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Australia, New Zealand gears up for another A-League Women season – Equalizer Soccer

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Photo: A-League Women.

Australia’s A-League Women’s 15th season starts on Nov. 19, with some significant changes ahead of the 2023 FIFA World Cup next summer, which Australia and New Zealand will co-host.

Western United joins as an expansion franchise and will be the third side in the State of Victoria, following founder member Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City, who joined in 2015-16. The Central Coast Mariners will join in 2023-24; they played the first two seasons of the women’s league before stepping out for financial reasons. Wellington Phoenix were an expansion side last season but, because of COVID travel restrictions, had to play their home games in Wollongong in New South Wales. This year, Wellington will host games in New Zealand for the first time.

The league is also moving to a six-month season (for a total of 20 rounds — with each team playing 18 regular season games) in 2022-23 and plans to run for 8-9 months in 2023-24. Last season, the league ran for only three and half months and each team played 14 games plus the playoffs for the top six, due to the addition of the Phoenix; this was an increase of 12 games over the previous nine seasons. The 2023-24 season will see 22 regular season games, with full home and away series for the first time.

We present a preview for each league team in alphabetical order, with last season’s record and finish.

Adelaide United

(9-0-5 Record; 27 Points; Third Place)

Adelaide United’s English import Fiona Worts won the Julie Dolan Medal as the A-League Women Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season. She also won the A-League Golden Boot, scoring 13 goals from 14 games. Worts played this summer with LSK Kvinner of Lillestrom in Norway, scoring three goals in 10 matches.

Matildas defender and South Australia native Jenna McCormick has returned to Adelaide United after many years away, signing a one-year contract. McCormick has played 96 games in total in the A-League Women with Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City, Canberra United and Brisbane Roar, as well as Adelaide United. She has also played in Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Spain. In addition, she won two AFLW (Aussie Rules) League titles with the Adelaide Crows, playing both sports before moving to Spain in 2020.

Chelsie Dawber is also returning to Adelaide United through a loan agreement with the Chicago Red Stars, who she joined in April. Last season, she was crucial to Adelaide making their first ever playoff spot by scoring 10 goals in 15 games.

Adelaide also brought in current Chinese international forward Xiao Yuyi from Shanghai Shengli in the Chinese Women’s Super League.

Brisbane Roar

(5-2-7 Record; 17 Points; Sixth Place)

New Jersey/New York Gotham FC of the NWSL loaned goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff to Brisbane Roar FC for the 2022-23 season. Hancuff did not play in any regular season games with Gotham in her rookie season with Michelle Betos (14 regular season matches) and two-time World Cup winner Ashlyn Harris (eight regular season matches) ahead of her. Hancuff’s goalkeeper coach at Gotham FC is Brody Sams, a native of Australia and a former coach with the Roar Women, who was instrumental in the loan agreement.

American Shea Connors was a revelation for the Roar last season with seven goals in 13 matches, after playing in the Queensland State League for three years and a few games for the Roar in 2019-20. Australian international forward Larissa Crummer returns to the Roar; she played for the Seattle Reign in the NWSL in 2017. Fellow Matildas midfielder Katrina Gorry, who has played in Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden and in the NWSL, also returns to the Queensland side.

Canberra United

(2-7-5 Record; 13 Points; Seventh Place)

Canberra United is hopeful of making the playoffs this season after missing the postseason in 2021-22. They should have a more potent attack as the club only scored 24 goals last season for sixth best in the league, similar to their final table placement of seventh. All-time A-League Women goal scorer Michelle Heyman returns with a new two-year contract, as does youth international forward Nicky Flannery, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury. The Greens also signed New Zealand international Grace Jale from Wellington, who led last season’s expansion side with six goals.

Melbourne City

(11-0-3 Record; 33 Points; Second Place)

Melbourne City looks to have loaded up again for another run for the playoffs, which they have only missed twice in their seven previous seasons in the league (with four Grand Final victories). Returning players include the four-time World Cup goalkeeper (and City assistant coach) Melissa Barbieri, along with Holly McNamara and Tori Tumeth — both back from ACL tears. New additions include Bryleeh Henry, Karly Roestbakken and 16-year old Daniela Galic, who played for the U-20 Women’s World Cup team this summer in Costa Rica.

Emina Ekic comes on loan to City from Racing Louisville until mid-February, when she will return for NWSL preseason training. New Zealand international Katie Bowen was released from her North Carolina Courage contract early so she could begin the A-League Women. This will be her first stint in the Australian league.

Melbourne Victory

(7-3-4 Record; 24 Points; Tied for Fourth Place)

Matilda defender Jessika Nash joined the champions after a year each at Sydney FC and Canberra United. Nash played at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Nash joins the club with 24 A-League Women’s appearances, having debuted in the league as a 15-year-old for Canberra.

Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight joins the club from Swedish Damallsvenkan side Hammarby; she previously played in the A-League Women with Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City. Kellond-Knight has over 100 caps for the Matildas and has been to the last three World Cup competitions.

Melbourne Victory’s two Americans return as forward Catherine Zimmerman, who scored seven goals last season to lead the club, and defender Kayla Morrison, who tore her ACL during the first game of the season. Casey Dumont also returns in goal, after being named the Goalkeeper of the Year and is striving to win a third consecutive league title with the Victory and fifth overall in the league, including two with Brisbane.

Another major returnee is Australian international midfielder Alex Chidiac, who returns for her second season at Victory from Racing Louisville FC. She was originally viewed by Melbourne as a short-term loan from her WE-League club in Japan but was so impactful that she was kept on for the entire A-League Women season and won her second championship, after previously picking up a winner’s medal with City.

Newcastle Jets

(2-4-8 Record; 10 Points; Eighth Place)

Wing back Tessa Tamplin has returned to the Jets for the coming A-League Women’s season after a year in Switzerland with Servette, where she played in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Group Stage. She made her A-League debut in 2019 for her hometown club.

Some new Jets signings from abroad include American forward Murphy Agnew, who recently played in Iceland with Thróttur Reykjavík and scored six goals in 16 games. American forward Sarah Griffith, from the Chicago Red Stars, joined on loan after her rookie season where she scored twice in 20 games last season.

Also joining from the Red Stars on loan is defender Emily Garner, who has previously played for Fortuna Hjørring in Denmark and Empoli FC and Napoli in Italy. She was signed by Chicago as a national team replacement player in early July.

These international signings are a good sign for a Jets club that is vying for their third ever playoff spot in 15 seasons. In recent years, they were unable to afford any imports at all.

Perth Glory

(7-3-4 Record; 24 Points; Tied for Fourth Place)

The Glory missed out on a playoff berth last season on goal difference to Melbourne Victory. They were severely handicapped by Western Australian state COVID protocols, so they could only play one game at home early in the season and had to base the rest out of Metropolitan Sydney. Former Matilda defender Kim Carroll has signed on for her seventh season at Perth Glory. She has also played at Brisbane Roar and one season in Denmark with Fortuna Hjorring.

Liz Anton, a New Zealand international is back for another season as is American forward Cyera Hintzen (who played at the University of Texas and had eight goals in 14 games with Iceland title winners Valur — tied for fifth in the Golden Boot race) and scored five goals in nine games in her first season in the A-League Women with Perth.

Forward Rylee Baisden (ex-Pepperdine University) has joined the Glory on loan from the North Carolina Courage, where she has spent the last three seasons. She scored three goals in 11 matches in her A-League Women debut season in 2019-20 with Brisbane Roar.

Sydney FC

(11-2-1 Record; 35 Points; First Place)

Head coach Ante Juric will lead Sydney FC for the sixth-consecutive season — the powerhouse side has won the last two Premierships in a row and one championship, while appearing in all five Grand Finals during his time for the club. In fact, the team has never missed a playoff spot in their previous 14 years in the league.

Shadeene Evans, an Australian youth international, spent a year with Adelaide United in 2021-22 but returns to her original club.

The side has a solid core of Matildas in Princess Ibini, Mackenzie Hawkesby, Rachel Lowe, Cortnee Vine and goalkeeper Jada Mathyssen-Whyman (a youth international and full team pool player).

Two major losses to Europe include 24-year-old Ally Green, who left the club after five seasons to join Valerenga of Norway, while also switching her football nationality to New Zealand. Also departing is Australian international Remy Siemsen, who left after five seasons with the Sky Blues, to join AIK of Stockholm in Sweden’s Damallsvenskan.

Wellington Phoenix

(2-1-11 Record; 7 Points; Tied for Ninth Place)

Wellington Phoenix promoted last year’s assistant coach Natalie Lawrence, who is replacing inaugural head coach Gemma Lewis. Lewis took a job in her home nation of Wales with the FA.

Marisa van der Meer, a youth international defender for New Zealand, has joined Phoenix after a year with Melbourne City, where she played in 10 matches. She played for New Zealand at the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, where her side won the bronze medal, and at this summer’s U-20 World Cup, where they failed to advance from the group stage.

New Zealand international Emma Rolston, a native of Wellington, has returned to the city after years playing abroad in Norway and Germany to join the Wellington Phoenix. She played at the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2010 and the U-20 in 2012 and 2014. She is the third Football Fern to join the Nix for the 2022-23 season along with Betsy Hassett and Paige Satchell.

Western Sydney Wanderers

(1-4-9 Record; 7 Points; Tied for Ninth Place)

American goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer joined on loan to the Western Sydney Wanderers from Racing Louisville. She did not play in any regular season games this season.

New Zealand international midfielder Malia Steinmetz returns for her second season at Wanderland and third in the league, starting her A-League Women career with Perth Glory in 2020-21.

Australian international midfielder Amy Harrison is back with the Wanderers after signing a two-year contract, leaving PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands. She last played with Western Sydney during the 2019-20 season when the club made the playoffs for the first and only time in club history. She also played for a season in the NWSL with the Washington Spirit in 2019.

Western United

(Expansion Season)

Mark Torcaso was named Western United’s head coach in late June and has been in charge of Western’s women’s development squad since August of 2021. He also coached Melbourne NPLW power Calder United for six seasons, winning the NPLW league/championship double on two occasions — 2016 and 2019.

Racing Louisville sent Hillary Beall, who did not play in any of Racing Louisville’s  regular season games in 2022, to Western United. She will return to Racing after the A-League Women season ends in April of 2023, though the NWSL club retains the right to recall her at any time.

U.S. women’s national team 2019 World Cup winner Jessica McDonald was also loaned by Racing Louisville to Western United. This is McDonald’s second time playing in Australia as she helped Melbourne Victory FC reach the 2013 W-League Grand Final by scoring seven goals in 13 appearances. She converted the match-winning penalty in the playoff semifinals that year.

Australian international midfielder Chloe Logarzo also will play with the expansion franchise. She has been with the Kansas City Current since January 2021. The veteran midfielder played seven seasons with Sydney FC from 2011-12 through 2014-15 and from 2017-18 through 2019-20, winning two league titles during that time. She spent a season with the Newcastle Jets in 2015-16. Logarzo has over 50 caps with the Matildas but lost a year after tearing her ACL in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in September 2021.

The club signed a third American in forward Hannah Keane, who played collegiately at San Diego State University. Keane previously spent time in Victoria with NPL Women’s side Alamein FC in 2016; she joins Western from SC Huelva in Spain and played with Braga of Portugal in 2019-20, including UEFA Women’s Champions League matches.

Another American import is Sydney Cummings, who plays internationally for Guyana. She played collegiately at Brown and Georgetown and was a national team replacement player for the San Diego Wave this summer, but did not see any action.

Western United have also signed Philippines international Jaclyn Sawicki. A native of suburban Vancouver, British Colombia, she played at the University of Victoria and professionally in Japan and Sweden. She played for Canada at the U-20 level and had one cap at the senior level in 2011 as a 90th minute substitute against the U.S., but qualified through her parents to play ether for Poland and the Philippines.

A-League Women First Round Matches





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The trading card boom is a big deal for the NWSL, too – Equalizer Soccer

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There’s no question about it: Trading cards are back and more popular than ever thanks to a resurgence sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic

Stuck at home with many sports shut down for significant portions of 2020, these cards provided a simple, stay-at-home hobby that kept people connected to the teams and players they loved. As a result, sports cards have been flying off the shelves and analysts are now predicting the market will grow by nearly $7 billion between 2021 and 2026.

For growing sports entities like the National Women’s Soccer League, the trading cards market is also a major opportunity. One of women’s soccer’s biggest selling points is its high level of engagement with fans. In a digital world, physical trading cards satisfy an innate human desire to own a tangible piece of history around the teams and the players they support.  

“It’s romantic,” Parkside Collectibles co-founder Matt Peek tells The Equalizer about the experiences surrounding trading cards. “It is one of the most pure and wonderful exchanges that can happen.” 

In 2020, Parkside Collectibles became the first company to produce a series of cards dedicated solely to women’s soccer when the company released a limited run commemorating the inaugural NWSL Challenge Cup. Companies like Topps and Upper Deck had included special inserts for major U.S. women’s national team players in runs of men’s soccer cards over the years, but no one had ever attempted anything to the scale or with the singular focus that Parkside did.

All 3,000 sets of that original Challenge Cup run sold out quickly despite only being available on the fledgling company’s website. Once Parkside proved the market existed, the company followed up with vastly expanded series in 2021 and 2022, each featuring hundreds of player base cards and numerous special inserts like glossy and signature cards. New distribution deals with Amazon, Walmart and Target also massively increased accessibility. 

The fact that these cards can now be found in major retailers all over the United States, hanging next to huge brands like Topps and Pokémon, is unprecedented. Despite exponential growth in recent years, women’s soccer merchandise remains hard to find. What little is made is often extremely limited in variety, like the U.S. women’s national team Funko Pops featuring only four players. Products are also limited in quantity as manufacturers perpetually underestimate demand

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The Equalizer Podcast: Mailbag – Equalizer Soccer

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Mallory Pugh and three U.S. women's national team teammates celebrate a goal.


Photo credit: Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch/USA TODAY NETWORK

Jeff Kassouf answers your burning questions about the U.S. women’s national team, next year’s World Cup, NWSL free agency, NWSL expansion, and more.

Listen to this pod on:  Apple  |  Spotify  |  Google Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Anchor  |  PodBean  |  Pocket Casts  |  Breaker  |  Overcast  |  RadioPublic

Subscribers: Click below for the ad-free version.

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Start your FREE, 7-day trial of The Equalizer Extra for industry-leading reporting and insight on the USWNT, NWSL and beyond.





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Real Madrid’s centerpiece – Equalizer Soccer

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Caroline Weir knows how to make an impact. In the 15th minute of her second start for Real Madrid, at home against her old club Manchester City, she immaculately controlled a bouncing ball on the turn in City’s penalty box. Working a shot on her favored left foot, she found the top corner to send her former teammates out of the Champions League before the group stage.

Watching Weir run to her new fans to celebrate must have been painful for the Manchester City contingent, but not surprising. The 27-year-old Scotland international midfielder has done this sort of thing before.

Playing in the first professional Manchester derby in September 2019, Weir scored the game’s only goal with a laser-like shot from outside of the box. The next season, she scored an even more audacious attempt in the same fixture. A drag-back took her past a defender before she beat goalkeeper Mary Earps with a sumptuous long-range chip. Earps — England’s No. 1 — was beaten again in similar fashion last term, Weir lobbing the ball into the far corner from distance to ensure another City victory over United.

Access the best women’s soccer coverage all year long

Start your FREE, 7-day trial of The Equalizer Extra for industry-leading reporting and insight on the USWNT, NWSL and beyond.





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