourth league crown for head coach Jeff Hopkins, who won two titles in the early years of the league with Brisbane Roar. For Sydney, they have been in five consecutive Grand Finals but won only once, in 2018/19 in a 4-2 win over Perth Glory.

Melbourne Victory's Cooney-Cross and Nevin join Hammarby in Sweden

Melbourne Victory midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross and defender Courtney Nevin—both 20 years of age—are moving to the Swedish Damallsvenskan for the 2022 season, joining Hammarby of Stockholm after the Grand Final. Cooney-Cross and Nevin were first capped at the senior level in the summer of 2021 and were on the 2022 Women's Asian Cup Finals team earlier this year in India. Cooney-Cross was on Hammarby's radar (as well as other teams in Scandinavia) for years.

Nevin has been a revelation this season, her first with Melbourne Victory after playing in New South Wales at the state league level and for three seasons with Western Sydney Wanderers; Nevin scored once in 15 games with MV. Cooney-Cross is in her fifth season in the league, all with the Victory except in 2019/20 when she played at Western Sydney Wanderers. She scored one goal this season but is leaving the A-League Women with 13 career goals in 56 matches; Cooney-Cross will forever be remembered for her winning goal in last season's Grand Final (1-0) in the 120th minute, directly from a corner kick.

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 yours copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

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