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The Week in Women's Football: Washington Spirit hire new coach; FFA announce new tournament; Damallsvenskan review;

This week the Washington Spirit has hired their new coach for the 2019 season. China played friendlies late last month against W-League sides in Australia during a national team training camp. The Australian Football Federation will host a four team women's tournament in February and March, with all four sides Women's World Cup bound this summer in France. We also show the Sweden women's national team roster for their trip this month to South Africa and look at the recent Damallsvenskan league season.



Richie Burke to lead the Washington Spirit in 2019.

Last week the Washington Spirit hired Richie Burke as their head coach for the 2019 NWSL season, replacing Jim Gabarra—who was fired late in the season—and interim coach Tom Torres, who stepped in for Gabarra. Burke has worked at youth clubs in the Washington D.C. area, as well as for D.C. United. Burke, a native of Liverpool, played in the U.S. during the years between the NASL (which folded after the 1984 season) and MLS (which began in 1996) including a year with the CISL Washington Warthogs (indoor) and in Australia with Sydney Olympic, as well as for a short time with Chester in England. He coached Livingston in Scotland on the men's side for a short time, as assistant, then as interim head coach and finally in a permanent role, but resigned during his first year after a slow start to the season. Equalizer Soccer reported from sources that no other coaches were seriously considered by the Spirit for the appointment. The Spirit were one of three sides that were looking for a new head coach in 2019, and this column recently discussed James Clarkson's appointment in Houston (https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-interview-with-houston-gm-ching-new-zealand-mexico-league-reviews-4262133), leaving only Orlando needing a coach, which typically are hired ahead of the college draft, which this year is scheduled for January 10.

The Spirit also has a new majority owner in Steve Baldwin, a local tech company executive, while former majority owner Bill Lynch will become a minority stakeholder. Lynch was a controversial figure a few years ago when Megan Rapinoe began to kneel during the national anthem, as a number of athletes in different sports have done to recognize social issues in the United States. When Seattle came to Washington for a regular season match, Lynch—a former military forces veteran—ordered the national anthem played before the teams left the locker room, blindsiding the players and the league.

Baldwin is expected to invest more in the club's Maryland SoccerPlex home, but should also look at playing more games at new D.C. based Audi Field—home of MLS's D.C. United—as this stadium could be key in a long-term strategy to boost attendance and visibility for the franchise that has struggled for the past few years. The one game that the club played there last season brought in a record 7.976 for side near the bottom of the table and that figure could be increased for regular matches involving a more competitive side. Interestingly, Carlyn Baldwin, the new owner's daughter, plays professionally at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. She played on the U.S. U-20 Women's World Cup Finals team in Canada, where the Americans fell to North Korea on penalties in the quarterfinals. She said in a local interview in the D.C. area recently that: "Anytime you leave your country and go abroad, you grow a lot on the field and off the field because you are presented with so many challenges, just because you are in a different culture and different place but it was good [playing in Portugal]." She went to Switzerland to play professionally after 3 years in college—giving up her last year at Tennessee—to start her professional career. She played in the Nordic Cup last summer with the U.S. U-23 national team. She first went to Switzerland with BSC Young Boys (Bern) and won the league title last season with Sporting Lisbon. American Sharon Wojcik is a teammate at Sporting; she played collegiately at Virginia Commonwealth University and North Carolina State University.



China plays W-League sides in Friendlies

The Newcastle Jets of Australia's Westfield W-League scheduled two international friendlies against China's women's national team on the Gold Coast on December 20 and 23. China won the first match 2-0 with two first half injury time goals. Regular starters Katie Stengel (Utah Royals) and Australian internationals Gema Simon (ex-Ottawa Fury of the USL's W-League) and Jenna Kingsley did not play as the Jets fielded reserves and younger players. Goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom (Portland Thorns) was a key factor in goal in keeping the Jets in the game.

China's national women's team opened their tour of Australia with a 2-0 win over Canberra United in Brisbane on December 13. Canberra's first year South African imports Refiloe Jane and Rhoda Mulaudzi (both in the Banyana Banyana pool) were able to do some scouting against a first round Women's World Cup Group B opponent that they are drawn with next summer in France. Canberra coach Heather Garriock substituted all eleven starters at halftime to give all of her squad members' action. Garriock expected China to play more technically but was surprised by their approach: "They played a little differently to how I've seen China play in the past; they were a bit more direct than expected. It was an amazing opportunity for us to play against international opposition though and get to see a different style of football and see where we stand."



Cup of Nations Tournament in Australia coming this Quarter

Australia's Football Federation announced that the Matildas will host a four team Cup of Nations Tournament in February/March, involving the women's national teams of Argentina, Korea Republic and New Zealand along with the hosts, all of whom have qualified for the 2019 Women's World Cup in France. The doubleheaders will take place on February 28th in Sydney, March 3rd in Brisbane and March 6th in Melbourne.



Sweden Side Announced for South African Friendly later this month/2018 Damallsvenskan Review

Head coach Peter Gerhardsson will take 16 domestic (only two of which are with 2017 surprise Damallsvenskan champions Pitea, with 5 from runners-up Gothenburg and 3 from 2017 Linkopings) and 8 foreign-based players—four in France (a trio with Montpellier), 2 in Germany and 2 in England with Chelsea—to play fellow 2019 WWC qualifier South Africa in Cape Town on January 22:

Cajsa Andersson – Piteå IF DFF

Jennifer Falk – Kopparbergs / Gothenburg FC

Zecira Musovic – FC Rosengård

Jonna Andersson – Chelsea FC (England)

Nathalie Björn – FC Rosengård

Mia Carlsson – Kristianstad's DFF

Magdalena Eriksson – Chelsea FC (England)

Hanna Glas – Paris Saint-Germain FC (France)

Amanda Ilestedt – 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam (Germany)

Anna Oskarsson – Linköpings FC

Linda Sembrant – Montpellier Hérault SC (France)

Anna Anvegård – Växjö DFF

Kosovare Asllani – Linköpings FC

Stina Blackstenius – Montpellier Hérault SC (France)

Lina Hurtig – Linköpings FC

Sofia Jakobsson – Montpellier Hérault SC (France)

Julia Karlernäs – Piteå IF DFF

Mimmi Larsson – Eskilstuna United DFF

Julia Roddar – Kopparbergs / Gothenburg FC

Fridolina Rolfö – FC Bayern Munich (Germany)

Elin Rubensson – Kopparbergs / Gothenburg FC

Olivia Schough – Kopparbergs / Gothenburg FC

Caroline Seger – FC Rosengård

Julia Zigiotti – Kopparbergs / Gothenburg FC

In the league, Pitea won the league title in 2018 for the first time, finishing one point above Kopparbergs/Gothenburg (48 points to 47). Both clubs advance to the 2019/20 Women's Champions League. Rosengard (formerly Malmo) finished three points adrift of Pitea in third with Kristianstad fourth—9 points behind Pitea—and 2017 champions Linkoping were 6 points behind Kristianstad in fifth.

German international Anna Mittag won the Golden Boot for Rosengard with 17 goals, after also winning the Golden Boot in 2012 and 2014. English international Natasha Dowie—doing so well this season to power Melbourne Victory to the top of the W-League table after missing the playoffs three consecutive season—tied for sixth with 10 goals with Elin Rubensson of Gothenburg (who was named for the Sweden squad for the African training trip). Anna Anvegardof Vaxjo and Rebecka Blomqvist of Gothenburg were tied for second on goals with 14. Gothenburg's Julia Zigiotti-Olme finished fourth on 12 goals and Julia Karlenas led Pitea with 11—both Julia's are on the national team for the trip to Cape Town.

Pitea's Karlenas is 24-years-old and a Swedish youth international and should receive her first national team cap later this month. She is in her second season with Pitea and won an Elitettan title (2nd Division) crown at Mallbacken in 2014 and a UEFA U-19 Championship with Sweden in 2011/12.

Pitea also led the league table for average home gate attendance with a 1,999 average, followed by Stockholm-based Hammarby IF with 1,383, Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC at 1,087 and Eskilstuna United at 1,062. IF Linhamn Bunkeflo—who pipped Hammarby by 2 points to remain in the top league in 2019—was at the bottom with 484 fans a game. The league average came in around 900 a game, which is strong and consistent for a league that has lost top draws such as Marta of Brazil (to the NWSL) and Lotta Schelin (retirement this past summer).


Damallsvenskan 2018 Table GP WD T GFGAGDPts

1

Piteå

22

16

0

6

42

24

+18

48

2

Göteborg

22

15

2

5

54

27

+27

47

3

Rosengård

22

14

3

5

55

18

+37

45

4

Kristianstad

22

11

6

5

30

26

+4

39

5

Linköping

22

9

6

7

47

31

+16

33

6

Eskilstuna United

22

9

4

9

30

36

-6

31

7

Växjö

22

9

2

11

29

33

-4

29

8

Djurgården

22

7

6

9

25

30

-5

27

9

Vittsjö

22

7

5

10

32

26

+6

26

10

Limhamn Bunkeflo…

22

8

2

12

25

40

-15

26

11

Hammarby

22

8

0

14

29

39

-10

24

12

Kalmar

22

1

0

21

14

82

-68

3



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

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