As the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League season kicks off, here is Rabona57’s second and final installment into what fans can expect from the ladies this season.
Manager: Tom Sermanni
The Orlando Pride recently made big waves with the addition of Brazilian star Marta.
Marta, who has been compared to Pele and Mia Hamm, is unquestionably the biggest female soccer player outside of America and brings an adrenaline shot of star power not just to the team but to the league. This should amplified once Alex Morgan returns from France.
In their second season, the Orlando City affiliate now have a beautiful new home to play in. Last year, the team broke attendance records for the league and is going to repeat the magic as Orlando is proving to be a soccer-loving city.
“I think Orlando proved itself so much in the first year,” Defender Ali Krieger said on the team’s website. “They said, ‘Look, here’s how we’re treating our women’s team and they’re treated just as well as the men. And here’s our new stadium. And these are the standards and expectations that we have for our club and the players.’ And every other club is looking in and saying ‘Wow, how do we compare to that?’ I think it’s just raising the bar for the NWSL and I think I’m seeing the league heading in a positive direction, it’s growing tremendously.”
Krieger, one of the best in the league, is going to command the backline with Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Monica Hickmann Alves, and Laura Alleway. The Pride can count on an impressive defense to go along with their star power up front.
Portland Thorns FC
Manager: Mark Parsons
The club, affiliated with the Portland Timbers, won the NWSL Shield last year and will be looking to win the coveted championship trophy at the end of the season. The squad fell short of the championship last year as they made it to the semi-finals in the playoffs.
Led by USWNT player Tobin Heath, the Thorns are going to look to be pricks in the side of their opponents and with the many returning players, the team is looking more unified than ever before.
“We have a lot of the same faces back and we have the same philosophy, the way we want to play for Mark,” Heath told their website. “You can sense that in the group from training, and everyone knows what is there.”
Seattle Reign FC
Manager: Laura Harvey
After finishing in the middle of the table, the Seattle Reign are going to come out swinging like a prizefighter to try and reclaim the back-to-back NWSL Shields they held in 2014 and 2015. They will hope to take it further and be successful in the playoffs.
Led by USWNT hero Megan Rapinoe, the Reign are going to regroup and rebuild to take on their opponents this year. Expect much attacking play and tighter defending as they try to recover the ground lost in 2016.
Sky Blue FC
Manager: Christy Holly
The New Jersey-based club is known for their development of players – think Palermo in Serie A or Southampton in the EPL.
After finishing seventh last season, the team ended the year in disappointment and hasn’t made it to the top half of the table since 2013 when they finished in fourth place. Manager Christy Holly has his work cut out for him as he looks to turn the team into a winning club.
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) March 15, 2017
Manager: Jim Gabarra
Following last season’s final loss to the now defunct Western New York Flash 3-2 on penalties, the Washington Spirit are going to try and boost their squad – and do some soul searching – as they fight to win the NWSL title.
Having signed draft picks Lindsay Agnew (forward) and Meggie Dougherty Howard (midfielder) in the off-season, the Spirit will hope to rebound following a season opening loss to North Carolina FC.