As nine NWSL clubs opened up their preseason camps yesterday, many found themselves with key players out on international duty, as they competed in various competitions. Here’s a look at how NWSL players fared on the international stage during this month:
Captained by new Orlando Pride acquisition Ali Riley, New Zealand rode successful penalties from Utah Royals FC’s Katie Bowen and OL Reign’s Rosie White past Belgium to reach the knockout stage of the historic Algarve Cup in Portugal. The Football Ferns would eventually fall to Norway, 2-1, in the third-place game.
Asian Football Confederation Olympic Qualifying
After topping their group, Australia dominated Vietnam over their two-leg playoff, 7-1, to punch their ticket to Tokyo 2020 this summer. A litany of NWSL players contributed to the Matildas’ victories, including Portland Thorns FC’s Ellie Carpenter (one assist), Orlando’s Emily van Egmond (two assists, one goal), and OL Reign’s Steph Catley (two assists).
Euro 2021 Qualifying
While many of Europe’s elite played friendlies, a handful of national teams continued their road to the 2021 European Championships, slated to be held in England. In Group B, Sky Blue FC goalkeeper Didi Haracic put in an impressive performance, earning Bosnia and Herzegovina a narrow 3-2 victory over Malta and putting them in striking distance of a qualifying slot. In Group E, North Carolina Courage midfielder Denise O’Sullivan scored the Republic of Ireland’s third goal to seal top status atop their group following a 3-0 victory over Montenegro.
In the first edition of the tournament held in Spain, Utah defender Rachel Corsie and Orlando forward Clair Emslie each made two starts in the nation’s three games. Additionally, Emslie added a goal for Scotland in their opening match against Ukraine. Corsie’s club teammate, midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir, added a goal in Iceland’s final match of the tournament against Ukraine, leading them to a runner-up finish at the tournament.
Tournoi de France
Another newcomer to the international stage, the first Tournoi de France saw Sky Blue’s Kailen Sheridan, Houston Dash’s Allysha Chapman and Sophie Schmidt, Utah’s Desiree Scott, OL Reign’s Rebecca Quinn, and Portland’s Christine Sinclair feature for Canada in a narrow 1-0 defeat to France. Canada’s second match, a 0-0 draw against Netherlands, saw additional features from Utah’s Diana Matheson, Orlando’s Shelina Zadorsky, and Houston’s Nichelle Prince. Canada’s final match would pit them against Brazil, who had gone scoreless in their two prior matches despite featuring midfielders Debinha (North Carolina Courage) and Marta (Orlando Pride). The game would end 2-2 with Marta opening Brazil’s account in the eighth minute and Matheson adding a goal of her own in the 74th minute to help salvage a point for the Canadians. Prince picked up an assist in the match. North Carolina Courage goalkeer Steph Labbé also started in goal in Canada’s final match of the tournament.
On the first match day of the tournament’s fifth edition, the United States, featuring a roster comprised of NWSL players, flew to a 2-0 win through goals from Utah’s Christen Press and Sky Blue’s Carli Lloyd. At Red Bull Arena on matchday two, Houston’s Rachel Daly put in a strong defensive performance en route to a 1-0 win for the Lionesses over Japan. In the nightcap, a strongly contested match was won in the 86th minute with a bullet header from Julie Ertz of the Chicago Red Stars for a 1-0 victory over Spain. In the final match of the tournament, the United States rode goals from OL Reign’s Megan Rapinoe, Press, and Portland’s Lindsey Horan en route to a 3-1 victory over Japan, which captured the third SheBelieves Cup crown for the U.S. Daly and England finished in third place.