This week, we present the second part of our 2020/21 Westfield W-League preview, featuring Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Newcastle and Perth. Last week we previewed the playoff teams from the 2019/20 season—the two Melbourne and two Sydney sides. We also look at some news from Australia and New Zealand, as well as startling franchise news speculation about OL Reign out of the NWSL, compounding the announcement earlier this month that the Utah Royals players will be transferred to a new team in Kansas City (their former home) for the 2021 campaign.
2020/21 Australia Westfield W-League Regular Season Preview—Part 2
Brisbane Roar (5-2-5—17 points—Fifth)
Brisbane Roar missed the playoffs last season for only the third time in their history.
Matildas midfielder Tameka (Butt) Yallop is back for her 13th season in the W-League, all with the Roar except for one season with Melbourne City in 2018/19. Yallop, who has made 118 appearances for the club, is the all-time Roar leading scorer with 48 goals and won two Grand Finals in Brisbane; she spent the offseason training with a men's side in New Zealand. She has played abroad in Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the U.S.
Matilda midfielder Katrina Gorry (78 caps) returns for her ninth season with the Roar and is hugely influential in dictating the pace of the game in the middle of the field. Centerback Clare Polkinghorne (31) is back for her 13th season with the club; she has won two Julie Dolan Medals as player of the season in the W-League and been a part of four Matilda Women's World Cup sides. The former Portland Thorns and Houston Dash defender over three seasons played with Alvadsnes in Norway this year; the club finished third on the table and four points behind (34) joint top Valerenga and Rosenborg (38 points), with Valerenga winning the title on a better goal difference (+25 to +18) but both clubs advance to next season's Women's Champions League. 'Polks' had one goal in 16 matches while Gorry had 3 tallies in 13 games,
Georgina Worth and Kaitlyn Torpey, who both have U-20 national team caps, return for their second and fourth seasons respectively in Brisbane. The pair played in the offseason with Capalaba FC this year in the NPL Women's Queensland.
A very important new addition is Emily Gielnik, who scored 4 goals with Melbourne Victory in 2018/19 before joining Bayern Munich after the 2019 Women's World Cup in France. Released by Bayern, she signed with Vittsjo GFK in the Swedish Damallsvenskan before the transfer window closed this past summer and helped the team finish fifth (after a horrible start to the season) and after capturing third in 2019—with New Zealand international defender CJ Bott on their side—both are incredible achievements for the village team that is so small that players have to stay in a larger community in the Malmo vicinity. Gielnik finished the Damallsvenskan season with 8 goals in 16 games, second on the side to long-time Vittsjo midfielder/forward Clara Markstedt, who had 9 tallies in 19 games. Her 18 goals over the last two seasons has thrust Markstedt (31) into the national team discussion for Sweden. Gielnik's goal scoring form should help the Roar replace fellow international and ex-Portland Thorns forward Hayley Raso's goals, who left Brisbane early in the 2019/20 season for Everton in the WSL, after scoring 4 goals in 8 W-League games.
Other signings from within the league include veteran forward Rosie Sutton (30) from Melbourne Victory last season. This will be Sutton's fifth W-League club in 7 seasons, with 23 league goals scored in total. Defender Kim Carroll, a veteran Matilda with 58 caps, returns to the Roar after 5 seasons at Perth Glory. This will be her 11th season in the league. Also coming to Queensland from the West are U-20 Australian internationals Morgan Aquino in goal (19) and midfielder Leticia McKenna (18). Aquino (19) backed-up Perth starting keeper Eliza Campbell and won two games in relief last year.
Goalkeeper MacKenzie Arnold left the club after four seasons with the Roar in the exodus to Europe, joining West Ham United in England's WSL. NWSL loanees Carson Pickett (Orlando Pride and who spent this fall on loan with Apollon in Cyprus) and Celeste Bourielle (Portland Thorns and on loan currently with FC Fleury 91 in France) are big losses in defense and defensive midfielder, respectively, after they both had 3 consecutive years with the Roar. Other departures were young talents Hollie Palmer and Leah Davidson, who both moved to join the Champions Melbourne City, while Isobel Dalton (ex-University of Colorado in the States) left before the last game of the season to join powerhouse Glasgow City in Scotland and now is in Italy with Napoli. Napoli unfortunately is at the bottom of the twelve team Serie A with only 1 point from 10 games, with Dalton appearing in 4 games. Other Australians with the club are Jacynta Galabadaarachchi (ex-West Ham, Perth Glory and Melbourne City) and Alex Huynh (ex-Western Sydney Wanderers)—they both have appeared in 4 games this campaign. American forward Rylee Baisden also left to tryout with the Houston Dash in preseason camp and finished the 2020 season with the North Carolina Courage, though she was released in late October and is a free agent; Baisden scored three goals last season after moving up from the Queensland state league in Australia.
Canberra United (4-1-7—13 points—Sixth)
Canberra United, which has missed the playoffs the last three seasons—a streak that cost ex-Matilda Heather Garriock her job at the end of 2019/20 (see more below on her new career position)—has appointed Vicki Linton (46) to lead the club this season. Linton has been a FIFA Football Instructor in Asia, took Melbourne Victory to two consecutive playoff spots in 2010/11 and 2011/12 for the first time in the franchise's history and has coached in the States with former USL W-League clubs Bay Area Breeze and the Boston Renegades. Linton spent the past three years with the U.S. Soccer Federation's Development Academy.
United went back to their past to sign legendary goal scorer Michele Heyman for the 2020/21 season. She had been working in commentary for Australian TV's W-League matches. This will be her ninth season for United (with 2 championship titles) and has played 89 games (51 goals) for the Greens, with 115 matches in the league in total (63 goals—second all-time behind Sam Kerr's 70). After a year off following the 2018/19 season in Adelaide, she told Canberra United's website, "Now that I've had a year off with no football, I feel better than ever—both mentally and physically strong and I have found the love of the game again. I am so excited to get back to the roots of Canberra United. Canberra United has been a part of my life and helped shape my career." She played this offseason in the NPL State League in New South Wales. She had 20 goals in 61 Matilda appearances. She also played 9 games after the 2015 Women's World Cup with the Western New York Flash in the NWSL, scoring once and adding one assist.
A new signing this season is New Zealand international Paige Satchell (22), who played in Germany with SC Sand. She has 18 caps for the Football Ferns and played in a U-17 FIFA WWC and two U-20 FIFA WWC editions. Forward Demi Koulizakis is another new signing for Canberra United. She spent the last four years at Texas Tech University in the States. She previously played for Western Sydney in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and had one goal in 13 games.
Strong new transfers are Nicki Flannery and Grace Maher (both 21). Flannery spent 4 seasons with Canberra before playing in Newcastle with the Jets last season and Australian international midfielder Grace Maher (21) is back from a summer at KR in Iceland in 2019 and has returned to Canberra, where she played 4 seasons before spending the last two campaigns with Melbourne Victory. Maher said about her return to Canberra, "This will be my seventh year in the Westfield W-League, so this season, in what will be a quite a young W-League, I'm just looking forward to using my knowledge as a player and the leadership qualities I have. I am hoping to help the club return to that top four spot." Maher had a national team call-up in 2017 but is still looking for her first cap.
Another returning Green who is looking for her first senior cap is Laura Hughes (19) who was just 15 when she made her debut for United and has played 18 times for the club across 3 seasons. She spent the summer with Throttur Reykjavik in Iceland. We talked to their British head coach Nik Chamberlain earlier this summer (see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-interview-with-trottur-coach-chamberlain-impact-of-2019-world-cup-report-taylor-joins-lyon-4336497)
and his side was able to consolidate their position in the top flight as a promoted team for the 2019 season, finishing in a 3 way tie for 5th with 18 points (4-6-6 W-D-L) but just two points ahead of relegated FH in the ten team league. Hughes scored 2 goals in 15 games for FH.
Jessie Rasschaert (33), who debuted in the W-League last season and played in nine matches, is back to support the defence.
Jessie Rasschaert of Canberra United advances the ball again Sydney FC's Caitlin Foord in the 2019/20 Westfield W-League season. Photo courtesy Canberra United/Westfield W-League.
Losses for this season include Matilada Karly Roestbakken, who went to Norway to join Lillestrom LSK Kvinner after 4 seasons with the Greens. She played in 16 league matches this season as Littlestrom finished in 5th place in the 10 team league and played with the side that advanced recently to the Round of 16 in the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League. American loanees midfielder Kaleigh Kurtz (North Carolina Courage) and forwards Simone Charley (Portland Thorns) and Katie Stengel (now Houston Dash) from last year's team will be sorely missed.
Canberra United's 26-year-old co-captain Nikola Orgill is also gone, having signed with Norwegian Toppserien side Kolbotn in March after her W-League season was completed. Orgill is a lawyer and was in her second season in the capital city, having previously played for the Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers for one season each. She is returning to WSW this season.
Some young reinforcements coming from the Australian state leagues are Jessika Nash and Clare Hunt. Hunt (21) played 11 games for United in 2016/17 and 2017/18 and has recovered from knee injuries; she had a strong season for Sydney University in the NSW NPLW this year. For Nash (16), she is a prospect to watch in her first W-League season. She captained the Junior Matildas at the 2019 U-16 Women's Championship in Thailand and played for the FNSW [Football New South Wales] Institute in the NSW NPLW this year. Nash's signing shows that, no matter the structural permutations of the W-League, that in thirteen years this is a league that always has young players coming through and is committed to their development. Nash said about her move, "It is a bit daunting to think of heading to Canberra at my age but I'm more excited than anything. I know this is the start of an exciting journey."
Perth Glory (3-2-7—11 points—Seventh)
Perth Glory has named Alexander Epakis as head coach of their W-League side for 2020/21. He led Sydney University to three consecutive NPL Premiership titles (2018-2020) in the state league and had been an assistant coach at Canberra United. Epakis said, "We want to build a culture and environment that we are all proud of. It needs to be based on core outcomes that give us the best opportunity to develop as a team and be competitive in each match. A commitment to weekly improvement and working towards a style of play and process are important pieces in what I would like us to achieve as a team." Epakis replaces Bobby Despotovski, who led the side since 2015, taking Glory to two Westfield W-League Grand Finals.
A key returnee is Perth Glory defender Natasha Rigby (27), who captained the side last season and has 51 appearances for the club. She was in the Women's Talent Identification camp in Canberra, held recently by former Brisbane Roar coach and now national team assistant Mel Andreatta, to uncover more talent for the national team (see more below). Rigby is in her fifth season with the Western Australia side.
Caitlin Doeglas (24) also extended her stay in the west after a promising season in 2019/20, scoring three goals in 12 appearances; she is in her fifth season with the Glory. Youth international defender Sarah Carroll returns for her ninth season, first playing for the side in 2011/12. Fellow back Jamie-Lee Gale is back for her third season with the club while Patricia Charalambous played for the Glory for two seasons (2016/17 and 2017-18) and then last season with Canberra. She has played in Europe with Cypriot side Apollon Limassol.
Perth will be a young side with U-17 youth international Alexia Moreno (19), Abbey Green (16), Isabella Wallhead (17) and Hanna Lowry (17) all returning, with Lowry scoring last season against Newcastle Jets in one of her three appearances.
Morgan Andrews (OL Reign), who tied for the Golden Boot last season with 7 goals, is a big loss from the NWSL for Perth.
Adelaide United (2-1-9—7 points—Tied for Eighth)
Former assistant coach Adrian Stenta was promoted to head coach for 2020/21, replacing Ivan Karlovic who was promoted into a women's football directorial role at the club. Australian U-17 and U-20 international goalkeeper Annalee Grove (19) was acquired for the 2020/21 season. She played last season at Canberra United. She will compete with Sian Fryer-McLaren (29—born in Scotland and who played for Adelaide United and Sydney FC in the past) for time in goal. Last year's starter Sarah Willacy went to WSW in the offseason.
Returnees include Chelsea Dawber (20) at forward, who scored 33 goals in 14 matches for Adelaide City of the WNPL in the off season as well as 2 goals and 2 assists for Adelaide United last season in the W-League. She joined the club in the 2017/18 season. Center back Matilda McNamara has also re-resigned, scoring two goals with Adelaide City in the offseason; she played in four of United's matches last year. Australian U-20 international Charolotte Grant (19) is back as is Reds veteran Emily Condon for her seventh season. Midfielder Dylan Holmes was born in Brazil (23) and played with Fulham in England in 2016 and spent some time at Colgate University in the States in 2015. Isabel Hodgson is back for her sixth year with the club after playing for East Tennessee State University.
American loanees Amber Brooks (now OL Reign) and Mallory Weber (Utah Royals) are huge losses for the side, as was Mary Fowler, who debuted for the club at 16, went to France with the Matildas and now plays with Montpellier in France. She scored 3 goals in 7 games for the Reds last season and has 2 goals in 11 games this season in the French Feminine Division 1. Adelaide United has used NWSL loanees and imports to improve over the past few seasons, the lack of which could hamper them dearly this season and unfortunately they should remain the only side to never make the W-League playoffs
Newcastle Jets—(2-1-9—7 points—Tied for Eighth)
It's always a concern when a team is far behind its colleagues in signing and roster movement announcements. That was the case this season and despite having a good dialogue with the Jets' media department, I got the sense that the team is struggling to field a team after too many departures from what was already a thin squad last year.
Jenna Kingsley (28) has retired from the game. She started in the W-League in the inaugural season of 2008/09 and played with Central Coast Mariners and WSW before joining the Jets in 2015, with 61 Jets appearances (seventh all time) and 87 in her W–League tenure, scoring 14 goals. She was capped once at the full national team level.
Nicki Flannery (Canberra United) and Libby Copus-Brown (WSW) joined other clubs (see above/last week, respectively) and once more Newcastle will struggle. They didn't sign any imports last season for budgetary reasons and the Jet's A-League parent is having financial difficulties as well according to reports so this is not a good story, despite the talent that they have grown at home such as midfielder Tiegan Collister and defender Tess Tamplin. It was only 3 years ago that they made the playoffs for the second time ever, utilizing NWSL imports Katie Stengel's (now Houston Dash) 10 goals and Britt Eckerstrom's (Portland Thorns) stellar work in goal
The Jets new head coach is a very good pick in Ash Wilson, who was an interim head coach for Craig Deans last season as Deans was pulled in to help with the men's team—which he has continued with as interim A-League head coach. Wilson has been at the Jets for 5 years, including with the women's (U-19) academy side. Wilson brings back Andrew Goldman as goalkeeper coach and brought in Scott McCarter, who joined the Academy program late in 2019.
Other News in Australia/New Zealand
Australian National Team's Women's Talent Identification Camp
The Women's Talent Identification Camp (referenced above) was held from November 22 thru 26 in Canberra to provide an opportunity for domestic-based talent to impress Westfield Matildas' coaches, under the direction of former Brisbane Roar head coach and Matilda assistant coach Mel Andreatta. Sydney FC Ellie Brush (also until this year an AFL player) was the only one of the 23 participants with senior appearances, while 19 have represented Australia and Junior Matildas (U-17) and Young Westfield Matildas (U-20) level. The 23 players selected were:
D Ellie Brush—Sydney FC
M Kyra Cooney-Cross—Melbourne Victory
D Cassidy Davis—Newcastle United
F Chelsie Dawber—Adelaide United
D Charlotte Grant—Adelaide United
D Ally Green—Sydney FC
G Annalee Grove—Adelaide United
F Bryleeh Henry—Football NSW Institute/Western Sydney Wanderers
D Angelique Hristodoulou—Sydney FC
M Laura Hughes—Throttur Reykjavik (Iceland)/Canberra United
D Emma Ilijoski—Canberra United (training camp)/Junior Matildas/ Canberra United Academy
G Sally James—Canberra United
M Grace Maher—Canberra United
D Courtney Nevin—Western Sydney Wanderers
F Hollie Palmer—Melbourne City
D Jamilla Rankin—Brisbane Roar
M Taylor Ray—Sydney FC
D Natasha Rigby—Perth Glory
F Cushla Rue—Football NSW Institute/Junior Matildas
M Charlie Rule—Sydney FC
F Remy Siemsen—Sydney FC
G Miranda Templeman—Hyundai NTC (NPL-WA)/Junior Matildas
M—Clare Wheeler—Sydney FC
New Zealand targets Australian youth international Indiah-Paige Riley for a national team spot
Football Ferns coach Tom Sermanni, who led the Matildas on two separate occasions with the national side, is trying to attract Indiah-Paige Riley to join the New Zealand national team. Riley (19) is a youth international for Australia but made waves when joining Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark this fall scoring two goals and creating an own goal in one of her first games in a 4-1 away victory over Nordsjaelland on September 12 . She was actually born in New Zealand. She has 3 goals in 9 league games and played in their Round of 32 6-2 aggregate tie with over Pomurje of Slovenia in the UEFA Women's Champions League. Sermanni explained, "It's our job to try and get the best team possible so anybody who is eligible to play for New Zealand will come on the radar for us, and if we hear about it it's very important that we follow it up and see where it takes us, and Indiah certainly comes under that bracket," She's obviously had some international experience at younger age groups and played regularly in the W-League so she already has some kind of profile and it would be negligent of us not to show an interest in a player like that. When you look at her pedigree and what she's done so far, she's got a pedigree which suggests at some stage she's probably going to be an international player, and I'm making that judgement not having any contact with her in a football sense other than watching her play for Brisbane Roar. But when you look at the background you think there's potential there to become an international player, and based on that potential, if she's open to it, and she's born in New Zealand, it's important for us to have a look at her and bring her into our system the best way we can." Riley has said multiple times that she would open to represent either nation, but the opportunity to solidify a place into the Football Ferns' squad well before the 2023 World Cup—given the glut of attackers in the Matildas side—may be too attractive to turn down. Sermanni is a very influential and experienced coach and I wouldn't bet against him winning his prize prospect. She moved to Australia when she was 7 but still returns frequently to New Zealand. She was impressive in her two seasons with the Roar, with 3 goals in 20 matches. She will definitely be playing for one of the host nations at the 2021 Women's World Cup in Australia-New Zealand—which one is still to be determined.
Garriock now in charge of a national sporting federation—but not in football
Heather Garriock, who for three years coached Canberra United (see above), took on the role recently of CEO of the Australian Taekwondo national federation. Her appointment also correlates with the next stage of Taekwondo's high performance strategy as it enters a partnership with Boxing Australia and Judo Australia, to form a new combat sport high performance entity, the Combat Institute of Australia. The main focus of this partnership will be on elite performance and the pursuit of delivering success at the international level in the lead up to the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and beyond. Garriock said, "I am very pleased and extremely humbled to be appointed to this important and significant role in Australian sport. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board of Australian Taekwondo for their confidence in me. I commit to the thousands of athletes, coaches, instructors, administrators, fans and volunteers—indeed all participants—to do my utmost to progress this organization forward for the benefit of all. As a two time Olympian and having represented the country in football 130 times, I hope to be able to bring both my international playing and coaching experience in the high-performance arena to drive the sport to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond."
Garriock will head up an organization that has approximately 300 clubs that provide Taekwondo activities in Australia to over 50,000 active participants with 13,500 of these being currently registered members of the organization. I interviewed Garriock when she played with the Chicago Red Stars in 2009 in the WPS and multiple times with the Matildas. She is very bright, motivated and will be successful in this interesting new endeavor.
OL Reign—Is Miami in their Future?
The OL Reign on December 18 had to release a statement denying plans that they were looking to move their NWSL franchise from Tacoma, Washington to Miami, after Tony Parker—the former NBA player from France who owns a small piece (3%) of Olympique Lyon in France, with the latter being the major shareholders of OL Reign in the NWSL—suggested in an interview with French Daily Newspaper Le Monde that the team would soon relocate to Miami. Parker said, "We want to move the women's franchise from Seattle to Miami." Parker's statement countered the fact that OL Reign is in the process of working towards a soccer-specific stadium and training facility in Tacoma and extending their lease at their current baseball stadium home of Cheney Stadium (capacity 9,600) in downtown Tacoma beyond 2021. Olympique Lyonnais released the following statement later that day after Parker's comments: "Following recent stories regarding the future of OL Reign, Olympique Lyonnais categorically denies that it has any plans to relocate the club from its current home in the Pacific Northwest." Miami had been mentioned by majority owner Jean-Michel Aulas during the 2019 Women's World Cup as a possible NWSL location where he has other business activities. Late in 2019, the Reign was sold by the original owners Bill and Teresa Predmore for $3.51 million to the French club's managing group, with the Predmores retaining 7.5% ownership. We did speculate at the time about the long-term viability of the French-owned franchise in Washington State, having moved to Tacoma from Seattle prior to the 2019 season, (see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-corinthians-claim-copa-libertadores-femenina-ol-purchase-tacoma-reign-4307739) and earlier in 2019 after the move to Tacoma (see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-nz-side-for-cup-of-nations-seattle-reign-rebranding-algarve-cup-draw-4269399).
It is important to understand that OL Reign is not a Seattle-based franchise—it is located in Tacoma, a medium sized city an hour south of the Emerald City. They share a major international airport but little else—Seattle has major league baseball while Tacoma has the minor league Rainiers, who manage the NWSL team. Ahead of the NWSL's inaugural season, Bill Predmore spurned working with the MLS Seattle Sounders (who to this day still have a WPSL amateur franchise—the Seattle Sounders Women) and Predmore made some grave errors in marketing (odd for someone that owns a local advertising agency). From 2014 thru 2018 they played in central but antiquated Seattle Memorial Stadium, just a short walk from the iconic Space Needle. The franchise has always struggled for support, despite making the 2014 and 2015 NWSL Finals—the first one which they hosted but had to switch the game back to their inaugural season (2013) home of Starfire for scheduling conflict reasons—the Sounders training facility in suburban Tukwila, near the airport—where they drew 4,252 fans for the final which they lost to FC Kansas City. The team has always struggled for support in Seattle. The club's annual attendance ranged from a low of 3,632 in 2014—their first season at Memorial—to a high of 4,602 in 2016. In 2018, the Reign averaged only 3,824. (Note: While at Tukwila in 2013, they averaged only 2,036, while the Sounders Women of the now defunct W-League averaged 1,090, after drawing 4,329 a game in 2012—with U.S. national team stars Hope Solo and Alex Morgan on the side at the time—a gap year for women's professional leagues after the WPS folded ahead of the 2012 season, which no doubt contributed to the Reign's image and branding difficulties in a city where the Sounder name dates back to 1974, along with their seventh place finish among 8 teams). The Reign's difficulty to establish a separate and vibrant presence in the city was sad and frustrating to see in a city that arguably is one of the largest soccer markets in the nation and the Sounders have a huge following and global brand. The move to Tacoma worked out at the gate as the team had a franchise record best average of 5,213 in 2019 for a playoff team led by the now U.S. National Team head coach Vlatko Andonovski.
An interesting wrinkle to Parker's statement is that, as part of the Tacoma stadium letter of intent between the city of Tacoma, Metro Parks Tacoma, and the Soccer Club of Tacoma (TSCOT, the Seattle Sounders/Tacoma Rainiers partnership which operates the Tacoma Defiance of the USL Championship—second division men's league to Major League Soccer), any stadium lease agreement would require TSCOT to operate an NWSL team in the stadium. Significantly, for the Tacoma stadium project to continue, Adrian Hanauer (one of the key owners of the Sounders in MLS) and TSCOT would need to acquire an NWSL expansion franchise to play in Tacoma should OL Reign move out of the city.
However, you have a major European power (with 5 UEFA Women's Champions League titles and 7 in total) seeing their U.S. affiliate playing in a baseball stadium in a fairly remote satellite city, albeit one with a rich soccer history of its own, particularly with the Tacoma Stars of Major Indoor Soccer League for 9 seasons and playing in various indoor leagues—with some gaps—since 1983 as well as minor league men's teams over the decades since the Tacoma Tides came to the city in 1976. Despite Tacoma being a success on the attendance side compared with any season in Seattle, the prospect of moving the side to a higher profile major city like Miami will always pose a threat to the team unless it can move into a stadium in the Seattle area and start to draw consistent crowds rivaling Portland's (just over 20,000 a game in 2019), which is just a few hour's drive south of Tacoma and is casting a huge shadow on the Reign.
There are rumors that internationals will be joining OL Reign in 2021 (probably from the parent club in France). French international Lyon goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi is linked with a move next summer; she and German international Dzsenifer Marozsan were close to joining the Utah Royals FC last spring until the COVID-19 pandemic interfered and they re-upped with Olympique Lyonnais on long term deals. French international defender and captain Wendie Renaud's name has been mentioned as well. Aulas said: "That would be also an example for everybody else; that's why we bought OL Reign in Seattle last year. We will offer her, if she wishes, to alternate between the USA and France." We don't expect a move to happen in 2021 but it will be interesting to see what happens in the future and if Tacoma can continue to draw significant crowds in 2021—COVID-19 gate restrictions permitting. We will watch this story closely and update TribalFootball.com readers as it develops.
OL Reign sign goalkeeper Cosette Morche for 2021
In other OL Reign news, the club signed goalkeeper Cosette Morche, who played at Texas A&M University for the 2021 season, with a team option to extend it through the 2022 season. Morche played with Eskilstuna United DFF in Sweden's Damallsvenskan, making 10 appearances in 2020 with two shutouts for the team that narrowly avoided relegation this year, finishing with a 7-2-13 (W-D–L) record for 10th place, but tied with Umea on points with 23. Eskilstuna had a much better goal difference (-4 compared with Umea -29) so Umea went down to the second division along with Uppsala (10 points). They will be replaced in the 2021 Damallsvenskan by Elitettan Champions AIK (72 points from 26 games) and Hammarby (66 points), both from Stockholm, with AIK playing in the national stadium in the near northern suburb of Solna. At Texas A&M, Morche had 20 shutouts in 45 games.
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