So you enjoyed the 2019 Women’s World Cup? Well the good news is you don’t have to wait four more years to watch these players compete. The NWSL season is in full swing and is always open to new fans.
Let’s run through the teams and see which USWNT players are on each squad. There are even some international stars that you might recognize who play in the U.S. too.The NWSL is the third go at a women’s soccer league in the States. It first got underway in 2013 and is now in its seventh season. There are currently nine teams spread out all over the country.
North Carolina Courage
First up, the reigning champions are the North Carolina Courage. The Courage are based in Cary, North Carolina. They are a high-scoring team who enjoy playing the underdog role under head coach Paul Riley. While they are very rarely an actual underdog, they thrive off that pressure and are always ready to come out and play a tough brand of soccer. If you like seeing teams protect their homefield, then the Courage are the team for you as they have only lost once at home in the past year and a half.
As for national team players, they have four on the roster for the U.S. Crystal Dunn, Samantha Mewis, Jessica McDonald and Abby Dahlkemper all saw time in France in route to the fourth World Cup title for the Americans. They also have international talent in Stephanie Labbe, Debinha and Abby Erceg, who played for Canada, Brazil and New Zealand in France this summer. Don’t sleep on talent like Lynn Williams and McCall Zerboni, who have been in and out of the USWNT camp for the past year or so.
Chicago Red Stars
Next up are the Chicago Red Stars. If you watched the U.S. game against England and really loved the penalty kick save, then this might be the team for you. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher plays in Chicago alongside rookie Tierna Davidson, Morgan Brian and Julie Ertz. With Ertz and Brian coming back into the fold, the Red Stars are getting a boost into an already strong midfield. And of course it is always nice to get your starting goalkeeper back as well.
When it comes to other big names from this World Cup, you might have heard about a certain player named Sam Kerr from Australia. She plays in Chicago and is having an absolute massive season right now. In her two games prior to leaving for France, Kerr had two goals in each game. Oh, and in her first game back, she scored a hat trick to bring her goal total to nine goals on the season in eight games played. The Red Stars are in a bit of a funk right now but with the addition of their national team players back, it could give them the boost they need to get back into the playoff hunt.
If you’re a big fan of atmospheres and a great fan base, then Portland is the team for you. Being at Providence Park is unlike any other experience in the NWSL and can remind you of all that is possible for women’s soccer in the United States. The Rose City Riveters are a top-notch supporters group that make the stadium come alive each game. They also have been in the championship game for the past two seasons and won two years ago. They also won the inaugural championship in 2013.
As for the Americans on the squad, the Thorns had four representing Portland in France: Emily Sonnett, Adriana Franch, Lindsey Horan and Tobin Heath. On top of the U.S. players, the Thorns also had five internationals representing other countries in France. Christine Sinclair, Andressinha, Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso and Ellie Carpenter represented Canada, Brazil and Australia this past month. Sinclair is a player to watch out for on the international stage as she approaches Abby Wambach’s all time goal scoring record for both men and women.
Sky Blue FC
Sky Blue is one of those teams that has really struggled over the last few years. Between issues with the management to less-than-stellar coaching, it has been hard to muster together many wins. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get your support. In terms of USWNT talent, the New Jersey-based side has co-captain Carli Lloyd. But there are also two internationals who were representing the club over in France this past month. Estelle Johnson played for Cameroon and Kailen Sheridan was with Canada.
Just this past weekend, Sky Blue picked up their first win of the season against Chicago thanks to a goal by Jen Hoy. They return home this weekend to take on Utah in search of their first two-game winning streak since August 2017. Sky Blue is also playing without a head coach at the current moment so that might be a reason for some fans to want to follow them.
The Washington Spirit are coming off a season kind of like Sky Blue’s where they really struggled. After a coaching change and a bit of a roster turnover, the Spirit are taking the league a bit by surprise. The Spirit have relied heavily on young talent to get the job done with six rookies on the roster and a goalkeeper in Aubrey Bledsoe who could be on the USWNT roster before we know it. Oh, and they are about to get a player back who you might have heard of by the name of Rose Lavelle.
If you watched the World Cup final, you saw a young star come into her own on the biggest stage. Lavelle, who scored the second goal for the U.S., is in her second year with the Washington Spirit and could be the difference maker for the Spirit moving into the second half of the season. And let’s not forget her best friend and roommate Mallory Pugh, who also plays for the Spirit. Then there are also Cheyna Matthews, who represented Jamaica, and the Australian duo of Amy Harrison and Chloe Logarzo.
So if you’re looking for U.S. national team players, you might be confused to not find any on the Houston Dash. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find any players from the World Cup. The Dash were actually well-represented in France with six players taking part. Houston had four on the roster for Canada including Lindsay Agnew, Sophie Schmidt, Allysha Chapman and Nichelle Prince. Rachel Daly made it to the third-place game as part of England’s squad and Claire Polkinghorne played for Australia.
If you like speedy goalscorers, then the Dash have a player you should keep an eye on. Kealia Ohai may only have one goal on the season, but once she gets some more pace alongside of her with the return of Rachel Daly, the attack for the Dash could be one to watch out for.
For all of you out there that have enjoyed watching Alex Morgan ball out throughout the tournament, then look no further than the Orlando Pride. Oh and all those cool videos of the team celebrating after the big win — you probably saw those on Ashlyn Harris’ Instagram feed. Good news, she also plays for the Pride. And last but not least, defender Ali Krieger also plays for the Pride.
But if those three weren’t enough for you, take a look at the international talent and you will see some names there that you probably recognize as well. How about the new all time leading goal scorer in a World Cup in Marta or her Brazilian teammate Camila? Or maybe you liked watching the Australians. Orlando has two in Alanna Kennedy and Emily Van Egmond. Then don’t forget about Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky. You can find all these players on the field each week in downtown Orlando. They are coming off a big win at home over the Washington Spirit and are looking to turn their season around.
On Sunday during the World Cup final, you might have noticed the U.S. player who ended up with a large cut above her eyebrow and then eventually a black bandage wrapped around her head. That would be Becky Sauerbrunn, and she is the captain of the Utah Royals. She plays alongside fellow national team members Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press. But these three weren’t the only Royals playing in France. Utah had three international players in Katie Bowen, Rachel Corsie and Desire Scott who saw time in the World Cup.
In just their second year in Utah, the Royals have developed a solid fan base and are pushing for their first ever playoff berth. If you want to cheer for a team with a female head coach, then Laura Harvey and the Utah Royals are the place for you.
So you probably have never heard of her, but there is this woman who plays for the U.S. team named Megan Rapinoe who also happens to play club soccer in the pacific northwest. Formerly the Seattle Reign, an offseason move to Tacoma has given the Reign new life in a new home. If you have enjoyed following Rapinoe, her pink hair, her outspoken comments and her badass play on the field, take a look at the Reign. They currently sit in first place and have loads of talent.
Along with Rapinoe, the Reign had seven other players participating in France. Allie Long was the other member of the USWNT with Rapinoe while Jodie Taylor represented England in the third-place match. Lydia Williams, Steph Catley and Elise Kellond-Knight were a part of the Austrlian side that lost to Norway in the Round of 16. Finally, Celia Jiménez Delgado represented Spain and Rumi Utsugi represented Japan. While there is a long list of injured players for the Reign, it has not slowed them down and when they reload with all their World Cup talent, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
So if you liked watching the World Cup this summer, pick a team or follow your favorite players. Go out and buy tickets, buy merchandise, watch games. While it is fun to watch the World Cup every four years, these players and this league need you to pay attention now and help with the growth of the game in the United States.