As featured on NewsNow: Football news

The Week in Women's Football: UEFA Champions League Round of 32 preview: Lugano emphasis on US recruitment;

This week we look at the 16 ties in the UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 32 in September. As we did for the Qualification Group Stage, we again look at key players, particularly imports on the team rosters. We also give our perspective on Lugano of Switzerland, which has received attention in the States as 16 of the players are young American imports who are primarily just out of college, while the one English import on the side also played college football in the States.



2019/20 UEFA Women's Champions League Round of 32 Wrap-up Qualifiers

Breidablik versus Sparta Prague

Breidablik of Iceland, who won Group 1 in the WCL Qualification Round of 40 teams, had a tough tie versus Sparta Prague, who are appearing in their 16th UEFA club tournament and advanced to the Round of 16 eight times and the quarterfinals once in 2005-06. On September 11, Briedablik won narrowly 3-2 over Sparta at Kopavigur. The 2018-19 Icelandic champions used a brace from forward Berglind Thorvaldsdottir, who has 8 goals in the competition including the three qualification round matches, while the winner in the 80th minute came from midfielder Karolina Vilhjalmsdottir, after Sparta Prague's American import ChristinaBurkenroad replied with a first half brace. On September 26, Breidablik won 1-0 away with a 55th minute goal from Thorvaldsdottir to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Breidablik of Iceland used an entirely domestic-based squad except for Fjolla Shala, a 26-year-old defender who grew up in Iceland and played internationally at the youth level for Iceland before joining the full Kosovo national team this year.

Sparta Prague had 6 imports on their UEFA Champions League roster, five from the U.S. and one from Cyprus:

Megan Dorsey (G)—United States. The 27-year-old was on the Orlando Pride roster in 2016 after finishing her collegiate career at the University of North Florida; she backstopped Sparta to their league championship this past season.

Jackie Simpson (D)—United States. She played at the University of Central Florida and then at Tenerife in Spain for two seasons and is 24-years-old.

Clare Pleuler (M)—United States. The 25-year-old played at Boston University and spent some time in Sweden outside the top-flight Damallsvenskan.

Christiana Solomou (M)—Cyprus. The 26-year old played for years at Apollon in Cyprus and spent two years at Central Connecticut State University in the U.S.

Jorian Baucom (F)—United States. The 23-year-old ex-University of Colorado and Louisiana State University forward has U.S. youth national team experience and was a Houston Dash fill-in player while internationals were away this summer, but did not appear in any matches.

Christina Burkenroad (F)—United States. The 26-year-old played at Cal State-Fullerton and then for a year and a half with the Orlando Pride before moving to Europe to play with Bode in Norway. She joined Sparta ahead of last season and helped the club to its first league crown in five seasons.

Mitrovica versus Wolfsburg

Qualification Round 2 winners Mitrovica of Kosovo hosted Wolfsburg of Germany on September 11, with the Germans coming away with a 10-0 victory, powered by a hat-trick by Danish international Pernille Harder with one of her tallies coming from the penalty spot. On September 25, Wolfsburg won the home leg 5-0, with another tally from Harder to take tie by a 15-0 aggregate advantage over Mitrovica.

Wolfsburg has 12 imports from 9 other European countries, with 2 each from Sweden, Norway and Switzerland:

Hedvig Lindahl (G)—Sweden. She moved in July from Chelsea to join Wolfsburg. She won a bronze medal at this summer's Women's World Cup and was one of the stars of the tournament. She has played in four World Cups.

Dominique Bloodworth (D)—Netherlands. The 24-year-old defender has played for the Netherlands in the last two World Cups and with the 2017 EUROS winners. She joined Wolfsburg this season from Arsenal, after winning the FA Super League title there this spring.

Noelle Maritz (D)—Switzerland/ She played in the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada on her nation's debut at the tournament and was born in California and moved to Switzerland when she was 10.

Zsanett Jakabfi (M)—Hungary. She joined Wolfsburg at decade ago from MTK Hungaria.

Claudia Neto (M)—Portugal. She captained Portugal in the 2017 EUROS and was hugely influential in Linkopings domestic success in Sweden while she played there.

Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir (M)—Iceland. She won four Damallsvenskan titles in her time at Rosengard and played for her country in the last 3 European championships.

Fridolina Rolfo (M)—Sweden. She is in her first year at Wolfsburg after three years at Bayern Munich, following seasons at home in Linkoping. She played for Sweden at the Women's World Cup in France.

Ingrid Syrstad Engen (M)—Norway. The 21-year-old—who was on the Norwegian Women's World Cup team this year—is playing abroad for the first time, joining from Lillestrom.

Kristine Minde (M)—Norway. The 27-year-old was another Norwegian 2019 Women's World Cup player, who is in her third year with Wolfsburg after having moved from Linkoping of Sweden.

Lara Dickenmann (M)—Switzerland. She went to Ohio State University and played for years at Olympique Lyon in France.

Ewa Pajor (F)—Poland. The Polish international is in her fifth season with Wolfsburg.

Pernille Harder (F)—Denmark. She is in her fourth season at Wolfsburg after playing with Rosengard in Sweden.

Lindahl and Rolfo of Sweden, Minde and Engen of Norway and Bloodworth of the Netherlands all advanced with their 2019 Women's World Cup teams to at least the quarterfinal stage, with the Netherlands making the final and Sweden capturing third.

KFF Mitrovica of Kosovo had seven Albanians in their 2019/20 UEFA Champions League team sheet, see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-a-comprehensive-review-of-champions-league-qualifying-rounds-groups-1-5-4293368.

Hibernian versus Slavia Prague

On September 11, Slavia Prague defeated Qualifying Group 3 Winners Hibernian in Scotland 4-1, with Czech Republic international Tereza Kozarova (who has won 8 league titles with Slavia and Sparta Prague) scoring a hat-trick, even though Hibs had the initial lead from 25-year-old Siobhan Hunter—an international at the full and youth level who has won 5 league crowns with Hibs—in the 3rd minute until Kozarova's first goal in the 36th minute. Kozarova added two more goals in Slavia Prague's 5-1 win in the return leg on September 25, for a 9-2 aggregate win.

Slavia Prague, who are participating in their seventh WCL tournament (sixth in a row) and made the quarterfinals three times—including last season where they fell to Bayern Munich 6-1 on aggregate after knocking out Gintra of Lithuania (7-0 on aggregate) and Rosengard of Sweden (3-2 on aggregate) in earlier rounds.

Slavia had 5 imports, two from Slovakia and one each from Canada, Sweden and Jamaica:

Kylla Sjoman (D)—Canada. She had a couple of international appearances and is a former Arizona State University defender who played with Doncaster Rovers and Sunderland in England, Celtic in Scotland, Herforder SV in Germany and moved to the Czech Republic in 2018.

Deneisha Blackwood (D)—Jamaica. A Jamaica 2019 Women's World Cup team member; she played at Navarro College and University of West Florida

Mia Persson (M)—Sweden. The 29-year-old is in her first season abroad after playing for years with Limhamn Bunkeflo 07 at home, including the last three seasons in the Damallsvenskan after winning the Elitettan title and promotion in 2016.

Diana Bartovicova (M)—Slovakia. The Slovakian international (26) has been with Slavia since 2012, winning three consecutive league titles from 2014-15 through 2016-17.

Laura Zemberyova (M)—Slovakia. The 18-year-old is a Slovakian U-19 international.

Hibernian of Scotland's 23 player roster for the 2019-20 Women's Champions League Qualification and Round of 32 Round were all home-based.


FC Minsk versus FC Zurich

Qualification Group 4 winnersFC Minsk of Belarus took a narrow 1-0 home victory over FC Zurich of Switzerland through a 21st minute goal from their Nigerian international Emueje Ogbiagbevha on September 11.Minsk FC won the away leg on September 26 with a brace from Ogbiagbevha to take the tie 4-1 on aggregate.

FC Minsk was featured last month in Tribal Football.com—see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-a-comprehensive-review-of-champions-league-qualifying-rounds-groups-1-5-4293368.

Zurich had an entirely Swiss national squad except for two imports:

Erica Cunningham (D)—United States. The 26-year-old played at the University of San Francisco.

Ana Maria Markovic (F)—Croatia (19)


ZFK Spartak Subotica versus Atletico Madrid

ŽFK Spartak Subotica of Serbia won Group 5 in the Qualification Stage and met Atletico Madrid, the three-time reigning Spanish champions in the Round of 32. On September 12, Spartak fell at home to Atletico Madrid 3-2, with Brazil's Ludmila Da Silva—who played with her country in France last summer at the Women's World Cup—scoring twice for the winners. After Spartak captain Violeta Slovic scored from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime and Tijana Matic again tied up the match for the Serbians in the 79th minute, midfielder Virginia Torrecilla scored the winner for Atletico in the 90th minute.

In the second leg on September 26 in Spain, Atletico Madrid tied Spartak 1-1 to take the tie 4-3 on aggregate, with all credit to the Serbian side for giving the Spanish champions a battle. Kayla Adamek of Canada scored in the 56th minute to knot the series 3-3, though Spartak needed another goal to win as they had surrendered two away goals to Atletico in the first leg. American substitute Kylie Strom scored Atletico's fourth goal in the 83rd minute.

Atletico Madrid had 12 imports on their UEFA roster: three from CONCACAF, two from CONMEBOL, one from Asia (Australia) and the other six from UEFA—two from Ukraine and four from other nations:

Sari van Veenendaal (G)—Netherlands. She won the EUROS in 2017 and finished as surprising runner-up at the World Cup this past summer. She played 5 seasons at Arsenal and moved this summer after her contract expired. She helped Arsenal win the league title before she left in 2018-19.

Kenti Robles (D)—Mexico. The 28-year-old has been playing in Spain for half of her life and won 3 league titles at Barcelona and 2 at Atletico. She has also played internationally for Catalonia in non-FIFA aligned events.

Natiya Pantsulaya (D)—Ukraine. The occasional Ukrainian international left her home country to move to Turkey to play with ALG Spor in Gaziantep last season, which finished surprising runners-up in the season after promotion, before joining Madrid this summer.

Elena Linari (D)—Italy. An international and 2019 WWC squad member is in her second season in Madrid after winning 3 titles in Italy at Fiorentina and Brescia.

Kylie Allyssa Strom (D)—United States 27. The former U.S. U-23 internationally played collegiately at Boston University, a short time with the Boston Breakers in 2016 in the NWSL and abroad with Frankfurt in Germany (briefly) and the past two seasons with Sparta Prague.

Aissatou Tounkara (D)—The 24-year-old is a French international at the full and multiple youth levels; she is in her second season at Atletico after transferring from Paris FC. She was on the side at the 2017 EUROS and 2019 Women's World Cups, though she didn't play in the latter.

Alex Chidiac (M)—Australia 20—She is in her second season with the reigning Spanish league champions, having transferred from Adelaide City and was a somewhat surprising omission from Ante Milicic's 2019 Matilda WWC team.

Ludmila Da Silva (F)—Brazil 24. She is in her third season in Madrid after joining from Sao Jose at home and was on the national side in France this summer.

Charlyn Corral (F)—Mexico 28. She joined Atletico this season from Levante where she scored over 45 league goals the past two seasons

Olha Ovdiychuk (F)—Ukraine 25. A new recruit this season from Ukraine's Zhytlobud-1 Kharkiv, where she won four consecutive league titles from 2012-2015 and two more in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Toni Duggan (F)—England. The 28-year-old striker is formerly of Everton and Manchester City; she joined Atletico after two seasons at Barcelona and played in the Women's World Cup this past summer, her second World Cup tournament.

Leicy Santos (F)—Colombia 23. A 2015 WWC team member and played collegiately at Iowa Central Community College; she joined Atletico from Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia.

Spartak Subotica of Serbia went primarily with a home-based roster, supplemented by six North Americans who ranged from ages 21 to 24; see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-a-comprehensive-review-of-champions-league-qualifying-rounds-groups-1-5-4293368.

BIIK-Kazygurt versus Anderlecht

In the only match between two Qualification stage group winners,BIIK-Kazygurt of Kazakhstan of Group 6 was drawn with Group 8 winners Anderlccht. On September 12, Kyrgyzstan international Alina Litvinenko scored a penalty in the 53rd minute for the visitors from Kazakhstan after defender Sheryl Merchiers of Anderlecht fouled Kazakhstan international Yekaterina Bashuk. Anderlecht tied through Britt Vanhamel's 71st minute goal. Merchiers sent the corner into Vanhamel for the goal to knot up the match at 1-1, which is how it finished.

In the return on September 25, Litvinenko scored again, from the penalty spot in the 85th minute, after 23-year-old American Kennedy Rose scored in the first half to lead BIIK to a 2-0 win and a 3-1 aggregate win. BIIK has now made the Round of 16 for the third season in the last four.

This year BIIK has one Algerian/Canadian, five Americans, three from Africa and one each from Georgia and Serbia. Anderlecht used three imports—two from Romania and one from Portugal, including the well-known and well-traveled Romanian international forward Laura Rus. For summaries of both teams, see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-a-comprehensive-review-of-champions-league-qualifying-rounds-groups-6-10-4294666.

Braga versus Paris St. Germain

Women's Champions League debutants and Group 7winnersBraga of Portugal was drawn with powerhouse Paris St. Germain of France. PSG won 7-0 in Portugal on September 12, with Marie-Antoinette Katoto—who was a late omission from France's WWC side this summer by coach Corinne Diacre—scoring a hat-trick, once from the penalty spot, along with a brace from their new 18-year-old Canadian international forward Jordan Huitema (both coming in injury time) along with singles from 41-year-old Brazilian internationals Formiga and fellow Brazilian Diani. Braga went to Paris SG on September 26 and finished with a significant 0-0 tie, which left the aggregate at 7-0 but was still quite an achievement for the WCL debutants from Portugal.

PSG's 12 imports include 2 from Poland, 2 from Canada and 1 each from Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden:

Katarzyna Kiedrzynek (G)—Poland

Christiane Endler (G)—Chile

Arianna Criscione (G)—Italy

Hanna Glas (D)—Sweden

Paulina Dudek (D)—Poland

Irene Paredes (D)—Spain

Nadia Nadim (M)—Denmark

Ashley Lawrence (M)—Canada

Sara Dabritz (M)—Germany

Karina Saevik (M)—Norway

Formiga (M)—Brazil

Jordyn Huitema (F)—Canada

Braga of Portugal had two Brazilians, three Americans and single imports from Nigeria, the Republic of Ireland and Venezuela. See: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-a-comprehensive-review-of-champions-league-qualifying-rounds-groups-6-10-4294666.


FC Twente versus St. Polten

FC Twente of the Netherlands won Group 9 in the Qualification Stage and was drawn with St. Polten of Austria. Twente won the first leg away 4-2, with their 19-year old striker Fenna Kalma scoring a hat-trick, including a penalty. Kalma joined Twente this summer from Heerenveen of the Netherlands, where she was a consistent goal scorer. In the second leg in the Netherlands on September 25th, Kalma scored again but St. Polten won the game 2-1 on tallies by Bernadett Zagor and Maria Mikloajova, with Twente narrowing advancing to the Round of 16 5-4 on aggregate. Zagor also scored in the first leg. Twente also advanced to the Round of 16 in 2015-16 and 2016-17, the last seasons that they competed in the WCL.

Twente's roster contained all Dutch nationals except for 20-year old forward Davinia Vanmechelen of Belgium. See: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-a-comprehensive-review-of-champions-league-qualifying-rounds-groups-6-10-4294666.

St Polten used 7 imports, primarily from Eastern Europe—with 2 from Hungary, 2 from Slovakia and one each from Croatia and Slovenia, along with one from Switzerland:

Leonarda Balog (D)—Croatia

Alexandra Biroova (D)—Slovakia

Mira Mikolajova (M)—Slovakia

Isabelle Meyer (M)—Switzerland. The 32-year-old Meyer is a Swiss international who has played for years in Germany with SC Sand and Freiberg, and is in her first season in Austria.

Mateja Zver (M)—Slovenia

Bernadett Zagor (F)—Hungary. The 29-year-old Hungarian international has won the last two league titles with St. Polten.

Vanessza Nagy (F)—Hungary

Vllaznia versus Fortuna

Qualification Stage Group 10 winners Vllaznia of Albania faced off against Fortuna of Denmark in the Round of 32 on September 11, with the visiting Danes winning 1-0 on a 67th minute goal from 20-year old Caroline Moeller. Fortuna advanced on September 25 with a 2-0 victory to win the tie 3-0 on aggregate. Caroline Moeller again was on the scoresheet, with her second tally of the match from the penalty spot.

Vllaznia of Shkoder has won the last six Albanian League and Cup titles. They have participated in the Women's Champions League now nine times—including their direct descendent Ada Velipoje, who disbanded in 2013—and this year was the first time they have advanced from the Qualification stage, with only 5 wins prior to this season..

Vllaznia of Albania's imports included four Americans and two from neighboring country Montenegro; see: (https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-a-comprehensive-review-of-champions-league-qualifying-rounds-groups-6-10-4294666).

Fortuna has always imported heavily and this year has one import each from Finland, Norway, South Africa and the United States.

Kelsey Daugherty (G)—United States. The 22 –year-old started both Round of 32 games. She played collegiately at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and for the Long Island Rough Riders in the UWS summer league.

Laila Himle (D)—Norway. She is in her second season with Fortuna, after playing at home with Sandviken, Avaldsnes and Arna-Bjornar.

Janine Van Wyk (D)—South Africa. The 2019 WWC Captain for South Africa in France played the past two seasons in the NWSL with the Houston Dash.

Sanni Franssi (F)—Finland. The 24-year-old Finnish international scoring star is in her second season at Fortuna, after playing one season at Juventus in 2017/18, where she had 10 goals on the season. She also played a short time at FC Zurich in Switzerland the previous season after years with PK-35 at home.


The other matches were between sides that had byes to the Round of 32.

Ryazan-VDV versus Olympique Lyon

In the first leg on September 11, Olympique Lyon of France blasted their Russian hosts Ryazan-VDV 9-0, with hat-tricks from Ada Hederberg (one from the penalty spot) and French international Captain Wendie Renard. In the home leg on September 25, Lyon won 7-0 to advance 16-0 on aggregate, with braces from Hederberg and new English international signing Nikata Parris in the second leg.

Ryazan had mostly Russian nations on their squad, with two imports from Serbia and two from Azerbiajan:

Aleksandra Lazarevic (D)—Serbia

Marija Vukovic (F)—Serbia

Male Mollayeva (D)—Azerbaijan

Vusala Seyfatdinova (M)—Azerbaijan

Lyon, besides the bulk of the French national side, has 13 imports from throughout Europe, including 4 from England, 2 from Germany, and one each from Belgium, Germany Netherland, Norway and Portugal, along with one from CONCACAF (Canada) and one from Asia (Japan):

Lisa Weiss (G)—Germany

Katriina Talaslahti (G)—Finland

Lucy Bronze (D)—England

Alex Greenwood (D)—England

Kadeisha Buchanan (D)—Canada

Janice Cayman (D)—Belgium

Saki Kumagai (M)—Japan

Isobel Christiansen (M)—England

Dzsenifer Marozsan (M)—Germany

Shanice van de Sanden (F)—Netherlands

Ada Hegerberg (F)—Norway

Nakita Parris (F)—England

Jessica Silva (F)—Portugal

Chertanovo of Russia versus Glasgow City

On September 11, Scotland's Glasgow City won a crucial first leg match over Chertanovo in Russia 1-0, on an early goal (11th minute) by Hayley Lauder, who earned her 100th cap for Scotland during her side's inaugural Women's World Cup in France. Lauder has played in Cyprus with Apollon, in Finland with Aland United, then Sweden with Mallbackens and Vittsjo, before joining Glasgow City in late 2014. Chertanovo was appearing in the Women's Champions League for the first time. On September 26, Glasgow City won the home leg 4-1 to win the tie 5-1 on aggregate. Lauder scored a brace for City, which has advanced to the Round of 16 for the fifth time and second time in two years. They have made the Quarterfinals once—in 2014-15—when they fell to Paris SG 7-0 on aggregate.

Chertanovo's squad was comprised entirely of Russian nations with no imports, while Glasgow City was similar in composition, using all Scottish nationals except for Claire Shine (24-years-old) of the Republic of Ireland, who is in her second spell with the Scottish power after a spell back home at Cork City, and has been capped once by her country.


Goteborg versus Bayern

On September 11, Bayern Munich won 2-1 in Sweden with a brace by Germany 2016 Olympic Gold Medal winner Mandy Islacker in the last 15 minutes, the second coming three minutes into injury time and offset a tying goal by Swedish international Elin Rubensson—who played in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups with Sweden—in the 86th minute. On September 25, Goteborg gave Bayern Munich all it could handle, winning 1-0 on an 81st minute goal by Swedish youth international Rebecka Blomqvist. Unfortunately it wasn't enough as the German club took the tie on a single away goal (2-2 on aggregate). Blomqvist received her first full international cap in the 4-1 win over Latvia away in UEFA EURO's qualifying earlier this month. Blomqvist has scored 10 goals in the Damallsvenksan this season for Goteborg, after scoring 14 last season.

Bayern Munich has 9 imports on their Champions League roster, with 2 from the Netherlands and one each from Austria, Denmark, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden and an American who plays internationally for New Zealand and a Matilda international from Australia:

Jacintha Weimar (G)—Netherlands

Simone Boye Sorensen (D)—Denmark

Ali Riley (D)—New Zealand. The 31-year-old New Zealand international was raised in America and played at Stanford University, won two WPS titles with FC Gold Pride and the Western New York Flash, and then went to Sweden and lined up for years at Malmo/Rosengard in Sweden, before a brief spell last season at Chelsea; she joined Bayern Munich this summer

Amanda Ilestedt (D)—Sweden

Carina Wenninger (D)—Austria

Dominika Skorvankova (M)—Slovakia

Lineth Beerensteyn (F)—Netherlands. The 22-year-old was a fixture for the Netherlands this summer in France and is in her third season in Bavaria.

Jovana Damnjanovic (F)—Serbia. The Serbian international (24) and former Red Star player at home has been a long time fixture in Germany; she won the UEFA champions league and Frauen Bundesliga title with Wolfsburg in 2013-14.

Emily Gielnik (F)—Australia. She moved from Melbourne Victory recently and was on the Matilda's 2019 Women's World Cup side, after playing briefly for Liverpool in 2012 as well as in Canada, Japan and Norway. She did not play in either tie with the Swedish club in the Round of 32.

Goteborg had 5 imports on their Champions League roster: two from Finland, one from Netherlands, Norway and American Taylor Leach:

Loes Geurts (G)—Netherlands

Taylor Leach (D)—United States. Leach played at the University of South Carolina and has been with Gothenburg for 3 seasons, after starting off in Sweden in the Elitettan.

Emma Koivisto (D)—Finland

Natalia Kuikka (D)—Finland

Vilde Boe Risa (M)—Norway. She was in France with her country this past summer.

Pitea versus Brondby

Brondby of Denmark defeated Pitea of Sweden 1-0 away on a 38th minute goal by Nicoline Sorensen on September 11. Pitea was appearing in the Women's Champions League for the first time. In the second let on September 26, Brondby advanced with a 1-1 tie at home, 2-1 on aggregate. Sorensen scored in the 72nd minute while Pitea's goal came with two minutes left through an own goal by Brondby goalkeeper Katrine Abel.

Brondby had defender Linnea Svensson of Sweden (20 years old) as their only import; she played at Orebro in the Damallsvenskan last season.

Pitea had 5 imports on their UEFA roster: one from Nigeria in long-term Damallsvenskan player Faith Ikidi in defense, two from Norway, one from Finland and one from Brazil:

Faith Ikidi (D)—Nigeria. The 32-year-old has played in Sweden for over a decade, after first moving to Europe as a teenager with Klepp in Norway, and has played in 3 Women's World Cups; she was a late omission from the 2019 World Cup side however.

June Pedersen (D) Norway

Vilma Koivisto (M) Finland

Andrea Norheim (F) Norway

Fernanda Da Silva (F) Brazil

Juventus versus Barcelona

On September 11, Barcelona defeated Juventus in Turin 2-0 with goals from Alexia Putellas and defender Marta Torrejon, who both played with Spain in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups and unofficially for Catalonia. Barcelona won the return leg on September 25 by a 2-1 margin to take the tie 4-1 on aggregate, through another goal by Putellas and a Juve own goal by Christiana Girelli. Juventus' lone goal of the tie came from substitute Andrea Staskova—a 19-year old from the Czech Republic—who scored in the 79th minute, just after subbing on a minute earlier.

Barcelona has six imports, with four from Europe—two from the Netherlands, one each from France and Norway—and one each from Mexico and Nigeria:

Pamela Tajonar (G)—Mexico

Stefanie van der Gragt (D)—Netherlands. She won a silver medal at the 2019 Women's World Cup for the Netherlands.

Kheira Hamraoui (M)—France. She played in the 2015 World Cup and is in her second season at Barcelona, after time at Lyon, PSG and St. Etienne.

Lieke Martens (M)—Netherlands. She was a 2019 WWC finalist with the Dutch.

Caroline Graham Hansen (F)—Norway. She was a revelation at this summer's World Cup and signed a two-year deal at Barcelona after five seasons in Wolfsburg.

Asisat Oshoala (F)—Nigeria

Juve has recruited internationally from Europe, with single imports from Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, Poland and Sweden.

Doris Bacic (G)—Croatia. She has played in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, trained with Arsenal in England in 2013 but could not acquire a work permit, had a short spell in Germany and played in Iceland and with Anderlecht in Belgium and seems to have found a home in Italy, though she has not played in either leg of the WCL tie.

Tuija Hyyrynen (D)—Finland. The 31-year-old has over 100 caps for her country and played one year in the States for the W-League's Pali Blues and Florida State University. In Europe, she has played club ball in Finland with HJK Helsinki and Aland United, in Sweden with Umea and in Denmark with Fortuna Hjorring.

Aleksandra Sikora (D)—Poland. The 28-year-old played at Medyk Konin at home before moving to Italy for the 2017-18 season.

Linda Sembrant (D) –Sweden 32. She joined Juventus from Montpellier and played in her third Women's World Cup this summer.

Sofie Pedersen (M)—Denmark 27. She joined Juventus in December of 2018, from this year's surprise club in the Swedish Damallsvenksan, Vittsjo. She previously played for Levante in Spain and Rosengard in Sweden as well as Fortuna Hjorring at home.

Eniola Aluko (F)—England 32. The former Chelsea, Birmingham City and Charlton Athletic striker was a scoring sensation in the old WPS in the States and was an ESPN analyst on this summer's Women's World Cup broadcasts. She is in her second season at Juventus.

Andrea Staskova (F) Czech Republic. The teenager and Czech international at the youth and full level transferred this season from Sparta Prague, where she led the Czech league in scoring with 32 goals.

Fiorentina versus Arsenal

On September 12, Arsenal took a huge advantage from the first leg in Italy as they defeated Fiorentina 4-0, with Dutch international Vivianne Miedema scoring twice and Scottish internationals Kim Little and Lisa Evans scoring singles. On September 26, Arsenal advanced 6-0 on aggregate after a 2-0 win at home with goals from Kim Little—from the penalty spot—and Vivianne Miedema.

Fiorentina has 9 imports on their roster this year, 7 from Europe and one each from Australia and the United States:

Stephanie Ohrstrom (G)—Sweden. The 32-year-old played at Verona prior to joining Fiorentina in 2016.

Janelle Cordia (D)—United States (32). The 32-year-old ex-University of Missouri player joined Fiorentina this season from Fortuna in Denmark; she started off in Europe with Aaland of Finland.

Janni Arnth (D)—Denmark. The Danish international joined Fiorentina this season after a few months at Arsenal, following long spells at Linkopings in Sweden and Fortuna at home.

Davina Philtjens (D)—Belgium

Laura Agard (D)—France

Stephanie Breitner (M)—Germany. The 26-year-old is in her second season at Fiorentina after years at home with Hoffenheim, in both the top flight and second division.

Lisa De Vanna (F)—Australia. The four time Women's World Cup member and prolific scorer joins from Sydney FC, where she was on the side that won the W-League crown last season.

Frederikke Thogersen (F)—Denmark. The 24-year-old is in her first season in Italy, after playing at home for years at Fortuna, where she won three league titles. She is a key part of her national team program, and was on the side that finished second to the Netherlands at the 2017 EURO's.

Paloma Lazaro (F)—Spain. She is in her first season in Italy after playing in Spain with Tenerife, CDF Madrid and Rayo Vallecano.

For Arsenal, only 6 of 23 players on the roster are from England, with 17 imports—including 4 from Scotland and 1 from the Republic of Ireland. The side is coached by Australian Joe Montemurro, who guided Arsenal to the title last season and is mentioned often as a favorite to lead the Matildas, likely after the 2020 Olympics. There imports include:

Manuela Zinsberger (G)—Austria. She was a revelation at the 2017 EUROS and joined from Bayern Munich in Germany this summer.

Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (G)—France. A Women's World Cup team member this summer.

Katrine Veje (D)—Denmark

Emma Mitchell (D)—Scotland

Jennifer Beattie (D)—Scotland

Louise Quinn (D)—Republic of Ireland

Leonie Maier (D)—Germany

Viktoria Schnaderbeck (D)—Austria

Danielle van de Donk (M)—Netherlands. A 2019 WWC Finalist in France.

Kim Little (M)—Scotland. Little scored five goals in 68 minutes last month in an 8-0 2021 European Championship qualifier against Cyprus.

Loa Walti (M)—Switzerland

Jill Roord (M)—Netherlands. At 22, she was a Women's World Cup finalist this summer.

Tabea Kemme (M)—Germany

Silvana Flores (M)—Mexico 17—She played for Mexico in last year's U-17 Women's World Cup in Uruguay but has largely lived in Canada (where she was born) and England; she has been in the junior program at Arsenal, playing last year for their U-21's.

Vivianne Miedema (F)—Netherlands—She was superb at this summer's World Cup after an equally stellar performance at the 2017 EUROS.

Katie McCabe (F)—Republic of Ireland

Lisa Evans (F)—Scotland

Manchester City versus Lugano

Manchester City of England won handily (7-1) on September 12 over the Swiss/American side Lugano, with American Kaela Dickerman scoring for Lugano while Germany's Pauline Bremer and Scotland's Caroline Weir both scored twice, with single goals from Georgia Stanway and Aoife Mannion both of England (from the penalty spot) while Canadian Janine Beckie also got on the scoresheet for Man City. City wrapped up the tie with a 4-0 win at home on September 25, with Canada's Beckie scoring a hat trick within 40 minutes (scoring her first in the 5th minute) with Bremer scoring once, to finish the series with a 11-1 margin over the Swiss-Americans (see below).

Manchester City has 9 imports, 2 from the Republic of Ireland, and 1 each from Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal and Scotland, while 2 came from other Confederations—Canada and Korea Republic:

Karina Benameur (G)—France

Megan Campbell (D)—Republic of Ireland

Matilde Fidalgo (D)—Portugal

Pauline Bremer (F)—Germany

Janine Beckie (F)—Canada

Tyler Toland (F)—Ireland. The 18-year-old scored her inaugural goal on September 3 for the Republic of Ireland in their 2-0 EUROS Qualifying win over Montenegro. She joined Manchester City in August after two seasons with Northern Ireland club Sion Swifts.

Geummin Lee (F)—Korea Republic

Caroline Wier (F)—Scotland

Tessa Wullaert (F)—Belgium

Steven Goff of the Washington Post, a long time reporter on the women's game, profiled Lugano which has 16 Americans on their roster, most of whom are just out of college

Samie Scaffidi, a forward from Silver Spring, Md., and St. John's University, said, "It almost has that college feel to it." The entrepreneur behind this unique concept is Team President Emanuele Gaiarin, who operates a wine wholesale shop in the Washington D.C. area and has coached women's teams in the States at the youth and college level (including at George Mason University in Virginia as an assistant coach). Gaiarin, who was born in Italy and is a U.S. citizen said, "It's a huge moment for the club and for the region [regarding making the Women's Champions League]. Now we go face to face with the big clubs." Goff explained that, "Gaiarin (61) was frustrated by the developmental ceiling for most players, set out to blend the elite skill set of American women with the sophistication of European coaching amid a traditional soccer culture. He wanted to integrate education into the program, with the idea of someday drawing college-aged players for semesters or years at a time." Gaiarin explained, "With the level of the athletes in the States and the level of coaching in Switzerland, there is so much potential to grow."

Goff wrote: "Lugano, an amateur side that attracts a few dozen spectators for league matches, offered the platform. The U.S. players, all of whom have played NCAA soccer, arrive on tourist and student visas. Apartments on Lake Lugano are provided at no charge. The players take Italian classes paid for by the club and, if they wish, pay their own way for undergraduate or graduate programs at Franklin University of Switzerland."

Midfielder-defender Lauren Curtin, 27, a native of Northern California who is in her fourth season with the club said, "I love playing here. It's beautiful, and we are able to go to school and play soccer at the same time."

Curtin's twin sister, Cara, used the Lugano experience as a springboard to a professional contract; this summer, she signed with Valencia in Spain while Fordham's Kristina Maksuti passed through Lugano before signing with Duisburg in Germany.



FF Lugano finished second last season in Nationalliga A, Switzerland's top flight

This author feels that there are some real positives to this program, giving largely unknown American players an opportunity to continue their post-college soccer careers and possibly move onto larger clubs, plus the opportunity to learn and study abroad are always wonderful opportunities for anyone. Clearly the concept is working as Lugano have gained their first WCL berth in 2019-20. The downside of the wholesale imports from one country is reminiscent of Greece importing almost half of their national team ahead of the 2004 Olympics from the U.S. so that they would not be embarrassed at home. They then mothballed the side after the Olympics and didn't allow the Americans who wanted to continue the ability to play for the nation again (because flying in players is more expensive), while curtailing their spending on the program in general. Certainly in this column we have always tracked imports around the world and we are not against that process, which when done correctly benefits not only the club but also the player, but 16 Americans and only 6 from home limits the opportunity to grow the game at home. Of course, one could argue that English champions Arsenal are effectively doing the same thing (with only 6 domestic players), albeit from a variety of countries, It's a balance for Lugano to improve the squad while developing the game in Switzerland. Unfortunately, the former seems to be minimized at the expense of the home growth, and that is indeed a short-sided point of view.

Lugano has 16 Americans, 1 from England (who played collegiately in the States) 1 from Italy, 1 from Kosovo and 6 from Switzerland on their WCL roster. The Americans are:

Goalkeepers

Kelsey Dossey, 23—The ex-University of Missouri goalkeeper finished her career in 2018 with 24 wins, the fourth most in program history.

Morgan Bertsch, 23—ex-Cal State Fullerton, where she started all 22 matches her senior year in 2017, with a 0.75 Goals-Against-Average, the fourth lowest in program history.

Defenders

Allison Pantuso, 22—ex-Oregon State University and team captain her senior year in 2018.

Alana O'Neill, 23—ex-Syracuse University, finishing her career in 2017 with 7 goals and 3 assists.

Kelly Chickering, 25—ex-Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Midfielders

Lauren Curtin, 27—from Sonoma State University in California and the Sacramento Storm in the WPSL.

Claudia Cagnina (22)—She played at St. John's University and for Peru internationally, including at last year's Copa America Femenina.

Isabella Amyx 21—ex-Sonoma State University.

Katherine Mc Donald (22)—ex-Duke University.

Forwards

Samantha Scaffidi (22)—ex-St. Johns University in New York.

Tori Baliatico (22)—ex-Elon University in North Carolina. She signed in June after playing 70 games (44 starts) and scoring 13 goals and 7 assists in her collegiate career.

Lina Granados (25)—ex-Vanderbilt University and played for Colombia in the 2015 Women's World Cup; she was born in Bogota but grew up in Virginia.

Christina Bellero (22)—ex-St. John's University.

Samantha De Pinho (23)—finished at Villanova University after starting at American University in Washington D.C.

Kaela Dickerman (23)—ex-University of Louisville.

Ashley Herndon (24)—ex-James Madison University in Virginia.

All 7 forwards for Lugago are Americans. Of the 6 Swiss on the 25 player roster, 5 are between 17-18 years of age with the other being 19. The other non-American imports are young as well, with two 18 or under:

Miriam Ubaldi (G)—Italy 17

Anila Bytyqi (M)—Kosovo (18)

Helen Seed (D)—England—The 23-year-old is from Preston England and played in the States at Carson Newman University in Tennessee.



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

Tags
Opinion
Tim Grainey
About the author

Tim Grainey

Have your say
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free