NWSL Notebook: Career firsts, near-misses and more

Top StoryApril 26

Jess Fishlock named Player of the Week

NWSL Week 2April 25

Week 2 Power Rankings

Power RankingsApril 25

European qualifying groups for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup announced

NewsApril 25

NWSL Week 2 Recap: Marta debuts, Seattle scores 5

NWSL Week 2April 23

Orlando City Stadium to host 2017 NWSL Championship

NewsApril 22

Marta arrives in Orlando

NewsApril 22

Morgan, Lyon top Lloyd, Manchester City in the 1st leg of UWCL Semifinal

NWSL AbroadApril 22

Courage midfielder Zerboni looks ahead to Saturday’s home opener

Game PreviewApril 21

Nahomi Kawasumi throws out first pitch before Mariners game

TrendingApril 20

Week 1 Power Rankings

Power RankingsApril 19

Haley Kopmeyer named Player of the Week

NWSL Week 1April 19

Amy Rodriguez tears ACL, will miss the rest of the season

NewsApril 18

Houston Dash acquire Camille Levin

NewsApril 18

Joanna Lohman tears ACL

NewsApril 17

A look back at Opening Weekend

NWSL Week 1April 17

Opening Weekend: Celebrations, Daly’s goal, Labbé’s saves

NWSL Week 1April 16

Broadcast teams announced for Week 1’s go90 live stream games

League NewsApril 14

Jenn Hildreth talks Portland, Orlando and what she expects to see in 2017

Q&AApril 14

2017 Preview: Orlando Pride

Season PreviewApril 14

2017 Preview: Portland Thorns FC

Season PreviewApril 14

NWSL announces multiyear partnership with go90

League NewsApril 13

2017 Preview: Washington Spirit

Season PreviewApril 13

2017 Preview: North Carolina Courage

Season PreviewApril 13

Team bonding, new jerseys, photo shoots and more

TrendingApril 12

NWSL suspends North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley for two games

NewsApril 12

2017 Preview: Sky Blue FC

Season PreviewApril 12

2017 Preview: Seattle Reign FC

Season PreviewApril 12

2017 Preview: FC Kansas City

Season PreviewApril 11

2017 Preview: Boston Breakers

Season PreviewApril 11

NWSL teams up with sports data provider Opta

League NewsApril 11

2017 Preview: Chicago Red Stars

Season PreviewApril 10

2017 Preview: Houston Dash

Season PreviewApril 10

Lavelle nets first international goal

USWNTApril 10

Teams announce 2017 rosters

Team NewsApril 10

Five-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta signs with the Orlando Pride

NewsApril 07

Rose Lavelle is good at soccer

TrendingApril 07

10 games to watch this season

Season PreviewApril 06

NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime schedule

ScheduleApril 06

NWSL announces U.S. WNT allocated players for 2017 season

USWNTApril 06

International players called up to WNT for April friendlies

NewsApril 05

NWSL Abroad: UEFA Champions League edition

NWSL AbroadApril 03

NWSL announces 2017 schedule

League NewsMarch 28

22 NWSL players called into USWNT for April friendlies

League NewsMarch 23

Amandine Henry and France win the SheBelieves Cup

SheBelieves CupMarch 07

Christie Rampone honored for legendary national team career

USWNTMarch 04

Rose Lavelle’s stellar USWNT debut

SheBelieves CupMarch 04

NWSL and A+E Networks look to build stronger foundation for long-term investment and growth of the league

League NewsFebruary 03

NWSL and A+E Networks announce historic partnership

League NewsFebruary 02

NWSL announces Canadian subsidized players for 2017

NewsJanuary 25

National Women’s Soccer League announces 2016 Best XI

NWSL AwardsOctober 07

Western New York Flash forward Lynn Williams voted NWSL MVP

NWSL AwardsOctober 06

Seattle Reign FC’s Lauren Barnes voted Defender of the Year

NWSL AwardsOctober 05

Orlando Pride’s Ashlyn Harris voted Goalkeeper of the Year

NWSL AwardsOctober 04

Sky Blue FC’s Raquel Rodriguez voted Rookie of the Year

NWSL AwardsOctober 03

Portland Thorns FC’s Mark Parsons Voted Coach of the Year

NWSL AwardsOctober 03

WNY Flash Forward Lynn Williams Wins 2016 NWSL Golden Boot

NWSL AwardsSeptember 26

NWSL Notebook: Career firsts, near-misses and more

NWSL career firsts, near-misses, a new ironwoman, tifos and more

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North Carolina's Debinha scored the game-winning goal for the Courage vs. the Spirit. (Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

1. First NWSL goals

Five players scored their first NWSL goals in Week 2, including two late goals that altered the result for their teams. North Carolina midfielder Debinha won the game for the Courage in the 81st minute and Orlando forward Danica Evans tied it in the 86th. Also scoring their first NWSL goals were Seattle rookies Katie Johnson and Kristen McNabb, as well as Spirit defender Line Sigvardsen Jensen.

Breakers rookie midfielder Rose Lavelle also tallied her first NWSL assist, passing to Natasha Dowie for Boston’s game-winner vs. Sky Blue FC.


2. So close

Boston’s Margaret Purce hits the crossbar.

There were almost two more first NWSL goals as Boston rookie forward Margaret Purce and Orlando forward Marta were this close to getting on the scoresheet. Both made great on their shots, but luck was not on their side.


3. Ironwoman Kasey Kallman

Washington Spirit defender Kasey Kallman is now the new ironwoman of NWSL, having played 3,780 consecutive minutes – 42 straight regular seasons matches, a streak that dates back to 2014.


4. Shutdown mode

North Carolina Courage goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo has now started the season with back-to-back shutouts, but has only had to make one save as the North Carolina defense has been on lockdown, allowing just one shot on goal and six total shots in their two 1-0 wins over the Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns FC.


5. The NWSL tifo game is strong

We’ve seen Portland’s shield-maidens and Kansas City’s Star Wars inspired creation — and this week in Boston, another gem — a reference to Lavelle’s bulldog (who has his own Instagram account). 


6. Welcome back!

Spirit defender Caprice Dydasco tweeted that she is now cleared to play again after tearing her ACL in the NWSL Championship last October.

Jess Fishlock named Player of the Week

The Reign midfielder tallied a goal and an assist in Seattle’s 5-1 win over Houston

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Jess Fishlock helped Seattle to a 5-1 win over Houston in Week 2. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

Following in her performance in Seattle’s 5-1 over the Houston Dash, Seattle Reign FC midfielder Jess Fishlock has been named Player of the Week  by the NWSL Media Association for Week 2 of the 2017 NWSL season

Fishlock scored the game’s first goal in the 18th minute and then assisted on Megan Rapinoe’s volley to make it 2-0. It was her shot from distances — one of three shots on goal she had in the game — that led to a rebound and Beverly Yanez’s goal that made it 4-0.

Fishlock tallied five total shots, including her three on goal, and 72 touches in the match.

The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Week 2 Power Rankings

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

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The North Carolina Courage are now 2-0-0. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

Two weeks into their existence and the North Carolina Courage have already made league history with a notable NWSL first.

In addition to winning their first match in front of 6,298 fans at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, the Courage once again showed their defensive grit to keep Portland Thorns FC off the scoreboard and post their second shutout of the season.

Elsewhere, Marta made her NWSL debut as the Orlando Pride rescued a draw in their home opener while 2017 No. 1 overall draft pick Rose Lavelle enjoyed a productive home debut as well with an assist to help the Boston Breakers to their first win of the season.

See below for a complete breakdown of every club from the past weekend.


1. North Carolina Courage

2-0-0, 6 pts
Up: 1
Last week: 2

The Courage celebrated their first home game in style as Debinha notched her first NWSL goal and goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo needed to make just one save to keep a clean sheet as North Carolina won 1-0 and became the first team in league history with shutouts in the first two games of a season.


2. Seattle Reign FC

1-0-1, 4 pts
Up: 4
Last week: 6

The Reign turned in their biggest victory since Opening Day 2015 with a 5-1 thumping of Houston. Five different players scored for Seattle with Megan Rapinoe getting her second goal of the year and rookie Kristen McNabb recorded her first NWSL goal and assist. The Reign face another team that they’ve never lost against when they take on Boston in Week 3.


3. Portland Thorns FC

1-1-0, 3 pts
Down: 2
Last week: 1

The Thorns tumbled two spots to No. 3 in the rankings after suffering a 1-0 road loss to North Carolina. Goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made three saves but could not keep out an 81st minute goal from Debinha. Portland returns home in Week 3 for a showdown with fellow 2016 playoff side Chicago.


4. Chicago Red Stars

1-1-0, 3 pts
Up: 3
Last week: 7

Julie Ertz scored and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher stopped all three shots she faced to pick up a shutout in a 1-0 victory for the Red Stars against FC Kansas City. The Red Stars are now 5-2-3 in their last 10 regular season matches going back to last season, but face a tough task with a Week 3 trip to Portland to take on the NWSL Shield holders.


5. FC Kansas City

1-1-0, 3 pts
Down: 2
Last week: 3

Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart saved a second-half penalty from U.S. international Christen Press, but that would serve as the only highlight for FC Kansas City in a 1-0 road loss. Rookie left back Christina Gibbons turned in the most active performance of the week with 97 touches and 60 total passes as the Blues got a glimpse of what the No. 5 overall pick can provide.


6. Boston Breakers

1-1-0, 3 pts
Up: 4
Last week: 10

Natasha Dowie scored on the first NWSL assist from Rose Lavelle as the Breakers look to leave last year in the past with a 1-0 home win over Sky Blue. It took Boston six games in 2016 to earn their first victory and they’ll look to double that total next week when they host Seattle.


7. Houston Dash

1-1-0, 3 pts
Down: 3
Last week: 4

The Dash will have May 27 circled on their calendar as the next opportunity to get their first win in club history against Seattle after being on the wrong side of a 5-1 blowout against the Reign in Week 2.


8. Sky Blue FC

0-1-1, 1 pt
Down: 3
Last week: 5

Sky Blue suffered a 1-0 road loss to Boston as they started the year without a win through the first two games for the first time since 2014.

Rookie goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan continued to impress with five saves against the Breakers. Sky Blue gets set for a Sunday showdown with FC Kansas City in Week 3.


9. Washington Spirit

0-1-1, 1 pt

Last week: 9

Denmark international Line Sigvardsen Jensen scored her first NWSL goal to help the Spirit earn a 1-1 road draw against Orlando. Washington, however, dropped points from a winning position after 85 minutes and will want to avoid a repeat performance going forward.


10. Orlando Pride

0-1-1, 1 pt

Last week: 8

Marta made her NWSL debut and Danica Evans scored in the 86th minute to salvage a home draw for the Pride against Washington. Orlando led the league last year with three points recovered from losing positions at the 85-minute mark and secured their first such return this year, but the Pride still fall two spots after dropping points at home.

European qualifying groups for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup announced

Seven countries attempting to qualify for the 2019 WWC are represented in the NWSL

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Nadia Nadim of Portland Thorns FC (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

The group stage draw for European qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France has been announced, a qualification tournament that could see as many as 11 NWSL players, across seven countries, compete. Wales, Denmark, Scotland, Norway, Iceland, England and Portugal are all represented in the NWSL and league players from those countries could be named to the qualifying rosters.

Players include: Jess Fishlock (Seattle Reign FC/Wales), Nadia Nadim (Portland Thorns FC/Denmark), Line Sigvardsen Jensen (Washington Spirit/Denmark), Rachel Corsie (Seattle Reign FC/Scotland), Emilie Haavi (Boston Breakers/Norway), Denise O’Sullivan (Republic of Ireland), Amanda DaCosta (Boston Breakers/Portugal) and Dagný Brynjarsdóttir (Portland Thorns FC/Iceland).

In addition, Leah Galton (Sky Blue FC), Natasha Dowie (Boston Breakers) and Rachel Daly (Houston Dash) have all represented England on the senior or youth national team levels, though they were not named to the roster for England’s upcoming trip to the UEFA Women’s Euro tournament this summer in the Netherlands.

Portland Thorns FC midfielder Amandine Henry, who won the Silver Ball representing France at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, is also expected compete in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup — but, as host nation, France is automatically qualified for the Women’s World Cup and will not take part in the UEFA qualifying tournament.

The qualifying group stage runs from September 11, 2017 to September 4, 2018. The winners of each group advance to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, while the four group runners-up


Full groups:

Group 1

England

Russia

Wales

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kazakhstan

Group 2

Switzerland

Scotland

Poland

Belarus

Albania

Group 3

Norway

Netherlands

Republic of Ireland

Slovakia

Northern Ireland

Group 4

Sweden

Denmark

Ukraine

Hungary

Croatia

Group 5

Germany

Iceland

Czech Republic

Slovenia

Faroe Islands

Group 6

Italy

Belgium

Romania

Portugal

Moldova

Group 7

Spain

Austria

Finland

Serbia

Israel

NWSL Week 2 Recap: Marta debuts, Seattle scores 5

Plus: North Carolina wins at home, Ertz scores for Chicago

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The Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit tied 1-1 in Marta's NWSL debut. (Photo credit: Jeremy Reper SOURCE:isiphotos.com

A quick look back at all the action from Week 2 of the NWSL — and it was a very busy Week 2.

Orlando Pride 1 Washington Spirit 1

Five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta made her NWSL debut, coming on in the second half for the Orlando Pride. Washington’s Line Sigvardsen Jensen scored her first NWSL goal almost immediately after she entered, but the drama was only just beginning. Pride rookie Danica Evans tied the game in the 86th minute and Marta very nearly scored the game-winner in stoppage time.


Seattle Reign FC 5 Houston Dash 1

The Reign won big over the Dash — 5-1 — with goals from five different players. Megan Rapinoe scored an impressive left-footed volley and Seattle added goals from Jess Fishlock, Kristen McNabb, Beverly Yanez and Katlyn Johnson.


Chicago Red Stars 1 FC Kansas City 0

Julie Ertz scored as the Red Stars controlled most of the match vs. FC Kansas City.


North Carolina Courage 1 Portland Thorns FC 0

North Carolina improved to 2-0-0 as they won their first-ever home game. Midfielder Debinha scored her first NWSL goal.


Boston Breakers 1 Sky Blue FC 0

The Boston Breakers won their home-opener 1-0 over Sky Blue FC. Breakers forward Natasha Dowie scored the game’s only goal and rookie midfielder Rose Lavelle earned her first NWSL assist.

Orlando City Stadium to host 2017 NWSL Championship

The NWSL Championship Match will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14

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Orlando City Stadium (Photo credit: Mark Thor/Orlando Pride)

The National Women’s Soccer League issued the following press release: 

CHICAGO (April 22, 2017) – Orlando City Stadium will host the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Championship match on Saturday, Oct. 14. Orlando City SC Majority Owner Flavio Augusto da Silva, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy made the announcement during halftime of Orlando Pride’s historic home opener on Saturday evening.

“We are thrilled to announce that Orlando City Stadium, a new state-of-the-art venue that has already become one of the best soccer settings in the country, will be the site of the 2017 NWSL Championship,” said Amanda Duffy. “The city of Orlando has proven its overwhelming support for the sport and for the Orlando Pride, and we are confident all the necessary components are in place for a successful and historic championship to conclude the league’s fifth season of operation.”

Orlando City Stadium opened in March 2017 and is home to Orlando Pride in the NWSL, Orlando City of Major League Soccer (MLS) and Orlando City B of the United Soccer League (USL).

“The appetite for soccer in Orlando is at an all-time high, and we are thrilled to contribute to this movement by bringing the NWSL Championship to Orlando,” said da Silva. “A huge driving force to invest in our stadium was to bring this community the best soccer opportunities possible, not only with our three teams, but with major events and matches around the world.”

The privately-funded, 25,500-seat stadium features a natural grass playing surface and a four-sided canopy roof to keep noise in and weather out, as well as North America’s only safe-standing supporters’ section. It also features 49 rainbow colored seats in Section 12 as a tribute to the victims of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016.

“Investing in our women’s team is a top priority for our Club this year,” added da Silva. “The team is entering its second year in the league and we’ve brought two outstanding athletes with Marta and Ali Krieger recently to enhance the team’s competitiveness. We expect a great season for our fans.”

Orland Pride, Orlando City and Orlando City B Season Ticket Members will receive exclusive ticket information at a later date. All fans interested in attending the Championship match can sign up at www.orlandocitysc.com/pride/final to receive the latest updates.

At the conclusion of the regularly-scheduled NWSL season, the top four teams in the NWSL standings qualify for the playoffs and the higher-seeded teams will host semifinal matches on the weekend of Oct. 7-8.

Marta arrives in Orlando

The five-time FIFA Player of the Year joins the Pride

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Marta arrives at the airport in Orlando. Photo Credit: Mark Thor/Orlando Pride

After arriving in Orlando Thursday night, the newest member of the Pride, Brazilian superstar Marta, met the media Friday morning in an introductory press conference alongside Orlando City SC majority owner Flávio Augusto Da Silva and club CEO Alex Leitão. 

“Since Orlando took the initiative to build a women’s soccer team, it showed that it has the same intent [that] it has for the men’s team,” Marta said through a translator when asked why she chose to join the National Women’s Soccer League as a member of the Orlando Pride.

“Also, the way the people of Orlando, the city breathes soccer, lives soccer. … That is a great thing for an athlete when local people are that involved with a sport.”

Marta saw that excitement immediately upon arriving Thursday night at Orlando International Airport, where she was greeted by a crowd of fans.

“It was surprising to see that amount of people at the airport to greet me because it was also late at night, about 10:30 p.m.,” she said. “It was very exciting. I was very happy.”

It’s been a whirlwind few days for the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, who only left Sweden, where she last played with FC Rosengård, Thursday morning. When asked if that would be enough time to get ready for the match, Marta showed no signs of not being ready to go on Saturday in Orlando’s home opener vs. the Washington Spirit (Lifetime, 3:30 p.m. ET).

“I’m so excited that honestly I just want to be ready and available for selection if coach wishes for tomorrow,” she said.

“I wasn’t sure I’d be able to take the flight. I was really looking forward [to] a call from the embassy with all my paperwork. I think it was almost a goal scored after the 90th minute, but I was super happy. The flight was good and I’m ready to go.”

After the press conference, Marta went to her first training session with her new teammates and her new head coach Tom Sermanni. The team struggled to score in Week 1, falling 2-0 to Portland Thorns FC.

“As a forward or [midfielder/forward], part of our job is to score goals. So, I’ll do my best to score my goals, but no one is going to do any miracles,” she said when asked how she could help the team on offense.

“The important thing is try to get the best of each player and I’m going to do my best for them to reach their best and, all together, we are going to try to help get in a better place.”


Watch the full press conference:


Scenes from Marta’s arrival in Orlando:

Morgan, Lyon top Lloyd, Manchester City in the 1st leg of UWCL Semifinal

NWSL Abroad: UEFA Women’s Champions League Semifinal edition

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Alex Morgan in action for the Orlando Pride last season. (Photo credit: Roy K. Miller/isiphotos.com)

Olympique Lyonnais topped Manchester City 3-1 in a highly-anticipated meeting between NWSL players and U.S. women’s national team teammates Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash) and Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) in the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinal matchup in Manchester, England.

With the win and three road goals, Lyon, who won the UWCL title last year, now hold a commanding lead as the two teams get set to play the final leg on Saturday, April 29.

While neither Lloyd nor Morgan scored in the match, they both were involved in several goals.

It was Lloyd who was called for a handball in the box in just the second minute, which led to Saki Kumagi converting the penalty kick to give Lyon the early 1-0 lead. Just eight minutes later, Lloyd passed to Toni Duggan, who then sent a through ball to a sprinting Kosovare Asllani for a goal, tying the game 1-1.

In the 16th minute, Morgan started the play that led to Lyon’s second goal of the match, sending a ball into the box which Camille Abily passed to Dzsenifer Marozsán for the game-winner.

Both Morgan and Lloyd are expected to rejoin their NWSL teams later this summer.

Lyon and Manchester City will meet again for the second and final leg of the semifinals on Saturday at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

Courage midfielder Zerboni looks ahead to Saturday’s home opener

North Carolina hosts Portland on Saturday night

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McCall Zerboni scored the first goal in North Carolina Courage history as the Courage topped the Washington Spirit 1-0 in Week 1. (Photo credit: Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com)

The North Carolina Courage will play their inaugural home game at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, on Saturday night vs. Portland Thorns FC.

Ahead of the home opener, we caught up with midfielder McCall Zerboni to get her thoughts on what she expects this weekend, last week’s win over the Spirit and what is was like to score the first goal in North Carolina Courage history.


Q: How does it feel to get on the scoresheet right away this season?

Zerboni: We worked really hard this preseason. Obviously, we have a lot of expectations, coming off of last season. So to kind of start the season on a good foot, on a good note, with a win, felt really good. It’s an honor to be able to do that for the club. Obviously, the transition has been difficult and taken some time and the club has been very kind to us and helpful with our transition, so it was nice to kind of give back to the club in a way.

Watch: Zerboni scores the first goal in Courage history:

Q: North Carolina seemed to be in control in the game but Stephanie Labbé kept coming up big. As an opponent, what are you thinking when someone is having a game like that in goal?

Zerboni: Yeah, Labbé was on fire. She came out this season looking really good. If she can play every game like that it’s going to be a problem.

I think we created a lot of chances on her — whether they were chances from far out, whether they were point blank, whether they were crosses — she kind of proved that she could handle all of that. We were trying every way that we could to get past her. The fact that we have that dynamic to kind of try different angles, to get close to the net and get those opportunities on goal is really encouraging for the squad.

Q: It seemed like Debinha fit in really well right away with your team. What did you think of her game and how she’s fitting in?

Zerboni: It’s been so cool. We have about 85% of the same team as last year and to add those positive pieces, like Debinha — She adds skill and some width on the ball. She’s a true 10. [She] really adds some dimension to us and is able to play those balls into our dangerous forwards like [Jessica] McDonald and [Lynn] Williams. She’s been a really great addition.

Q: Saturday is going to be your inaugural game at home, but you’ve been in North Carolina through preseason. What’s it been like so far in terms of the fans and the atmosphere?

Zerboni: Straight away since arriving, there’s been a really great reception of us moving here. The North Carolina area has been starving for a team for a long time and they finally have one, so it’s nice to kind of be able to provide that for the fans. They’re sophisticated fans. They’ve been around the game for awhile. Right away, they gave us support and the community has been really good. I’m excited to see what kind of energy they bring. Obviously, they are intelligent and passionate fans, but just how they fill the park and what kind of energy they’ll bring to be behind us. It’ll be really exciting, I think.

Q: What do you think of facing Portland this week after their strong opening game against Orlando?
Zerboni: Portland has similar players as last year. They’re a strong squad. Everyone keeps trying to say, “Oh, it’s a rematch from last year.” But it’s really not. This is a new season with new pieces on both teams. It’s different. This is kind of our first head-to-head with Portland. We’ll see how we go against other. … The first time that you play each team in the league is really getting your feet wet and seeing where those pieces fit when playing against each other. It should be quite the showdown.


Get an early look inside North Carolina’s new home and hear from members of the Courage, courtesy of @TheNCCourage on Twitter.

Nahomi Kawasumi throws out first pitch before Mariners game

Kawasumi tosses a strike at Safeco

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(Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

Seattle Reign FC’s Nahomi Kawasumi tossed out the first pitch at the Mariners game on Wednesday. The forward threw a strike at Safeco Field before Seattle’s meeting with the Miami Marlins. Watch the video.

Seattle posted a behind the scenes video of her pitch on Twitter.

Week 1 Power Rankings

NWSL Power Rankings presented by Cutter

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(Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

The 2017 NWSL season got underway with a trio of emphatic 2-0 wins by Portland Thorns FC, FC Kansas City and the Houston Dash, while the North Carolina Courage won their first-ever NWSL game.

Houston forward Kealia Ohai, FC Kansas City forward Sydney Leroux and North Carolina midfielder McCall Zerboni got their teams off to strong starts with early goals. Player of the Week Seattle goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer led a pack of impressive goalkeeping performances in Week 1.

Check out where each club ranks after the first weekend:


1

PORTLAND THORNS FC
1-0-0, 3 pts

The NWSL Shield holders hit the ground running as Christine Sinclair and Nadia Nadim both scored, while Adrianna Franch made 7 saves to earn a shutout. The Thorns improved to a perfect 5-0-0 in home openers.


Abby Dahlkemper led a backline that did not allow a shot on target as the Courage earned an impressive away win against Washington. McCall Zerboni scored the first goal for the Courage, who will open their home campaign against Portland in Week 2.


3

FC KANSAS CITY
1-0-0, 3 pts

Sydney Leroux scored in her NWSL return to help lead FC Kansas City to an opening day win for the first time in club history. Amy Rodriguez also scored in her NWSL return, but suffered an ACL tear minutes later and will miss the rest of the season.


4

HOUSTON DASH
1-0-0, 3 pts

Kealia Ohai picked up right where she left off last year as she scored the first goal of the 2017 NWSL season and added an assist to extend Houston’s unbeaten run against the Red Stars to four games. Rachel Daly’s brilliant left-footed strike stole the show, earning a top spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays.


5

SKY BLUE FC
0-0-1, 1 pts

Sarah Killion converted from the penalty spot to help Sky Blue FC earn a draw against the Reign as the squad came away from a road game in Seattle with at least a point for the fifth time. Rookie defenders Mandy Freeman and Kayla Mills made their debuts on either side of captain Christie Pearce.


6

SEATTLE REIGN FC
0-0-1, 1 pts

Megan Rapinoe scored from the penalty spot to match her goal total from the whole of an injury-plagued 2016. Goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer’s 8 save performance in the draw with Sky Blue FC earned her Player of the Week honors.


7

CHICAGO RED STARS
0-1-0, 0 pts

The Red Stars lost a season opener to the Dash for the second straight season as Chicago was unable to find a way past Houston goalkeeper Lydia Williams. It doesn’t get any easier in Week 2 as they welcome Nicole Barnhart and FC Kansas City to town.


8

ORLANDO PRIDE
0-1-0, 0 pts

Ali Krieger marked her first game with Orlando by registering a game-high 63 passes as the Pride got a taste of the overall impact she can have on a game, but the Pride were unable to find the back of the net in the match. Orlando should get some help on the offensive side of the ball this weekend as Marta is expected to make her NWSL debut.


9

WASHINGTON SPIRIT
0-1-0, 0 pts

Stephanie Labbé stopped 8 of 9 shots, but was unable to keep the Spirit, who were unable to manage a shot on goal, from falling in their season opener against the North Carolina Courage. They face Orlando (and, perhaps, Marta) on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Spirit, they also lost Joanna Lohman to an ACL tear in their opening game.


10

BOSTON BREAKERS
0-1-0, 0 pts

No. 1 overall draft pick Rose Lavelle made her NWSL debut in a 2-0 loss to FC Kansas City. The rookie was lively throughout with a game-high 81 touches for the Breakers, who also saw league debuts from Margaret Purce, Morgan Andrews, Rosie White and Ifeoma Onumonu.

Haley Kopmeyer named Player of the Week

The Seattle goalkeeper made 8 saves in the Reign's 1-1 draw with Sky Blue FC

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Haley Kopmeyer made eight saves for Seattle vs. Sky Blue FC. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer was named Player of the Week by the NWSL Media Association for Week 1 of the 2017 NWSL season.

Kopmeyer held Sky Blue FC in check on Saturday night in Seattle, making eight saves. She kept the game scoreless in the first half, stopping six shots as Sky Blue FC pressured early. Called upon in the 90th minute, she was also up to the task, punching away an attempt by Maya Hayes. She very nearly stopped Sarah Killion’s second half PK attempt, as well.

The NWSL Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.

Amy Rodriguez tears ACL, will miss the rest of the season

The FC Kansas City forward was injured just minutes after scoring in her NWSL return

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Sunday's game marked Amy Rodriguez's first NWSL game since 2015. (Photo credit: Amy Kontras/isiphotos.com)

FC Kansas City forward Amy Rodriguez suffered a left knee ACL tear on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season, the team announced Tuesday.

Rodriguez was making her turn to the team after missing all of 2016 due to the birth of her son. She scored in the 48th minute of her return match, her first goal since the game-winner at the 2015 NWSL Championship. She was injured several minutes later and immediately subbed out of the game.

Roriguez posted an update Tuesday on Instagram. “I am heartbroken to announce that I tore my ACL and will soon undergo surgery,” she wrote. “I know I have a long road ahead of me, but I’m already looking forward to lacing up my cleats again. I’ve made a comeback twice before, and I will do it again!”

“I’m extremely sorry for what happened to Amy. She worked so hard to come back from pregnancy and looked better than ever before,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a team press release. “It is unfortunate that she is not going to be able to play this season. We’ll miss her on the field, in the locker room, and in training. Her enthusiasm is contagious.”
Rodriguez’s six career playoff goals, which helped lead FC Kansas City to back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, are the most in NWSL history.

Houston Dash acquire Camille Levin

Orlando receives third-round draft pick in return

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(Photo credit: Roy K. Miller/isiphotos.com)

The Houston Dash acquired defender Camille Levin from the Orlando Pride on Tuesday, the club announced. In exchange Houston sent a third-round 2018 NWSL College Draft pick to Orlando.

Levin heads to Houston after spending 2016 with the Pride.

Houston also announced Tuesday that they had waived forward Stephanie Ochs.

Joanna Lohman tears ACL

The Washington midfielder is expected to miss the rest of the season

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Joanna Lohman was injured in Washington's first game of the season.

Washington midfielder Joanna Lohman announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that she has torn the ACL in her left knee.

“It is with an incredible amount of sadness that I inform you I tore my ACL,” she wrote. “This team & everyone involved helps me in ways I can never fully express, so I’m most disappointed that I won’t be able to share our mission on the field.”

Lohman was injured shortly before McCall Zerboni scored for North Carolina in the 18th minute, and was subbed off a few minutes later.

Lohman posted a follow-up to her initial tweet, saying her doctor had called her “valiant” for continuing to play after she injured her knee.

Read both tweets below:

Lohman is expected to miss the rest of the season.

“It’s extremely unfortunate. Joanna worked incredibly hard during the offseason and was poised for another excellent year,” Washington coach general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra said in a team press release. “She will have our full support throughout her recovery process.”

Lohman has been a member of the Spirit since 2014 and scored 4 goals last season.

A look back at Opening Weekend

NWSL Week 1 in Review

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Megan Rapinoe and Jessica Fishlock of Seattle Reign FC. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

A look back at Week 1:


FC Kansas City 2 Boston Breakers 0

Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez both scored in their NWSL returns, but A-Rod left the game in the second half with an apparent left knee injury. Breakers midfielder Rose Lavelle, the No. 1 pick in the NWSL College Draft,  made her NWSL debut. Read the recap

Highlights:


Houston Dash 2 Chicago Red Stars 0

An incredible strike from Rachel Daly and Kealia Ohai‘s continued scoring hot streak put Houston off to a fast start in 2017. Read the recap 

Highlights:


Portland Thorns FC 2 Orlando Pride 0

The Portland Thorns won the first ever NWSL Game of the Week, improving to 5-0-0 all-time in home openers. Nadia Nadim and Christine Sinclair tallied the goals for the Thorns. Read the recap

Highlights:


Washington Spirit 0 North Carolina Courage 1

Washington’s Stephanie Labbé did her best, but McCall Zerboni‘s goal gave North Carolina their first-ever NWSL win. Read the recap

Highlights:


Seattle Reign FC 1 Sky Blue FC 1

A pair of penalty kicks were the only goals in an even match on Saturday night in Seattle. Reign goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer made several strong saves in the match. Read the recap

Highlights:

Opening Weekend: Celebrations, Daly’s goal, Labbé’s saves

Houston, Portland, North Carolina and FC Kansas City win their opening matches

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Houston's Kealia Ohai scored the first goal of the 2017 NWSL season. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

Take a look back at Week 1 of the 2017 NWSL season.

Both Sydney Leroux and Amy Rodriguez scored in their NWSL returns, after both missed last season because of pregnancy. Shortly after Rodriguez’s goal, however, she left the match with an apparent left knee injury. Watch Leroux’s goal here:


Houston’s Rachel Daly looks to be a favorite for Goal of the Week — and an early Goal of the Year of the candidate:


Her teammate, Kealia Ohai also scored in the match and debuted a new goal celebration.

Kealia Ohai


Washington’s Stephanie Labbé, despite the loss to the Courage, was brilliant for the Spirit. She made several great saves, perhaps none better than her second half stops vs. Jessica McDonald and Debinha. 


Christine Sinclair and Nadia Nadim goals led the way for Portland as they won the first ever NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime, shutting out the Orlando Pride.


The Thorns also received the 2016 NWSL Shield before the game and the Rose City Riveters paid tribute.


Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC played to a 1-1 draw highlighted by two penalty kicks and a strong performance from Reign goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer.

Broadcast teams announced for Week 1’s go90 live stream games

Veteran women’s soccer announcers will be on the call for this weekend's games

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The Chicago Red Stars visit the Houston Dash in the opening game of the 2017 season. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

The National Women’s Soccer League kicks off on go90 opening weekend with four games being live streamed. On the broadcasts for each game this week will be veteran announcers familiar to NWSL and women’s soccer fans: Taylor Burke, Morgan Church, Morgan Conklin, Matt Pedersen and Mike Watts.

Earlier this week, NWSL announced their partnership with go90 to stream 98 regular season games live and on-demand on the go90 iOs and Android apps in 2017.

Check out who will be on the call for each game this weekend and find out more about each announcer below.

Broadcast Schedule – Talent:

Saturday

Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars – 2 p.m. ET go90 app

Play-by-Play: Matt Pedersen

Analyst: Taylor Burke

Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage – 3 p.m. ET go90 app

Play-by-Play: Mike Watts

Analyst: Morgan Church

Seattle Reign vs. Sky Blue FC – 10 p.m. ET on go90 app

Play-by-Play: Matt Pedersen

Analyst: Morgan Church

Sunday

FC Kansas City vs. Boston Breakers – 6 p.m. ET go90 app

Play-by-Play: Matt Pedersen

Analyst: Morgan Conklin


 

Taylor Burke

Analyst

@taylorburke0

A former goalkeeper at the University of Florida, Burke holds records for minutes played, solo shutouts, and goals against average. Taylor was also an All-American high jumper on the track and field team for the Florida Gators. She holds several University of Florida records on the pitch and in the high jump. Taylor graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Florida and a Master’s in Business Management. While earning her Masters, she was an analyst for ESPN radio calling games for the Florida women’s soccer team.

Morgan Church

Analyst

@Morgan_Church9

A former NCAA Division 1 coach at multiple programs including University of North Florida, Gonzaga University, and Florida State University.  She currently coaches the Florida Sol FC, Semi-Pro team, Technical Director of Development Academy at United Soccer Alliance, and Community Programs Director of Jacksonville Armada. Morgan has been involved with U.S. Soccer directing Coaching Courses, as well as a Staff Member of the US Soccer Training Centers. Along with her coaching experience she also has earned a U.S. Soccer “A” License, as well as a NSCAA Regional GK License.

Morgan Conklin

Analyst

@_MConklin

A former defender at Virginia Tech, Morgan Conklin was a member of the 2013 squad that went to the College Cup. Conklin joins the NWSL broadcast team after having called women’s college soccer for the SEC Network, ESPN3 and FOX Sports South. She serves as an Associate Producer for the USL and also calls games as an analyst for the league, including the ESPN3 and SiriusXM FC Game of the Week.

Matt Pedersen

Play-by-Play

@mattpedersen5

A veteran broadcaster with a decade of professional experience, Matt Pedersen was play-by-play announcer for Houston Dash home games from 2015-16, radio broadcaster for the Houston Dynamo from 2012-15 and TV sideline reporter for Dynamo home games last season. He played college soccer at San Francisco State University before broadcasting Minor League Baseball for four years. Currently a freelance broadcaster, his recent work includes the 2017 Generation adidas Cup, the 2016 Big East men’s soccer championship and Sam Houston State baseball, softball and basketball broadcasts on ESPN3.

Mike Watts

Play-By-Play

@MikeWattsOnAir

A returning face to NWSL broadcasts, Mike Watts was the league’s youngest voice in 2014 as a commentator for Sky Blue FC. Since, Watts has provided play by play for the SheBelieves Cup, two USL Cup Finals, and the 2017 CONCACAF Champions League Final. A collegiate broadcaster across several sports, he has experience with ESPN’s collegiate soccer coverage. Watts currently hosts “USL Coast to Coast” weekly on SiriusXM FC.

Jenn Hildreth talks Portland, Orlando and what she expects to see in 2017

The NWSL Game of the Week debuts on Lifetime on Saturday

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Jenn Hildreth (right) speaks with members of the Washington Spirit before last year's NWSL Championship. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

When the NWSL Game of the Week makes its debut on Lifetime on Saturday (Portland vs. Orlando, 3 p.m. ET), on the play-by-play call for the broadcast will be Jenn Hildreth, a veteran women’s soccer announcer who has called, among other games, the last two NWSL Championships and the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

We caught up with Hildreth earlier this week for a quick chat to get her thoughts on the upcoming season and what she expects to see in Portland on Saturday.

Q: It’s the season opener, in Portland, on Lifetime — what do you think the atmosphere is going to be like?

JH: Oh my gosh. What is the atmosphere always like in Portland? They spoil us. It’s so fantastic. I just get excited thinking about any game I get to do there, to be honest. I think that, talking to a lot of players in the league, they honestly feel the same way. They understand that it’s a home field advantage for Portland but it is just so much fun to play there.

I think they realize they had a great season last year in Portland but it ended there on their home field, in an incredible game. One of the best I’ve ever been a part of in that 4-3 semifinal loss that they had to Western New York. I think this team is really excited to get on the field and get going.

It’s such a huge difference, not only for Portland, but for all these teams, that this is a very different year in NWSL, that they are not going to have the international disruptions that we had last year with Olympics, or World Cup, and a lot of their international players and U.S. national team players being in and out.

So, I think there’s a lot more continuity with all the teams. I know Mark Parsons feels that way at Portland. And he’s even said, he realizes the pressure is on now, because they basically don’t have an excuse for not getting better each week. On the Portland side of things, I think they are for sure going to be one of the best teams in the league this year. They certainly have the roster to do that.

And I think Orlando is going to be really exciting with what they’ve got coming together. Tom Sermanni, in his second year with that group down in Orlando. Obviously, the Marta signing is very exciting. I think there is a lot to like about that first matchup. And just getting it on the air with NWSL on Lifetime. I think there’s a lot of excitement thrown in this match up.

Q: You mentioned the playoff game in Portland last year. You had three playoff games last year, that all went to extra time, one to penalty kicks, after a last-second game-tying header by the MVP of the league. What’s it like to call one game like that, let alone three in ten days?

JH: I was walking on air. I’m not even kidding. That’s why you get into this business, to call games like that. Those were some of the most exciting games I have ever been a part of at any level of my career in any sport.

You want drama. And not only do you want close games, you want them to be good games. And I felt like, even with the nasty weather that we had for the one playoff game in Maryland, it was still a great game. They were dramatic, you had players stepping up, becoming heroes and making big plays when it counted.

It is always tough to go to penalties. It’s a tough thing in our sport.

For me as an announcer, I think when it gets to be these tight games, especially when it gets to the end, I’m just thinking, “OK, don’t mess it up. Big moments are going to be happening here. Don’t mess it up. Stay out of the way of the game and make sure you’re there when the moment happens.”

Q: You’ve mentioned Portland and Marta — What else do you think we’ll see this year in the league?

JH: I think one of the main themes … is just the depth, not only of the league, but within each team.

That teams feel like they are really building. It’s been tough for a lot of rookies to get in and get drafted this year because of the quality and the depth of so many of these teams. So I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to a lot of quality match-ups with teams that are going to have the time to really train together and not have those disruptions.

I am curious to see which teams grow and get better each week. I know that’s a pretty broad, overreaching statement, but I think that goes for everyone.

I’m very curious about Washington, about what the team is going to look like. Because while Portland is very similar, I think they returned the most players in the league. Washington had so many changes and so many big names going out of there in the offseason that you wonder what you’re really going to see on the field, so I’m glad I am going to get to see them early on, in Week 2 down in Orlando.

Q: Looking ahead to Saturday, for a broadcaster, what’s your weekly preparation like and what’s gameday like?

JH: I think it’s a little bit different in Week 1 just because I’m having to spend more time than I normally would on the league as a whole, just getting caught up with everybody. Typically early on in the week, if there had been other games played, I’d be trying to watch some video, starting to put together my boards, and make sure I’ve got all of my information on the teams and the individual players updated. International information and what’s been going on with their respective teams. …

There are a lot of parts in motion this season with what Lifetime and A+E [Networks] are doing with this broadcast. To have the pregame show, and Dalen Cuff is our host. I think everybody’s really going to enjoy getting a chance to see him every week. He’s a great guy and loves soccer.

Obviously, I get to have Aly [Wagner] next to me every week. I think she’s fantastic. She and I have never called a game together yet, but we did call the parade coverage of the celebratory parade after the 2015 Women’s World Cup. I think she’s going to be great — as anybody who’s ever heard her call a game knows.

Q: Thanks for talking to us today. We are looking forward to Saturday.

JH: Thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to it, too.

2017 Preview: Orlando Pride

2016 Goalkeeper of the Year Ashlyn Harris leads Orlando in the Pride's second season

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(Photo credit: Roy K. Miller/isiphotos.com)

Year two is set to dawn for the Orlando Pride with the club sporting a revamped defense thanks to some offseason maneuvering. The Pride will have to work hard to improve on an offense that ranked No. 8 in the league last season and will be without U.S. international Alex Morgan for the first half of the campaign. The ability of the team to step up offensively in her absence may go a long way toward determining Orlando’s ability to make progress toward playoff contention.

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 6-13-1, 19 pts (9th place)

Goals for: 20 (8th)

Goals against: 30 (tied for 8th)

Home record: 5-5-0 (6th)

Away record: 1-8-1 (9th)

Key returners

Ashlyn Harris (1.33 GAA, 62 saves)

Steph Catley (Goal, assist)

Kristen Edmonds (6 goals, 2 assists)

Jasmyne Spencer (4 goals)

With an encouraging inaugural campaign under their belts that included a three-game winning streak and a .500 record at home, the Orlando Pride look to climb further up the standings in 2017 as they move into their new home at Orlando City Stadium.

U.S. international Alex Morgan is out on loan with French club Olympique Lyonnais until June, but Pride fans will be excited about the core of their team that returns for the new season – headlined by U.S. international and 2016 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Ashlyn Harris.

Orlando will also bring back defenders Steph Catley – who won the W-League championship in Australia while on loan with Melbourne City FC this offseason – and Kristen Edmonds – who received her first call up to train with the U.S. Women’s National Team shortly after the 2016 NWSL season.

Forward Jasmyne Spencer scored four goals last year and coach Tom Sermanni will be expected to turn to the 26-year-old striker to help pick up some of the slack on offense while the team makes do without Morgan until at least June.

New additions

Marta (FC Rosengård)

Ali Krieger (15 appearances, 1,267 minutes)

Alanna Kennedy (15 appearances, 1,298)

Camila Martins Pereira (Tiradentes)

The Pride were tied for the second-worst defensive record in the league last year, with nearly two thirds of the 30 goals allowed coming on the road. Fans of the club would be hard pressed to imagine a better scenario addressing Orlando’s need at the back than the one that unfolded during the offseason as the Pride acquired U.S. international Ali Krieger from the Washington Spirit and Alanna Kennedy from the North Carolina Courage in separate trades.

Krieger was voted to the 2016 NWSL Second XI and Kennedy was instrumental in helping the Western New York Flash win the 2016 NWSL Championship. Orlando also brought in 22-year-old Brazil international defender Camila to add depth.

If that wasn’t enough, the NWSL’s newest club announced April 7 they also secured one of the greatest women’s players of all-time as Brazil international Marta – the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year – completed her switch to Orlando.

Draft picks

Round 3, No. 22 overall: Danica Evans (F, Colorado)

Round 4, No. 32 overall: Nickolette Driesse (M, Penn State)

Orlando made just two picks during the 2017 NWSL College Draft – taking Colorado forward Danica Evans at No. 22 overall and midfielder Nickolette Driesse with the No. 32 selection.

Evans was recently called in to U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team training camp in January and was a first-team all-Pac-12 player during her senior season with the Buffaloes, recording 11 goals and six assists.

Meanwhile, Driesse should find little trouble fitting in with the Pride seeing as she will be joining best friend Jamia Fields on the squad. The pair won the 2014 NCAA championship together with Florida State before Driesse transferred to Penn State, with whom she won the 2015 national title.

Orlando also acquired the draft rights to UCONN forward Rachel Hill – the No. 14 overall pick – from the Portland Thorns in exchange for a first-round and fourth-round in the 2018 draft.

2017 Preview: Portland Thorns FC

Can the Thorns win another NWSL Shield?

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(Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

The Portland Thorns returned to the postseason last year after a one-year absence from the playoffs as coach Mark Parsons guided a team littered with international stars back into title contention. A home loss after extra time to the eventual champions is the only thing that kept them out of their second NWSL Championship Game. Can they cash in on what expects to be another dominant season?

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 12-3-5, 41 pts (1st place)

Goals for: 35  (2nd)

Goals against: 19   (1st)

Home record: 8-1-1 (1st)

Away record: 4-2-4(1st)

Key returners

Tobin Heath (Goal, 10 assists)

Christine Sinclair (6 goals, 2 assists)

Allie Long (6 goals, 2 assists)

Lindsey Horan (5 goals)

Emily Menges (20 appearances, 1,800 minutes)

The Portland Thorns bring back nearly their entire core from the team that went unbeaten in their first 12 games last year on their way to claiming the 2016 NWSL Shield for the league’s best regular-season record.

The Thorns will look to 2016 NWSL Best XI member Tobin Heath, Allie Long and Emily Menges to once again be the foundation of the team. Long and Heath both competed for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Menges saw her strong performance in the league last season translate into her first call up to train with the USWNT.

In addition, Portland coach Mark Parsons will also have Canada international Christine Sinclair, Denmark international Nadia Nadim and U.S. international Lindsey Horan at his disposal again in 2017. The trio combined to score 20 goals for last season – nearly 60 percent of the entire offense for the club.

New additions

Ashleigh Sykes (Canberra United)

Already one of the most formidable attacks in the NWSL, the Thorns will welcome additional firepower in the form of striker Ashleigh Sykes to what was the No. 2 offense in the league last season.

Sykes played for Australian club Canberra United during the 2016-17 Westfield W-League season and scored a league-leading 12 goals while leading the team to claim the W-League Premiership for the best regular-season record.

The 25-year-old forward made her professional debut at 17 and has scored more than 30 goals over nine seasons in Australia. She has earned 19 international appearances for Australia – including two at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada where the Matildas reached the quarterfinals.

Draft picks

Rd.           Selection              Player                                        Pos.                           College

Round 2, No. 14 overall: Rachel Hill (F/M, UCONN)

Round 2, No. 18 overall: Savannah Jordan (F, Florida)

Round 3, No. 21 overall: Tyler Lussi  (F, Princeton)

Round 4, No. 40 overall: Caroline Flynn (M/D, Nebraska)

The Thorns selected UCONN forward Rachel Hill with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, but soon after sent her to the Orlando Pride in exchange for a first-round and fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft.

Portland picked Florida forward Savannah Jordan with the No. 18 overall selection but will not have her available for the 2017 NWSL season after she signed with Scottish club Glasgow City FC.

NWSL announces multiyear partnership with go90

go90 to exclusively stream 98 NWSL games in the U.S. in 2017; Live and on-demand streaming available outside of the U.S. on NWSLsoccer.com and via NWSL app

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Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com

The National Women’s Soccer League issued the following press release today.

CHICAGO (April 13, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and go90 today announced a multiyear content agreement making go90 the exclusive streaming partner of the NWSL in the United States for all games except the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.

A fully ad-supported, mobile streaming service, go90 will feature 98 NWSL games accessible via live and on-demand streaming for the 2017 season. To access, visit go90.com or simply download the go90 app via the App Store or Google Play. Users with go90 version 3.0 and later can cast live games from the go90 app to Airplay and Chromecast. No registration or authentication is required. Check out the full schedule here: http://nwsl.us/2orAtSh

“We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with go90, and are now positioned to deliver more content than ever before,” NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy said. “With go90’s digital capabilities combined with an enhanced digital broadcast production, we are excited to provide our fans with an entirely new digital experience and eager to introduce NWSL to go90’s rapidly growing soccer audience.”

go90 currently streams more than 1,000 live soccer matches from all over the world each year and is committed to removing barriers to entry for U.S. soccer fans through fully ad-supported live and on-demand experiences. This agreement strengthens and continues to position go90’s live sports offering as one of the largest available on mobile.

“We are pleased to team up with NWSL and bring 98 live women’s soccer matches to fans in the U.S. on go90 and across our owned and operated AOL and, soon enough, Yahoo properties.  This complements our existing commitment to soccer on go90,” said Chip Canter, GM of Verizon Digital Entertainment. “The women of the NWSL are inspiring the next generation of young soccer stars, both young men and women, and we believe that this partnership will serve as a much-needed catalyst for the growth of the sport as a whole here in the U.S.”

Every game on go90 will be produced by Vista WorldLink in high definition with a consistent, state-of-the-art approach, and feature a halftime show as well as brief pre and postgame shows. In addition to the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime, Michael Cohen, a veteran broadcaster of nine Olympic Games and three FIFA World Cups, will serve as the league’s executive producer for all digital broadcasts on go90.

The go90 schedule kicks off with four games on opening weekend April 15-16, featuring an exciting rematch of the 2016 NWSL Championship Game with the Washington Spirit hosting the North Carolina Courage at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

International fans around the world will be able to watch all 98 games live and on-demand on NWSLSoccer.com and via the NWSL iOS app. As a result, NWSL fans in the United States and around the world will be able to watch every game in multiple, free platforms:

U.S. and Territories

Outside U.S.

NWSL Game of the Week

LifetimeNWSLsoccer.com
mylifetime.com

NWSL app (iOS)

Lifetime iOS and Android App

All other games

(98 Games)

go90NWSLsoccer.com

NWSL app (iOS)

                                                                                                          

2017 Preview: Washington Spirit

Zadorsky, Ordega return to lead the Spirit

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(Photo credit: Jose L. Argueta/:isiphotos.com)

Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams. 

Monday: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City

Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC

Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage

Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride

The 2017 offseason was one of change for the Washington Spirit marked by several high-profile departures. The club enjoyed the best season in its history in 2016 on the back of a consistent performance in nearly all areas of the game exemplified by their impressive away record that was tied for the best in the league. Being able to replicate that success will be a tall order for the Spirit who will be hoping to become the first team in league history to make the NWSL Playoffs in four consecutive seasons.

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 12-5-3, 39 pts (2nd place)

Goals for: 30 (3rd)

Goals against: 21 (tied for 4th)

Home record: 7-1-2 (2nd)

Away record:  5-4-1 (tied for 1st)

Key returners

Shelina Zadorsky (11 appearances, 911 minutes)

Joanna Lohman (4 goals, assist)

Tori Huster (19 appearances, 1,665 minutes)

Francisca Ordega (2 goals, assist)

Perhaps lost in the offseason departure of so many high-profile players were the players who remain for the Spirit. Canada international Shelina Zadorsky as well as goalkeepers Kelsey Wys and Stephanie Labbé are all back from a defensive unit that allowed the fewest goals at home in the league last year.

Washington also returns midfielders Tori Huster and Joanna Lohman – who ranked first and third, respectively, in minutes played on the Spirit last year as the club enjoyed the best season in its history with a second-place finish during the regular-season and an appearance in the NWSL Championship Game.

That appearance in the 2016 title tilt would not have been possible without a goal in extra time in the NWSL semifinals from forward Francisca Ordega. The Nigeria international’s 111th minute goal against the Chicago Red Stars handed Washington their first playoff win and the Spirit will need her to do more of the same this year as the team looks to their existing players to take on expanded roles.

New additions

Kristie Mewis (Goal, assist)

Kassey Kallman (20 appearances, 1,800 minutes)

Havana Solaun (6 appearances, 272 minutes)

The Spirit acquired midfielder Kristie Mewis and defender Kassey Kallman from the Boston Breakers in a trade that sent Megan Oyster in the opposite direction. Mewis experienced a down year from a scoring perspective, but Washington will be hoping she can recapture the form that saw her post six goals and two assists in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Spirit have brought in Kallman as a replacement for Oyster and will want to see the same level of consistency and determination she showed last season when she played every minute of the 2016 campaign.

Coach Jim Gabarra also added midfielder Havana Solaun from Seattle in a trade that sent Canada international Diana Matheson (now out for the season with an ACL injury) to the Reign. Solaun had one goal in six appearances and has been included in the U.S. youth national teams at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels.

Draft picks

Round 2, No. 19 overall: Lindsay Agnew (F, Ohio State)

Round 3, No. 29 overall: Meggie Dougherty-Howard (M, Florida)

Round 4, No. 36 overall: Cameron Castleberry (M, North Carolina)

Possibly no other draft class in the league will have a better opportunity to impress this season as Washington’s offseason departures have opened the door for Spirit draft picks Lindsay Agnew, Meggie Dougherty-Howard and Cameron Castleberry.

Washington selected Agnew with the No. 19 overall pick and while few players could conceivably come in as a plausible replacement for Crystal Dunn, the Spirit will be looking for the forward to come in and make an impact as the team attempts a collective effort to replicate the former NWSL MVP’s production.

Likewise, with the departures of Christine Nairn and Diana Matheson, Spirit fans can expect that midfielders Dougherty-Howard and Castleberry will get the chance to make an impression on the field.

2017 Preview: North Carolina Courage

2016 MVP Williams, McDonald and Mewis lead the North Carolina offense

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Lynn Williams scored 11 regular season goals and added 3 more in the playoffs. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

North Carolina begins 2017 with high hopes as the team charts a new course after being relocated from Western New York in the offseason. Reigning MVP Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald look to continue their offensive magic with the Courage.

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 9-6-5, 32 pts (4th)

Goals for: 40 (1st)

Goals against: 26 6th)

Home record: 6-3-1 (tied for 4th)

Away record:  3-3-4 (6th)

Key returners

Lynn Williams (11 goals, 5 assists)

Jessica McDonald (10 goals, 7 assists)

Sam Mewis (5 goals, 2 assists)

Abby Erceg (2 goals, 1 assists)

The North Carolina offense is led by Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald, who powered a truly dominant attack last season with the Flash as their team became just the third side in NWSL history to average two or more goals per game. Midfielder Samantha Mewis, who scored twice in the playoffs last season, will also be a key player for the Courage this season. Coach Paul Riley relied heavily on the U.S. international in the center of his midfield and North Carolina fans can expect to see a lot of the emerging talent this season.

The Courage will look to Abby Erceg to provide stability and veteran leadership at the back. The central defender, who retired from international soccer for the New Zealand Women’s National Team following the 2017 Cyprus Cup in March, played in all but three matches for her NWSL club last season and Riley will undoubtedly look to her and fellow defender Abby Dahlkemper to lead the backline.

New additions

Debinha (Dalian Quanjian)

Rosana (Paris Saint-Germain)

Yuri Kawamura (Vegalta Sendai Ladies)

As if the North Carolina attack wasn’t scary enough already, the Courage doubled down on offense during the offseason with the acquisitions of Brazil internationals Debinha and Rosana.

Both were members of the Brazil side that finished fourth as hosts at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Debinha, 25, entered 2017 as the No. 7 scorer all-time for the Brazil national team with 21 goals in 54 international appearances and spent 2016 playing her club soccer with Chinese club Dalian Quanjian.

Rosana, 34, finished 2016 with 112 international appearances and the winger scored three goals in 10 games for French club Paris Saint-Germain last year.

On April 4, the Courage acquired defender and Japanese International Yuri Kawamura who have appeared in 32 games for Japan since she began with the national team in 2010. You can expect that Kawamura’s international experience, she will be a solid addition to the defense.

Draft picks

Round 1, No. 2 overall: Ashley Hatch (F, BYU)

Round 1, No. 7 overall: Darian Jenkins (F/M, UCLA)

Round 2, No. 20 overall: Claire Wagner (D, Clemson)

Round 3, No. 27 overall: Jaycie Johnson (F/M, Nebraska)

The Courage had two picks in the first-round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft and used both picks to go back to the well on offense with BYU forward and U-23 U.S. international Ashley Hatch (No. 2 overall) as well as UCLA attacker Darian Jenkins (No. 7 overall).

North Carolina also picked up Clemson product Claire Wagner, who should provide added depth on defense and her 10 goals during her college career indicate she could be a good fit for a team that ranked second in set piece goals last season.

Team bonding, new jerseys, photo shoots and more

NWSL teams gear up for the start of the 2017 season

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Photo credit: Portland Thorns FC

With just a few days left before the NWSL season, let’s check in on how the teams are spending the time off the field….

Portland Thorns FC took a team bonding trip to the Oregon coast recently. Lucky for us–they posted a fun video of their outing.

Highlights include: a history lesson about Lewis & Clark, a hike to the beach and the team encountering a flooded bridge.

Elsewhere around the NWSL:

Sky Blue FC takes you behind the scenes of their photo shoot.

Seattle Reign FC unveiled their 2017 kits last night and also showed off their new scarves.

North Carolina, too, offered fans an early look at their new jerseys.

The Red Stars’ photo shoot looks like it was a lot fun:

FC Kansas City debuted their new jerseys — Welcome back, Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux!

Stephanie Labbé’s dog, Rio, crashed her shoot:

The Boston Breakers took you behind the scenes of their team photos:

The Orlando Pride did as well:

Dash players made calls to fans in Houston:

NWSL suspends North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley for two games

Riley was also fined an undisclosed amount

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Paul Riley was issued a red card in last year's semifinal. (Photo credit: Robyn McNeil/isiphotos.com)

The National Women’s Soccer league announced on Thursday that North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley has been suspended for two games following his red card in last year’s semifinal vs. Portland Thorns FC. They also said he had been fined an undisclosed amount. Riley served one game of his suspension at the NWSL Championship last year, which his Western New York Flash won on penalty kicks, so he will only miss North Carolina’s season opener on April 15 at the Washington Spirit.

“The NWSL Disciplinary Committee has determined that Riley committed misconduct characterized as physical contact with Game Officials, separate from referee assault, and is a violation of Section 11.3.6, ‘Major Game Misconduct’ of the League Operations Manual,” the league said in a press release.

2017 Preview: Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue FC looks to get back to the playoffs

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(Photo credit: Jose L. Argueta/isiphotos.com)

Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams. 

Monday: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City

Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC

Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage

Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride

Sky Blue comes into the 2017 season seeking to put an end to a three-year absence from the NWSL Playoffs and will be looking to a large influx of players from the 2017 draft to find their place in the squad alongside a young core that began to establish itself last season. Is this the year the Jersey girls finally get back into postseason contention?

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 7-8-5, 26 pts  (tied for 6th place)

Goals for: 24  (tied for 6th)

Goals against: 30 (tied for 8th)

Home record:  3-4-3 (8th)

Away record: 4-4-2 (tied for 4th)

Key returners

Christie Rampone (20 appearances, 1,800 minutes)

Kelley O’Hara (Goal, 2 assists)

Sam Kerr (5 goals)

Sarah Killion (3 goals, assist)

Raquel Rodriguez (Goal, assist)

Sky Blue brings back a mix of veteran and emerging young talent for the 2017 season – with 41-year-old defender Christie Rampone set to start her fifth year in the league after playing every minute of the 2016 season.

Coach Christy Holly will undoubtedly look to her and versatile U.S. international Kelley O’Hara to provide leadership on a team that also welcomes back 2016 NWSL Rookie of the Year Raquel Rodriguez as well as former No. 2 overall draft pick Sarah Killion and Australia international Sam Kerr.

Kerr returns to the team after scoring five goals in nine matches in 2016 and following that up by notching 10 goals in 11 games with Perth Glory of the Westfield W-League in Australia.

Holly will also want to see another strong campaign from second-year player Leah Galton after the England international had three goals and four assists in 14 appearances last season as well as a robust follow up effort from forward Tasha Kai, who was the club’s No. 2 scorer in 2016 with four goals.

New additions

None

Sky Blue elected to remain quiet on signings during the offseason, choosing instead to focus their attention on the 2017 NWSL College Draft – where they made six selections, tied with the Boston Breakers for the most in that draft.

Draft picks

Round 1, No. 4 overall: Kayla Mills (D, USC)

Round 1, No. 10 overall: Mandy Freeman (D, USC)

Round 3, No. 23 overall: Kailen Sheridan (GK, Clemson)

Round 3, No. 24 overall: Madison Tiernan (F/M Rutgers)

Round 3, No. 30 overall: Catrina Atanda (M, Clemson)

Round 4, No. 34 overall: McKenzie Meehan (F/M Boston College)

Sky Blue looked to the draft to shore up a defense that tied for second worst in the league last year. Thy used their two first-round picks on a pair of defenders from 2016 NCAA champion USC – selecting U-23 internationals Kayla Mills and Mandy Freeman with the No. 4 and No. 10 picks, respectively.

Sky Blue opted for Clemson goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan with the No. 23 overall selection and the Canada international could get a real look during her rookie year. Caroline Casey split time with the recently waived Caroline Stanley in 2016.

With the No. 24 overall pick, Sky Blue turned their attention to offense as Rutgers forward Madison Tiernan sparked a run of three consecutive attacking-minded draft choices along with Clemson midfielder Catrina Atanda at No. 30 and Boston College forward McKenzie Meehan at No. 34.

2017 Preview: Seattle Reign FC

Seattle looks to rebound after just missing the playoffs last season

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Beverly Yanez scored 3 goals and added 3 assists for Seattle in 2016 (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams. 

Monday: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City

Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC

Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage

Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride

Despite falling short of their elevated standards last season, the Seattle Reign just narrowly missed out on making the NWSL Playoffs for the third consecutive season. Coach Laura Harvey’s team were dependable in so many areas of the game in 2016 – including trailing for the fewest number of minutes in the league – it was hard to understand how they didn’t make it back to the postseason. One area where the club will need to improve is on the road – where they had the seventh best record in the league. Can they prove 2016 was just a blip?

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 8-6-6, 30 pts (5th place)

Goals for: 29 (tied for 4th)

Goals against: 21 (tied for 4th)

Home record: 6-2-2 (3rd place)

Away record: 2-4-4  (7th place)

Key returners

Jess Fishlock (Goal, 4 assists)

Haley Kopmeyer (1.18 GAA, 41 saves)

Lauren Barnes (20 appearances, 1,775 minutes)

Beverly Yanez (3 goals, 3 assists)

Few players in the four-year history of the league can rival the NWSL career midfield Jess Fishlock has put together. The Wales international earned NWSL Best XI honors in each of her first three seasons before being voted to the NWSL Second XI in 2016 and will be targeting more postseason honors with the Reign in 2017.

Fishlock spent the offseason on loan with Melbourne City FC and actually took over as player coach midway through the season before leading the Australian club to their second consecutive Westfield W-League championship.

The midfield standout will be eager to go for a personal double as she looks to bring an NWSL title to Seattle after helping the club reach the NWSL Championship Game in 2014 and 2015.

The Reign will also bring back 2016 NWSL Defender of the Year Lauren Barnes, who became the first player in the history of the league other than U.S. international Becky Sauerbrunn to win the award. Goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer and forward Beverly Yanez also return for a Seattle team hoping to bounce back from an off year in 2016.

New additions

Christine Nairn (3 goals, 3 assists)

Rebekah Stott (Melbourne City FC)

Midfielder Christine Nairn returns to the club that drafted her back in 2013 after spending three seasons with the Washington Spirit as coach Laura Harvey quickly addressed the hole left by the departure of 2014 NWSL MVP Kim Little to Arsenal Ladies FC.

Ironically, it was Nairn who was sent to the Spirit in the Nov. 2013 deal that brought Little to Seattle and now the former No. 7 overall selection has been brought back to the Reign to fill the void left by the Scotland international.

Nairn had three goals and five assists during her rookie campaign with Seattle in 2013 and a similar performance in 2017 would go a long way toward seeing the Reign return to the playoffs after missing the postseason for the first time in three years last year.

Harvey also added New Zealand international defender Rebekah Stott, who comes to Seattle after helping Melbourne City FC win the 2017 Westfield W-League championship in Australia.

Draft picks

Round 1, No. 6 overall: Maddie Bauer (D, Stanford)

Round 2, No. 16 overall: Katie Johnson (F, USC)

Round 3, No. 26 overall: Arielle Ship (F/M, CAL)

Round 4, No. 37 overall: Kristen McNabb (D, Virginia)

The Reign dealt No. 26 overall selection and U-23 U.S. international Arielle Shipp to the Washington Spirit in exchange for midfielder Diana Matheson only for the Canada international to go down with a season-ending injury while training with her national team in late February.

As a result, Seattle will look to No. 6 overall selection Maddie Bauer and No. 16 overall pick Katie Johnson to make an impact in their rookie campaigns. Bauer helped lead Stanford to the 2016 Pac-12 title, while Johnson helped conference rivals USC claim the 2016 NCAA championship – scoring twice in the national title game.

Coach Laura Harvey was so eager to get Johnson she traded away Seattle’s first-round pick in 2018 to the Chicago Red Stars in order to secure her services.

2017 Preview: FC Kansas City

FC Kansas City is bolstered by addition of Gibbons and returns of A-Rod and Leroux

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Los Angeles, CA - Thursday January 12, 2017: Christina Gibbons during the 2017 NWSL College Draft at JW Marriott Hotel.

Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams. 

Monday: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City

Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC

Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage

Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride

FC Kansas City was humbled last season for the first time in their brief, but proud history. The Blues saw their three-year playoff streak come to an end with a disappointing defense of their back-to-back NWSL titles as they struggled without their most reliable attacking options. Those offensive weapons are back this season, so will normal service be returned for one of the league’s most consistent clubs?

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 7-8-5, 26 pts (tied for 6th place)

Goals for:  18 (9th)

Goals against:  20 (tied for 2nd)

Home record:   2-4-4 (9th)

Away record:  5-4-1 (1st)

Key returners

Becky Sauerbrunn (Goal, 14 appearances)

Nicole Barnhart (1.00 GAA, 20 appearances)

Yael Averbuch (3 goals, 20 appearances)

FC Kansas City welcomes back the two pillars of the defense for the past four years in centerback Becky Sauerbrunn and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart. Last season Sauerbrunn became the only player voted to the NWSL Best XI in all four years of the league’s existence, while Barnhart led the league in shutouts for the fourth consecutive season after she finished the campaign with six clean sheets – tied with Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

Yael Averbuch also returns for coach Vlatko Andonovski who will be hoping for another impressive year from the midfielder and free kick specialist who scored twice direct from free kicks in 2016. Add to that midfielder Erika Tymrak – who spent the offseason on loan winning the W-League Championship in Australia with Melbourne City FC – and the Blues will looking for a repeat performance of the play that saw them trail for just 325 minutes all year last season, the second fewest in the league.

New additions

Amy Rodriguez (6 goals, 4 assists – 2015 NWSL season)

Sydney Leroux (Goal, 3 appearances – 2015 NWSL season)

FC Kansas City missed out on the NWSL playoffs for the first time last season after previously securing a postseason berth in each of the first three years of the league’s existence – and the reason why was not hard to see.

Despite a strong sophomore season from forward Shea Groom (8 goals), the Blues had the second-worst offense in the league (18 goals) and led for the fewest number of minutes in the NWSL in 2016.

Much of this was down to Kansas City missing two of their most powerful weapons on attack with both Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux missing the 2016 campaign to give birth. This season the pair of U.S. internationals will be back for the Blues and KC fans will be eager to see them restored to the offense.

Draft picks

Round 1, No. 5 overall: Christina Gibbons  (M, Duke)

Round 2, No. 13 overall: Toni Payne (M/F, Duke)

Round 2, No. 17 overall: Stephanie Ribeiro (F/M, UCONN)

Round 4, No. 25 overall: Alexis Shaffer (M/F, Virginia)

Round 4, No. 35 overall: Rashida Beal  (D, Minnesota)

FC Kansas City selected Duke and U-23 U.S. international Christina Gibbons with the No. 5 overall selection in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. The defensive-minded midfielder’s game matches very nicely with the Blues overall approach and fans could see her slot in next to veteran holding midfielder Desiree Scott. The club announced the official signing of Gibbons on Tuesday.

The Blues used the No. 13 overall pick to take Gibbons’ college teammate Toni Payne, but she will not play with the NWSL club in 2017 – instead opting to sign with Dutch club Ajax.

2017 Preview: Boston Breakers

The Breakers look to turn things around in 2017

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Margaret Purce was one of our four first-round picks by the Breakers. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams. 

Monday: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City

Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC

Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage

Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride

The Boston Breakers are ready to leave a disappointing 2016 in the past and embark on a 2017 campaign they hope brings valuable experience for the young and talented core they put together via the draft, trades and offseason signings. A move out of the NWSL basement after back-to-back last-place finishes will be the goal for coach Matt Beard and his players.

 

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 3-15-2, 11 pts (10th place)

Goals for: 14 (10th)

Goals against: 47 (10th)

Home record: 2-6-2 (10th)

Away record: 1-9-0 (10th)

Key returners

Natasha Dowie (3 goals, 7 appearances)

Christen Westphal (Goal, 13 appearances)

Julie King (2 goals, assist)

Angela Salem (19 appearances, 1,699 minutes)

Forward Natasha Dowie joined the Breakers in the middle of last year and impressed in her seven-appearance cameo. The England international enjoyed a wildly successful loan spell in Australia with Melbourne Victory that saw her score 9 goals in 12 matches, tied for third in the W-League.

Boston also returns a pair of defenders in Christen Westphal and Julie King that will be looking to help the club bounce back from a year in which the Breakers set a new single-season record for most goals allowed per game.

Similarly, the Breakers should benefit from the presence of Angela Salem. The diminutive but tough defensive midfielder was nearly ever-present for the team last year as she featured in all put one match and chipped in with a goal and an assist.

New additions

Allysha Chapman (9 appearances, 710 minutes)

Emilie Haavi (Lillestrøm SK Kvinner)

Megan Oyster (15 appearances, 1,340 minutes)

Rosie White (Liverpool Ladies FC)

The Breakers brought in U.S. international Megan Oyster (from the Washington Spirit) and Canada international Allysha Chapman (from the Houston Dash) in a pair of offseason trades in aimed to bolster the Boston backline.

At the other end of the field, the Breakers restocked their attack with Norway international Emilie Haavi and New Zealand international Rosie White. Haavi scored 49 goals in 82 games over four seasons with Lillestrøm SK Kvinner in Norway, during which time the club won the league and national cup in 2014 and 2015. Boston will have to wait for Haavi to make her NWSL debut after the forward suffered a broken jaw March 31 in preseason training that is expected to keep her out for 4-6 weeks.

White previously played for Breakers coach Matt Beard at Liverpool Ladies FC, where she notched four goals in 33 appearances.

Draft picks

Round 1, 1st overall: Rose Lavelle (M, Wisconsin)

Round 1, 3rd overall: Morgan Andrews (M, USC)

Round 1, 8th overall: Ifeoma Onumonu  (F, USC)

Round 1, 9th overall: Margaret Purce  (M, Harvard)

Round 4, 31st overall: Sammy Jo Prudhomme (GK, USC)

Round 4, 38th overall: Hayley Dowd (F, Boston College)

The Breakers went all in on the 2017 NWSL College Draft and came away with four first-round picks – including midfielder and No. 1 overall selection Rose Lavelle, who made her debut for the U.S. Women’s National Team on March 4.

While Boston traded for defenders and signed a pair of forwards from overseas, the club looked to address their midfield and goalkeeping concerns through the draft. In addition to Lavelle, the Breakers added fellow midfielders Morgan Andrews and Margaret Purce – both of whom were recently called into the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team – in the first round.

Andrews was a member of 2016 NCAA champions USC and will be joined in Boston by a pair of college teammates – forward Ifeoma Onumonu and goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme.

NWSL teams up with sports data provider Opta

Three-year partnership to kick-off when season begins April 15th

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(Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos)

The National Women’s Soccer League issued the following press release today:

CHICAGO (Apr. 11, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has agreed to a three-year partnership with Opta, the world’s leading provider of live, detailed sports data, to become the league’s Official Data Partner, providing the teams, fans and media with more tracked, recorded and databased action than ever before. The three-year partnership will commence at the start of the season on April 15th.

Opta will manage and deliver live statistical analysis for all NWSL matches, including regular season and playoff games. Opta has also collected full data from the 2016 NWSL season. The complete suite of data feeds and widgets will be available to fans on the brand new NWSL website and app, including live match centers as well as player and team seasonal analysis.

The partnership will feature a number of elements that go beyond web integration, including press box statistics distribution via Opta’s LiveMonitor platform, live statistical querying for broadcast partners, and Opta curated editorial content to enhance the league’s narrative.

The significant partnership will bring increased use of live statistics on digital, social and TV broadcasts, helping promote the league in the U.S. and globally by driving more consistent and greater buzz among core fans while engaging new fans around the world with data.

“The evolution of data analytics has been crucial to the development of the modern game, we are thrilled to be partnering with Opta to provide our players, coaches and teams the data insights that will give our league an elevated platform,” NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy said. “Our fans will also experience enhanced engagement with statistics to support their favorite players and teams throughout the season.”

“We are delighted to be announcing our official partnership with NWSL, a league which has pioneered the women’s game and one which we have been eager to work alongside. This is a historic time for the league, and this partnership will only further energize that momentum and support its continued growth,” said Oliver Miller-Farrell, Business Development Director of Content in North America. “As leaders in data-driven content, Opta will give NWSL fans and supporters the ability to dive deeper than ever before into their favorite teams and players, shining a bright light on the league’s action.”

Opta will also be supporting the performance analysis for each NWSL teams with ProVision, the newest advanced data and video analysis tool from OptaPro and TruMedia. The availability of Opta’s cutting-edge advanced metrics will be a first for the women’s game in North America, and will feature the same level of detail thus far often known to the men’s side.

“With OptaPro supporting each team’s performance analysis, this partnership reflects a truly holistic effort to enhance and develop the women’s professional game, a first of its kind. This marks a new era for data analysis in women’s soccer,” Miller-Farrell added.

Based in London with an office in New York City, Opta has major data partnerships within the sport, including domestic partnerships with Major League Soccer (MLS), United Soccer League (USL), and North American Soccer League (NASL), as well as around the globe with the  Premier League, Football League Championship, and A-League. The company was acquired by leading digital sports content and media group Perform in 2013. Through its valuable and engaging statistics, Opta has amassed over 1 million followers across social media – mostly fans clamoring for more insights on their favorite players. This is an astounding accomplishment for a brand in the B-to-B space.

2017 Preview: Chicago Red Stars

Chicago aims to make the playoffs for the third straight season

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Casey Short and Sofia Huerta had many reasons to celebrate in 2016. (Photo credit: Robyn Walsh McNeil)

Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams. 

Monday: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City

Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC

Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage

Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride

A solid defense and pair of dazzling options in attack was a recipe for success last season for the Chicago Red Stars as the club reached the NWSL Playoffs for the second consecutive year. That side remains almost entirely intact heading into the 2017 season and coach Rory Dames and his players will be aiming for a third straight trip to the postseason.

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 9-5-6, 33 pts (3rd place)

Goals for: 24 (tied for 6th)

Goals against:  20 (tied for 2nd)

Home record:  5-1-4 (tied for 4th)

Away record:  4-4-2 (tied for 4th)

Key returners

Christen Press (8 goals)

Julie Ertz (12 appearances, 1,080 minutes)

Alyssa Naeher (1.00 GAA, 43 saves)

Casey Short (2 goals, 20 appearances)

Sofia Huerta (7 goals, 2 assists)

The Chicago Red Stars return one of the most impressive and complete cores in the league – headlined by U.S. internationals Christen Press, Julie Ertz (Johnston), Alyssa Naeher and Casey Short.

Press has been nothing short of dominant since her league debut – racking up an NWSL Second XI selection in 2014 before back-to-back NWSL Best XI selections in 2015 and 2016 – while Ertz and Short were part of a backline in front of Naeher that was tied for the No. 2 defense in the league last season.

In addition to Press, the Red Stars will look to forward Sofia Huerta to provide the impetus up top as the pair combined to score 15 of the club’s 24 goals last year – propped up by seven assists from midfielder and 2016 NWSL Second XI member Vanessa DiBernardo.

Chicago’s possession game saw them rank second in the league having led in matches for 606 minutes last season and coach Rory Dames will be looking for his side to see that translate into more goals in 2017 after finishing 2016 tied for sixth with 24 tallies.

New additions

None

The Red Stars enjoyed one of the most stable offseasons in the league that saw little change on their roster. The closest thing the squad had to a new addition is forward Stephanie McCaffrey, who the team picked up last season in a trade with the Boston Breakers shortly before the 2016 trade deadline. McCaffrey was drafted by Chicago in 2015 and dealt to Boston in a draft-day trade before eventually returning to the Red Stars last year where she scored two goals in six appearances for her new club.

Draft picks

Round 2,  11th overall: Michele Vasconcelos (M, BYU)

Round 2, 12th overall: Morgan Proffitt (D, Marquette)

Round 4, 39th overall: Lauren Kaskie (M, UCLA)

With an offense and defense stocked with U.S. internationals, the Red Stars opted to take BYU midfielder Michele Vasconcelos with the No. 11 overall selection in the 2017 NWSL College Draft before picking up Marquette defender Morgan Proffitt with the very next pick.

Vasconcelos will have to wait until 2018 for her NWSL debut after announcing in February that she is pregnant with her first child with her husband, Pedro.

Meanwhile, the Red Stars have been pleased with what they have seen from Proffitt during the preseason – particularly her tactical sense on defense and a versatility that could also see her feature out wide in the midfield. She played two years with the Red Stars Reserves in the Women’s Premier Soccer League and was part of the team that won the 2015 WPSL championship.

2017 Preview: Houston Dash

Kealia Ohai, Rachel Daly lead the Houston offense

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Rachel Daly is part of a talented attacking crew in Houston. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

Each day leading up to the start of the season, we’ll take a look at what 2017 has in store for two teams. 

Monday: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

Tuesday: Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City

Wednesday: Seattle Reign FC and Sky Blue FC

Thursday: Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage

Friday: Portland Thorns FC and Orlando Pride

Perhaps no other club in the league will come into 2017 as eager as the Houston Dash to see what’s in store for the new season. After suffering through an infuriating run of six-straight 1-0 losses last year the Dash enjoyed an encouraging second half of the season as they scored the most goals in the league over the final 10 games of 2016. Will they able to produce the same form over the course of an entire season?

2016 totals (with rank)

Overall record: 6-10-4, 22 pts  (8th place)

Goals for: 29 (tied for 4th)

Goals against:  29  (7th)

Home record: 4-4-2     (7th)

Away record:  2-6-2  (8th)

Key returners

Kealia Ohai (11 goals, 4 assists)

Morgan Brian (13 appearances, 1,001 minutes)

Rachel Daly (4 goals, 4 assists)

Andressa (Goal, assist)

Janine Beckie (3 goals, 2 goals)

With U.S. international and 2016 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd not due back from her spell with English club Manchester City until June, forward Kealia Ohai will be expected to shoulder much of the offensive load during the early part of the year.

Ohai put together one of the best stretches in league history as she scored all 11 of her goals last season over the final 10 games of the 2016 campaign. She finished tied with 2016 NWSL MVP Lynn Williams for the most goals in the league, only missing out on the Golden Boot by one assist and was the driving force behind Houston having the No. 1 offense in the league during the second half of the 2016 season.

The Dash will also be looking to U.S. international Morgan Brian to continue to utilize her steady play in midfield as well as hoping for sophomore surges from attacking players Rachel Daly and Janine Beckie as the club looks to improve in several areas – most notably their away form, which was third-worst in the NWSL last year.

New additions

Bruna Benites (Avaldsnes IL)

Janine Van Wyk (JVW FC)

The Dash ranked No. 7 in the league last season on defense, allowing 29 goals in 20 games. Houston coach Randy Waldrum set about addressing the concerns at the back by bringing in Brazil international defender Bruna Benites and South Africa international defender Janine Van Wyk.

Both featured for their countries at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in fact they met on the field at the Summer Games when each captained their country as Brazil and South Africa played to a scoreless draw in Rio de Janeiro in the group stage of the tournament.

Draft picks

Round 2, 15th overall: Jane Campbell (GK, Stanford)

Round 3, 28th overall: Nichelle Prince (F/M, Ohio State)

Round 4, 33rd overall: Erin Smith (D, Rutgers)

The Dash made a big splash in the 2017 NWSL College Draft despite making just three selections. Houston used the No. 15 overall pick to snag U.S. international goalkeeper Jane Campbell out of Stanford and then was able to turn around and pick up Canada international Nichelle Prince with the No. 28 draft choice.

The Campbell pick drew the attention of many around the league as the Dash already boasted substantial depth at the goalkeeping position in Lydia Williams and Bianca Henninger, but the club felt the chance to get one of the best young goalkeepers in the country was an opportunity too good to pass up.

Lavelle nets first international goal

The Breakers rookie will make her NWSL debut on Sunday, April 16

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Boston Breakers rookie Rose Lavelle scored her first international goal in her fourth appearance with the USWNT. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Just days after putting on a show vs. Russia, Boston Breakers rookie Rose Lavelle was back at it again, this time scoring her first international goal in the United States’ 5-1 win over Russia. Lavelle collected a nice pass from UCLA’s Mallory Pugh and slotted it past Russian GK Iuliia Grichenko with her left foot in the 37th minute.

The goal comes in Lavelle’s fourth cap, and three days after earning her first assist.

It was a day of firsts for NWSL rookies as Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell earned her first cap with the United States women’s national team, subbing in for Ashlyn Harris in the 74th minute. She played the final 16 minutes of the match on her NWSL home field, BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

Dash midfielder Carli Lloyd, currently playing for Manchester City in England but expected to rejoin the team later this summer, tallied her 97th international goal for the United States, hammering home a penalty kick in the 40th minute.

Chelsea’s Crystal Dunn added two more goals for the United States with Portland defender Meghan Klingenberg earning the assist on Dunn’s first in her second match since returning from a back injury.

The United States will play their next games on June 8 in Sweden and June 11 in Norway.

Teams announce 2017 rosters

The NWSL season kicks off on Saturday

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(Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

The NWSL preseason has come to an end and the regular season is just days away. On Monday, each team released their 20 player rosters for the the 2017 season.

Among the notable moves made, the Houston Dash claimed Sarah Hagen (formerly of the Orlando Pride) from the league waiver wire and waived goalkeeper Bianca Henninger.

Also noted on the rosters are recent signings by the North Carolina Courage (Japan’s Yuri Kawamura) and the Orlando Pride (Brazil’s Marta).

Check out the full rosters.

Boston Breakers

Rostered Players (20 of 20 spots filled):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sammy Jo Prudhomme (GKR), Abby Smith, Libby Stout

DEFENDERS (7): Allysha Chapman (FED-CAN), Brooke Elby, Amanda Frisbie, Julie King, Megan Oyster, Kylie Strom, Christen Westphal

MIDFIELDERS (6): Rose Lavelle (FED-USA), Morgan Andrews, Amanda Da Costa, Angela Salem, Tiffany Weimer, Rosie White (INTL-NZL)

FORWARDS (5): Natasha Dowie (INTL-ENG), Emilie Haavi (INTL-NOR), Adriana Leon (INTL-CAN), Ifeoma Onumonu, Margaret Purce

Chicago Red Stars

Rostered Players (20 of 20 spots filled):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Michele Dalton, Alyssa Naeher (FED-USA)

DEFENDERS (6): Julie Ertz (FED-USA), Arin Gilliland, Sarah Gorden, Samantha Johnson, Katie Naughton, Casey Short (FED-USA)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Taylor Comeau, Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Sofia Huerta, Lauren Kaskie*, Mary Luba, Alyssa Mautz, Morgan Proffitt*

FORWARDS (4): Summer Green*, Jen Hoy, Stephanie McCaffrey, Christen Press (FED-USA)

Houston Dash

ROSTERED PLAYERS (20 of 20 spots filled):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell, Lydia Williams

DEFENDERS (6): Bruna Benites(INTL-BRA), Claire Falknor, Cami Privett, Poliana(INTL-BRA), Cari Roccaro, Janine Van Wyk (INTL-RSA)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Andressa (INTL-BRA), Morgan Brian (FED-USA), Amber Brooks, Caity Heap, Carli Lloyd (FED-USA, OOM), Denise O’Sullivan (INTL-IRE)

FORWARDS (7): Janine Beckie (FED-CAN), Rachel Daly (INTL-ENG), Sarah Hagen, Melissa Henderson, Kealia Ohai, Nichelle Prince (FED-CAN), Stephanie Ochs

FC Kansas City

ROSTERED PLAYERS (18 of 20 spots filled):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart, Cat Parkhill

DEFENDERS (7): Alex Arlitt, Yael Averbuch, Katie Bowen (INTL-NZ), Becca Moros, Brianne Reed, Becky Sauerbrunn (FED-USA), Brittany Taylor

MIDFIELDERS (6): Christina Gibbons, Lo’eau LaBonta, Mandy Laddish, Alexa Newfield, Desiree Scott (FED-CAN), Erika Tymrak

FORWARDS (3): Shea Groom, Sydney Leroux (FED-USA), Amy Rodriguez (FED-USA)

North Carolina Courage

ROSTERED PLAYERS (20 of 20 spots filled):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Katelyn Rowland, Sabrina D’Angelo (FED-CAN)

DEFENDERS (8): Elizabeth Eddy, Abby Erceg (INTL-NZ), Taylor Smith, Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle, Courtney Niemiec, Meredith Speck, Yuri Kawamura (INTL-JAPAN)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Samantha Mewis (FED-USA), McCall Zerboni, Samantha Witteman, Rosana (INTL-BRA), Debinha (INTL-BRA)

FORWARDS (6): Makenzy Doniak, Lynn Williams (FED-USA), Jessica McDonald, Kristen Hamilton, Ashley Hatch, Darian Jenkins (D45)

Orlando Pride

ROSTERED PLAYERS (20 of 20 spots filled)

GOALKEEPERS (2): Aubrey Bledsoe, Ashlyn Harris (FED-USA)

DEFENDERS (8): Laura Alleway (INTL-AUS), Mackenzie Berryhill (SEI), Steph Catley (INTL-AUS), Monica Hickmann Alves (INTL-BRA), Alanna Kennedy (INTL-AUS), Ali Krieger (FED-USA), Cami Levin, Toni Pressley

MIDFIELDERS (5): Nickolette Driesse, Kristen Edmonds, Maddy Evans, Camila Martins Pereira (INTL-BRA), Dani Weatherholt,

FORWARDS (7): Christina Burkenroad, Danica Evans, Jamia Fields, Alex Morgan (FED-USA, OOM), Jasmyne Spencer, Chioma Ubogagu, Marta Vieira da Silva (INTL-BRA, OOM)

Portland Thorns FC

ROSTERED PLAYERS (19 of 20 spots filled):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Britt Eckerstrom, Adrianna Franch

DEFENDERS (5): Kendall Johnson, Meghan Klingenberg (FED-USA), Emily Menges, Katherine Reynolds, Emily Sonnett (FED-USA)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Celeste Boureille, Dagny Brynjarsdottir (INTL-ISL), Amandine Henry (INTL-FRA), Lindsey Horan (FED-USA), Allie Long (FED-USA), Mana Shim, Mallory Weber

FORWARDS (6): Tobin Heath (FED-USA), Meg Morris, Nadia Nadim (INTL-DEN), Christine Sinclair (FP-CAN), Hayley Raso (INTL-AUS), Ashleigh Sykes (INTL-AUS, OOM)

Seattle Reign FC

ROSTERED PLAYERS (20 of 20 spots filled):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Haley Kopmeyer, Madalyn Schiffel

DEFENDERS (7): Elli Reed, Merritt Mathias, Lauren Barnes, Rachel Corsie (INTL-SCO), Carson Pickett, Maddie Bauer, Rebekah Stott (INTL-NZL)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Christine Nairn, Lindsay Elston, Jessica Fishlock, Diana Matheson (FED-CAN, SEI), Kristen McNabb, Rumi Utsugi (INTL-JPN)

FORWARDS (6): Beverly Yanez, Kiersten Dallstream, Megan Rapinoe (FED-USA), Nahomi Kawasumi (INTL-JPN), Katie Johnson, Larissa Crummer (INTL-AUS, D45)

Sky Blue FC

ROSTERED PLAYERS (20 of 20 Spots Filled):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Caroline Casey, Kailen Sheridan (FED-CAN)

DEFENDERS (6): Mandy Freeman, Kayla Mills, Christie Rampone, Domi Richardson*, Erin Simon, Erica Skroski

MIDFIELDERS (6): Daphne Corboz, Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle, Raquel Rodriguez (INTL-CRC), Nikki Stanton, Madison Tiernan*

FORWARDS (7): Kim DeCesare, Leah Galton (INTL-ENG), Maya Hayes, Tasha Kai (OOM, D45), Sam Kerr (INTL-AUS), McKenzie Meehan*, Kelley O’Hara (FED-USA)

Washington Spirit

ROSTERED PLAYERS (19 of 20 spots filled):

 GOALKEEPERS (3): Didi Haracic, Stephanie Labbé (FED-CAN), Kelsey Wys (OOM, D45)

DEFENDERS (6): Whitney Church, Caprice Dydasco (D45), Estelle Johnson, Kassey Kallman, Alyssa Kleiner, Shelina Zadorsky (FED-CAN)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Cameron Castleberry, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Tori Huster, Joanna Lohman, Kristie Mewis, Line Sigvardsen Jensen (INTL – DEN)

FORWARDS (7): Lindsay Agnew, Cali Farquharson (OOM, D45), Francisca Ordega (INTL – NGA), Arielle Ship, Havana Solaun, Katie Stengel, Cheyna Williams

Key:

ACTIVE ROSTER:

FED – Federation Player

INTL – International Roster Spot

ROSTERED PLAYERS NOT COUNTED AGAINST ACTIVE LIMIT:

D45 – 45-Day Disabled List

SEI – Season Ending Injury List

GKR – Goalkeeper Replacement

MAT – Maternity

LOA – Loan

OOM – Out of Market

Five-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta signs with the Orlando Pride

The Brazilian star joins the National Women's Soccer League

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Brazil's Marta is headed to Orlando. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Five-time FIFA Player of the Year. 2007 Women’s World Cup Golden Ball winner. Most Women’s World Cup goals of all time. One of the greatest soccer players in history.

Brazilian super star Marta will join the Orlando Pride and the National Women’s Soccer League, the club announced Friday.

“We are incredibly proud to bring Marta to Orlando, and I am personally very excited as I have been a fan of her for many years,” Orlando City SC CEO Alex Leitão said in a team press release. “We started the Pride to win, and bringing Marta to Orlando is a testament to our belief in this team, our supporters and the passion for soccer in Central Florida.”

Marta heads to Orlando on a two-year contract (with an option for a third year). She last played with FC Rosengård and joins the Pride following the Swedish club’s recent Champions League quarterfinal exit.

Marta was last seen playing club soccer in the United States from 2009-2011 in Women’s Professional Soccer where she won two league MVPs as well as two league championships. She’s familiar with a few members of the Orlando Pride roster having played with Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris in 2011 as a member of the Western New York Flash.

Morgan, who is currently playing with Lyon in France but expected to rejoin the Pride later this summer, quickly shared her excitement about the signing on Twitter, referencing their 2011 WPS title.

Harris also welcomed Marta to the team.

Marta, Harris, Ali Krieger and the Orlando Pride kick off the 2017 season on April 15 in Portland (Lifetime, 3 p.m. ET). The following week, the Pride play their home opener at the new Orlando City Stadium on April 22 (Lifetime, 4 p.m. ET).

Rose Lavelle is good at soccer

Twitter absolutely loved the Breakers rookie's performance vs. Russia

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Breakers rookie Rose Lavelle earned her first assist with the United States Women's National Team on April 6. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

No. 1 overall NWSL 2017 Draft pick Rose Lavelle had quite a game vs. Russia Thursday night in just her third appearance for the United States women’s national team. The USWNT won the match 4-0, thanks to two goals each from Allie Long and Crystal Dunn, and Lavelle put on a show.

We can’t wait to see the Breakers rookie make her NWSL debut on April 16th when Boston visits FC Kansas City.

She was good.

Really good.

She even earned her first international assist.

Her Boston teammates loved it.

Twitter responded, of course, with gifs.

She was even trending at one point.

But what was on Lavelle’s mind during the game?

Keep up with Rose Lavelle and the Boston Breakers all season long.

10 games to watch this season

The summer of 2017 is going to be fun

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Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com

Of course, we are excited for every NWSL game this season, but here are ten of our favorites.

Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride (April 15th: Lifetime, 3 p.m. ET)

The first NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime! The Rose City Riveters and the Portland home crowd will surely be up for the match as Christine Sinclair, Amandine Henry, Nadia Nadim and the Thorns look to build on what was nearly a run to the championship match last season. Portland is a perfect 4-0-0 in home openers, including last season, when they topped the Pride 2-1 thanks to a late goal from Lindsey Horan. The Pride made a huge splash last week by signing five-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta and the Brazilian star is expected to be available to play in Orlando’s opening match. She joins Ashlyn Harris, Kristen Edmonds, Jasmyne Spencer and Ali Krieger on the Pride.

Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage (April 15th: go90, 3 p.m. ET)

Though a lot has changed since the NWSL Championship last year, North Carolina Courage forward Lynn Williams’ late-game heroics in the match will still be fresh in the minds of Spirit fans.

FC Kansas City vs. Boston Breakers (April 16th: go90, 6 p.m. ET)

United States women’s national team co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City) should have her hands full with her national team teammate and No. 1 draft pick Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), who will be making her NWSL debut after shining in her first four appearances with the USWNT.

The Breakers had a difficult 2016, but they had FC Kansas City’s number last season. Two of Boston’s wins came against the two-time NWSL champs, with the Breakers shutting them out both times. FC Kansas City will be looking to reverse that trend in 2017.

Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit (April 22: Lifetime, 3 p.m. ET)

The Orlando Pride set the NWSL attendance record in their opening game last year and they’ll be looking to best that record when they play their first game at the new Orlando City Stadium. It’ll also be Krieger’s first game vs. her old team and the first time Pride fans will get to see Marta in person.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Seattle Reign FC (June 4: go90, 3p.m. ET)

The Seattle Reign just barely missed the playoffs last year, so all the losses and ties hurt, but their September game in Chicago must certainly sting. Up 2-0 after 9 minutes, and fighting to get into the playoff picture, the Reign could not hold the lead. Despite Seattle’s best efforts, Alyssa Naeher (and the crossbar) kept them from adding what would’ve been a game-winning third goal. Christen Press’ penalty kick in the 79th minute earned Chicago a draw. Seattle could never climb up into the fourth spot down the stretch.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit (June 17: Lifetime, 4 p.m. ET)

The Red Stars play host to the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year in a dramatic extra time game. The crossbar was especially cruel to Chicago that day, denying Press a chance to win the game at the end of regulation.

Washington Spirit vs. Orlando Pride (July 8: go90, 4 p.m. ET)

Krieger makes her first return to the Maryland SoccerPlex since she was traded away to Orlando in the offseason. The Virginia native expressed surprise about the trade and said she remained committed to growing soccer in the DC community. She should receive a warm welcome from the Spirit fans.

Portland Thorns FC vs. North Carolina Courage (July 15: Lifetime, 4 p.m. ET)

The last time Sinclair, Williams, Jessica McDonald and Emily Sonnett were all on the same field in Portland? A playoff game we’ll never forget. If we even get half of that excitement this time, it could be one of the most fun games of this season.

Houston Dash vs. North Carolina Courage (August 27: go90, 8 p.m. ET)

Williams and Houston’s Kealia Ohai finished tied for first in the league with 11 goals, with Williams winning the Golden Boot tiebreak thanks to her five assists (to Ohai’s four). Four of those assists came against the Dash. Ohai tallied three goals in the two matches she played against Williams.

Sky Blue FC vs. North Carolina Courage (September 24: go90, 4 p.m. ET)

There’s no saying this is Christie Rampone’s final professional soccer season (and knowing Rampone, it probably won’t be), but if it is, this would be her last regular season home game. For all but one season of professional women’s soccer in the United States, the New Jersey native has played for the club closest to home. In the WUSA, she played three seasons with the New York Power and is now in her seventh season (over WPS and NWSL) with Sky Blue FC. A few highlights: she bounced back from an ACL injury with the Power, brought a title home as player-coach in WPS and was one of the best defenders in the NWSL last season, playing every minute of every game.

With even the possibility that this could be her last home game, expect Yurcak Field and the Cloud 9 supporters to send Rampone out with a fitting tribute. They certainly had a great tifo planned for when Rampone was honored at the SheBelieves Cup in March, but high winds kept them from displaying it.

NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime schedule

Portland hosts Orlando on April 15th on Lifetime

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The Orlando Pride visit the Portland Thorns on Saturday, April 15, at 3 p.m. ET on Lifetime. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (March 30, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and Lifetime unveiled today the 2017 broadcast schedule including a milestone package of 22 regular-season matches, both playoff semifinal games and the NWSL Championship game.

Featuring play-by-play announcer Jenn Hildreth, analyst Aly Wagner, host and sideline reporter Dalen Cuff as well as select appearances by analyst and sideline reporter Kate Markgraf, the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime will air every Saturday beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET with a 30-minute pregame show leading up to kickoff at 4 p.m. ET.

The NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime will also be available for live and on-demand streaming via the Lifetime iOS and Android apps and online at MyLifetime.com. In addition, international fans outside of the United States can watch live and on-demand streaming of the Game of the Week via NWSLsoccer.com.

The season opener on Lifetime will feature Portland Thorns FC playing host to the Orlando Pride on Saturday, April 15, with the pregame show starting at 2:30 p.m. ET and kickoff at 3 p.m. ET from Providence Park. In front of an expected raucous crowd of Portland supporters, the match will feature international stars from across the world, with U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Tobin Heath and Canada international Christine Sinclair facing off against U.S goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and Australia international Alanna Kennedy.

The other marquee matchups this season include rematches of the 2016 NWSL semifinals between the Chicago Red Stars and the Washington Spirit on June 17 in the Windy City and the North Carolina Courage traveling to face the Portland Thorns on July 15. The Spirit and Courage will also stage a rematch of the 2016 NWSL Championship Game on Aug. 19. See below for the full schedule of the nationally televised games on Lifetime.

Jenn Hildreth – Play-By-Play
A versatile broadcaster who has covered women’s soccer as a play-by-play announcer, host, analyst and reporter, Hildreth served as play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and has been filling the same role for ESPN’s coverage of college soccer, including the 2016 NCAA Women’s College Cup. She is well known to NWSL fans for announcing in the 2015 and 2016 seasons and Championship games. Hildreth‘s resume also includes play-by-play duties for basketball, softball and gymnastics, as well as sideline reporting for football, basketball and baseball. In college, Hildreth played goalkeeper at Emory University, where she lettered in basketball, soccer and track and field.

Aly Wagner – Analyst
Former U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) player, two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup athlete, Wagner served as an analyst on FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and currently works on their USWNT matches. Wagner was featured on-air talent at the 2017 NWSL College Draft. After winning the MAC Hermann trophy as the top women’s college soccer player in 2002, Wagner was the number one overall selection in the 2003 Women’s United Soccer Association Draft. She played professionally for several years in the WUSA and the Women’s Professional Soccer League.

Dalen Cuff – Pregame Host and Sideline reporter
As a host/reporter at Comcast SportsNet New England, Cuff covered Major League Soccer and the New England Revolution. He hosted “Revolution Post-game Live,” the Emmy nominated bi-weekly show, “State of the Revs,” and wrote for CSNNE.com. He worked for NBC Sports Network, most recently as part of NBC’s Olympics coverage in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games. A former basketball player at Columbia University, Cuff is currently a college basketball in-game and studio analyst for ESPN.>

Kate Markgraf – Analyst and Pregame Host
An analyst for NBC Sports Group’s Premier League and USWNT coverage, Markgraf was a member of NBC’s Olympic soccer coverage for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. She became the first women analyst to work a major men’s soccer tournament to air in the United States, during ESPN’s coverage of the 2016 European Championship. A former starting defender on the USWNT from 1998-2010, Markgraf earned two Olympic gold medals and a silver medal. In 1999, she won FIFA Women’s World Cup and went on to finish third in 2003 and 2007. She played professionally in the WUSA and WPS. Markgraf was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where as a member of the Fighting Irish soccer team, she was a three-time All-American.

2017 NWSL Broadcast Schedule: (All times ET)

Sat., Apr. 15
3 p.m. kickoff/2:30 p.m. pregame
Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride

Sat., Apr. 22
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit

Sat., Apr. 29
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Portland Thorns FC vs. Chicago Red Stars

Sat., May 6
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Chicago Red Stars vs. Houston Dash

Sat., May 13
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Houston Dash vs. Sky Blue FC

Sat., May 20
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Sky Blue FC vs. Houston Dash

Sat., May 27
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Houston Dash vs. Seattle Reign FC

Sat., June 3
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
North Carolina Courage vs. FC Kansas City

Sat., June 17
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit

Sat., June 24
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash

Sat., July 1
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
North Carolina Courage vs. Sky Blue FC

Sat., July 8
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
North Carolina Courage vs. Seattle Reign FC

Sat., July 15
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Portland Thorns FC vs. North Carolina Courage

Sat., July 22
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Chicago Red Stars vs. Orlando Pride

Sat., Aug. 5
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Portland Thorns FC vs. Houston Dash

Sat., Aug. 12
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Orlando Pride vs. Sky Blue FC

Sat., Aug. 19
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
North Carolina Courage vs. Washington Spirit

Sat., Aug. 26
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Seattle Reign FC vs. Portland Thorns FC

Sat., Sept. 2
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Orlando Pride vs. Boston Breakers

Sat., Sept. 9
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Orlando Pride vs. Seattle Reign FC

Sat., Sept. 23
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars

Sat., Sept. 30
4 p.m. kickoff/3:30 p.m. pregame
Portland Thorns FC vs. Chicago Red Stars

NWSL announces U.S. WNT allocated players for 2017 season

A total of 22 players will be participating as federation players in the upcoming season

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(Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

CHICAGO (Apr. 6, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced today the official list of U.S. Women’s National Team allocated players for the 2017 season. A total of 22 players will be participating as federation players in the upcoming NWSL season.

In addition to returning federation players, there are four newly allocated U.S. Women’s National Team players that will be among the ten clubs, including Rose Lavelle (Boston Breakers), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars) and Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage).

The following is a club-by-club list of U.S. federation players for the 2017 NWSL season:

Boston Breakers: Rose Lavelle*

Chicago Red Stars: Julie (Johnston) Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, Christen Press and Casey Short*

Houston Dash: Morgan Brian and Carli Lloyd

FC Kansas City: Sydney Leroux, Amy Rodriguez and Becky Sauerbrunn

North Carolina Courage: Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams*

Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger and Alex Morgan

Portland Thorns FC: Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Meghan Klingenberg, Allie Long* and Emily Sonnett

Seattle Reign FC: Megan Rapinoe

Sky Blue FC: Kelley O’Hara

Washington Spirit: None

Key
* = New federation player in 2017

International players called up to WNT for April friendlies

NWSL has nine players named to rosters of overseas teams

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Seattle Reign FC co-captain Jess Fishlock will likely earn her 100th cap. (Photo credit: Jane Gershovich/isiphotos.com)

(April 5, 2017) – Six countries with internationals in the NWSL will be playing at the 2017 UEFA Women’s Championship starting in mid-July and four of those countries have called up players from the league for April friendlies as they prepare for the tournament this summer.

In addition to the internationals from the four countries set to feature at the Euros – Denmark, France, Iceland and Norway – NWSL players have also been named to the rosters of Costa Rica, Japan, Ireland and Wales.

Nine players from the league were tapped by their national teams – with six NWSL clubs represented on the rosters of these countries, see below for a team-by-team breakdown of the internationals set to feature for their national teams.

Boston Breakers

Forward Emilie Haavi was named to the Norway squad ahead of their April 10 match against Switzerland, but has since pulled out due to a broken jaw suffered last week with the Breakers. The 24-year-old international has 15 goals during 59 caps for Norway and was one of the early acquisitions during the offseason for the Breakers.

Houston Dash

Midfielder Denise O’Sullivan has been included in the Republic of Ireland squad prior to their April 10 match against Slovakia. The Dash player also featured for her country last month at the Cyprus Cup as Ireland claimed fourth place at the tournament behind victories over the Czech Republic and Wales.

Portland Thorns

Forward Nadia Nadim was recently named the Female Player of the Year for the Denmark national team and she has been included in her national team’s roster for their April 11 match against Finland. Nadim has scored 19 goals in 65 appearances for Denmark with the most recent tally coming last September against Sweden.

Midfielders Amandine Henry and Dagný Brynjarsdóttir have also been called into their respective national sides – with Henry named to the France squad for their April 7 game against Netherlands and Brynjarsdottir and included in the Iceland roster prior to their April 6 match against Slovakia.

Seattle Reign

Midfielder Jess Fishlock is set to earn her 100th cap for Wales as she prepares for a pair of friendlies April 5 and April 7 against Northern Ireland. The three-time NWSL Best XI member helped will reach triple digits in international appearances with her next cap.

Midfielder Rumi Utsugi was named to the Japan roster for the 2017 Kirin Challenge Cup against Costa Rica on April 9 in a match to raise money to support recovery and relief efforts to help those affected by Kumamato Earthquake in 2016.

Sky Blue FC

Forward Raquel Rodriguez is set to report for the Costa Rica Women’s National Team as they travel to Japan to play their hosts on April 9. She scored the game-winning goal for Sky Blue in a 1-0 preseason victory over North Carolina on April 1. No joke.

Washington Spirit

Defender Line Jensen has been named to the Denmark roster for their April 11 friendly against Finland. Jensen most recently featured for her country last month as they claimed third-place at the 2017 Algarve Cup on penalties following a 1-1 draw with Australia.

NWSL Abroad: UEFA Champions League edition

Houston's Carli Lloyd, Orlando's Alex Morgan prepare for semifinal showdown in late April

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Carli Lloyd's Manchester City topped Fortuna Hjørring in the quarterfinals. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

(April 3, 2017) – Houston Dash midfielder Carli Lloyd and Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan are set to meet in the semifinals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League when Manchester City and Olympique Lyonnais square off over two legs in late April.

Manchester City reached the semifinals of the competition for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Danish side Fortuna Hjørring that saw the English club advance with a 2-0 aggregate win. Lloyd played all 90 minutes for City after scoring the lone goal in the first leg of the quarterfinal matchup.

Olympique Lyonnais reserved their usual place in the Champs League semifinals with a 2-1 aggregate victory against VfL Wolfsburg despite a 1-0 loss in the second leg Wednesday with Morgan also racking up the full 90 minutes in the match.

The French giants, who won the Champs League for the third time last season, will be playing in the semifinals for the eighth time in the last 10 years when they take the field against Manchester City for the first leg on either April 22 or 23. The second leg will be scheduled for either April 29 or 30.

Only two Americans have previously won the UEFA Women’s Champions League – Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger and Gina Lewandowski, who is now at Bayern Munich. Both were on the FFC Frankfurt side that lifted the cup in 2008.

With Lloyd and Morgan’s teams meeting in the semifinals, it means that at least one NWSL player is guaranteed to reach the 2017 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final on June 1 at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

In the last five years, four Americans have finished as runners-up – with Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe playing in the 2013 final for Olympique Lyonnais, while Chicago Red Stars forward Christen Press, Boston Breakers defender Whitney Engen and Portland Thorns defender Megan Klingenberg all starting for Swedish club Tyresö in the 2014 final.

Both Lloyd and Morgan will return to the NWSL after the end of the season for their European clubs – with their 2016 debuts expected sometime in June or early July.

Dash fans will be eager to see Lloyd pair up again with 2016 NWSL Best XI member Kealia Ohai and Pride fans will be anxiously looking forward to watch Morgan team up with fellow U.S. international Ali Krieger, who was added to the team in an offseason trade with the Washington Spirit.

NWSL announces 2017 schedule

NWSL Game of the Week airs every Saturday on Lifetime, featuring a 30-minute pregame show

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Portland, Oregon - Sunday October 2, 2016: General view of Providence Park during a semi final match of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) at Providence Park.

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (March 1, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) unveiled today the complete 2017 regular-season schedule for its historic fifth campaign, which kicks off on the weekend of April 15-16 and concludes on September 30.

The complete 2017 NWSL Schedule can be found here: http://nwsl.us/2mblYTL.

The NWSL will play a 24-game regular-season schedule, with each team playing 12 home and 12 away games while competing in a single table.

Fans across the country will be able to watch the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime every Saturday, which includes a 30-minute pregame show prior to each broadcast. In addition, NWSL Media – the league’s joint venture with A+E Networks – will produce live streams of all matches in high definition on a soon to be announced platform, and launch a redesigned website and new NWSL app on iOS and Android.

The 24-game slate is tied for the most regular-season games in NWSL history and has been geared to be the most fan-friendly schedule the league has ever produced with no team playing more than two midweek matches and each club playing 11 of their 12 home games during weekends.

Rivalries, regional travel and competitive parity were all taken into account as each team will play three games against six opponents and meet the other three teams twice. Each club will host every other team in the league at least once.

The NWSL will observe international FIFA dates three times during the 2017 season as players return to their National Teams to compete during the weekends of June 10-11, July 29-30 and Sept. 16-17. This is designed to ensure the league’s substantial and growing pool of international talent will be available for every match and allow fans to experience the best competition and highest level of women’s professional soccer across the globe.

There will be no extended breaks during the 2017 season as there were during the two previous seasons to accommodate participation of players from the league in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The playoffs will commence after the 2017 regular season concludes on September 30. Complete playoff details will be announced at a later date.

DateKickoff Time (EST)Home TeamVisiting TeamVenue
Saturday, April 15, 20172:00 PMHouston DashChicago Red StarsBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, April 15, 20173:00 PMPortland Thorns FCOrlando PrideProvidence Park
Saturday, April 15, 20173:00 PMWashington SpiritNorth Carolina CourageMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, April 15, 201710:00 PMSeattle Reign FCSky Blue FCMemorial Stadium
Sunday, April 16, 20176:00 PMFC Kansas CityBoston BreakersSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, April 22, 20174:00 PMChicago Red StarsFC Kansas CityToyota Park
Saturday, April 22, 20174:00 PMOrlando PrideWashington SpiritOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, April 22, 20177:30 PMNorth Carolina CouragePortland Thorns FCWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, April 22, 201710:00 PMSeattle Reign FCHouston DashMemorial Stadium
Sunday, April 23, 20174:00 PMBoston BreakersSky Blue FCJordan Field
Saturday, April 29, 20174:00 PMNorth Carolina CourageOrlando PrideWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, April 29, 20174:00 PMPortland Thorns FCChicago Red StarsProvidence Park
Saturday, April 29, 20177:00 PMBoston BreakersSeattle Reign FCJordan Field
Saturday, April 29, 20177:00 PMWashington SpiritHouston DashMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Sunday, April 30, 20176:00 PMSky Blue FCFC Kansas CityYurcak Field
Saturday, May 06, 20174:00 PMChicago Red StarsHouston DashToyota Park
Saturday, May 06, 20174:00 PMWashington SpiritSky Blue FCMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, May 06, 201710:00 PMPortland Thorns FCSeattle Reign FCProvidence Park
Sunday, May 07, 20176:00 PMBoston BreakersNorth Carolina CourageJordan Field
Sunday, May 07, 20176:00 PMFC Kansas CityOrlando PrideSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, May 13, 20174:00 PMHouston DashSky Blue FCBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, May 13, 20174:00 PMSeattle Reign FCWashington SpiritMemorial Stadium
Saturday, May 13, 20178:00 PMFC Kansas CityPortland Thorns FCSwope Soccer Village
Sunday, May 14, 20175:00 PMOrlando PrideNorth Carolina CourageOrlando City Stadium
Sunday, May 14, 20176:00 PMChicago Red StarsBoston BreakersToyota Park
Friday, May 19, 20177:00 PMBoston BreakersPortland Thorns FCJordan Field
Saturday, May 20, 20174:00 PMSky Blue FCHouston DashYurcak Field
Saturday, May 20, 20174:00 PMWashington SpiritFC Kansas CityMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Sunday, May 21, 20174:00 PMNorth Carolina CourageChicago Red StarsWakeMed Soccer Park
Sunday, May 21, 20179:30 PMSeattle Reign FCOrlando PrideMemorial Stadium
Wednesday, May 24, 20177:30 PMNorth Carolina CourageSky Blue FCWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, May 27, 20174:00 PMChicago Red StarsNorth Carolina CourageToyota Park
Saturday, May 27, 20174:00 PMHouston DashSeattle Reign FCBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, May 27, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCOrlando PrideYurcak Field
Saturday, May 27, 20178:00 PMFC Kansas CityWashington SpiritSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, May 27, 201710:00 PMPortland Thorns FCBoston BreakersProvidence Park
Saturday, June 03, 20174:00 PMNorth Carolina CourageFC Kansas CityWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, June 03, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCPortland Thorns FCYurcak Field
Saturday, June 03, 20177:00 PMWashington SpiritHouston DashMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, June 03, 20177:30 PMOrlando PrideBoston BreakersOrlando City Stadium
Sunday, June 04, 20173:00 PMChicago Red StarsSeattle Reign FCToyota Park
Saturday, June 17, 20174:00 PMChicago Red StarsWashington SpiritToyota Park
Saturday, June 17, 20174:00 PMFC Kansas CitySeattle Reign FCSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, June 17, 20178:30 PMHouston DashOrlando PrideBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, June 17, 20177:30 PMNorth Carolina CourageBoston BreakersWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, June 17, 201710:00 PMPortland Thorns FCSky Blue FCProvidence Park
Saturday, June 24, 20174:00 PMBoston BreakersNorth Carolina CourageJordan Field
Saturday, June 24, 20174:00 PMOrlando PrideHouston DashOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, June 24, 20177:00 PMWashington SpiritPortland Thorns FCMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, June 24, 201710:00 PMSeattle Reign FCFC Kansas CityMemorial Stadium
Sunday, June 25, 20176:00 PMChicago Red StarsSky Blue FCToyota Park
Wednesday, June 28, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCOrlando PrideYurcak Field
Wednesday, June 28, 20178:30 PMHouston DashBoston BreakersBBVA Compass Stadium
Wednesday, June 28, 201710:00 PMPortland Thorns FCFC Kansas CityProvidence Park
Wednesday, June 28, 201710:30 PMSeattle Reign FCChicago Red StarsMemorial Stadium
Saturday, July 01, 20174:00 PMBoston BreakersWashington SpiritJordan Field
Saturday, July 01, 20174:00 PMNorth Carolina CourageSky Blue FCWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, July 01, 20175:00 PMOrlando PrideChicago Red StarsOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, July 01, 201710:00 PMSeattle Reign FCPortland Thorns FCMemorial Stadium
Sunday, July 02, 20178:00 PMFC Kansas CityHouston DashSwope Soccer Village
Friday, July 07, 20177:00 PMBoston BreakersChicago Red StarsJordan Field
Saturday, July 08, 20174:00 PMNorth Carolina CourageSeattle Reign FCWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, July 08, 20174:00 PMWashington SpiritOrlando PrideMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, July 08, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCFC Kansas CityYurcak Field
Saturday, July 08, 20178:30 PMHouston DashPortland Thorns FCBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, July 15, 20174:00 PMPortland Thorns FCNorth Carolina CourageProvidence Park
Saturday, July 15, 20174:00 PMSeattle Reign FCBoston BreakersMemorial Stadium
Saturday, July 15, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCChicago Red StarsYurcak Field
Saturday, July 15, 20178:30 PMHouston DashWashington SpiritBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, July 15, 20177:30 PMOrlando PrideFC Kansas CityOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, July 22, 20174:00 PMChicago Red StarsOrlando PrideToyota Park
Saturday, July 22, 20174:00 PMFC Kansas CityNorth Carolina CourageSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, July 22, 20178:30 PMHouston DashBoston BreakersBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, July 22, 201710:00 PMPortland Thorns FCWashington SpiritProvidence Park
Saturday, July 22, 201710:00 PMSeattle Reign FCSky Blue FCMemorial Stadium
Friday, August 04, 20177:00 PMBoston BreakersFC Kansas CityJordan Field
Friday, August 04, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCWashington SpiritYurcak Field
Saturday, August 05, 20174:00 PMNorth Carolina CourageSeattle Reign FCWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, August 05, 20174:00 PMPortland Thorns FCHouston DashProvidence Park
Saturday, August 05, 20177:30 PMOrlando PrideChicago Red StarsOrlando City Stadium
Tuesday, August 08, 20177:30 PMOrlando PrideWashington SpiritOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, August 12, 20174:00 PMOrlando PrideSky Blue FCOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, August 12, 20174:00 PMWashington SpiritBoston BreakersMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, August 12, 20178:00 PMChicago Red StarsPortland Thorns FCToyota Park
Sunday, August 13, 20178:30 PMHouston DashFC Kansas CityBBVA Compass Stadium
Sunday, August 13, 20179:00 PMSeattle Reign FCNorth Carolina CourageMemorial Stadium
Wednesday, August 16, 20177:30 PMBoston BreakersHouston DashJordan Field
Wednesday, August 16, 20178:00 PMChicago Red StarsSeattle Reign FCToyota Park
Wednesday, August 16, 20178:00 PMFC Kansas CityPortland Thorns FCSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, August 19, 20174:00 PMBoston BreakersOrlando PrideJordan Field
Saturday, August 19, 20174:00 PMNorth Carolina CourageWashington SpiritWakeMed Soccer Park
Saturday, August 19, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCSeattle Reign FCYurcak Field
Saturday, August 19, 201710:00 PMPortland Thorns FCHouston DashProvidence Park
Sunday, August 20, 20176:00 PMChicago Red StarsFC Kansas CityToyota Park
Saturday, August 26, 20174:00 PMFC Kansas CityOrlando PrideSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, August 26, 20174:00 PMSeattle Reign FCPortland Thorns FCMemorial Stadium
Saturday, August 26, 20177:00 PMSky Blue FCBoston BreakersYurcak Field
Saturday, August 26, 20177:00 PMWashington SpiritChicago Red StarsMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Sunday, August 27, 20178:00 PMHouston DashNorth Carolina CourageBBVA Compass Stadium
Wednesday, August 30, 20177:30 PMWashington SpiritNorth Carolina CourageMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, September 02, 20174:00 PMOrlando PrideBoston BreakersOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, September 02, 20174:00 PMPortland Thorns FCWashington SpiritProvidence Park
Sunday, September 03, 20176:00 PMFC Kansas CitySky Blue FCSwope Soccer Village
Sunday, September 03, 20176:00 PMChicago Red StarsNorth Carolina CourageToyota Park
Sunday, September 03, 20178:00 PMHouston DashSeattle Reign FCBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, September 09, 20174:00 PMFC Kansas CityChicago Red StarsSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, September 09, 20174:00 PMOrlando PrideSeattle Reign FCOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, September 09, 20177:30 PMNorth Carolina CourageHouston DashWakeMed Soccer Park
Sunday, September 10, 20176:00 PMBoston BreakersPortland Thorns FCJordan Field
Sunday, September 10, 20176:00 PMSky Blue FCWashington SpiritYurcak Field
Saturday, September 23, 20174:00 PMHouston DashChicago Red StarsBBVA Compass Stadium
Saturday, September 23, 20175:00 PMOrlando PridePortland Thorns FCOrlando City Stadium
Saturday, September 23, 20177:00 PMWashington SpiritBoston BreakersMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Sunday, September 24, 20176:00 PMSky Blue FCNorth Carolina CourageYurcak Field
Sunday, September 24, 20179:00 PMSeattle Reign FCFC Kansas CityMemorial Stadium
Friday, September 29, 20178:00 PMFC Kansas CityHouston DashSwope Soccer Village
Saturday, September 30, 20174:00 PMPortland Thorns FCChicago Red StarsProvidence Park
Saturday, September 30, 20174:00 PMWashington SpiritSeattle Reign FCMaureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, September 30, 20177:00 PMBoston BreakersSky Blue FCJordan Field
Saturday, September 30, 20177:30 PMNorth Carolina CourageOrlando PrideWakeMed Soccer Park

22 NWSL players called into USWNT for April friendlies

Boston Breakers defender Megan Oyster receives first call up

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Twenty-two NWSL players were called up to the United States women's national team roster ahead of two April friendlies. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

(March 23, 2017) – Players from the NWSL make up 22 of the 24 women named today to the U.S. Women’s National Team roster for a pair of friendlies April 6 and April 9 against Russia in Texas.

Boston Breakers defender Megan Oyster earned her first call up to the senior national team as one of six players from the league with less than 10 international caps named to the squad by USWNT coach Jill Ellis – including Houston Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell who, along with Oyster, will be looking for her first cap.

Oyster, a 2013 NCAA champion with UCLA, spent the first two years of her NWSL career with the Washington Spirit after the club selected her with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2015 NWSL College Draft.

The Naperville, Ill. native was an integral part of the Spirit backline last season as Washington had the No. 1 home defense in the league that was a cornerstone of the effort which saw the club reach the NWSL Championship for the first time in their history.

She was acquired by the Breakers in an offseason trade after logging 3,356 minutes in 38 career appearances (including playoffs) for the Spirit and is just the latest example of a talented young U.S. player afforded the opportunity with the USWNT after showcasing her skill in the NWSL.

The matches April 6 and April 9 against Russia will be the final games for the U.S. prior to the start of the 2017 NWSL season – which Ellis said she is eager to utilize in her assessment and appraisal of players ahead of the next international break in June.

“Following these matches, my staff and I will begin a heavy investment in attending and evaluating the NWSL games as well as tracking our players overseas before we get back together for our European trip in the summer,” Ellis said in the release from U.S. Soccer. “I’m very much looking forward to our domestic league starting.”

In addition to Oyster and Campbell, Chicago Red Stars defender Casey Short, Boston midfielder Rose Lavelle, Houston Dash forward Kealia Ohai and North Carolina Courage forward Lynn Williams are the other players with less than 10 international caps on the roster announced today.

Lavelle, the No. 1 overall selection at the 2017 NWSL College Draft, has made two appearances for the USWNT – both at the SheBelieves Cup in March – before making her NWSL debut as she looks to insert herself alongside 2016 NWSL Best XI members Ohai and Williams as part the new generation of U.S. players that hopes to come of age for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

Nine of the 10 NWSL clubs are represented on the roster for the April friendlies with the Dash and Portland Thorns leading the way with four players each on the squad, followed by the Orlando Pride and Chicago Red Stars with three representatives. The Spirit is the only club from the league without a player on the U.S. roster.

See below for the complete roster for the upcoming friendlies against Russia.

USWNT April Friendlies Roster

Pos.

Player

Club

GK

Jane Campbell

(Houston Dash)

GK

Ashlyn Harris

(Orlando Pride)

GK

Alyssa Naeher

(Chicago Red Stars)

D

Meghan Klingenberg

(Portland Thorns)

D

Ali Krieger

(Orlando Pride)

D

Kelley O’Hara

(Sky Blue)

D

Megan Oyster

(Boston Breakers)

D

Becky Sauerbrunn

(Kansas City Blues)

D

Casey Short

(Chicago Red Stars)

M

Morgan Brian

(Houston Dash)

M

Tobin Heath

(Portland Thorns)

M

Lindsey Horan

(Portland Thorns)

M

Rose Lavelle

(Boston Breakers)

M

Carli Lloyd

(Houston Dash)

M

Allie Long

(Portland Thorns)

M

Samantha Mewis

(North Carolina Courage)

M

Megan Rapinoe

(Seattle Reign)

F

Crystal Dunn

(Chelsea Ladies)

F

Alex Morgan

(Orlando Pride)

F

Kealia Ohai

(Houston Dash)

F

Christen Press

(Chicago Red Stars)

F

Mallory Pugh

(UCLA)

F

Amy Rodriguez

(FC Kansas City)

F

Lynn Williams

(North Carolina Courage)

Amandine Henry and France win the SheBelieves Cup

France beats the United States on a rainy night in Washington, D.C.

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Amandine Henry and Carli Lloyd battle for the ball. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Washington, D.C. — With France up 2-0 in the 24th minute versus the United States in the SheBelieves Cup at RFK Stadium, French midfielder Amandine Henry made a strong defensive play that helped keep the Americans off the board.

U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath, Henry’s teammate on Portland Thorns FC, took a free kick from about 35 yards out that floated just over French goalkeeper Meline Gerard and bounced towards an empty net.

Henry followed the play and calmly tracked back, clearing the ball off the line with her right foot, just in time.

“I know that on this kind of shot, it’s often really hard for the goalkeeper to go out and I would like to protect the goal,” Henry said through a translator after the game. “It was the good thing to do.”

The United States never did end up finding the back of the net and France went on to win the match 3-0. The win gave France their first SheBelieves Cup title.

Les Bleus hope it’s just the start of a winning 2017 as the UEFA European Women’s Championship in the Netherlands kicks off in July. Though France has high hopes and is one of the favorites, they’ve never made it past the quarterfinals of the tournament.

“We have a lot of work for the Euros during the [upcoming] four months,” Henry said in English. “We know we have something positive, but we have to work a lot for the Euros.”

France finished the SheBelieves Cup 2-0-1. In addition to the win over the U.S., they tied Germany after opening the tournament with a come from behind win over England. Each game was part of a doubleheader with the United States, which meant large crowds in every stadium. The attendance at RFK for their win was 21,638.

“It was amazing for us,” Henry said of the crowds. “We would like in France [to have] the same.”

Before Euro 2017 starts this summer, Henry will be back in Portland for another NWSL season. Henry, who won the Silver Ball at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, joined the Thorns mid-season last year and said her time in the NWSL has helped her game.

“It was like a dream for me to play in the American league and see [United States players] work daily,” she said. “It helped [me] to have some more confidence.”

Portland hosts Orlando on April 15th (Lifetime, 3 p.m. ET).

Christie Rampone honored for legendary national team career

The former United States captain retires after 19 seasons

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Christie Rampone and her two daughters stand on the field at Red Bull Arena before the United States women's national team's game vs. England. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Harrison, N.J. — Before the United States’ SheBelieves Cup game vs. England in Harrison, New Jersey in March, Christie Rampone stood on the field with her two daughters, her No. 3 jersey next to her, many of her former teammates on the field, watching a video tribute about her 19 years with the U.S. women’s national team. Then, a surprise visit from fellow legend Abby Wambach to hand her flowers in her send off game.

“It’s hard to put into words,” she said of the tribute. “I will realize this probably when I’m at home one day. It’s gonna just hit me like, ‘Wow I can’t believe I played 19 years at the highest level.’”

After 311 caps (second only to Kristine Lilly’s 354), two World Cup titles and three Olympic gold medals, Rampone’s career with the U.S. women’s national team officially came to a close. While she hadn’t played a national team game since 2015, this was a chance for  U.S. Soccer and the fans’ to finally honor the former captain.

“Christie, she’s a legend. She’s the best. She has led this team for so long,” Carli Lloyd said. “It’s been just an honor to be able to play with her and get to know her for so many years.”

Rampone’s style was that of a quiet leader. For Becky Sauerbrunn, who is now co-captain along with Lloyd, Rampone’s style was made her so effective as a captain.

“For as long as I played with her, she was always the captain and in a team of extroverts, she was just very introverted, but everything she said carried such weight,” Sauerbrunn said.

“My first cap was right next to her and it was like we had been playing for years and that’s kind of what Christie was all about. She was just so steady. It didn’t matter if we were up four goals or down four goals, you always knew what you were going to get from her and it was just reliable and steady.”

Rampone’s national team career spanned nearly two decades. The college forward converted to defender and went on to become one of the best center backs in women’s soccer history.

“I think being a defender was my true calling. That was my speciality in basketball,” she said. “That’s the greatest thing about playing with this team. Practices are harder than games. You battle at practice so much you make each other better. All the different personalities of forwards coming at me with the Abby Wambachs, Alex Morgan, Tiffeny Milbrett, Mia. All those players were so different. That made be a better player.”

Rampone became captain in 2008, leading a strong United States defense to an Olympic gold medal after losing forward Abby Wambach to a broken leg just weeks before the tournament. She won another gold medal in 2012 before finally being able to life the World Cup trophy as a captain in 2015.

Rampone will continue with Sky Blue FC this season, which is good news for her team as she was one of the best defenders in the league last year, starting all 20 games and never missing a minute of action.

Watch: Sky Blue FC follows Rampone at Red Bull Arena

After her NWSL career, Rampone is hoping to get into coaching.

“I know you can’t just step in and be this brilliant coach. Not all the best players are great coaches but I think being a center back and seeing the game in front of you and having to communicate so much and organize. I think center backs convert into pretty good coaches,” Rampone said.

Of course, Rampone famously won a Women’s Professional Soccer title as player/coach back in 2009, coaching Sky Blue FC to three consecutive upset playoff wins, including a 1-0 shutout win over the Los Angeles Sol and league MVP Marta. So she does have more than a little experience with coaching at a high level.

Rose Lavelle’s stellar USWNT debut

The No. 1 overall draft pick begins her international career

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Boston Breakers rookie Rose Lavelle earned her first cap for the United States women's national team at the SheBelieves Cup. (Photo credit: Mike Lawrence/isiphotos.com)

Harrison, N.J. — When Rose Lavelle takes the field for her Boston Breakers debut on April 16th, she’ll do it just a few weeks after playing all 90 minutes in her first cap with the U.S. women’s national team.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL Draft got the start in the United States’ 1-0 loss to England at the SheBelieves Cup. On a bitterly cold day at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, Lavelle impressed in the midfield and was named Player of the Match by U.S. Soccer.

“I think Rose did really, really well. Very proud of her. She did great. She was playing out wide. … She’s normally usually playing central,” Carli Lloyd said. “She looked comfortable, calm and make some good decisions and created some things for us.”

Lavelle said she found out she would start the day before the game and admitted being a little nervous leading up to and during the first few minutes of the match.

“I think I definitely have some things I can take away and work on but I think there are also some things I did OK at,” she said after the match. “I think I went at some defenders, which when I’m on the flank I usually have a little confidence issue with. … I think I dribbled by some defenders a couple of times.”

Head coach Jill Ellis thought Lavelle did a bit more than just OK at some things.

“She was fantastic. I thought she did great,” Ellis said. “It’s her first cap. Five minutes of nerves and then she settled into the game and she was one of the best players in the park, so that was fantastic.”

Lavelle was active on the left wing for most of the match and then when she moved to the center late in the second half. She very nearly tallied her first international goal in the 19th minute, when a Crystal Dunn cross fell to her, wide-open at the far post in the box. But Lavelle’s shot was saved by England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain.

“I know,” she said with a sigh when asked about the play. “I think I hit it right at the goalie. I wish I could’ve buried that one.”

Despite the near miss, Lavelle’s performance earned her raves from her teammates.

“She did phenomenal. … I’ve seen some pretty amazing first caps,” Becky Sauerbrunn said. “But Rose tonight, I was really impressed with her feet. She got out of some sticky situations.”

As for the cold in New Jersey? Lavelle’s college career — with the Wisconsin Badgers — prepared her for that.

“There was one game in Wisconsin that I played in probably two inches of snow, so I’m pretty familiar with the cold,” she said. “I think Wisconsin conditioned me well for this moment.”

Following the SheBelieves Cup, it’s on to preseason in Boston and the start of her NWSL career.

“I’m excited to get to Boston obviously,” Lavelle said. “This is definitely helping me prepare for that. I can’t let it get to my head. I think still have a lot of work to get done.”

The Breakers visit FC Kansas City on Sunday, April 16, at 6 p.m. ET.

NWSL and A+E Networks look to build stronger foundation for long-term investment and growth of the league

A+E Networks will take an equity stake in the league and has signed onto a three-year deal to broadcast the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime

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Stephanie McCaffrey, Kristie Mewis, Alyssa Naeher, Amanda Duffy, Jeff Plush, Nancy Dubuc, Christie Rampone, Sunil Gulati, Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle and Lynn Williams (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

(Feb. 3, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League welcomed A+E Networks as the league’s newest partner Thursday in move that signals a strong foundation of long-term investment and growth for the NWSL.

A+E Networks will take an equity stake in the league and has signed onto a three-year deal to broadcast the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime. Together the broadcaster and the league will launch NWSL Media to manage all of the league’s digital assets – including its social media platforms, a redesigned NWSLsoccer.com plus a new NWSL app on iOS and Android.

“We are on a journey to establish a sustainable, permanent women’s soccer league in the United States and Canada,” NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush said at the press conference held at A+E headquarters in New York. “It’s a transformational day for our league.”

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati attended the press conference along with A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc as well as Sky Blue FC defender Christie Rampone and several other of the league’s stars – including 2016 NWSL MVP Lynn Williams.

“Today is not only great news for the NWSL and great news for A+E [Networks], but really for the women’s sports movement generally,” Gulati said. “Around the world, interest in the women’s game in Europe – and especially in the United States – is at an all-time high.”

The NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime will feature pre-game show every Saturday during the season at 3:30 p.m. ET ahead of a 4 p.m. ET kickoff as fans from across the country and around the globe will get to tune in and watch some of their favorite women’s soccer stars. All other matches will continue to be available via a live stream.

“This is really an incredible moment for Lifetime and A+E Networks, and me personally,” Dubuc said. “Not only is soccer an incredible sport, a dramatic sport, an incredible story, a growing business – but I also think in the narrative of empowering women, being a female athlete is incredible important to being a successful woman.”

From the perspective of someone who has participated in both the NWSL and two previous women’s soccer leagues in the U.S., Rampone hailed the announcement as an important step forward for the league.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled,” the former U.S. international and current Sky Blue FC defender said. “Knowing how important it is to have a partnership like A+E [Networks] joining with the family of the NWSL, it’s so exciting for the players because we’re about continuing the growth of the game. What better way to do it than have a game once a week where the fans can connect and be part of this.”

The two-time World Cup winner and three-time Olympic gold medalist also said the deal shows that A+E Networks is committed to helping the league continue its growth as it embarks on an unprecedented fifth season.

“It just shows that they believe in us,” Rampone said. “And as players we have to continue to do what we have to do on the field to make the product really [good] so that it is entertaining for the fans to watch and stay connected.”

NWSL and A+E Networks announce historic partnership

A+E Networks invests in NWSL with equity stake and together launch NWSL Media, a new media and commercial joint venture; Lifetime to be official sponsor and broadcast partner of the league in a three-

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Christie Rampone speaks at a press conference in New York City to announce a partnership between the NWSL and A+E Networks. (Photo credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (Feb. 2, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and A+E Networks have entered an historic partnership whereby A+E Networks will become the league’s newest investor with an equity stake in the National Women’s Soccer League, joining the existing team ownership groups. As one of the leading women’s media brands, Lifetime, will become an official sponsor and broadcast partner of the league in a three-year deal, beginning in April. The strategic investment is accompanied by the creation of a new joint venture, NWSL Media, and marks a watershed moment in the league’s history that will bolster the league’s growth and support of the teams, players and fans.

“This is a transformational partnership in the evolution of the league, and we are so appreciative of Nancy Dubuc and her team at A+E Networks as they take a leadership position in the growth of our league and create opportunities for young women,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said. “We are also extremely pleased to be able to present our fans with the most comprehensive national television and streaming packages in our history.”

“As a former college athlete, I know the importance of sports in the lives of women and girls and I couldn’t be more thrilled to join forces with NWSL and U.S. Soccer to ensure professional women athletes are elevated as the entire country can watch and be inspired by their strength and athleticism. The teams are filled with some of the best professional players in the world, and we are proud to welcome them to Lifetime,” said Nancy Dubuc, President and CEO, A+E Networks.

“This partnership is not only tremendously significant in the continued growth of the NWSL, but representative of how far the league has come in four years and where it can go in the future,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “A+E and its resources are a fantastic fit for women’s professional soccer and will have a major impact on continuing to raise the profile of what we feel is already the best and most competitive league in the world.”

NWSL Media, the new joint venture between the NWSL and A+E Networks, will act as the media and commercial arm of the league, overseeing all of its global broadcast and sponsorship rights. In addition, NWSL Media will manage all digital assets for the NWSL including a re-designed NWSLSoccer.com, a new NWSL app on iOS and Android, and the league’s social media platforms.

NWSL Media will oversee the live streaming of all matches and produce the games in high definition with a consistent, state-of-the-art approach that will include exclusive new and original digital content for pre-game, halftime and post-game segments. The joint venture is currently negotiating with potential partners to stream the games not broadcast on Lifetime.

Lifetime, the premier entertainment destination for women, is making an unprecedented commitment with a three-year agreement to be the official broadcast partner. For the first time in NWSL’s history, a league game will be broadcast on television every weekend of the season. The NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime will provide fans throughout the country with a live viewing platform every Saturday at 4 p.m. ET to watch the best players in the world. A pre-game show will kick off each weekly event at 3:30 p.m. ET. Showcasing the network’s sponsorship and commitment to the league, Lifetime will be featured on all official jerseys with a patch on the right sleeve.

Founded in December 2012, the NWSL is a 10-team Division-I women’s professional soccer league set to kick off an historic fifth season in 2017 with support from the Canadian Soccer Association and United States Soccer Federation.

Established as an eight-team league, the NWSL has expanded twice – with the Houston Dash entering the league for the 2014 season and the Orlando Pride added ahead of the 2016 campaign. The league will welcome a new fan base in 2017 with the Flash relocating to become the North Carolina Courage.

The Portland Thorns FC claimed the first league title in 2013 with a victory over the Western New York Flash in the inaugural NWSL Championship Game. FC Kansas City followed with back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 thanks to a pair of wins against Seattle Reign FC in the final. In 2016, the Flash returned to the championship game and became the first No. 4 seed to win the league title after twice rallying from a one-goal deficit against the Washington Spirit to force extra time and then penalties.

In the history of the league three clubs has captured the NWSL Shield, awarded to the club with the best record in the regular season, including Western New York (2013), Seattle (2014, 2015) and Portland (2016).

#NWSLonLIFETIME
@lifetimeTV
@NWSL

About NWSL
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is a ten-team Division-I women’s professional soccer league featuring national team players from around the world. The clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, FC Kansas City, North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, and the Washington Spirit. Based in Chicago, the NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association and the United States Soccer Federation. For more information about the NWSL, log on to the league’s official website at www.NWSLsoccer.com.

About Lifetime
Lifetime is a premier entertainment destination for women dedicated to offering the highest quality original programming spanning scripted series, non-fiction series and movies. The critically acclaimed UnREAL, Project Runway, Dance Moms, Bring It!, The Rap Game and Little Women franchises anchor the network’s programming, in addition to its over 25 original movies annually that continue to define the TV movie genre. In 2015, Lifetime launched Broad Focus, a major global initiative dedicated to supporting and hiring female directors, writers and producers to make its content which totals over 450 original hours. Lifetime’s Fempire positions the network as a curator of feminist content and conversations, as well as a place where women connect, learn and are entertained. Lifetime Television®, LMN®, Lifetime Real Women® and Lifetime Digital™ are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks.

About A+E Networks
A+E Networks®, LLC. is an award-winning, global media content company offering consumers a diverse communications environment ranging from linear channels to websites, gaming, watch apps and educational software as well as SVOD products, including first-to-market Apps such as HISTORY Vault and Lifetime Movie Club. A+E Networks is comprised of A&E®, Lifetime®, History®, LMN®, FYI™, VICELAND, H2™, A+E Studios™, History en Español™, Crime + Investigation™, Military History™, Lifetime Real Women®, A&E IndieFilms®, A+E Networks International®, A+E Networks Digital® and A+E Networks Consumer Products™. A+E Networks channels and branded programming reach more than 335 million households in over 200 territories and 41 languages. A+E Networks, LLC. is a joint venture of Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/aenetworks and Facebook at facebook.com/AENetworks/.

NWSL announces Canadian subsidized players for 2017

A total of 10 players will be participating in the upcoming season

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Orlando, FL - Saturday Sept. 24, 2016: Desiree Scott during a regular season National Womenís Soccer League (NWSL) match between the Orlando Pride and FC Kansas City at Camping World Stadium.

CHICAGO (Jan. 25, 2017) – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced today the official list of Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team subsidized players for the 2017 season. A total of 10 Canadians will be participating as subsidized players in the upcoming NWSL season.

“We are very appreciative of and excited by Canada Soccer’s continued support of the league as well as the meaningful impact their players are having on and off the field,” NWSL Commissioner Jeff Plush said. “It is also important for the sustained growth of our league to have the top players from around the world.”

In addition to the returning Canada Soccer Women’s National Team players who will remain with their current teams, forward Nichelle Prince and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan were added by Canada Soccer and made available for selection in the recently completed 2017 NWSL College Draft. Sheridan from Clemson University was selected no. 23 overall by Sky Blue FC, while Ohio State’s Prince was selected no. 28 overall by the Houston Dash.

The following Distribution-Eligible Individuals, whose rights were relinquished by their team, will be made available in an upcoming NWSL Distribution Draft: Josée Belanger and Kaylyn Kyle.

The following is a club-by-club list of Canadian subsidized players for the 2017 NWSL season:

Boston Breakers: Allysha Chapman

Chicago Red Stars: None

Houston Dash: Janine Beckie, Nichelle Prince*

FC Kansas City: Desiree Scott

North Carolina Courage: Sabrina D’Angelo

Orlando Pride: None

Portland Thorns FC: Christine Sinclair

Seattle Reign FC: Diana Matheson

Sky Blue FC: Kailen Sheridan*

Washington Spirit: Stephanie Labbé, Shelina Zadorsky

Key
* = New Player in 2017

National Women’s Soccer League announces 2016 Best XI

NWSL Shield winners Portland Thorns FC led the way with three selections to the squad

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Chicago Red Stars defender Arin Gilliland and Western New York Flash forward Lynn Williams were named to the 2016 NWSL Best XI. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

CHICAGO (Oct. 7, 2016) – The National Women’s Soccer League announced Friday the Best XI selections for the 2016 NWSL season.

NWSL Shield winners Portland Thorns FC led the way with three selections to the squad followed by the Chicago Red Stars and Western New York Flash with two members each on the team.

Seven players earned their first selection to the Best XI this year led by NWSL MVP Lynn Williams, who at 23 is the youngest player on the squad – 147 days younger than the next youngest player, Chicago Red Stars defender Arin Gilliland.

Williams and her Best XI and club teammate Jessica McDonald are both set to feature in the 2016 NWSL Championship Game on Sunday, Oct. 9 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston in a match broadcast nationally at 5 p.m. ET live on FOX Sports 1.

Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris also highlights the first-time selections as she becomes the first player on an NWSL expansion club to earn the honor.

Four players were voted to the Best XI for the second consecutive year – highlighted by FC Kansas City defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who earned her fourth straight selection to the squad. Seattle Reign FC defender Lauren Barnes, Portland Thorns FC midfielder Allie Long and Chicago Red Stars forward Christen Press were the other players to repeat as selections from the 2015 Best XI.

PositionPlayerClubCountryNote
GoalkeeperAshlyn HarrisOrlando PrideUSA62 saves
DefenderLauren BarnesSeattle Reign FCUSA1,775 minutes
DefenderArin GillilandChicago Red StarsUSA1.00 team GAA
DefenderEmily MengesPortland Thorns FCUSA0.95 team GAA
DefenderBecky SauerbrunnFC Kansas CityUSA1.00 team GAA
MidfielderTobin HeathPortland Thorns FCUSAGoal, 10 assists
MidfielderAllie LongPortland Thorns FCUSA6 goals, 2 assists
ForwardJessica McDonaldWestern New York FlashUSA10 goals, 7 assists
ForwardKealia OhaiHouston DashUSA11 goals, 4 assists
ForwardChristen PressChicago Red StarsUSA8 goals
ForwardLynn WilliamsWestern New York FlashUSA11 goals, 5 assists

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

The NWSL Second XI is comprised of the next leading vote getters at each position that did not make the Best XI (listed by position, alphabetically by last name):

PositionPlayerClubCountryNote
GoalkeeperAlyssa NaeherChicago Red StarsUSA1.00 GAA
DefenderJulie JohnstonChicago Red StarsUSA1.00 team GAA
DefenderAli KriegerWashington SpiritUSA1.05 team GAA
DefenderChristie RamponeSky Blue FCUSA1,800 minutes
DefenderCasey ShortChicago Red StarsUSA1,781 minutes
MidfielderDanielle ColapricoChicago Red StarsUSAGoal, 2 assists
MidfielderVanessa DiBernardoChicago Red StarsUSA7 assists
MidfielderJess FishlockSeattle Reign FCWalesGoal, 4 assists
MidfielderKim LittleSeattle Reign FCScotland6 goals, 2 assists
ForwardCrystal DunnWashington SpiritUSA2 goals, 5 assists
ForwardShea GroomFC Kansas CityUSA8 goals

Western New York Flash forward Lynn Williams voted NWSL MVP

Williams is the fourth consecutive NWSL Golden Boot winner to go on to win the MVP award

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Lynn Williams also won the 2016 NWSL Golden Boot. (Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (Oct. 6, 2016) – Western New York Flash forward Lynn Williams was voted the National Women’s Soccer League Most Valuable Player for the 2016 NWSL season, the league announced Thursday.

Williams, 23, is the fourth consecutive NWSL Golden Boot winner to go on to win the MVP award – joining FC Kansas City’s Lauren Holiday in 2013, Seattle Reign FC’s Kim Little in 2014 and the Washington Spirit’s Crystal Dunn in 2015.

The Fresno, Calif. native concluded the 2016 season with 11 goals in 19 appearances as she tied with Houston Dash forward Kealia Ohai for the most goals in the league, but won the golden boot based on her five assists as opposed to Ohai’s four on the year.

The Pepperdine University product featured for 1,670 minutes this season as she led the league in shots (70), ranked second in shots on goal (34) and tied for fourth in assists (5). Seven of her 11 goals came in the second half of games this year – including a dramatic game-tying goal in the 93rd minute July 30 against the Houston Dash to earn a 3-3 draw.

Williams led one of the best offenses in league history as the Flash scored 40 goals in 20 games to become just the third team in NWSL history to average 2.00 or more goals per game.

She scored two goals in a game on two separate occasions during the regular season – May 27 in a 4-0 victory over the Boston Breakers and June 24 in a 7-1 win also over the Breakers. On Sunday, she scored two goals in extra time in her NWSL Playoffs debut to lead the Flash to a 4-3 victory in extra time over 2016 NWSL Shield winners Portland Thorns FC.

List of NWSL Most Valuable Player winners:

YearPlayerClub
2013Lauren HolidayFC Kansas City
2014Kim LittleSeattle Reign FC
2015Crystal DunnWashington Spirit
2016Lynn WilliamsWestern New York Flash

Williams and the Western New York Flash face the Washington Spirit in the 2016 NWSL Championship Game on Sunday, Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. ET at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston in a match broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

Seattle Reign FC’s Lauren Barnes voted Defender of the Year

Barnes started all 20 games of the 2016 campaign as Reign FC tied for the most shutouts in the league

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(Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (Oct. 5, 2016) – Seattle Reign FC defender Lauren Barnes was voted the National Women’s Soccer League Defender of the Year presented by Coppertone® from Bayer’s Consumer Health Division for the 2016 NWSL season, the league announced Wednesday.

Barnes, 27, is the first player other than FC Kansas City’s Becky Sauerbrunn to be honored as the NWSL’s top defender after the U.S. international won the award in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Barnes started all 20 games of the 2016 campaign as she played 1,775 minutes (all but 15 minutes) as Reign FC tied with the Chicago Red Stars for the most shutouts in the league with eight clean sheets.

The UCLA product was also a key figure as Seattle set new NWSL records with five consecutive shutouts and a 531-minute shutout streak. Barnes and Reign FC kept Portland Thorns FC, Houston Dash, Sky Blue FC, FC Kansas City and Boston Breakers off the scoreboard during that stretch.

The Arcadia, Calif. native helped Seattle tie the Washington Spirit for the No. 4 defense in the league in 2016 as the Reign allowed 21 goals in 20 games – just two more than the league-leading Thorns.

Barnes also played a pivotal role in coach Laura Harvey and her players having spent the fewest number of minutes (317 minutes) trailing in matches this season, eight less than their closest competitors – FC Kansas City (325).

List of NWSL Defender of the Year winners:

YearPlayerClub
2013Becky SauerbrunnFC Kansas City
2014Becky SauerbrunnFC Kansas City
2015Becky SauerbrunnFC Kansas City
2016Lauren BarnesSeattle Reign FC

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

Orlando Pride’s Ashlyn Harris voted Goalkeeper of the Year

Harris finished the season with 62 saves and posted a 1.33 goals-against-average (GAA) in 15 appearances

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Ashlyn Harris won Save of the Week 9 times this season. (Photo credit: Roy K. Miller/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (October 4, 2016) – Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was voted the National Women’s Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year for the 2016 NWSL season, the league announced Tuesday.

Harris, 30, becomes the first Pride player and first member of an expansion team to win a league award – as she finished the season with 62 saves while she posted a 1.33 goals-against-average (GAA) in 15 appearances for Orlando in 2016.

The Satellite Beach, Fla. native and U.S. international recorded four shutouts – tied for fifth most in the league – as she went 5-9-1 in net this season for the Pride.

The North Carolina product produced a highlight reel’s worth of stops this year as she won the NWSL Save of the Week award on nine occasions – the most in the league – including in Week 18 with a spectacular full-stretch save against Sky Blue FC as she got her gloves on to a header from SBFC forward Samantha Kerr to push the shot around the post.

Harris, who was acquired by the Pride with the No. 2 selection of the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft, had a 0.756 save percentage this season as she faced 82 shots on goal – the third most in the league behind FC Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart (102) and Houston Dash goalkeeper Lydia Williams (83).

Harris’ 1.33 GAA matched her career best in the NWSL, which she also posted in 2015.

List of NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year winners:

YearPlayerClub
2013Nicole BarnhartFC Kansas City
2014Alyssa NaeherBoston Breakers
2015Michelle BetosPortland Thorns FC
2016Ashlyn HarrisOrlando Pride

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

Sky Blue FC’s Raquel Rodriguez voted Rookie of the Year

Rodriguez had a goal and an assist in 18 appearances as she massed 1,461 minutes during her rookie season

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Rodriguez record a goal and an assist in her first NWSL season. (Photo credit: Robyn Walsh McNeil/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (Oct. 3, 2016) – Sky Blue FC midfielder Raquel Rodriguez was voted the National Women’s Soccer League Rookie of the Year for the 2016 NWSL season, the league announced Monday.

Rodriguez, 22, had a goal and an assist in 18 appearances as she massed 1,461 minutes during her rookie season and helped Sky Blue FC improve four points and one place over their finish last season as the New Jersey outfit completed the 2016 campaign with a 7-8-5 record in seventh place with 26 points.

The San Jose, Costa Rica native scored her lone goal of the year June 25 to help Sky Blue FC to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Spirit – as she smashed a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that flew into top-right corner for the first goal of her NWSL career.

The Costa Rica international played an instrumental role for coach Christy Holly all season as she was tied for fourth in the league with 26 fouls suffered this year.

The Rookie of the Year award caps a fantastic 12 months for the Penn State product, who helped lead her school to the 2015 NCAA National Championship last December – scoring the game-winning goal in the national title game.

She went on to also win the 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy given to the top collegiate player in the country before being selected No. 2 overall in the 2016 NWSL College Draft in January. Then in February, Rodriguez had six goals for Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship to finish the tournament tied with U.S. international Crystal Dunn as the competition’s top scorer.

List of NWSL Rookie of the Year winners:

YearRookieClub
2013Erika TymrakFC Kansas City
2014Julie JohnstonChicago Red Stars
2015Danielle ColapricoChicago Red Stars
2016Raquel RodriguezSky Blue FC

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on consistent basis and fans.

Portland Thorns FC’s Mark Parsons Voted Coach of the Year

Parsons led the Thorns to their first NWSL Shield with a 12-3-5 record and 41 points

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Portland Thorns FC finished with a 12-3-5 record and won their first NWSL Shield. (Photo credit: Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (Oct. 3, 2016) – Portland Thorns FC coach Mark Parsons was voted the National Women’s Soccer League Coach of the Year for the 2016 NWSL season, the league announced Monday.

Parsons, 30, led the Thorns to their first NWSL Shield with a 12-3-5 record and 41 points in his first season with the club.

The Cranleigh, England native helped Portland return to the NWSL Playoffs after the Thorns finished sixth in 2015 and missed out on the postseason for the first time in their history.

Parsons joined Portland during the offseason after spending three seasons with the Washington Spirit and guided the Thorns to a 12-game unbeaten run to start the season – the second-longest streak in NWSL history.

His team joined the 2013 Western New York Flash and 2014 Seattle Reign FC as the only three teams to post a goals-against-average (GAA) of less than 1.00 for an entire season as the Thorns conceded just 19 goals in 20 games for a 0.95 GAA.

In addition to boasting the No. 1 defense in the league this year, the Thorns also had the No. 2 offense in the league – scoring 35 goals on the season, including an NWSL-high 21 in the second half of games. Among their 21 second-half goals, Parsons’ squad netted 12 tallies after the 75th minute.

Portland went 8-1-1 at Providence Park during the regular season as they earned the best home-record in the league this year. The Thorns outscored opponents 23-8 at home during 2016 while posting a league-best plus-15 goal difference in front of their own fans.

Parsons’ team had two separate four-game winning streaks this season – the longest win streaks in the league this season.

List of NWSL Coach of the Year winners:

YearCoachClub
2013Vlatko AndonovskiFC Kansas City
2014Laura HarveySeattle Reign FC
2015Laura HarveySeattle Reign FC
2016Mark ParsonsPortland Thorns FC

The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

WNY Flash Forward Lynn Williams Wins 2016 NWSL Golden Boot

Williams finished the season with 11 goals and five assists in 19 appearances

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Lynn Williams tallied 11 goals and 5 assists in 19 appearances for the Western New York Flash. (Photo credit: Wilf Thorne/isiphotos.com)

National Women’s Soccer League Press Release

CHICAGO (September 26, 2016) – Western New York Flash forward Lynn Williams was honored Monday as the winner of 2016 NWSL Golden Boot, awarded to the player with the most goals during the regular season.

Williams, 23, finished the season with 11 goals in 19 appearances – tied for the league lead with Houston Dash forward Kealia Ohai. It was the first time in NWSL history that two players tied for the most goals in a season – with Williams edging Ohai for the Golden Boot thanks to her five assists compared to the Dash player’s four in 2016.

The Pepperdine University product scored seven more goals this year compared to the four she netted during her rookie season after she was the No. 6 overall selection in the 2015 NWSL College Draft.

The 11 goals for Williams represent more than 25 percent of her team’s goals on the year – with fellow forwards Jessica McDonald and Makenzy Doniak each assisting on four of her goals as Western New York became the third team in NWSL history to average two or more goals per game for an entire season. The Flash finished the year with 40 goals in 20 games (2.00 GPG) – just behind the 2014 Reign (2.08 GPG) and 2015 Reign (2.05 GPG).

The Fresno, Calif. native had two game-winning goals during the 2016 campaign. She scored against six of the nine other teams in the league, with her six goals against the Boston Breakers the most she scored against any single opponent – and accounting for more than half of her 11 goals on the season.

See below for a complete log of Williams’ goals in the 2016 NWSL season:

Goal    Date    Opponent    Min    Assist    Result
1    May 21    Sky Blue FC    23    Makenzy Doniak    W 5-2
2    May 27    Boston Breakers    64    Michaela Hahn    W 4-0
3    May 27    Boston Breakers    65    Meredith Speck    W 4-0
4    June 24    Boston Breakers    19    Makenzy Doniak    W 7-1
5    June 24    Boston Breakers    39    Jessica McDonald    W 7-1
6    July 1    Chicago Red Stars    74    Jessica McDonald    W 2-0
7    July 9    Seattle Reign FC    83    Abby Erceg    W 3-2
8    July 30    Houston Dash    93    Jessica McDonald    D 3-3
9    Sept. 7    Boston Breakers    76    Makenzy Doniak    D 2-2
10    Sept. 11    Portland Thorns FC    80    Jessica McDonald    L 2-3
11    Sept. 24    Boston Breakers    2    Makenzy Doniak    W 4-0
The Western New York Flash face Portland Thorns FC on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. ET live on FOX Sports 1 at Providence Park in the semifinals of the 2016 NWSL Playoffs.