2014 NWSL season kicks off this weekend, features 15 Canadians
Posted on 8 April 2014 in National Women's Soccer League
The second NWSL season is at hand and members of Canada’s Women’s National Team look to feature just as prominently in the league’s sophomore season as they did in the debut campaign last year.
Forward Christine Sinclair will be leading the Canadian contingent once again as she looks to lead the Portland Thorns FC as they look to repeat as league champions from a year ago.
Sinclair captained the Thorns last season and scored eight times as they finished third in the league under fantastic support from the Thorns fans as they led the league in attendance. They then qualified for the inaugural championship game where Sinclair scored the second goal in the Thorns’ 2:0 win over the Western New York Flash.
Sinclair and her Thorns teammates will get the season underway when they pay a visit to Texas to take on the expansion Houston Dash on Saturday, 12 April at 20.00 ET / 17.00 PT.
“It’s been a long preseason and I think the team’s just looking forward to competing against someone other than ourselves,” Sinclair said. “As a player, it’s obviously exciting to be part of a team’s first ever in the NWSL so it’s going to be an exciting time to get down to Houston and open up their franchise.”
Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc was also a crucial part of that championship team in Portland but she was traded in the off-season to the Chicago Red Stars. In Chicago she’ll be joining the largest contingent of Canadian players as she’ll be suiting up with Adriana Leon, Rachel Quon, and Melissa Tancredi, who will be returning to professional soccer after taking time off for school.
Tancredi was originally allocated to league newcomers Houston Dash but she was part of a trade where she joined the Red Stars in return for goalkeeper and Canadian teammate Erin McLeod.
McLeod has been given the captain’s armband for the Dash’s debut year. She’ll be the team’s only Canadian on the field for most of the year. Defender Lauren Sesselmann is also on the roster but she is recovering from a knee injury.
Sesselmann was drafted by the Dash in the expansion draft after playing for FC Kansas City last season.
FC Kansas City and Western New York Flash will be without Canadians this season but both Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit will each field a pair of Canadians.
Sophie Schmidt will be joined by Jonelle Filigno, who was allocated to Sky Blue FC after a standout college career with Rutgers Univertisy in New Jersey while Diana Matheson and Robyn Gayle are back in the American capital for a second-straight season.
Last season, the Boston Breakers played at Dilboy Stadium in Somerville, Massachusetts but for the 2014 campaign, they’ll move to Harvard Stadium, on the campus of the renowned Harvard University.
There’s no shortage of Canadian content with the Breakers as Kaylyn Kyle and Chelsea Stewart were both allocated while Nkem Ezurike was drafted eighth overall in the college draft.
Kyle joins the Breakers after playing last season with the Seattle Reign FC on the West coast. She was part of another all-Canadian trade where she’s moved East in exchange for defender Carmelina Moscato who finished last season in Boston after starting the campaign in Chicago.
Moscato is the only Canadian on the Reign this season.
Fans in Canada will be able to keep tabs on their favourites as the league has announced that all games will be streamed live on YouTube. They’ll feature improved streaming production with all games broadcast in HD with a minimum of three cameras with experienced operators.
All games will be available for free and fans are encouraged to subscribe to the league and team specific channels for which links are available on the official NWSL website.
The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) is a nine-team Division-I women's professional soccer league featuring national team players from Canada, Mexico and USA. The nine clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash. Based in Chicago, the NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association, Federation of Mexican Football and the United States Soccer Federation. For more information about the NWSL, log on to the league's official website at NWSLsoccer.com.