[NWSL] The eight teams in the National Women's Soccer League opened preseason training camp on Monday and will welcome the return of national team players from
the USA, Canada and Mexico following the conclusion of the Algarve Cup and Cyprus Cup. But how many teams shape up has changed quickly since the original national team allocations as injuries in
particular have sidelined key players.
BOSTON. Heather Mitts announced her retirement at the age of 34 following a pro career that dated back to WUSA. She is the second defender the Breakers have lost. No. 1 college draft pick Casey Short out of Florida State hurt her knee playing for the U.S. U-23 national team in Spain. Former U.S. national team defender Cat Whitehill and Kia McNeill both will need to step up in front of Mexican teenager Cecilia Santiago in goal. The Breakers added Lisa-Marie Woods, the Norwegian league MVP in 2010, as a discovery signing.
CHICAGO. The Red Stars lost starting U.S. national team defender Amy LePeilbet for the season with a knee injury, and Keelin Winter was traded to Seattle, leaving veteran Shannon Boxx as the only one of their original three U.S. allocations available for the debut season. Chicago will looking closely at the progress of former U.S. national team player Lindsay Tarpley, who missed the 2011 Women's World Cup with a knee injury, and then welcomed her first child in July 2012. Tarpley was one of five players taken in the Supplemental Draft.
FC KANSAS CITY. Coach Vlatko Andonovski -- formerly an assistant coach for the men's indoor Missouri Comets and the director of the ECNL Sporting Blue Valley -- has quietly put together what could be a strong team. Nicole Barnhart started in goal in the Algarve Cup final for the USA and Becky Sauerbrunn and top draft pick Kristie Mewis came off the bench. Lauren Cheney had already returned home from Portugal to attend to a family matter. Renae Cuellar had a big tournament at the Algarve Cup for Mexico with goals in its wins over Hungary and host Portugal.
-- FCKC will conclude its first week of training with an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday morning at Park Hill South High School.
PORTLAND. Tobin Heath won't join the Thorns until after her French season at Paris St. Germain concludes, but they have plenty of weapons up top with Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair to remain the early favorites. Former U.S. national team player Tina Ellertson was taken with the top pick in the Supplemental Draft but chose to not join the team for family reasons. College draft pick Amber Brooks out of North Carolina is with Bayern Munich in Germany. Discovery signing Danielle Foxhoven played at the University of Portland and more recently for FC Energiya Voronezh in Russia
SEATTLE. The Reign left Tuesday for Japan without any of its three original U.S. allocations. It knew it would be without Megan Rapinoe until her campaign with French leader Lyon ends, but it has since lost Amy Rodriguez, who is pregnant, and Hope Solo, sidelined for up to 3-4 months following wrist surgery. Possible stand-ins for Solo include Michelle Betos, who has bounced around teams, most recently playing briefly for Apollon in Cyprus, and Haley Kopmeyer out of the University of Michigan. Seattle made a deal with Chicago to bring in Winters, who was at FFC Turbine Potsdam in Germany's Frauen-Bundesliga. It also got good news when former Stanford star Teresa Noyola, who was allocated as a Mexico international, was let out of her contract early with Dutch club ADO. On the other hand, Nikki Krzysik, the No. 2 overall selection in the Supplemental Draft, is not with the team.
-- The Reign plays the first of three preseason games in Japan on Sunday against champion INAC Kobe Leonessa.
SKY BLUE FC. Goalie Jill Loyden broke her hand in practice during the Algarve Cup and will be sidelined for three months. That makes Brittany Cameron, who started on the Western New York Flash's 2012 WPSL Elite championship team, the likely choice to start in goal. Australian Caitlin Foord, voted the top young player at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, has been perhaps the league's top discovery signing as teams fill out their remaining roster spots. Foord, who joins fellow Matilda star Lisa De Vanna in New Jersey, gives Coach Jim Gabarra a versatile right-sided player and should complement U.S. gold-medalist Kelley O’Hara, who will play somewhere on the left side.
WASHINGTON. Alina Garciamendez, who like Seattle's Noyola, her former college teammate, was born and bred in the United States but represents Mexico internationally, will miss the start of the season to complete her studies at Stanford. That is not that serious a loss as the Spirit has Ali Krieger (back in fine form with the national team) and Canadian free-agent signing Candace Chapman, who can both play in the back. Stephanie Ochs, taken with the first pick in the Supplemental Draft, was voted the Four Nations Tournament MVP after the U.S. U-23s swept all three games. Ashlyn Harris, who started one game for the USA in goal at the Algarve Cup, got out of her contract with German club Duisburg to join the Spirit.
-- The Spirit will play four exhibitions at the Maryland SoccerPlex, its home stadium, beginning with Sunday's game against NCAA Division I runner-up Penn State.
WESTERN NEW YORK. The Flash lost Carli Lloyd, U.S. hero of both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold-medal matches, for 6-8 weeks with a shoulder injury, but it will welcome hometown star Abby Wambach from U.S. national team duty. Competing for the starting job on goal will be Oklahoma State All-American AD Franch, Val Henderson, who played in WPS for the Philadelphia Independence, and Mexican backup Pamela Tajonar. Free agent signings included forwards Adriana and Sam Kerr out of Spain and Australia, respectively.
-- The Flash kicks off preseason play Friday against Canisius College at Sahlen's Sports Park in Elma, N.Y.
Note: Teams have until Monday to get their rosters down to 25 players. Final rosters of 20 or 21 players, depending on team's situation, due on April 5.