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NWSL Offseason Notebook: Roster moves continue to be made as preseason looms
News and notes from around the league this offseason
New Zealand women's national team player joins the ranks of Orlando Pride (Photo credit: Orlando Pride)
New Zealand women's national team player joins the ranks of Orlando Pride (Photo credit: Orlando Pride)

As the dust from a frenetic Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament settles and the SheBelieves Cup draws near, clubs around the NWSL are putting the finishing touches on their offseason wish lists as their own preseason schedules draw closer to kickoff. Here’s all the news and notes from around the league: 

League-Wide News

  • The National Women’s Soccer League announced the home openers for the 2020 season, with a re-match of the 2019 NWSL Championship highlighting the three opening games of the season on Saturday, April 18. The full list of home openers can be seen here.
  • Twenty-six NWSL players were called in by Vlatko Adonovski to the U.S. women’s national team camp prior to their participation in the SheBelieves Cup. Additionally, Houston Dash midfielder Rachel Daly was called in by England to their SheBelieves Cup squad.
  • The Portland Thorns, Chicago Red Stars, and Reign FC will join the U.S. U-23 women’s national team at the 2020 Thorns Spring Invitational at Providence Park.

Chicago Red Stars

  • Following the departure of Craig Harrington to Utah, the Red Stars announced a litany of additions to their technical, medical, and academy staff. Scott Parkinson fills Harrington’s role as assistant to Rory Dames, holding the same role for two years under Laura Harvey in Utah. Former Red Stars defender Julianne Sitch, who ended a 13-year playing career in 2015, re-joins the club as a first team assistant coach and the head coach of the Chicago Red Stars reserves.
  • Midfielder Julie Ertz, who won the 2019 Ballon d’Or, was one of five nominees for the 2020 BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Voting for the award ends on March 2, and the winner will be announced on March 24.

Houston Dash

  • Houston sent defender Amber Brooks and forward Sofia Huerta to Reign FC in exchange for forward Shea Groom and defender Megan Oyster. Groom, who scored two goals in her only season with Reign FC, has appeared in 90 league matches. Oyster, who won the 2016 NWSL Championship with the Washington Spirit, joins Houston after a two year stint with the Cascadia club.
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was announced by the Dash as the club’s official cancer center and jersey partner ahead of the 2020 season. As part of the announcement, the Dash released their volt-orange home kit.
  • The Dash agreed to a transfer fee and acquired West Ham defender Erin Simon. Simon returns to the NWSL after spending two seasons with her hometown club Sky Blue FC prior to spending the 2019 season with the East London side.
  • Houston acquired defender Megan Crosson, who made six appearances for the Washington Spirit last season. Crosson returns to the Dash after making four appearances for the team in 2016.
  • A member of the club since their debut season in 2014, Houston goalkeeper Bianca Henninger announced her retirement from professional soccer via her Instagram. In six seasons with Houston, Henninger started 19 of her 20 appearances, tallying 12 saves in 1,723 total minutes.
  • The Dash signed goalkeeper Amanda Dennis to a one-year deal after her four-year career at Penn State University. Dennis, who represented the U.S. U-20 women’s national team from 2014-2018, finished second in the nation during her senior season with a 0.77 GAA.

Orlando Pride

  • The Pride agreed to a transfer fee and acquired New Zealand women’s national team defender Ali Riley from FC Bayern Munich. Riley, who captains New Zealand, has earned 132 caps for her national team and played all 90 minutes during all three matches of the Football Ferns’ 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance.
  • Orlando has also signed veteran Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod. McLeod returns to the NWSL, last appearing for the Houston Dash in 2015. McLeod has since plied her trade in Germany and Sweden.
  • The Pride came to terms on a one-year contract with number three overall draft pick Taylor Kornieck. Kornieck joins the club after an impressive college career at University of Colorado-Boulder and has also represented the United States internationally at the U-18, U-19, and U-20 levels.
  • Orlando has waived goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer ahead of the 2020 NWSL season. Kopmeyer, who was traded from Reign FC ahead of the 2018 season, has earned 60 total league appearances since her league debut in 2013, recording 337 saves and 12 clean sheets.

Portland Thorns FC

  • Thorns FC midfielder and 2020 NWSL Draft number one selection Sophia Smith was named to Laura Harvey’s U.S. U-20 squad set to compete at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship.
  • On January 29, Christine Sinclair passed Abby Wambach for sole possession of the all-time leading international goalscoring record with two goals in Olympic Qualifying against Saint Kitts and Nevis. Sinclair now has 186 international goals.

Reign FC

  • Reign FC traded Shea Groom and Megan Oyster, along with a conditional second round pick in the 2022 NWSL college draft, in return for forward Sofia Huerta and defender Amber Brooks. Huerta paced the Dash offensively last season, tallying five goals and four assists in over two thousand minutes for the side. Brooks, who spent four seasons in Houston, played every minute of all 24 NWSL regular season matches for the team, one of only four players in the league to do so.
  • Midfielder Jess Fishlock has signed back on with Reign FC, agreeing to a two-year deal that covers the 2020 and 2021 NWSL seasons. Considered one of the most dynamic midfielders in the league, Fishlock is aiming to return to league play as she continues her rehab process after tearing her ACL in June of 2019.
  • After a decade in professional soccer both stateside and in Japan, midfielder Bev Yanez has announced her retirement. Totaling 129 appearances and 25 goals over six seasons for Reign FC, Yanez will turn her career focus to coaching at Copa Soccer Training Center in Walnut Creek, Calif.
  • Defender Lauren Barnes has re-signed with the club for the 2020 season in a deal that includes a club option for the 2021 season. A member of the club since its inaugural 2013 season, Barnes has made 149 regular season appearances and was recognized as NWSL Defender of the Year in 2016.
  • Forward Megan Rapinoe, who won the 2019 Ballon d’Or, was one of five nominees for the 2020 BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. Voting for the award ends on March 2, and the winner will be announced on March 24.
  • Goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme, who was acquired last July as a backup to Casey Murphy, was waived by the club.

Sky Blue FC 

  • Sky Blue FC announced their move to the Red Bulls; state-of-the-art p facility in East Hanover, N.J., for the 2020 season. Sky Blue will have access to a grass and turf field and the “Academy Building”, which offers a complete athletic training room, fitness center, team meeting spaces, and full coach and player locker rooms dedicated to club.
  • Sky Blue’s ownership has grown with the addition of businessman and author Ed Nalbandian, who was named Vice Chair. Nalbandian has previously held executive roles at IBM, AT&T, Cognizant, and Avaya.
  • Sky Blue FC announced six re-signings from their 2019 roster – midfielder Nahomi Kawasumi, defender Gina Lewandoswki, forward Paige Monaghan, defender Erica Skorski, forward Imani Dorsey, and midfielder Elizabeth Eddy.
  • Forward Jen Hoy announced her retirement from professional soccer to focus on her health and wellness business, Thrive. Drafted in 2013 by the Chicago Red Stars, Hoy tallied 17 goals in nearly 98 league appearances.
  • The fifth overall draft pick Evelyne Viens and 11th overall draft pick Kaleigh Riehl both signed contracts with Sky Blue FC, the club announced.

Utah Royals FC

  • Former Chicago Red Stars assistant Craig Harrington was hired as the second head coach in the club’s history. Harrington, who served as technical director of the Turks and Caicos men’s national team prior to his two years in the Windy City, succeeds Laura Harvey, who is now the head coach of the U-20 women’s national team.
  • Defender Sydney Miramontez announced her retirement from professional soccer after three seasons with FC Kansas City, the Western Sydney Wanderers, and the Utah Royals. Miramontez’s younger sister, Sinclaire, was drafted by the North Carolina Courage in January.
  • Midfielder Mandy Laddish announced her retirement from professional soccer. Laddish missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons recovering from hip surgeries, but triumphantly returned to league action in 2019, making eleven appearances. Additionally, the club waived the rights to defender Rebecca Moros, who appeared in 30 matches.
  • Defender Rachel Corsie was named to the Scotland roster for the 2020 Pinatar Cup, marking her first time to represent her home country this year. 

Washington Spirit

  • In addition to announcing the signing of all five of their 2020 NWSL College Draft selections, the Spirit also signed Katie Lund of Arkansas as an undrafted free agent. Lund was ranked ninth-best in the nation her senior year, earning 11 shutouts and leading the SEC with a 0.87 GAA.
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