·24 August 2020
·24 August 2020
This week we look at the Quarterfinal results for the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League and talk to one of the participants: Arsenal and Scottish international Lisa Evans. We discuss some new signings for recently promoted Aston Villa for the 2020-21 FA Super League campaign. We also talk about Racing Louisville's new coach for the 2021 season in the NWSL and some new permanent or loan signings to European clubs for a top Canadian international midfielder and NWSL American and international players.
Arsenal's Lisa Evans Ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals
Lisa Evans (28) is a long-time fixture in the Scottish national team and has played and won league titles with top clubs such as Glasgow City in her native country, Bayern Munich in Germany and last season with her current side Arsenal in the FA Super League, which granted them entry to the 2019-20 European Women's Champions League, about which we started our exclusive discussion with the raiding wing back a week before the WCL resumed this season. When asked about concerns that she or her players had about playing in the 'Bubble' or Central Location event in Spain the following week, she said, "We are just focused on the football. We know the health protocols that we have to follow but we are excited to go to play for as long as we can in the tournament." She further emphasized that she had no health concerns with participating in the tournament and it was all about the football. Having followed the NWSL Tournament in Utah in July and various men's teams playing in 'Bubble Environments' such as the MLS in Orlando and the Canadian Premier Soccer League—a men's league which launched last season and is holding a league-wide tournament for their eight teams in remote Prince Edward Island on the East Coast of the country—and with such a strong focus on health and safety protocols for these events, it was refreshing to hear that Arsenal's concentration was able to be on the football since they had confidence in their medical protocols.
Evans went to Germany when she was 20 and played with the always competitive Turbine Potsdam and then for two seasons with Bayern Munich. She said about playing in Germany that, "At the time that I felt it was the strongest, most competitive league that I could play in. But I came to England [in 2007] because of the league here. The biggest players are here and it is drawing players from the NWSL [Sam Kerr and Steph Catley of Australia, Sam Mewis of America, etc.]. The [league] clubs are now playing at the men's training grounds and not just us and Manchester United but even the smaller clubs like Brighton and Reading."
Lisa Evans (fourth from left in the first row behind the banner) celebrates Arsenal's 2019 League Championship with her teammates. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Arsenal WFC.
Evans referenced the new additions to the Arsenal squad for this season including goalkeeper Lydia Williams, defender Noelle Maritz (both American citizens though playing for Australia and Switzerland respectively at the international level), Switzerland international midfielder Malin Gut (from Grasshoppers) and wingback and Australian international Steph Catley (from the Portland Thorns). Evans explained that, "They are all great players and people and fit in well to Joe Montemurro's methodology, which is very rule focused, almost a Bible, so that when we are on the pitch, we know exactly what we are doing and have things very well planned."
Evans, who has two more years on her contract, is clearly happy at Arsenal and in the Super League and expressed no interest in moving abroad at this point, particularly since, "The best players in the world are [playing] here." She expects the league and support for women's football to increase in the United Kingdom within the next few years, in part due to the EUROS Finals being held in England (switched from the summer of 2021 to the summer of 2022) and she hoped that Scotland would again participate in the Finals, as they did in 2017 for the first time ever.
Arsenal was scheduled to fly to San Sebastian on Thursday, August 20, two days before the Saturday QF match with PSG on Saturday, August 22. Interestingly, Evans played at Glasgow City and Bayern Munich so, along with Arsenal, she has played for three of the eight Champions League Quarterfinalists.
2019-20 UEFA Women's Champions League Continues after COVID-19 delay with single round quarterfinals in a central location venue in Spain
The 2019-20 UEFA Women's Champions League, which hasn't held matches this year due to COVID-19 (with the Round of 16 held last October), resumed in Bilbao and San Sebastian, Spain, on Friday August 21 with the much anticipated and long delayed (from March) all-Spanish League quarterfinal encounter with Atletico Madrid facing Barcelona. The three-time reigning Spanish Champions Atletico (who finished behind Barca in this abbreviated 2019-20 regular season) are in rarified air, never having made this stage before; they knocked out 2019-20 FA Super League champion Manchester City in the previous round to advance (they also eliminated this season's FA WSL Champions City in the Round of 32 in the previous 2018-19 Champions League campaign. Barcelona made the final once in 2018/19 (the first time ever for a Spanish side) and advanced to the semifinals on one other occasion.
Barcelona defeated Atletico 1-0 on an 80th minute goal from French international Kheira Hamraoui. The 30-year-old midfielder is in her third season with Barcelona after stints at Lyon, PSG and St. Etienne. She scored from Norwegian international Caroline Graham Hansen's cross that Nigerian international Asisat Oshoala attempted a bicycle kick on but missed, with the ball falling nicely to Hamraoui to slot home. Barca dominated on shots (16-5), shots on goal (6-1) and possession (69%-31%). Atletico was handicapped from missing a number of players, with five testing positive for COVID-19 and having to quarantine, including former Florida State and Venezuelan international Deyna Castellanos, Mexican international Charlyn Corral, Spanish international Silvia Meseguer (who was on the squad for the last two WWC tourneys), 19-year-old Laia Aleixandri (who has played in a U-17 and U-20 World Cup for Spain), and Colombian international Leicy Santos (who played in the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada and spent one year playing at a community college in Iowa in the States), while lethal forward Brazilian international Ludmila da Silva was out on suspension after receiving a yellow card in both of the previous round matches against Manchester City. Atletico only had six substitutes on the bench (three of them promoted from their 'B' team) but even so, with a planned defensive approach and wise use of the counterattack, they gave Barcelona a difficult game. English international Jade Moore—a recent loanee from the Orlando Pride—started for Atletico and goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl of Sweden (who played at Wolfsburg last season after a spell with Chelsea) was outstanding, with a brilliant stop of a Caroline Graham Hansen shot a few minutes before Barca scored.
In the second match, Glasgow City of Scotland, which had been boosting its roster recently with imports including South African captain, club owner at home and defender Janine Van Wyk, along with Northern Ireland international forward Lauren Wade from Trottur of Iceland, and American striker Krystyna Freda (joining from Apollon of Cyprus on loan) faced powerhouse Wolfsburg of Germany. Australian Aoife Colvill (20) also signed from Canberra United in February. After a three month trial she inked a two year contract. Colvill explained her move, "Scotland was an attraction because I already had family over here and moving overseas at a young age is not the easiest thing to do. I'd done a little bit of research on the league because I was looking into England and things like that. I reached out to [Scotland captain and now Utah Royals defender] Rachel Corsie, who was in my team at Canberra two seasons ago, because she's Scottish and very, very well-known here. I asked her what the league was like and I wasn't even expecting anything to happen, but she's good friends with the manager and obviously used to play here, so she got me in touch with them and it went from there." The young Cairns-born striker scored 42 goals in the National Premier League (state league) with the Canberra United Academy in 2018.
Two other Americans on the Glasgow side are well-traveled Zaneta Wyne, who played at the University of New Mexico and then in Cyprus, Finland, Iceland, Norway as well as a season in the FA WSL with Sunderland. She joined City after playing two seasons with Klepp IL in Norway. Sharon Wojcik played at Sporting in Portugal after collegiate soccer at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Glasgow City had made this stage of the Women's Champions League once before in 2014/15 while Wolfsburg won the crown twice (in 2012-13 and 2013-14).
Wolfsburg defeated Glasgow City in a canter 9-1, with 100+ capped Danish international Pernille Harder (27) scoring four goals and Norwegian international Ingrid Engen (22) adding a brace. Glasgow City contributed two late own goals while German international Felicitas Rauch scored the other for Wolfsburg, who have been in the final four of the past seven Champions League seasons. Lauren Wade scored Glasgow's loan goal just after the hour mark. The wheels came off for City just before half time as a 2-0 deficit was doubled from the 44th minute on until the break. Wolfsburg dominated in shots (29 to 5), shots on goal (10 to 1) and a massive possession advantage (79%-21%). Wyne, Wojcik and Freda all started for City as did the quite recent acquisitions Van Wyk and Wade. Wolfsburg will face Barcelona in the one-leg semifinal this week.
On Saturday August 22, the two French sides were in action, with Champions Olympique Lyonnais aiming for their fifth consecutive continental title against Bayern Munich of Germany. Lyon has won the title six times in total. They have won the French League crown 14 times in succession. Bayern Munich, who have never won the UEFA title but made the semifinals in 2018-19, are still relative neophytes at this stage as they are making only their third QF appearance after the 2018-19 and 2016-17 seasons.
Note: Lyon warmed up for the UEFA Champions League by winning the Veolia Women's Trophy 2020 preseason tournament, against PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands (4-0 on August 13, with braces from their English imports Jodie Taylor and Nikita Parris) and Juventus of Italy (3-0 on August 15). Montpellier HSC of France also participated and lost to Juventus (2-1) and PSV by the same score. Lyon utilized two English internationals during the conclusion of the 2019-20 WCL season—Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood—who will join Manchester City for the 2020-21 season (see below).
Lyon advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich in a very even match. English international Nikata Parris scored the first goal of the game in the 41st minute on a header from veteran French international Eugenie Le Sommer's pass and then OL doubled it through French international winger Amel Majri's goal in the 59th minute, who scored on a brilliant swerving free kick from outside of the box. Bayern narrowed the deficit in the 64th minute through German international Carolin Simon, who is in her first season with Bayern after a season at Lyon. Simon sent a low, hard free kick into the box and it eluded everyone and went into the far corner of the net. Lyon held on to their narrow lead for the win.
The other quarterfinal match on Saturday saw Arsenal of England battling Paris St. Germain of France. Arsenal won the title back in 2006-07 and this is their 13th quarterfinal but first WCL appearance in five years; the Gunners needed to win the title to make the 2020-21 field (unlike all of the other seven quarterfinalists who are already qualified for next season). PSG finished runners-up in the Women's European Club Tournament in 2014-15 and 2016-17. Last season they fell at this stage to Arsenal's fellow English side Chelsea. Arsenal's Dutch international striker Vivianne Miedema is the current scoring leader in the 2019-20 UEFA Women's Champions League with 10 goals, including seven across both legs against Slavia Prague. PSG was boosted by Ramona Bachmann's recent move from Chelsea, who no doubt will have some insights into Arsenal's playing style. The Swiss international forward has traveled frequently in her career, playing for clubs at home, in Sweden, Germany, England, the U.S. and now France.
Arsenal battled well but fell to PSG by a 2-1 score. The French side took an early lead from Marie-Antoinette Katoto, a French international who was a surprising last-minute omission from France's 2019 Women's World Cup side. Denmark international Nadia Nadim, the ex-Manchester City, Portland Thorns and Sky Blue FC forward, provided the assist on Katoto's goal. English international Beth Mead equalized for the Gunners six minutes before the halftime whistle from a Kim Little (Scottish international) pass. PSG took the advantage again thru Danish international Signe Bruun in the 77th minute, turning in a low Katoto cross from close range. Brunn is in her second season at PSG after years at Fortuna Hjorring at home. PSG dominated the game offensively with 22 attacking attempts to 4 for Arsenal, (9 on target to 2 on target for Arsenal) but the teams were even on corners with 5 each. Paris advanced to the semifinal where they will face fellow French side Olympique Lyon in what should be an outstanding match.
Note: Due to the cancellation of most domestic women's leagues this season, there was a clear break between the 2019/2020 and 2020/21 seasons. As most clubs were unable to extend existing contracts due to the additional financial burden with the WCL extended into late summer, the UEFA Executive Committee decided to allow the registration of six new players for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. All six players may have been fielded for another club in a previous round, but only a maximum of three of these are permitted to have played for one of the other quarter-finalists. Such additional registrations had to be completed by midnight of August 18.
The 2019-20 WCL semifinals (again as one leg rather than the traditional home and away tie) will be held on August 25 and 26, with the Final match on August 30 in San Sebastian.
Looking ahead to the 2020-21 WCL season, the 40 team qualification tournament and other rounds will start about two months later than usual but plan to return to two leg ties from the Round of 32 through the semifinals. The 12 highest-ranking nations in the UEFA Women's Champions League association coefficient rankings at the end of 2018/19 will be guaranteed two entries: France, Germany, England, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway and Kazakhstan (the first time for two WCL teams for the Netherlands and Kazakhstan). All other entrant associations will have one representative, while the defending champions will also take part if they have not already qualified via their league (making it possible for one country to have three clubs involved—in this case if Arsenal wins the August tournament, they would participate along with winners Manchester City and runners-up Chelsea from the abbreviated league this season). The first stage with 40 teams is the regular format used in past seasons via 10 groups with 4 clubs in each, held in a central location format with one of the teams as hosts in 10 selected venues, so again teams are only taking one trip for that round, which will minimize the risk of encountering the COVID-19 virus.
2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League
Qualifying Round (three games) Oct. 7-13
Round of 32 (two games) Nov. 11-12, Nov. 18-19
Round of 16 (two games) March 3-4, March 10-11
Quarterfinals (two games) March 23-24, March 31-April 1
Semifinals (two games) April 24-25, May 1-2
Final (one game) May 16, 2021.
The 2020-21 Final match will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden at the Gamla Ullevi, which was rebuilt in 2009 and holds 18,400. The event is part of Gothenburg's 400th celebration of its founding. In 2022 and 2023, the Final will be held in Turin (Juventus Stadium) and Eindhoven (PSV's Stadion), respectively.
Aston Villa makes some international signings for their first campaign at the Top Level
Aston Villa, which won promotion to the FA Super League after winning the Championship in the shortened 2019-20 season, have signed Denmark striker Stine Larsen from French side FC Fleury 91 of France. Larsen (24), who has 45 international caps, joined manager Gemma Davies' squad for the new Barclays Women's Super League season. Davies told the club's website, "Stine is a young Danish forward who has represented Denmark at all age groups and major tournaments. Stine is a traditional number nine who likes to operate inside the 18-yard box. She has an eye for goal and is dominant both aerially and with her feet. Larsen played for 11 seasons for Brondby, winning two league championships and reaching the semifinals of the Women's Champions League before her one-year stint in France. She was a member of Denmark's national team which finished second at the European Championships in 2017 held in the Netherlands.
Aston Villa have also signed a trio of Germans for this season, including midfielder Ramona Petzelberger (27), a German U-20 youth international from SGS Essen. Petzelberger has had previous spells at SG Wattenscheid 09, SC 07 Bad Neuenahr and Bayer Leverkusen in the Frauen Bundesliga. She will be joined by 21-year old defender Caroline Siems from 1 FFC Turbine Potsdam, Seims is another German youth international who has been a professional for three and one-half years—since she was 18—and her club finished fourth last season. Villa also signed a full German international in 32-year-old goalkeeper Lisa Weiss from Olympique Lyon, where she was a UEFA Women's Champions League, French League and Cup winner in 2018-19 but only played in 4 games that season and none in 2019-20. Most of her career she played at SGS Essen at home in the Frauen Bundesliga.
Villa also added 25-year-old forward Diana Silva, a Portuguese international, who is moving from Sporting in Portugal. This is her first time playing abroad but she is an experienced international with 58 caps for her country, and was rated highly for her performances during the 2017 European Championship Finals.
Racing Louisville Selects Their New Head Coach for their 2021 Expansion Campaign
Christy Holly, a name familiar to NWSL followers as he coached Sky Blue FC in 2016 and for most of the 2017 season, was selected as the new head coach by Racing Louisville for their 2021 NWSL expansion season on August 11. He had a 14-7-17 (W-D-L) record across two seasons but there was some controversy his second year when he left the club during the season, but this was also Sky Blue FC which—until really the last 6-9 months—has been Team Basketcase in so many ways for so long. Holly did draft quite well in picking Costa Rican international midfielder Raquel Rodriguez at No. 2 overall (traded in the offseason to Portland) and then Leah Galton, Erica Skroski, and Caroline Casey in later rounds, particularly since Sky Blue FC hired him just days before the 2016 draft (not an uncommon thing to do with NWSL clubs). In 2017 he picked Canadian international goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan with the 23rd selection, and who has become an ever-present in goal (except when on international duty) at her club and has blossomed in a team for who at times she was peppered with shots by the opposition. This reporter was actually standing next to her as she was drafted and we talked at length over the next few hours of the 2017 NWSL College Draft in Los Angeles. She should continue to be a starter in the NWSL and also have the opportunity to do the same for Canada in the years to come.
Racing Louisville can select NWSL players through an expansion draft of players from the other teams and since May, the club has been identifying "discovery players" which they can sign directly. Christie will now have an influential say in that process.
Christie, a native of Derry in Northern Ireland, has worked with U.S. Soccer since leaving Sky Blue, primarily as an advanced scout on the opposition (including during the 2019 Women's World Cup in France) and as an assistant coach with U.S. U-17 and U- 23 national sides. Christie's background was particularly intriguing to Racing Louisville's Vice President of Development James O'Connor, who explained his reasons for the club's final selection, "His experience with U.S. Soccer, of helping the national team, the experience writing all of the different reports for all the opponents and all of the players that the U.S. national team would play against, it's an incredible skill set that he's been able to tap into." Holly added, "I've been fortunate the last three years to be scouring the world for talent. There shouldn't be a player that I'm not aware of. When it comes to our recruitment, we'll be very particular. It's not just about the player. It's about the person. They have to fit the culture that we have at the organization."
O'Connor said that he considered 50 applicants and Holly was selected from a final list of five, one of whom stepped out during the process to pursue another opportunity. The field included international candidates, U.S. college coaches and also from the youth national teams program.
Interestingly Holly (35) is engaged to former U.S. national team captain and defender Christie Pierce Rampone. Rampone actually won a WPS title as head coach, when she was forced into a player-coach role late in the 2019 season with Sky Blue, and led the side to the crown while upsetting first place and host L.A. Sol (with Marta at the time). I asked Rampone after that game if she wanted to continue in a coaching role, but she said, "I still want to play the game. I think I can do a better job being on the field and maybe helping the head coach next year, but I definitely put my time in and I'm retiring as coach for now until I'm done playing." The potential combination of Holly and Rampone on the sidelines in Louisville is similar to Orlando Pride's duo of head coach Marc Skinner and his partner Laura Bassett (former English international), who is a tremendous advisor for the players in Orlando.
Christie Holly when coaching with Sky Blue FC. Photo courtesy Sky Blue FC
Journeys Abroad for Canadians, Americans and NWSL Europeans
Chelsea of the FA Super League has signed Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming to a three year contract. Fleming (22) played at UCLA and it had long been anticipated that she would go to Europe and bypass the NWSL. She told this reporter a few years ago after a college match that, "When the time comes I definitely want to go to Europe for a little bit and explore, maybe Spain, England or Sweden. There are more opportunities for girls playing soccer so that is exciting so I definitely want to go to Europe" (see: (http://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-exclusive-interview-with-jess-fleming-champions-league-round-of-16-draw-iceland-stuns-germany-4204707). A year ago, Fleming might have joined a club in France but with the FA Super League being such a target for world class players recently, she should fit in well and thrive at Chelsea under manager Emma Hayes. In 75 appearances she scored 25 goals for the UCLA Bruins. Fleming has represented her national team at Under-17s and Under-20s level before becoming the second-youngest player to ever play for Canada when she made her senior debut at the age of 15.
Fleming told the Chelsea website, "I knew I really wanted to play in the WSL; I think the league is doing really well right now and there is a ton of fantastic players in the league so that really excited me. For Chelsea it was the players here and I wanted to be in a challenging environment. Having conversations with Emma [Hayes] and learning a bit more about the team, I was just really excited about the environment and what it has to offer." Emma Hayes added, "Jessie is one of the top young players in the world, so for us to be able to sign her is a testament to the work that has been done here for a number of years. She chose Chelsea, this was her priority, her first choice and we were over the moon to get her."
In addition for the 2020-21 season, Chelsea has signed 21-year-old Niamh Charles (an English youth international who transferred from relegated Liverpool and played in the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup when England went out to Japan in the quarterfinals in Jordan) and Melanie Leupolz (26), who moved from Bayern Munich in Germany and played in the last 2 Women's World Cups—scoring once in each event.
U.S. international Rose Lavelle is joining Manchester City in England (where her national teammate Sam Mewis recently moved from the North Carolina Courage) through June of 2021, but just prior to the announcement—which had been rumored for weeks—she was traded from the Washington Spirit to the OL Reign in Tacoma, Washington, who now hold her NWSL rights should/when she return to the league. OL Reign, now owned by Olympique Lyon in France after their offseason purchase of the Seattle/Tacoma Reign, opens up the possibility that she could join the French powerhouse in the future. Lavelle was one of the revelations of the 2019 Women's World Cup and won the Bronze Ball as the third best player of the tournament. In return, the Spirit received OL Reign's natural 2022 first-round draft pick and $100,000 in allocation money (to spend on high profile or additional players). Additional allocation money is conditional upon Lavelle's future playing status in the NWSL.
Spirit Head Coach Richie Burke talked about the landmark trade for his club: "Rose truly is a world-class player, and working with her has been an incredibly enjoyable experience. I can't thank her enough for her work on behalf of our club and for the relationship we shared during our time together. I wish her the very best of luck and the good fortune to stay healthy as she moves into this next phase of her career."
Lavelle scored the second goal for the USA in its 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the 2019 Women's World Cup final. She has never played more than 11 games in a season in her four years in the NWSL with Boston and Washington—which she joined after the Breakers folded in 2018—due to international fixtures and injuries. She played all four games for the Spirit at the recent 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah, though her minutes were limited as part of an agreement with U.S. Soccer which technically holds her contract rather than the NWSL club. The ex-University of Wisconsin Badger played in the Pacific Northwest for one summer with the 2015 Seattle Sounders Women that finished 10-1-1 in the now defunct W-League.
Manchester United fans will be happy as reports continue that American stars Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) and Christen Press (Utah Royals) are in the midst of finalizing deals to join the Super League side. Nothing is confirmed yet as we went to press but more and more U.S. women national team stars are looking to move to Europe to get more games in this year, as the NWSL still has not announced plans for any more matches as teams get back to training in their communities after the 2020 Challenge Cup in Utah finished last month.
Everton picked up Scottish international forward Claire Emslie on loan from the Orlando Pride until the end of 2020. She played in 11 matches for the Pride in 2019 after the Women's World Cup in France, scoring only one assist, but definitely energized the offensive attacks of the struggling club. She had a strong offseason with Melbourne City, winning the Grand Final in 2019-20, with 5 goals and 3 assists. She has previously played in the FA WSL with Manchester City and Bristol City.
Jess Fishlock (Wales international and former Bristol City and Olympique Lyon midfielder) is moving to Reading FC on loan until the start of the 2021 NWSL season. Reading won promotion to the FA WSL in 2015 and finished second the last two seasons. Fishlock made two appearances for OL Reign at the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, marking her return to play after suffering a season ending ACL tear during the 2019 season. The well-traveled Fishlock has over 100 caps for her country and has played professionally in Australia, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and the U.S. She has won two UEFA Women's Champions League medals (Frankfurt and Lyon) and was player coach for Melbourne City's second Grand Final win in 2016/17.
Two other internationals are joining Tottenham F.C. until the end of 2020—Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky and Australian international defender Alanna Kennedy—both on loan from the Orlando Pride. The two defenders have been in the league for four seasons. Zadorsky played two seasons in Washington before joining the Orlando Pride for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, scoring 1 goal and 2 assists in 39 games. We briefly mentioned Kennedy in last week's column discussing the flood of Australian internationals to Europe and that she was the last remaining Matilda in the NWSL (see: https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-australian-moves-to-europe-continue-canberra-utd-announce-new-coach-news-from-uwsl-4337338). Kennedy played with the 2016 NWSL title winners Western New York Flash and then joined the Pride in their expansion year of 2017, coached by former Australian national team and now New Zealand national team coach Tom Sermanni. Always, a deadly force on free kicks with her heading ability, she has 7 goals and 3 assists in 74 league games (all but one as a starter) in her NWSL career.
English international forward Jade Moore was loaned by the Orlando Pride to high power Spanish side and three-time defending Spanish league champions Atletico Madrid until February 15, 2021. Moore (29) has yet to play in Orlando, signing a one year deal plus an option year in April. She came from Reading FC of the FAWSL.
Other notable moves abroad for U.S. internationals include defender and 2019 U.S. Women's World Cup winner Emily Sonnett going on loan from the Orlando Pride to Swedish side Kopparbergs/Goteborg F.C. through the end of the 2020 season. Sonnett (26) was drafted first overall by the Thorns in the 2016 NWSL College Draft and totaled 72 appearances in regular season play, starting all but one. She scored six goals while adding two assists for the Thorns. She was traded to Orlando during the off-season.
Orlando Pride goalkeeper and long-time Canadian international goalkeeper Erin McLeod has been loaned to Ungmennafélag Stjarnan of Iceland's Úrvalsdeild Kvenna/Pepsi Max League. The agreement with Stjarnan will run through the end of the Iceland league season (October 20, 2020). McLeod (37) signed a one-year deal with the Pride ahead of the 2020 season with an option for an additional year. Prior to her arrival in Orlando, McLeod spent her four previous seasons in Europe, joining FC Rosengård ahead of Sweden's Damallsvenskan in 2016, helping the Swedish powerhouse (which was formerly known as Malmo) to two Svenska Cupen and a Svenska Supercupen titles. Following her time with Rosengård, McLeod also had stints with Växjö DFF and German sides SC Sand and FF USV Jena.
Utah Royals midfielder Gunnhildur "Gunny" Jonsdottir was loaned to Valur in the Úrvalsdeild kvenna/Pepsi Max league on a three months loan. It is her first time playing at home since 2012, when she went abroad after four years with Stjarnan FC, where she won the 2012 Iceland Women's Cup. The Icelandic international then played for four clubs in Norway before joining the Royals after they moved to Utah from Kansas City ahead of the 2018 season. She leads Utah in games played over 3 seasons with 52.
Sky Blue FC and seven year veteran and 2 time NWSL champion (with Western New York/North Carolina Courage) Elizabeth Eddy went on loan to Vittsjo GIK in Sweden from August 1 through the end of November. Eddy finished second with the U.S. U-17 national team in the first ever FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand.
Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey
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