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The Week in Women's Football: W-League 2020/21 season review part two; NWSL international trades; ASU signing

This week, we present part two of our 2020/21 Westfield W-League season regular season review. Today we look at the five teams that missed the playoffs this season. We also briefly look at the results of the W-League semifinals last weekend. We also examine the Matildas' roster for their high profile internationals in Europe against Germany and the Netherlands. We finally have news on a few international player trades in the NWSL for this season and a Pac-12 college team's full international signing for the 2021 fall season.



Australian Westfield W-League 2020/21 Regular Season Review

Note: The teams are presented below in order of their current table position in the league.

Adelaide United (7-1-4—22 points—Tied for Fourth)

Adrian Stenta should win the 2020/21 coach of the year award for directing Adelaide's club record setting season in wins (7) and points (22) and narrowing missing the playoffs for the first time in their history on a goal difference of one to Canberra. Those 22 points would have given them a semifinal spot in each of the past six seasons; in some cases a team qualified with as few as 16 points from 12 games, and they are still seeking a first ever playoff spot after 13 seasons in the league. A team record stand-alone game crowd of 5,159 in their last game on March 21 was a great finale to an albeit frustrating end to the season, as they finished their games in Round 11 and had to wait a week to find out their playoff fate.

Undoubtedly one of the keys this season was the return of attacker Mallory Weber, the only NWSL loanee in 2020/21, and one of only six Americans (compared to 24 in 2019/20, most who came on loan from the American professional league NWSL) in the league. She was in her second season with the Reds and finished with two goals and four assists (tied for fourth in the league in the latter category). In a late season interview with this reporter, Weber explained that she has seen a change in the W-League's teams' rosters this season compared with 2019/20 as most of the Australian national team members are now playing abroad—many were actually encouraged to skip the W-League season by the previous national team coaching staff even before COVID hit, particularly if the domestic season conflicted with a league program abroad. With the NWSL adding a second edition of their Challenge Cup before the regular season and starting their preseason camps on February 1 rather than well into March as is typical, Weber was the only current NWSL player in the W-League in 2020/21, "This year has been different as you don't have those star players that you did last year because teams are not able to bring over internationals due to the cost, the quarantine and different leagues not lining up." [The W-League started over a month later this season in order to match the men's A-League move to an Australian summer start.]

Weber played in the NWSL's first Challenge Cup as a member of the host Utah Royals last summer, which was the first sports league in North America to resume playing after all sports shut their seasons down in March because of the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Australia, while restrictive particularly regarding inter-state travel, has been much less rigid than she experienced during the Challenge Cup, "Since I've been here I've only had to get two COVID tests and that was coming back from Sydney because they had a small cluster of cases. In the Challenge Cup you were doing them 2-3 times a week and you literally could not leave your hotel—the other teams were in the hotel—and we [then Utah Royals players] got to stay in our apartments. Groceries were delivered to you and we couldn't even drive our own cars—we had to take vans to and from games. It's [a] night and day difference over here. It's kind of nice." When the Reds travel however, they still have protocols to follow such as having to stay in their hotel rooms, "You are stuck to make sure that you are not out at who knows where and there is a COVID case and you bring it back and now the league is suspended, so it's been a little more strict off the field than it was last year [the Australian bush fires were a bigger concern for league officials for most of last season than was COVID and only the Grand Final of 2019/20 had to be played behind closed doors] but it is worth it if we are able to play games…. I think they have done a really good job through COVID and dealing with it all." The W-League, the Australian Soccer Association and the local Players' Association did a fantastic job in staging an entire season of play that presented high quality and exciting games (as always).

On the field, despite the loss of so many internationals and foreign players from last season, Weber was pleased with the level of play in the league, "I think it has been great to see how many young kids have stepped up because it doesn't feel too much like the quality has dropped… It's missing those key players here and there but for the most part people have really stepped up." She felt that one positive impact was that, despite COVID and so many high profile [and salary] players leaving the league, the Professional Footballers' Association didn't drop the minimum salaries for senior players, which ensured that league standards didn't change.

Photo: Kansas City NWSL loanee Mallory Weber lines up for Adelaide United in a W-League match in 2020/21. (Photo courtesy Adelaide United FC.)

Adelaide United's captain midfielder Dylan Holmes (23), who played a few years in the U.S. at Colgate University, signed for Swedish Damallsvenskan champions BK Hacken (the renamed Kopparbergs-Goteborg FC club). Holmes was sold by Adelaide and she played her last match of the season for the club in their historic 2-0 home defeat of Sydney FC (only their third win over the Harbor City club in 19 matches across 13 years) in her 41st game for the club in four seasons. Holmes said, "This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make—probably one of the hardest decisions I've made in my career—but the opportunity to play in Sweden and really test myself in a very strong European league is something I couldn't turn down. It's always been a goal of mine to push myself and take my game to the next level. I'll always be grateful to have represented my hometown team for a number of seasons now, and the massive privilege of leading an amazing group of girls as captain this season."

Another Red moved to Sweden at the end of the season—defender Charlotte Grant (19)—who joined Swedish powerhouse FC Rosengard in Malmo, which finished second last season to Goteborg/Hacken. Grant is a U-20 Australian international who has played 34 times with Adelaide across three seasons. She said about her move, "The opportunity to play overseas has always been a personal goal of mine and to see that now come to fruition reflects the dedication and work I've put in so far in my career, as well as learning from some of the amazing coaches…."A real target of mine is to make the Matildas' squad for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 on home soil (Adelaide was recently announced as a host city) and I believe playing in Europe improves my chances of reaching that." She is expected to return to the W-League at the end of the Damallsvenskan season next fall.

Chilean international Maria Jose Rojas (33) was been phenomenal this season in an attacking midfielder/winger role. She was a 2019 Women's World Cup team member who played at the University of Texas-San Antonio and with the Gulf Coast Texas of the WPSL before playing in the German Frauen-Bundesliga, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Chile, Japan's Nadeshiko Division Two and with Canberra United in the W-League in 2018/19, as well as with Adelaide University in the South Australian state league. Her one goal on the season did not reflect her skill on the ball and ability to break down defenses and create chances for her teammates.

If the club can keep the core of players together from this season and add a few more scoring options—though their goals were well distributed with Chelsea Dawber leading the side with five, followed by Emily Condon with four, Holmes with three, Weber with two and English native Fiona Worts also added two—they should make the elusive playoffs for the first time. Worts (ex-Coventry United and Leicester City in the second tier FA Women's Championship), was signed after playing at Adelaide University and Fulham United in the South Australian NPLW and was also a positive addition to the side.



Western Sydney Wanderers (4-1-7—13 points—Tied for Sixth)

They Wanderers finished joint sixth with Melbourne City but ahead on goal difference (-8 to -12). The Red and Black made a brief run for the playoffs late in the season but overall it was a rebuilding campaign. Their 13 goals, just over one a game, was seventh in the nine team league and more lethal scorers are a huge need for the club for the 2021/22 season

Australian U-20 international Rosie Galea (20) was the Wanderers leading scorer with four goals and, after playing one game each of the last two seasons—in 2018/19 with Canberra and last season with WSW—she played in 11 games this season and is a great prospect for the future. Bryleeh Henry (17) had two tallies. Former Australian U-17 and U-20 international Olivia Price (24) scored once and is another solid player to build on after her seventh season in the league—she joined this year from Canberra United and played one season for the Wanderers in 2017/18 following three years with Sydney FC. The Wanderers need one or two experienced forwards to make a serious push for the playoffs again, which they made for the first time in 2019/20, albeit with a strong spine of NWSL imports from the powerhouse North Carolina Courage. Veteran W-League forward Leena Khamis scored 2 goals and is inspirational in her leadership but the club needs more scoring; Republic of Ireland international Julie-Ann Russell had one, but it was the game winner in WSW's 1-0 win over Perth in Round 9. Russell played her first W-League season despite being in Australia since 2017 working full-time in IT sales. She was able to work at home during COVID and that allowed her time to play at the W-League level in addition to her seasons with NPLW power Sydney University.(see: The Week in Women's Football: Exclusive with WSW star Julie-Ann Russell; Review of Goldblatt's The Age of Football - Tribal Football).

Georgia Yeoman-Dale, another returnee to the W-League after missing all of last season through injury and announcing a number of games for FOX, was impactful and dangerous in a wide role in defence, which allowed her to aid in the attack; she contributed one goal on the season.



Melbourne City (4-1-7 W-D-L—13 points—Tied for Sixth)

We suspected that this was going to be a different season for the four-time W-League Champions, with so many Matildas gone to Europe and most NWSL players not coming on loan, as City utilized a healthy number of both in recent years. No one expected the team to struggle to the point that they had only four points in their first seven matches. Their 6-0 loss to Melbourne Victory was the nadir but they looked weak in attack all season and their defense struggled, allowing 23 goals—second worst behind Perth Glory's 32—despite having Matilda's Teagan Micah in goal and Jenna McCormick and Emma Checker on the backline—returning after spells in Spain and France respectively. Micah was out with a knee injury in March but City assistant coach and former international Melissa (Bubs) Barbieri Hudson returned to the nets and recorded three wins (two were shutouts) in four games to end the season. These were her first W-League games since 2017/18 when she played once. Barbieri's return was a refreshing story in this season of such young players coming in droves from the NPLW and reminds us of how very good she was that she was selected for four Women's World Cup sides—she showed that she is still a very talented goalkeeper.

For Melbourne City, the club finished with four wins and 13 points, their lowest totals ever; City's previous low marks were when they won six games during the regular seasons of 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19, and accrued 19 points in 2018/19.

On March 25, Melbourne City finished the season strong as they won their third consecutive game and second straight over Perth with a narrow 2-1 home win over the Glory in front of 454 fans. Late goals by Rhali Dobson (63') and Alex Chidiac (79') were the difference. Dobson scored her second goal in two games, with both of her 2020/21 season goals coming against Perth. Dobson's tally came from a brilliant back heal from defender Tori Tumeth, who had the ball near the edge of the box after a corner; her ingenuity saw the ball ending up at Dobson's feet a few yards in front of the net, where she easily buried it.

Dobson, who has capped once at the full national team level, is retiring at age 28 to care for her boyfriend Matt, who was diagnosed with brain cancer six years ago and, following a couple of previous surgeries, will now start aggressive radiotherapy until the end of May and then undergo aggressive chemotherapy for a year. After the game, he proposed to her at the edge of the pitch in an emotional moment for her and her teammates, who only learned about her retirement plans a day before. She explained why she kept everything a secret from her teammates, "I've kept everything very quiet because I've wanted the girls to stay focused on the season and make sure that we finish strongly. I didn't want anyone treading on eggshells around me; I still wanted people to just treat me normally. We've done exceptionally well with that because, look at this team now, we're gelling well [and] we're putting a performance out on the pitch. She had proposed to Matt twice before and he laughed both times as she explained, "Who wouldn't want to say yes to me over video chat dressed in my fluffy unicorn pajamas proposing to him? Who wouldn't say yes to that?"

Now in her fourth season with City, Dobson worked in New South Wales during the offseason as an occupational therapist. She temporarily relocated to Melbourne during the season but she couldn't do that and support Matt during his expected 18 months of recovery, "I want to give him the opportunity to have everything he possibly can and I can't do that playing this sport. We don't have the luxury of being able to up and move our other halves. I can't financially support both of us playing soccer. That's a big difference between the women's and the men's game….Ultimately, it is still brain cancer so I want us to have the opportunity to have everything life has to offer. This is bigger than the sport. He is my absolute world." Dobson finishes with 109 W-League games and 14 goals along with 2 W-League Grand Final wins with City. We hope for the best for Rhali and Matt in the future and hope that she can stay involved in the sport in some way.

Japanese international Chinatsu Kira was dangerous all season and a delight to watch but only scored once for City, who she joined from Urawa Reds in December. Matilda Alex Chidiac—who quit Atletico Madrid in Spain after 3 seasons—led the team with three goals and had a very strong season; it will be interesting if she goes abroad again after a strong season at home.



Newcastle Jets—(2-1-9—7 points—Eighth)

The Newcastle Jets were stronger in their play this season and were quite interesting to watch but, despite that, finished with an identical final record as in 2019/20 (7 points from 2 wins and 1 tie). The club still needs more investment and can't go a third season without imports—it's just not a level playing field—and Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United did well with a few strategic international player additions. The team should have resolved its ownership and resources by the time the next season comes along, which have dragged on for far too long. Tara Andrews tied for fourth in the league in scoring with 5 goals but she needs another front-runner to play off of, as she is so good at holding up the ball as a tall target striker. Twenty-four-year-old Lauren Allan maybe the answer if the club can keep her—she scored 3 goals in eleven games. Allan is in her second W-League season—both with Newcastle—and played in the U.S. collegiately at Anderson University in South Carolina after spending two seasons at Butler Community College in Kansas.

Jets captain and Matilda defender Gema Simon scored twice from her defensive role and has ten league goals across 13 seasons, with 12 of them in Newcastle. Veteran Hannah Brewer (27) is a key in the Jet's defensive scheme.

There is a lot of youthful talent to build from this season: Alisha Bass, a 25-year-old midfielder (who once played with Sydney FC in 2011/12 and four games with WSW in 2012/13) has been a revelation this season as has Rhianna Pollicina (24) as an attacking midfielder who scored 2 goals and 2 assists in her second season in the W-League, playing 5 games for the Wanderers in 2014 and was capped at the U-17 level. Pollicina finished tied for sixth in the league in chances created with 21. Australian youth international Sunny Franco (23) was impressive in her attacking moves in her sixth W-League season with Brisbane and the two Sydney clubs but this was her first season in the league since 2017/18, having played since then with New South Wales NPLW side Manly United. She joined the Brisbane Roar after the season as a replacement player as Clare Polkinghorne and Emily Gielnik left for Sweden and couldn't play in the playoff games—she started and played 73 minutes in the Roar's 6-2 semifinal defeat to Melbourne Victory on April 4 (see below). Raiding right-back Tessa Tamplin (20) has again been impressive in defense and attack, with her stellar crossing ability. Head coach Ash Wilson should be given the time to build around this core and the Jets should be able to finish much higher in the table next season.



Perth Glory (0-1-11—1 point—Ninth)

Perth Glory was hugely affected by COVID-19 with a number of postponements and had to play their home game against Canberra at the Queensland home field of Viking Park due to Western Australia travel restrictions for people from outside the state. Their first year coach, Alexander Epakis—who won three consecutive league titles in New South Wales NPLW with Sydney University—found the W-League going a rough patch. Their three New Zealanders were largely a positive addition, particularly goalkeeper Lily Alfred, who led the league in saves with 54, some of the phenomenal variety. Alfeld (24) played at Louisiana State University from 2014-17 and then with the Northern Lights in the New Zealand National Women's League. The question is whether Alfeld (who has been capped at the U-17 and U-20 level and has participated in senior camps but not yet appeared in an official game) will return to Perth or play with Wellington Phoenix if the club joins the W-League ahead of next season and builds around their national team players. Football Ferns international defender Liz Anton (22) had one goal and midfielder Malia Steinmetz (22) both played all 12 games for the Glory as did Alfeld.

Perth Glory signed Gemma Craine, who played at San Diego State University after winning a National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 Championship at Monroe Community College in New York City in 2015. A native of England, she spent time with the English U-17 national team and at Chelsea's academy.

Scoring was at a premium and only 7 goals in the season are not enough with Caitlin Douglas (24) scoring 2 goals in her sixth season in the league and with Glory, after scoring 3 goals last season. Australian U-17 international midfielder Hana Lowry (17) scored one goal in seven games last season in her first season in the league and doubled that from her 12 games this season; both players should be brought back next season. This young side will take away a lot of lessons from this challenging season and a few good off-season recruits, particularly on the forward line [Sam Kerr returning from England—we can dream, can't we?] should help the side progress in 2021/22.



2020/21 W-League Final Premiership Table

GP W D L GF GA Pts

Sydney FC 12 9 1 2 26 11 28

Brisbane Roar 12 7 4 1 29 12 25

Melbourne Victory 12 7 2 3 25 14 23

Canberra United 12 6 4 2 21 16 22

Adelaide United 12 7 1 4 22 18 22

Western Sydney Wanderers 12 4 1 7 13 21 13

Melbourne City FC 12 4 1 7 11 23 13

Newcastle Jets 12 2 1 9 14 21 7

Perth Glory 12 0 1 11 7 32 1


Semifinals

Brisbane Roar 2 Melbourne Victory 6

Melbourne Victory surprised a Brisbane Roar home crowd of just under 2,000 fans in wet, rainy conditions by soundly defeating the Queensland side 6-2 on April 4. Veteran Matilda Lisa De Vanna, who played in Sweden and in the two US Pro leagues, had a brace and Melina Ayers had a hat trick and even missed a penalty.


Sydney FC 3 Canberra United 0

2020/21 W-League Premiership title winners Sydney FC defeated Canberra United 3-0 on April 5 in front of 2,044 fans at Jubilee Stadium in Sydney to advance to their eighth Grand Final in 13 W-League seasons. Former Australian U-20 international Clare Wheeler, who played seven previous seasons at the Newcastle Jets before joining Sydney FC this season, was a difference maker in the game. First, she sent a long cross-field pass to Mackenzie Hawksby, who was alone in front of goal on the back post; Hawksby headed the ball into the net for her third goal of the season and the ultimate game-winning goal. Wheeler then scored in the 64th minute before defender Ally Green scored a blistering long range shot after taking the ball off of a Canberra defender near midfield. In was Green's first goal in 31 W-League games across three seasons for the club.

In next week's Grand Final, Sydney FC will attempt to tie Melbourne FC with four Grand Final wins, while their Big Blue rival Melbourne Victory will strive to win their second title (2013/14) in their third visit to the Championship game. The only game between the two clubs this season was the Round 13 make-up game won by Sydney 2-1.



Australia Uses Players Based Entirely Abroad to Face Germany and the Netherlands

Westfield Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson has named 23 players for his training camp in Soest, the Netherlands—the headquarters of the Dutch federation—for the team's first games as Head Coach, against Germany in Weisbaden (number 2 in the world in FIFA rankings) on April 1 and the Netherlands (number four in the world) on April 14. These are important preparation matches for the Olympic Games this summer in Japan which Australia qualified for in early 2020 by defeating Thailand home and away in the final AFC round. Both European games will be held without fans because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. This will be Australia's first international since qualifying for the Olympic Games. Gustavsson, based in Sweden, has been unable to travel to Australia because of COVID-19 and did not attend any W-League games. It was interesting to see New Zealand international head coach Tom Sermanni at multiple games that I watched during the season, as he lives full-time in Australia.

The players are all currently signed with European clubs except for two in the States—one in college at Stanford and one in the NWSL). Defender Emma Checker played with Melbourne City this season in the W-League and will join Selfoss of Iceland for their spring/summer season. Emily Gielnik and Clare Polkinghorne just joined Vittsjo of Sweden ahead of the 2021 season after playing this winter with Brisbane Roar while Dylan Holmes played most of the season with Adelaide United before moving to Sweden to join champions Hacken. The squad had four uncapped players at the senior level: Indiah-Paige Riley, Beattie Goad and Alex Huynh, as well as Holmes. Six (6) players from the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifiers are not available for selection including midfielder Katrina Gorry, who expecting her first child in August 2021. Meanwhile defender Steph Catley (Arsenal in the WSL), midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight (Kristianstads of Sweden) and forward Kyah Simon (PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands) will continue injury rehabilitation at their clubs.

After the roster was named, Amy Harrison (PSV Eindhoven) and Ellie Carpenter (Olympique Lyon of France) did not clear COVID-protocols and were unable to join the team; no replacements were named. Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson explained, "Football Australia's top priority is to protect the health, safety and well-being of our players and staff, and we have developed a stringent set of protocols to ensure this, whether they are based in Australia or internationally. As part of these protocols, every player and staff member is monitored and screened prior to their entry to assembly. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, Ellie and Amy didn't clear the protocols prior to their scheduled travel to camp from their respective bases in Lyon and Eindhoven."

Sam Kerr, who has been on fire of late for her English club Chelsea and sits tied atop of the Golden Boot table with 17 goals (with Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal) said about her new national team coach, "He's a nice guy, smiley guy. We haven't had too much to do with him as of yet because it's only been one session and the whole squad's not in. But he seems like a really positive guy, seems like he knows his stuff and seems very to the point. I think he's going to fit in well not only with the team off the field, but on the field, I think he's what we need.

The full roster for the European trip was as follows:

PLAYER NAME

CLUB

CAPS (GOALS)

Mackenzie ARNOLD (Gk)

West Ham United (ENG)

24 (0)

Laura BROCK

En Avant de Guingamp (FRA)

60 (2)

Emma CHECKER

UMF Selfoss (ISL)

5 (0)

Caitlin FOORD

Arsenal FC (ENG)

83 (20)

Mary FOWLER

Montpellier (FRA)

4 (0)

Emily GIELNIK

Vittsjo GIK (SWE)

37 (8)

Beatrice GOAD

SV Meppen (GER)

0 (0)

Dylan HOLMES

BK Hächen (SWE)

0 (0)

Alexandra HUYNH

Napoli SC (ITA)

0 (0)

Alanna KENNEDY

Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)

87 (7)

Sam KERR

Chelsea FC (ENG)

88 (42)

Chloe LOGARZO

Kansas City (USA)

48 (8)

Aivi LUIK

Sevilla (ESP)

25 (0)

Ella MASTRANTONIO

Bristol City, (ENG)

6 (1)

Clare POLKINGHORNE

Vittsjo GIK (SWE)

125 (10)

Hayley RASO

Everton FC (ENG)

46 (6)

Indiah-Paige RILEY

Fortuna Hjorring (DEN)

0 (0)

Karly ROESTBAKKEN

LSK Kvinner (NOR)

6 (0)

Amy SAYER

Stanford University (USA)

3 (0)

Emily VAN EGMOND

West Ham United (ENG)

97 (23)

Lydia WILLIAMS (Gk)

Arsenal FC (ENG)

88 (0)



International Deals within the NWSL

Canadian international midfielder Jordyn Listro (25) was traded to Kansas City NWSL from the Orlando Pride in exchange for a third round draft choice in the 2022 College Draft, which could become a second round pick under certain conditions, an oddity of American sports, many of which rely heavily on college drafts for new prospects and acting as a de-facto development academy. Listro holds the record for appearances (82) at the University of South Florida. Listro began her professional career in Spain with UDG Tenerife of the Primera Division. The Orlando Pride then signed her before the 2020 Fall Series. She started all but one of Orlando's games during the campaign, playing 262 minutes.

The Houston Dash acquired the rights to Mexican international Maria Sanchez from the Chicago Red Stars, Sanchez currently plays with Tigres UANL of Greater Monterrey in Liga MX Femenil, who currently lead the 2021 Clausura Championship after 14 games with 33 points; she has scored 3 goals in 14 appearances after scoring 5 times in 21 games with Guadalajara in 2020. The midfielder was drafted as the fifteenth overall pick in the 2019 NWSL Draft by Chicago and played in seven games that season for the Red Stars. Sánchez is a member of Mexico's Women's National Team with three goals in 24 appearances for El Tri. Born in Nampa, Idaho she played at Idaho State University and Santa Clara University, tallying 16 assists in 2018 with the latter, a NCAA record. Sánchez made her debut with the senior Mexican Women's National Team in 2015 and was part of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup squad, the second youngest player on the team. Sánchez was also a part of Mexico's U-20 squad in the 2016 U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea.



Arizona State University adds a Jamaican international for the Fall Season

Arizona State University signed Canadian defender [from Brampton, Ontario] and Jamaican full national team player Jayda Hylton-Pelaia as a graduate transfer for the Fall 2021 season (if a player still has collegiate eligibility—usually one remaining season—she can transfer schools without sitting out a year if she has graduated and then enrolls as a graduate student at the new school, which is fantastic for the player academically and athletically). She previously played at East Carolina University. Hylton-Pelaia represented Jamaica on their full national team at the Pan Am games in Lima, Peru. She started all four games for the Reggae Girlz there and played all 360 minutes as Jamaica finished in seventh place. Her coach, English native Graham Winkworth said about his new signing, "Jayda is a full back that loves to get forward. Her crossing delivery is wonderful and she has the pace to cause opposing teams a lot of problems. She is a solid defender and will add quality, depth and competition to an area of the pitch we have looked to bolster in the off-season.


Graham Winkworth is continuing his commitment to bringing international talent to the Sun Devils in order to compete in the Pac-12 conference against the likes of UCLA, Stanford, Washington State, etc. The Fall 2021 season will be his fifth at the school and after a down season in 2019 (W-D-L) of 6-3-11 with a 0-2-9 record in the Pac-12, they have bounced back nicely this spring (most of the western U.S. colleges delayed their fall 2020 season until the spring due to COVID-19, when the NCAA will host the delayed 2020 College Cup). ASU should make the playoffs this spring, after narrowly missing an at-large bid in 2018 with a (10-1-7 W-D-L) record and it would be their first postseason berth since the 2014 season. They are currently 8-2-3 overall and 4-2-2 in the Pac-12, losing some games to COVID, but defeating USC (1-0), Stanford (2-0) at home and taking road wins in overtime at both Oregon State (1-0) and UCLA (2-1). Jemma Purfield (Bristol City) is a recent alumnus of the program while fellow English youth international Nicole Douglas currently leads the team with 8 goals and 3 assists and played at Chelsea. Winkworth has players on his squad from Brazil, Canada Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia and the United States. Two players—Nicole Soto and Alexis Delgado—have played with the full Mexican national team this season. The Sun Devils are definitely building a top tier program in the desert southwest and becoming a destination for talented internationals from abroad.



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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