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Thursday roundup: US Soccer names Hickey as Director of Girls’ Development Academy

(photo courtesy U.S. Soccer)

Also in today’s roundup, the Pride re-sign four players, Dagny Brynjarsdottir named to Iceland’s Algarve roster, FIFA dismisses Tatjana Haenni and Liverpool Ladies re-sign Murray

(photo courtesy U.S. Soccer)

(photo courtesy U.S. Soccer)

U.S. Soccer announced its hiring of Miriam Hickey as the Director of its Girls’ Development Academy (GDA) ahead of its 2017-2018 inaugural season. As director, Hickey will oversee all of the technical aspects of the GDA.

“We are very excited for Miriam to join our staff and begin working with our inaugural member clubs in the Girls’ Development Academy,” U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director Jared Micklos said. “We’ve hired a very talented and experienced leader in Miriam Hickey who shares our passion and a commitment to key principles for elite player development.”

Hickey, who has over 25 years of experience, joins USSF after serving most recently as the Girls’ Director of Coaching at Troy Soccer Club in Michigan and a Women’s Football Instructor for FIFA. She also served as a National Development Officer for the Netherlands Football Federation for eight years. In 2013 she was named the North Region NSCAA Youth Girls Coach of the Year, and in 2008 she was named the U.S. Youth Soccer National Competitive Girls coach of the Year. She also served as the head coach of Louisiana State University (LSU) women’s soccer team in its inaugural season in 1995.

“The Boys’ Development Academy has set the standard for youth development in this country and I am honored and excited for the opportunity to lead the Girls’ Development Academy,” Hickey said.

The GDA is U.S. Soccer’s newest youth soccer venture, consisting of a projected 70 member clubs around the country, several of which are linked to current NWSL teams. The clubs will field U-14, U-15, U-16/17 and U-18/19 teams and will provide some of the nation’s top young players with a balanced schedule of training and meaningful games to help develop them into future professional athletes.

Pride re-sign four players

Jasmyne Spencer is the only Pride player to appear in all 20 matches last season. (photo: Orlando Pride)

Jasmyne Spencer is the only Pride player to appear in all 20 matches last season. (photo courtesy Orlando Pride)

The Orlando Pride have agreed to 2017 contracts with a quartet of players. Aubrey Bledsoe, Maddy Evans, Toni Pressley, and Jasmyne Spencer have all signed to be part of the Pride’s second NWSL season.

“We’re delighted to bring back this group of players that made up a strong portion of our inaugural roster,” Pride coach Tom Sermanni said. “With the re-signing of these players, paired with the acquisitions we’ve made during the offseason, I’m confident in the talent and competitiveness we’ve compiled for the upcoming NWSL season.”

{MORE: Lloyd signs with Manchester City | Waldrum: Dash “not built around any one player”}

Spencer had the greatest impact last season when she was the only player to appear in all 20 matches. She scored 4 goals to tie for second on the team and constantly kept opponents off balance with her speed and work rate. Evans played 16 matches in a variety of roles in midfield while Florida native Pressley took on a broader role after the back line got torn apart by the Olympics. Bledsoe appeared only once before a broken foot ended her season. The 25-year old will go to preseason slotted in as Ashlyn Harris’s backup.

Here was Bledsoe last season using her injury to have a little fun at the expense of her coach.

The Pride authored a strong to start to their debut season in 2016 but a combination of injuries, Olympic absences, and an inability to lose matches ruined their season and a 5-5-0 start wound up as a 6-13-1 season and 9th place finish.

Dagny named to Iceland team for Algarve

Portland Thorns midfielder Dagny Brynjarsdottir, having recovered from a back injury, has been named to Freyr Alexanderssion’s Iceland squad for the Algarve Cup. Brynjarsdottir scored 5 goals in 17 matches for the Thorns last season, her first in NWSL. The side will not be at full strength though for what will be encounters with Japan, Norway, and Spain. All-time leading scorer Margret Lara Vioarsdottir is jst returning from injury and could be limited, and Harpa Posteinsdottir is pregnant and out of action indefinitely.

The full Iceland roster:
Goalkeepers (3): Guobjorg Gunnarsdottir, Sonny Lara Prainsdottir, Sandra Siguroardottir
Defenders (8): Anna Bjork Kristjansdottir, Giodis Perla Viggosdotir, Hallbera Guony Gisladottir, Arna Sif Asgrimsdottir, Elisa Vloarsdottir, Sif Altadottir, Malfriour Erna Siguroardottir, Thelma Bjork Einarsdottir
Midfielders (7): Fanndis Frioriksdottir, Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir, Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Gunnhilder Yrsa Jonsdottir, Elin Metta Jensen, Dora Maria Larusdottir, Sigriour Lara Garoarsdottir
Forwards (5): Margret Lara Vioarsdottir, Berglind Bjorg Porvaldsdottir, Rakel Honnudottir, Katrin Absjornsdottir, Sandra Maria Jessen

Special thanks to Silla Berg for assisting with this section.

FIFA dismisses Tatjana Haenni as Director of Women’s Soccer

On Wednesday, Tatjana Haenni tweeted that she had been dismissed and immediately released from her position as FIFA’s Director of Women’s Soccer, a post she had held for 18 years.

As Director of Women’s Soccer, Haenni oversaw all of the women’s soccer tournaments and the development of women’s soccer around the world.

Haenni seems to be another departure in what has been dubbed a revolving door at FIFA. In November 2016, Sarai Baremann was nominated to an executive-level position as Chief Football Officer and was named the head of the newly-created Women’s Football Division. Many people hoped the duo of Haenni and Baremann would combine forces to advocate for and grow the women’s game within the governing body of the sport, but FIFA President Gianni Infantino seemed to have other plans in mind.

“I look back on 18 interesting, motivating, fascinating years in international women’s football. I have carried out my work and my activities with full commitment, belief in the cause and with much passion,” Haenni said in an article for frauenfussballmagazin.ch. “In the future I hope that all sports organizations seek to the promotion of women’s sport and the representation of women in decision-making bodies and to provide adequate resources.”

Liverpool re-signs American defender Murray

Liverpool Ladies FC has re-signed Satara Murray to the club for the 2017/2018 season. As part of the deal, the England U-23 defender who hails from Austin, Texas (her mother is English) will miss the FAWSL spring series in order to complete her college degree here in the States.

“This is another important deal for the club as Satara played a crucial role for us last season, being one of our standout performers. Although she will be missing for the Spring Series, we look forward to welcoming her back for the 2017/2018 season as an important member of our squad,” Liverpool Ladies manager Scott Rogers said.

The defender first joined the Reds in January 2015, forgoing the NWSL after a year with the Washington Spirit Reserves in 2014. She was coming off a successful collegiate career at the University of North Carolina (UNC). At the time, Murray said, “Having played college [soccer] for a number of years I feel as though I am now ready to make the step up to professional football and couldn’t ask for a better move than to Liverpool Ladies.”

In her four years playing under Anson Dorrance at UNC, Murray played in 85 matches, scoring 2 goals and recording 5 assists. In just her sophomore season, she anchored the Tar Heel backline as it went on to win an NCAA Championship, notching a goal and an assist in UNC’s 4-1 win over Penn State. Her performance saw her named the 2012 College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Two seasons later she led the team in minutes, playing all but 16, and helped UNC to only allow 15 goals in 20 matches. Despite Murray’s strongest defensive efforts, the Tar Heels would not repeat as NCAA champions, failing to advance past the tournament’s third round.

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