The SheBelieves Cup starts next Wednesday but this week was highlighted by the release of NWSL home openers. The full schedule is expected to be released soon. The Washington Spirit will kick off their 2017 campaign on April 15 against the North Carolina Courage, and the following week they’ll travel to Orlando to take on the Pride.
NWSL Openers announced
This Monday, the NWSL announced the 2017 home openers. The Spirit will open the 2017 season with an NWSL championship rematch of sorts against the North Carolina Courage. Known as the Western New York Flash last year, the Courage beat the Spirit on penalty kicks in the 2016 NWSL Final. Since then, the Spirit lost a handful of prominent players amidst reports of internal turmoil. The Flash, meanwhile, were sold to North Carolina businessman Stephen Malik who moved the team away from Rochester and changed the team's name.
The following week, the Spirit will travel to Florida to play the Orlando Pride. The Pride finished ninth last year, their inaugural season, but made several offseason transactions that included trading all of the club's 2018 draft picks. The team acquired USWNT and former Spirit defender Ali Krieger in exchange for the Pride's spot in the allocation ranking order, a point the Pride have made repeatedly in the last week.
USWNT to play Norway
The SheBelieves Cup starts next week but a couple more friendlies are on the horizon for the U.S. women’s national team. The USWNT will travel to Norway for a June 11 friendly before playing one more unspecified game in that FIFA window. Norway is currently ranked 11th worldwide.
Spirit change time of home opener
The Washington Spirit will kick off their 2017 campaign at 3:00pm on April 15 instead of 7:00pm. This move was likely made in order to be the Lifetime Network’s NWSL Game of the Week, or the backup game in case other venues aren’t ready for national TV broadcasting. Fans of both local pro teams may benefit from the time change, as the Spirit’s game should end well before D.C. United takes on the New York Red Bulls at 7:30pm.
Thorns sign Ashleigh Sykes
The Portland Thorns signed Australian forward Ashleigh Sykes, according to the Oregonian. Sykes is expected to join the Thorns in June. Sykes has played for Australian side Canberra United and also had a short stint in Japan. She featured for Australia at the 2015 World Cup.
Red Stars midfielder announces pregnancy
The Chicago Red Stars' top pick in the 2017 draft announced that she is pregnant. Midfielder Michele Vasconcelos said she will miss the 2017 season but plans to return next year. The BYU product was the 11th overall pick in this January's draft.
Breakers waive Brittany Ratcliffe
The Boston Breakers waived forward Brittany Ratcliffe, the club announced yesterday. Boston’s rebuilding process this offseason meant adding many names to the club’s roster, forcing them to waive several players. Ratcliffe was selected in the 2016 college draft and played in 15 games for the Breakers last season.