The 2017 season of the National Women’s Soccer League is set to kick off Saturday and as the ladies look to showcase what they can do on the field, we put together a guide that will help you navigate the 10 clubs in the league.
Here is the first round of clubs you can get acquainted with.
Manager: Matt Beard
After failing to qualify for the playoffs in the last four seasons, the Breakers will try to put together a respectable campaign. Coach Matt Beard, who formerly coached Liverpool Ladies FC, will return for his second season with the team.
The Breakers were originally founded in 2000, though, this new incarnation came to be in 2007. One of the first pro women’s soccer teams in the country, this Breakers team features a 21 women roster. Missing from the team will be defender Megan Oyster who was loaned out to the Newcastle Jets in Australia. Highly-rated midfielder Rose Lavelle will try to make her mark on the team, along with Canadian sensation, Adriana Leon, and New Zealand international midfielder, Rosie White.
With a history of developing youngsters through their academy, the Breakers are setting up a strong foundation to become competitive in the NWSL. Their fans will be hoping it occurs sooner rather than later.
Chicago Red Stars
A whole new look.
A whole new feel.
— Chicago Red Stars (@chicagoredstars) February 7, 2017
Manager: Rory Dames
The Chicago Red Stars were originally founded in 2007 and will be fighting to win their first NWSL title.
Manager Rory Dames has a series of star players like USWNT members Alyssa Naeher, Julie Johnston, Christen Press, and Casey Short at his disposal. He will look to these four women to guide the club to victory.
The team has gone under a rebranding for this season and is hoping to capture the attention of Chicago in a big way with their “My Kind of Town” marketing campaign.
With an experienced roster like theirs, winning might prove the best marketing tactic.
Manager: Randy Waldrum
One of the few clubs in the league tied to an MLS side are the strong Houston Dash. Led by USWNT titan Carli Lloyd (currently on loan at Manchester City), the Dash are hoping to qualify for the playoffs this season after missing out the last three years.
The team also boasts Brazilian internationals Poliana and Andressa, adding some South American flair to the squad.
The club – as the Dynamo – are owned, among others, by boxing icon Oscar De La Hoya. The ownership group led by Gabriel Brener have invested a serious amount of cash in both Houston soccer clubs. They will be hoping to reap the rewards this coming season.
FC Kansas City
Manager: Vlatko Andonovski
FC Kansas City was founded in 2012 and joined the league in 2013. A year later, they won the NWSL championship and became back-to-back champs in 2015. The team will be looking for a third championship this season.
Their no nonsense approach to soccer has been key to their success. After failing to qualify for the playoffs last season, a new ownership group took over earlier this year.
Amy Rodriguez, and Rabona favorite, Sydney Leroux are part of the squad.
North Carolina Courage
Manager: Paul Riley
In their first season in Carolina, the newest NWSL side comes from the ashes of the Western New York Flash – the franchise was sold after capturing the 2016 title. The Courage, who are affiliated with NASL side North Carolina F.C., are ready for their close-up as they take the field for the first time in April.
The team has a bevy of international stars like Canada’s Sabrina D’Angelo, New Zealand’s Abby Erceg, Brazil’s Debinha and Rosana. These players should add quality and depth to a proud new team looking to make some noise in their first year in the league.