Former Orlando Pride midfielder Becky Edwards said the chance to return to Sweden and play in a league that better suits her style of play was too good an opportunity to turn down. Edwards was speaking to The Equalizer after making her first appearance for new club Kristianstads DFF in a pre-season friendly against Chelsea Ladies, six months after announcing her retirement from professional soccer.
The 28-year-old revealed she was leaving the game in September last year, making her final appearance in the NWSL for the Pride in a 2-1 defeat at home to FC Kansas City.
Highly regarded and respected for her ability on the ball and her all round team play, Edwards had a solid career that won her plaudits from coaches, media and fans alike as she departed the sport. So it was a surprise when last month, her Swedish side announced that she had come out of retirement, and had signed with the club for a third time. Edwards had stints with the Swedes in 2012 and on loan in 2014.
On the move, she said: “Kristianstads reached out to me at the end of last season and have always said if you want to come back then there is always a spot for you here,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed my time in Sweden. I love the culture and for me I didn’t feel ready (for retirement), so when they reached out I was like ‘let’s do this’ and jumped right in, and I’m happy to be here with this team.”
Edwards’s side was on the wrong end of a 1-0 loss to Chelsea, who were without Crystal Dunn, with the American midfielder playing the full 90 minutes in front of a back four.
Much like the NWSL, the Swedish Damallsvenskan kicks off the weekend of April 15, but Kristianstads have a big Swedish Cup quarter-final next weekend. Playing against last season’s FA Women’s Super League runners-up, was good preparation according to Edwards.
“Coming from Sweden and playing one of the top teams in England is certainly a big test for us,” she said. “I only got to Sweden a few days ago so it’s nice to jump in and play with some old teammates, and most importantly get some minutes under my belt and get back playing again.”
Her new club struggled last season, finishing just above the relegation places. For Edwards, the aims are to do well in the Cup competition, and better last season’s league position.
“For me, I’m still getting used to the new teammates and expectations, but our goal is to win the Swedish Cup. We have the quarterfinals next week and we’re looking forward to that, then as the Damallsvenskan approaches, the aim is to improve on last year and at least get middle of the table, or better.”
Edwards’ ability to break up opposition play, retain possession and pick a pass, will be key for her side. For now, enjoying her football in a league that “better suits my style of play,” is the priority for the midfielder, who will add plenty of experience and quality to a team she is plenty familiar with.
“When I was younger I said I’d maybe retire in Sweden, but at times I wanted to go back to the U.S and I had goals to make the national team. But for me now in life, it’s nice to come back to see some friends and coaches and get the joy back in the game that I once had. For me that opportunity came up and I just said that I’m going to get out here and I’m going to do it.”
note: to hear the full interview with Becky, keep an eye out for Women’s Soccer Zone’s latest podcast at womenssoccerzone.com