Leroux committed to new professional league

Tim Grainey December 4, 2012 6
Sydney Leroux

Sydney Leroux says she will play in the new U.S.-based women's professional soccer league. (Photo Copyright Andrew Berkley for EqualizerSoccer.com)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The U.S. women’s national team defeated the Republic of Ireland 2-0 on Saturday to remain unbeaten on their Fan Tribute Tour celebrating their Olympic Gold Medal last summer in London. The U.S. Women had previously defeated the Irish 5-0 on Nov. 28 in Portland on a first half hat trick from Alex Morgan and a brace from second half substitute Sydney Leroux. Other opponents this fall on the Fan Tribute Tour have included Costa Rica (one win), Australia (two wins) and Germany (two ties).

Before a crowd of 11,570, Morgan continued her rich goal scoring run when she scored in the 44th second. Morgan took a pass from Shannon Boxx about five yards from goal on the left side of goal and blasted the ball past Irish goalkeeper Emma Byrne. Byrne, who plays for Arsenal in England’s two year old national semiprofessional league–the FA WSL–was the most experienced player on the visitor’s roster as she received her 93rd international cap. The goal was Morgan’s 38th in 55 international games. In 2012 alone, Morgan leads the U.S. with 28 goals and has the third-highest calendar year total behind Michelle Akers (39 in 1991) and current teammate Abby Wambach (31 in 2004).

The U.S. doubled the score in the 38th minute when Morgan turned provider, chasing down a ball near the end line from defender Amy LePeilbet, and centering it in front of goal, where midfielder Megan Rapinoe buried the ball into the net past Byrne and off of a defender’s legs. As with her goals, Morgan has been a prolific provider in 2012, and now has 19, the fourth highest total all-time in a calendar year behind Mia Hamm (22 in 2004 and 20 in 1998) and Carin Gabarra (21 in 1991).

After the game Becky Sauerbrunn said the entire fall tour has been a remarkable experience.

“The whole thing; just having a Fan Tribute Tour is a high point, it means we did well at the Olympics, so getting a gold medal and being able to share it with everyone back home who supported us on our journey,” she said. “It’s an honor for us to be able to play in front of our fans and it’s nice that we’re getting so many cities [ten in all] and so we’re allowing a lot of the fans to watch us. It’s really fun for us and we’re hoping it’s really fun for the fans too.”

One player who did announce what she will do next year is forward Sydney Leroux. The 22-year-old Leroux, who finished high school in Phoenix after moving from Canada to pursue her dream of playing on the U.S. National team, will play in the new domestic league.

“I decided to stay here and help build women’s soccer in the States,” she said. “I thought it would be good for me to stay since I’m young and I think the best position for me is to play in the U.S.”

Leroux is hopeful she can play on the West Coast (with Portland or Seattle, having grown up in Vancouver, B.C., Phoenix and played college soccer at UCLA) but is realistic. “I’m the youngest on the team so I probably will go somewhere on the East Coast since there are more teams over there; we’ll see.”

Sauerbrunn also commented on the new professional women’s league that U.S. Soccer is developing with the Canadian and Mexican federations, due to start next spring, and is pleased with the effort going into it.

“The prospect of a competitive quality league is so exciting for us” she said. “If we want to keep competing at such a high level on the international stage, we need a domestic league. I think the start of this and everyone working with U.S. Soccer to get it going, I think it will only make this team better and soccer in America better.”

Sauerbrunn, like many of her teammates, has been struggling with whether to play in the U.S. in 2013 or play with a team abroad. Sauerbrunn played with Roa in Norway in 2009 after her first WPS season with the Washington Freedom, winning a title and the national cup with the Norwegian power. She is still unsure what she will do next year.

“It depends; there so many things up in the air, coaches, locations are set but where you are playing, the fields, venues,” Sauerbrunn said. “My options are open and the girls are deciding now so we have no idea on the numbers [who will play in the new domestic league]….We have to look beyond ourselves and beyond this team and if we want to keep winning medals, you need a domestic league so that those potential young people [particularly youth national team members] can compete day-in and day-out with players that are veterans right now, to that get that experience as soon as possible.”

Sauerbrunn also discussed the new league with our Richard Farley last week in Portland, though she did not commit to either playing in the league or abroad.

The last three games of the Fan Tribute Tour will be against China, in Detroit on Saturday, in Houston on Wednesday, Dec. 12, and in Boca Raton, Fla. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Tim Grainey covers women’s soccer for Soccer365. His latest book, Beyond Bend it Like Beckham, was released earlier this year. Get your copy today.

  • Steglitz49

    I sympathize with Becky Sauerbrunn. She played for the NT both in the World Cup and in the Olympics but not as regular starter. There is no guarantee that she will be selected in 3 years time. As the article points out, Becky has had one successful season with Røa in Oslo in Norway (the club is known for its ladies soccer team and skiing). If I were her I would take the chance to play abroad again. Maybe try Japan this time?

  • Steglitz49

    Not totally relevant but I put it here for info.

    The English FA will open up and expand the FA WSL by launching of a second division. 20 clubs will be selected to participate in FA WSL1 and FA WSL2.
There will be promotion and relegation of one club between the two leagues.

    All clubs must also have a reserve team, which will play in The FA WSL Reserve League. The reserve league will have two regional divisions. The 8 current licensed FA WSL clubs have to re-apply. The clubs will be judged on their:
    — financial and business management; commercial sustainability and marketing; facilities; & players, support staff and youth development.

    Things are looking up in England — but the clubs have few players from outside the British isles, which seems to be a policy decision, that is the FA is doing this for British girls and women who want to play soccer.

  • Steglitz49

    According to Swedish media it looks like Christen Press, Göteborg’s best scorer and second best scorer in Damallsvenskan after Anja Mittag, will leave. Gbg have reached the quarter final of the CL where they face the weaker of the two French teams. It is not beyond the possibility that Gbg could reach the final and even take the cup. They won the Swedish Cup for the second year by beating Tyresö.

    Christen and Gbg allegedly had reached agreement before Christen left for USA, but since then she has demanded that she must be released for US WNT camps. The USA does not follow the standard FIFA rules for camps and games. Those rules were put in place to protect NTs against clubs not releasing players for qualifying matches and regional championships and other official international duties.

    Gbg has asked her to reconsider. According to reports, Gbg has stared to look for a replacement, most likely from England or Norway. It is expected that any player will be a national team player.

    I hope the report turns out to be unfounded and that Ms Press stays with Gbg. Otherwise foreign teams may think twice about signing a USA player. The damage may be that players may not find it so easy to join foreign teams in the future.

  • “remain unbeaten on their Fan Tribute Tour celebrating their Olympic Gold Medal last summer in London”

    Did the referee who fixed the Olympic semi-final for them go with them to ensure they remained “unbeaten” for these games, too?

    • Steglitz49

      I do not think so. The officials have all been American, at least for some of the matches.

      The referee you are thinking of on 26th Sep took charge of a match in the ladies Champions League and on 1st Nov she refereed another CL match. Likewise the referee of the Olympic final, whose alleged lack of whistling went against Japan, has refereed one match in the CL. Although the Japanese players clearly were upset, they were able to compose themselves. Maybe when your country has been put through the wringer of an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear disaster you can take the rough with the smooth? No doubt it helps that you are the reigning world champions and you have a captain like Miyama.

      The Japanese football association has arranged a mini-tournament in Tokyo on 25 dec to raise more money for their disaster relief. I do not know who will be refereeing.

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