Lionesses excited about American trio joining FA WSL

Harjeet Johal March 3, 2017 18
England Lioness Steph Houghton is eagerly anticipating playing against top American players in the FA WSL. (photo copyright EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

England Lioness Steph Houghton is eagerly anticipating playing against top American players in the FA WSL. (photo copyright EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

NEW YORK CITY – Not since 2013 have fans seen so many USWNT stars take their soccer careers overseas. The likes of Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn and Heather O’Reilly have all left the comforts of the NWSL for a journey to compete in the FA WSL. Quite often the U.S. has been a go-to destination for female players wanting to play professional soccer. Times have changed, and the WSL is attracting top U.S. talent to the chagrins of many NWSL fans.

Arsenal Ladies midfielder Jordan Nobbs can remember growing up and hearing about players having to play in the U.S. in order to have a professional career. Having Lloyd, Dunn and O’Reilly playing in the WSL will show young U.K. girls that they don’t have to move abroad to play.

“When I was younger, everyone was saying you need to go to America to play football,” said Nobbs. “Now we’ve got Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly coming over to our league to play. I think it just shows the growth in the women’s game has been so dramatic. It’s only going to make us better on the pitch when we have them not only in our team, but playing against them. I think it’s a great plus side for women’s football.”

The 24-year-old Nobbs has already learned so much from having O’Reilly in the Arsenal environment. She knew right away that having the U.S. Soccer veteran midfielder would bring a great work ethic and strong influence for Arsenal’s young squad.

{MORE: Mallory Pugh brings the youth back to the USWNT | Jeff Plush steps down as NWSL commissioner

“Yeah, the amount of things she’s won, it’s incredible,” said Nobbs of O’Reilly. “Even when she trialled with us a little while back, I was saying to Pedro (Coach Pedro Martinez Losa) we need to get her in our team. I think she offered a different side to football. She’s energetic, fit, she’s constantly positive no matter what’s going on. Even when you’re having a tough day. She’s like, this is what it takes. She’s been a great add to our team, and hopefully she’ll help us in the league as well.”

A few hours up the road, Manchester City made quite the splash this off-season. Carli Lloyd’s short-team contract for the WSL spring series made headlines all over the globe. Although Lloyd has yet to practice with her new club, the likes of goalkeeper Karen Bardsley is excited to see what she and the other American signings will bring to the league. 

“I’m really proud of not only Man City, but the English league to have attracted such talent this season,” Bardsley said. “We’ve obviously got Carli, but Arsenal have the likes of Heather O’Reilly, and Crystal Dunn at Chelsea. We’re really looking forward to this year, and I think a lot of girls, myself in particular are looking forward to getting back to training.”

While detractors might deem the signings of Lloyd, Dunn and O’Reilly as a knock against the wellbeing of the NWSL, others consider it a terrific opportunity, providing experience to play in another country and another league. It’s just another step in the careers of three fantastic footballers.  

Manchester City and England skipper Steph Houghton is already thinking of all the trophies Man City could be lining up to win. Adding Carli Lloyd to the mix will only strengthen the top club in the WSL. City are loaded in the midfield and will no doubt be the team to beat.

“I think from my point of view, to have the best player in the world at Man City, it’s fantastic for the football club. For the squad as well to have someone who’s experienced big games, played in the biggest stage, won World Cups, and lots of trophies,” Houghton said. “Ultimately at our club we want to be successful in the league, FA Cup, Continental Cup, the Champions League, which is the biggest club stage. I think the players playing against us, and for the likes of Crystal Dunn as well-being attracted to our league, it can only be a good thing.”

Fans will be able to see BardsleyNobbs, Houghton, Lloyd and Dunn on Saturday afternoon in Harrison, New Jersey when the U.S. takes on England in the SheBelieves Cup. One matchup to keep an eye on is Nobbs vs. Lloyd. The diminutive midfielder earned praise at last year’s SheBelieves Cup for keeping Lloyd in her pocket and frustrating the New Jersey native.

Carli Lloyd, I kind of man for man marked her last year,” said Nobbs “Hopefully there’s times in the game I can take my edge on the top players in the world. Don’t get me wrong, she was very hard to play against. I think it definitely improved me as a player, and made me realize how structured you’ve got to be against someone with movement like that.”

Although the SheBelieves Cup is a friendly tournament, fans can expect to see some banter and tough tackles. Foes on Saturday will turn to teammates in a few weeks time. Lloyd and Dunn will want to show that they can bring it, while the Lionesses trio will want to give them a taste of what to expect in the WSL. It’s a match the English side is excited  about. 

“I think it will be good fun,” admitted Bardsley. “We’re looking forward to learning how to be a bit more clinical, especially at City. With Carli’s coming, I think she’s going to help us build our mentality a little bit more. I think it will be good fun with Crystal and Carli when we play them. On the pitch, I’m sure there will be digs flying around and stuff like that. We’re all looking forward to it.”

Women’s football is always growing and taking new strides each and every day. The signings of three star U.S. players to the WSL should be supported as a positive step towards growth and development in England. Although some fans will question why they decided to play elsewhere, it’s ultimately their choice and betters football all around.

  • Ron Rocha

    Whatayabet Ellis doesn’t start Lloyd or Dunn

    • MrTemecula

      Doesn’t mean they won’t play. The French did it perfectly. Put your best players in at 70 minutes and then win the match.

      • mockmook

        “The French did it perfectly.”

        Only perfectly because it worked out.

        If they had gone down 2-0 in the first 70 it wouldn’t have looked so smart — remember how Herdman once tried a similar tactic against the USA and it didn’t go so well.

        • MrTemecula

          Heh, that is a dumb sentence. Perfection is a bold claim to make about a game when multiple mistakes are regularly made.

          • mockmook

            “Perfection is a bold claim to make about a game when multiple mistakes are regularly made.”

            Uh, you were the one who said they substituted perfectly.

          • MrTemecula

            I am agreeing with you. I made a dumb statement.

  • guest123

    Injury news: Alex Scott out for the rest of SheBelieves tourney with a calf injury.

    https://twitter.com/SheKicksdotnet/status/837700366556884992

  • AlexH

    Somewhat off topic, but I got a chance to watch the Eng-Fra game on Youtube last night and it was like the game was being played in slow motion compared to the Ger-USA game. I would be shocked if England put up much of a game on Saturday unless Ellis decides to play her scrubs like the French did and even then that should not be much of a match due to the quality of the USA scrubs.

    • mockmook

      I think you’re nuts.

      Perhaps it was a bit slower (though I’m skeptical), but it was MUCH better played.

      • AlexH

        Well you wouldn’t be the first 🙂
        It’s tough to objectively state one way or the other but it seemed to me that the players on both teams had eons of time on the ball and that he ball moved really slow. All will be answered on Saturday I guess.

  • Steglitz49

    The answer to the headline is: so they should be.

    The FAWSL already have Hedvig Lindahl, the keeper of keepers, and Kosse Asllani. Lisa Dahlkvist, Lotta Schelin, Linda Sembrant and Sofia Jakobsson made their marks in D1 Feminine, to whom Stina Blackstenius has gone, while Fridolina Rolfö took the German Euro, the league in which Nilla Fischer plies her trade.

    Odd that the FAWSL1 was not interested in more Nordic lasses though Birmingham did reach out to Andrine Stolsmo.

    • HOFCToDi

      Steglitz49 suffers from delusions of grandeur. Never has an individual boasted of such grandiose failure:

      Sweden failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

      Sweden failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

      Sweden finished bottom of Group D at UEFA Euro 2012.

      Sweden finished bottom of Group E at UEFA Euro 2016.

      • Steglitz49

        Remember the Glorious 12th 2016, the Bomb in Brasilia.

    • HOFCToDi
      • Steglitz49

        On the Glorious 12th 2016, the same players were dispatched without an Olympic medal. First medal-less OG ever. Such turkeys.

    • HOFCToDi

      Steglitz49 suffers from delusions of grandeur.

      Sweden women’s national football team has never won the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

      Sweden women’s national football team has never won the gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games.

      • Steglitz49

        Remember the Glorious 12th, 2016! Start of the grouse shooting season but in WoSo remembered for when the USWNT were sent packing from the Olympics without a medal. First ever no medal.

        On the glorious 12th the USWNT were weighed in the balance and found wanting. Losers, weepers.

  • sudeep das

    Based on their performance in the 1st half against France they can be dangerous against USWNT. England really played a fast attacking game against a rather loose French side for first half an hour or so.