Brazilian Marta and Englishwoman Kelly Smith came with big reputations, but other foreigners have also had an immediate impact in Women's Professional Soccer. Indeed, their success is credited with elevating the level of play in WPS to at least what it was at the height of the WUSA. Here's a look at five foreign stars:
CAMILLE ABILY.France isn't exactly known as a women's soccer power, but it has certainly been good to U.S. women's soccer. Marinette Pichon was one of the stars of the WUSA with Philadelphia, and Abily and Sonia Bompastor are two of WPS's best players.
Abily, who scored in four straight games for Los Angeles to take the WPS scoring lead with six goals in early June, and Bompastor almost didn't make it to WPS. Their French club, Lyon, tried to block their move so they could remain in Europe for its UEFA Women's Cup campaign.
ENIOLA ALUKO.One of five Englishwomen to join WPS for its debut season, Aluko has been outstanding for Saint Louis, which recovered from a horrible start to contend for second place behind the Sol.
The 22-year-old forward went back and forth to Europe to represent the English national team in the spring, but younger brother Sone, who plays for Scotland's Aberdeen, was called up to represent Nigeria.
Eniola was a part-time soccer player with Chelsea Ladies back in England and a law student before joining WPS. Her goal is to be a partner in a law firm - like Saint Louis owner Jeff Cooper.
SONIA BOMPASTOR. WPS's other Bleue was the league's player of the month for May, notching two goals and three assists and helping the Washington Freedom go undefeated with two wins and two ties.
Her play in midfield kept the Freedom in playoff contention. Like Abily, she starred at Montpellier and then Lyon, winning back-to-back league titles at both clubs.
AYA MIYAMA.The Japan international has been compared to David Beckham for her success on free kicks, which includes two goals at the 2007 Women's World Cup in China.
"I don't want to be compared to Beckham," she said when arriving to play for the Los Angeles Sol at the Home Depot Center, which she shares with Beckham.
Miyama quickly lived up to her billing, serving the free kick that led to WPS's first goal, scored when teammate Allison Falk collided with Washington goalie Briana Scurry.
CAROLINE JONSSON.Taken by Chicago in the fourth round of the WPS international draft, Jonsson has been one of the top goalies in WPS.
She started in goal for Sweden's runner-up team at the 2003 Women's World Cup but missed the 2007 finals with a knee injury.
The former FC Malmo keeper is one of WPS's top shot-blockers, leading the league in saves.
(This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue ofSoccer Americamagazine.)