Tag Archives: NWSL

World Cup Winner Rose Lavelle Links Up With Man City Ahead of 2020-21 WSL Season

Man City have made another statement of intent in the transfer market with their latest summer signing, USA midfielder Rose Lavelle.

Lavelle, was an integral member of the USA squad as they won the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup last year, scooping the prestigious Bronze Ball for her performances during the tournament.

She scored three goals in six games, including one in the final as the USA defeated the Netherlands to clinch their fifth world title.

The 25 year old, also finished sixth at The Best FIFA awards last year and was named in the 2019 FIFA FIFPRO World XI.

An Ohio native, Lavelle played college soccer in America at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for the Wisconsin Badgers. She made 19 appearances, netting six and assisting seven in her first year as her side won the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament.

Lavelle was awarded the Big Ten midfielder of the year in both 2015 and 2016 after impressing in the centre of the park. She got her break in the professional game in 2017, as she was selected as the number one pick at the 2017 NWSL College Draft by the Boston Breakers.

At the Breakers Lavelle showed early promise, netting twice in her first eight games and winning April’s Player of the Month award. A hamstring injury would derail her campaign, however, with Lavelle finishing the season with just ten appearances after missing two months.

After the Breakers folded Lavelle was again selected first overall in another draft, this time linking up with Washington Spirit. International duty has restricted her game time in a Spirit shirt but despite playing just six games last year Lavelle was included in the NWSL Best XI.

She recently took part in the NWSL Challenge Cup, organised as a replacement for the NWSL as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. She scored one goal in four games as Washington lost out to Sky Blue FC on penalties in the first knockout round.

On the international stage is where Lavelle has really shown her quality. She won the Golden Ball at the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s U20 Championship before captaining the side at the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, scoring once and creating two more goals.

She was handed her debut for the senior side against England in the SheBelieves Cup in March 2017 and has since gone on to amass a near half century of caps.

She has also got her hands on some silverware, in the form of the 2018 Tournament of Nations, 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, the aforementioned 2019 World Cup and the 2020 SheBelieves Cup earlier this year.

She was traded to OL Reign in the middle of August, with an agreement that she could seek a move abroad, and she chose Manchester as her new destination, linking up with fellow USA import Sam Mewis, who joined the Citizens last week.

Lavelle cited the uncertainty surrounding the league return in America and the allure of playing in the Champions League ahead of the rescheduled Olympics next year as determining factors in choosing WSL runners up, City.

Lavelle told the Guardian:

“I knew I had to stay in the US because the Olympics were coming along. When that didn’t happen and there was no football of any kind happening for months I had to reconsider.

“I am excited at the possibility of playing in the Champions League, I grew up watching that without ever thinking I might get the chance to play in it.”

She credits new City boss Gareth Taylor for convincing her to make the move to England, telling City’s official website:

“After talking with Gareth about the team and how he saw me fitting in, it seemed like a great environment that would really push and develop me as a player.”

With Keira Walsh and USA compatriot Sam Mewis likely to occupy the two holding midfield roles if Taylor opts to play with a three in midfield, Lavelle will likely be pushed on into a more advanced role in the centre of the field, allowing her to roam forward and create chances to devastating effect.

The only cause for concern for City will be ensuring that she stays fit, as she has often struggled with little niggles and injuries which have halted her progress on the club front.

Head coach Taylor was delighted to secure Lavelle’s services as his third signing of the window, after also adding Chloe Kelly and Sam Mewis to City’s ranks as they look to wrestle the WSL crown off Chelsea.

Speaking to Man City’s official website Taylor said:

“We’re thrilled to have secured Rose’s services – with her impressive back catalogue, she is an incredibly exciting player and one we’re all looking forward to working with.”

The Manchester City coach continued:

“I am extremely excited to see her make her mark on the Barclays FA Women’s Super League this season in what will hopefully be a successful campaign for Manchester City Women.”

Having 27 year old Mewis, who Lavelle is very close to, also arriving for a season in the WSL alongside her will surely help Lavelle settle in, and it appears that these two signings are just the tip of the iceberg for USA internationals moving abroad for game time ahead of the upcoming Olympics.

Tobin Heath and Christen Press are also rumoured to be heading to Manchester, with talks ongoing between their representatives and Manchester United.

This will help propel the WSL to new heights with the influx of talented players from abroad and continued investment and coverage of the game it is set to be one of the most competitive seasons the WSL has ever seen.

Houston Dash defeat Chicago Red Stars in NWSL Challenge Cup final

After being the first professional sports league to return in the United States, the NWSL concluded the Challenge Cup today with the Houston Dash defeating the Chicago Red Stars 2-0.

The Dash got off to quick start when Kristie Mewie drew a penalty after being fouled by Kayla Sharples in the fourth minute. Sophie Schmidt capitalised from the spot to help them take an early lead. That would end up being the only goal in the first half.

 

For much of the second half, both teams were not able to add to the scoresheet. However, in the first minute of extra-time, the Dash were on a breakaway and Shea Groom received a through ball from Rachel Daly, where she was able to put the ball past U.S. national team goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. The goal would end up clinching the title for Houston.

 

The club is owned by several prominent athletes such as boxer Oscar de la Hoya and NBA superstar James Harden  but the Dash have never been able to compete in the NWSL. In fact, since the club was founded on December 11, 2013, they have never qualified for the playoffs. This makes the Challenge Cup the franchise’s first piece of silverware in its history.

 

On the other side, the Chicago Red Stars lost a key player in Sam Kerr. The Australian international departed the NWSL for Chelsea after winning the Golden Boot three years in a row. However, they were able to succeed without the goal-scoring machine and were able to finish up as runners-up in the tournament. 

These two teams were not supposed to make the finals. The fourth and sixth place finishers were not considered to be serious threats for the tournament, compare to favourites such as the North Carolina Courage or the Washington Spirit. However, both of these clubs ignored where the critics and made some noise in Utah.

The NWSL had the privilege of being the first pro sports league to return in America, and the tournament featured many great stories from upsets to underdog stories. This tournament was a great kickstart to sports in the country and should be a catalyst in the expanding coverage in not only women’s soccer but sports in general.

Serena Williams One of Seven High-Profile Investors For New LA Based Women’s Football Club

Tennis superstar Serena Williams will join forces with numerous other influential women in order to fund the creation of a new women’s football club in Los Angeles ahead of the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League.

The ownership group, aiming to expand women’s football to Southern California, consists of Williams, her two year old daughter Alexis Olympia, her husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian as well as actresses and majority investors Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain as well as venture capitalist Kara Nortman.

Completing the stellar lineup are fourteen former USA internationals including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Rachel Buehler, Tisha Venturini-Hoch and two time Olympic champion Abby Wambach. Gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman will serve as the club’s president.

The provisional name for the group is ‘Angel City,’ derived from the city they are aiming to base the club in. The team’s official name and venue has yet to be decided, although this should be confirmed by the enf

There are currently no California based clubs in the NWSL, with the group aiming to build the club from scratch and to expand the scope for women’s football in the region. They will become the 11th franchise to play in the NWSL.

Actress Portman, who got involved with the project after the USA lifted the World Cup in France last summer, told the LA Times:

“It just seems like it was ideal to bring women’s soccer to LA because we have such passionate fans here, such robust youth soccer. It’s just an incredible kind of culture shift if we can bring more attention and light and celebration of these incredible athletes.”

NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird also expressed her delight in a statement released today which reads:

“We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general.

“Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”

While six of the current NWSL have an affiliation with a men’s professional team, this new franchise, does not as of yet. This could work in their favour however, further enhancing its profile, as an independent club, a unique hub in LA dedicated solely to promoting women’s football in the region.

We have seen first hand in England, how clubs associated and funded by their male counterparts can be left behind and disregarded. Liverpool are the prime example, as while their men’s side will hoist the Premier League trophy tonight, their women’s team were relegated to the Championship and face a struggle to survive as a professional club.

Having such a prestigious group of owners can also be beneficial to the club. The illustrious list of women involved instantly draws some much needed attention to the club, from various sectors, across the globe.

The hype surrounding previous new franchises such as Inter Miami and LA FC was largely generated as result of them having famous owners in David Beckham and Will Ferrell. It is likely that this will be the case for those who are followers of those involved with ‘Angel City.’

Those who are fans of tennis, business, football and showbiz will be looking on, intrigued to see the process of the development of the club as well as the eventual results on the pitch, further boosting the profile and coverage of the NWSL as a whole, which continues to grow rapidly.

The league recorded a 22% increase in attendances last season after the USA’s fifth World Cup win, with the Portland Thorns, the best supported women’s club, averaging 20,000 at home games.

The appetite is clearly there for women’s football in America, particularly in LA, a huge cultural hub in the USA, a particularly attractive location also for a club to be based. Hamm, who already forms part of the ownership group at LA FC, was previously quoted as saying they aimed to form a women’s team.

This view was backed up by an LA FC supporters group 3252, who even flew flags with the NWSL logo stating:

‘Bring the NWSL to LA.’

Whilst this club may be a separate entity to LA FC, as the only female football club created in the area, it is easy to see how many football fans in the region will support this new club, a huge selling point for the group and women’s football as a whole.

Women’s football in America is riding on the wave of the success of the USA National team, and with three new franchises entering into the NWSL for the upcoming season, the Olympics to come next year and the Women’s World Cup in 2023, as Portman nicely summarises the new LA based club is:

“Coming in at an ideal time in 2022.”

North Carolina Courage defeat Portland Thorns in opening match of NWSL Challenge Cup

Soccer is back in the U.S.! No, sports are back in the U.S.!

After Utah Jazz centre Ruby Gobert contracted the coronavirus, cancelling their matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 11, there have been no sports across the pond since. The NWSL officially became the first sports league to open up as the defending champion North Carolina Courage opened the Challenge Cup with a 2-1 against the Portland Thorns.

Also, the matchup, played at Zion’s Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, was one for the ages as it was the first time a women’s club soccer games was televised on network TV in the U.S.

After the first match ended with a tie at zero, the Courage were able to get on the board in the 75th-minute. Substitute Hailie Mace crossed the ball to Brazilian star Debinha, who headed the ball into the net from close range.

 

However, the lead was short-lived as five minutes later, the Thorns and recent World Cup winner Lindsey Horan had a long-range pass to Simone Charley, who headed the equaliser.

 

In the fourth minute of extra time, Lynn Williams had the game-winning goal after heading in a cross from Samantha Mewis.

 

Sports fans in the States were waiting patiently for the return of sports and the NWSL held the privilege of being the first league back in the U.S.