The 2013 Sounders Women W-League campaign is set to kick off Monday against the Los Angeles Strikers at 3:00 p.m. at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, Washington. The Sounders Women will compete in the W-League’s Western Conference which includes seven of the league’s 25 teams. The 2013 schedule faces the Sounders Women against Western Conference competition in 12 matches, including six home matches at Starfire Sports.
In 2012, the Western Conference was lead by the Pali Blues, who came into the W-League Championship Game undefeated, where they were bested by the Ottawa Fury in a penalty shootout. The top two teams from the Western Conference will compete for the Conference Championship, whose winner will play in the W-League Playoffs.
Seattle Sounders Women – The Sounders Women have high expectations to challenge the Pali Blues at the top of the Western Conference this season. Their make-up now includes eight players with youth national team experience, and four members of the Canadian National Team. The Sounders Women have added head coach Hubert Busby Jr., who arrives with experience from all of the U.S.’s women’s professional leagues, most recently with the Vancouver Whitecaps Women. The roster stars three from Texas Tech, including U.S.A U-20 player Jaelene Hinkle, and five from the University of Washington. Team Canada goalkeeper Erin McNulty also joins the club after leading Penn State to the NCAA Championship Game last fall.
Bay Area Breeze – The San Francisco-based side arrives in the W-League with the expectation of competing immediately for the playoffs. Led by former Australian U17 National Team coach Vicki Linton, the Breeze are looking for strong seasons from former Sky Blue FC defender Danielle Johnson, who also brings W-League experience having played in every game a season ago for Vancouver. Marissa Mykines also arrives from the Whitecaps, while the Breeze will also look for good seasons from former Oregon State standouts Namja Homidi and Brittany Galindo.
Colorado Rapids Women – The Rapids Women had a number of positive performances in 2012 as they partnered with the MLS side for the first time, and will aim to build on that success with a number of key players returning for the new season. Among them is leading scorer Erin Gunther, who had six goals and an assist while playing every minute of every contest. Australian international Brooke Spence also returns after spending the winter in her homeland playing for the Brisbane Roar. The Rapids have added three stars from the University of Denver, including WAC Player of the Year Kristen Hamilton. The Rapids take on the rival Colorado Rush in their W-League opener on Saturday, May 25.
Colorado Rush – The Rush edged out their in-state rival the Rapids by a point to take third place in the conference, and will try to bridge the gap between themselves and Pali and Seattle this season. Leading scorer Danica Evans, who had five goals and two assists last summer, returns to the side, as does goalkeeper Megan McCain, who posted a 1.333 goals-against average in six appearances. Other key returnees include defender Samantha Harder and midfielder Jacy Drobny, both of whom recorded more than 1,000 minutes a season ago.
LA Strikers – In their first game of the 2013 Western Conference season, LA defeated the reigning Western Conference champion Pali Blues 2-0 on the 25th minute effort from Jamie Bell, and then sealed the game in the 89th minute on a goal from Le Andra Walker. Looking overseas to boost their standing, the Strikers appointed former England Women’s National Team coach Tracy Kevins to lead the team this season. Following the appointment, overseas talent has followed, including former England international Kristy Moore. Others added to the squad include Cal-State Fullerton standout Ann Marie Tangorra, who had six goals and three assists last fall in her senior season, and Victoria Boardman, a former England U18 international.
Pali Blues – After reaching the W-League championship game for the first time since their 2009 championship, the Blues have reloaded with another strong squad as they look for their third title. Joining the squad is Edite Fernandes, who had nine goals for the Santa Clarita Blue Heat in 2012, and former U.S. U20 National Team member Samantha Mewis, who helped lead the U.S. to victory last year in Japan. Defensively, goalkeeper Anna Maria Picarelli returns to the side after winning Goalkeeper of the Year last summer after posting a goals-against average of 0.216 in 14 games. The Blues welcome six players with national youth squad experience, as well.
Santa Clarita Blue Heat – Santa Clarita enters the new season with a new coach, with former Blackpool player Anthony Rodwell taking the reins. Rodwell will have some talent to work with, too, with 2011 Goalkeeper of the Year Cynthia Jacobo returning to the side. The departure of Edite Fernandes to Pali will need to be addressed, but the Blue Heat will have Stacey Rodwell back in the side and aiming to add to her three goals a season ago. The Blue Heat kick off their W-League season by welcoming the newly added Bay Area Breeze on Saturday, May 25.
Full Roster and details: click here.
Source: Sounders Women