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Wednesday Roundup: Corinne Diacre takes over as France WNT manager

Also in today’s roundup, Australian squad for Brazil friendlies named, Game of the Week kickoff time moved up, Breakers and Sky Blue add to their rosters,  Courage sign Caroline Stanley as goalkeeper replacement, and the US U-16s and U-19s are headed overseas.

Corinne Diacre replaces Olivier Echouafni as manager of France. (photo courtesy FFF)

Olivier Echouafni out, Corinne Diacre in as head coach of France

The French Football Federation (FFF) announced today that Best FIFA Women’s Coach of 2017 nominee Olivier Echouafni has been ousted and replaced by Corinne Diacre as head coach of the women’s national team.

The news comes exactly one month after Echouafni’s France squad was eliminated from the European Championship during the quarterfinal round, losing their first match against England in 43 years. Following France’s EURO exit, it was reported that Echouafni’s contract may be extended through the 2019 World Cup, with FFF President Noël Le Graët telling L’Equipe, “Olivier works well, he took this team a small year ago, he has guided them carefully, [and] he is smart enough to analyze how we can progress.”

However, the federation has clearly had a change of heart, and Echouafni is out and Corinne Diacre has been tapped to replace him. Diacre previously earned 121 caps with France as a defender. More recently she made headlines as the first ever female coach in French professional men’s soccer when she took over as manager of Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot, where she coached for three years. It was reported that Diacre signed a four-year contract that will see her through the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics.

“I’m pleased with the appointment of Corinne Diacre,” Le Graët said about the hiring. “Corinne is a very experienced manager who has signed up for a long-term project with a first major task: preparing for the 2019 World Cup on French soil.”

Stajcic names Matilda squad for upcoming Brazil friendlies

Lisa de Vanna, far right, has once again been named to Alen Stajcic’s Australia squad. (photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Australia head coach Alen Stajcic has named 20 players to his squad for a pair of upcoming friendlies against Brazil. The Matildas will host Brazil on Sept. 16 in Penrith and on Sept. 19 in Newcastle. The two teams will have met three times in 2017, as they closed out their Tournament of Nations play against one another. Australia won that clash, 6-1, to be crowned champions of the tournament’s inaugural edition.

“There is a great buzz within this squad to come home and play and perform in front of large home crowds in Penrith and Newcastle,” Stajcic said in the team’s press release. “It will be a privilege to host Brazil, and the team can’t wait for the matches.”

Stajcic’s roster for the September camp looks similar to that of the Tournament of Nations. Five NWSL players—the Orlando Pride’s Stephanie Catley and Alanna Kennedy, Sky Blue’s Sam Kerr, Portland’s Hayley Raso, and the Dash’s Lydia Williams—were all named to the squad. Lisa de Vanna, who scored a brace against Brazil to become the Matildas’ all-time leading scorer, was also included on the roster, as were Laura Alleway, Caitlin Foord, Katrina Gorry, Clare Polkinghorne and Emily Van Egmond, all of whom have previously played in the NWSL.

Former Western New York Flash forward Michelle Heyman and former Boston Breaker Kyah Simon will train with the team during the camp but will not play. Heyman is currently recovering from an ankle injury suffered at the end of the Westfield W-League season, while Simon continues rehab following double shoulder surgery.

Brazil head coach Emily Lima has already announced her roster for the friendlies. The full Australian roster is below.

AUSTRALIA ROSTER BY POSITION

Goalkeepers (2): Lydia Williams (Melbourne City / Houston Dash), Mackenzie Arnold (Brisbane Roar)
Defenders (8): Steph Catley (Melbourne City/Orlando Pride), Ellie Carpenter (Canberra United), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride), Caitlin Cooper (WS Wanderers), Gema Simon (Newcastle United/Avaldsnes IL), Laura Alleway (Melbourne Victory), Georgia Yeoman-Dale (Sydney FC)
Midfielders (5): Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar/Vegalta Sendai), Elise Kellond-Knight (Turbine Potsdam), Emily van Egmond (Wolfsburg), Chloe Logarzo (Newcastle Jets/Avaldsnes IL), Tameka Butt (Klepp)
Forwards (5): Lisa De Vanna (South Melbourne), Caitlin Foord (Sydney FC/Vegalta Sendai), Emily Gielnik (Brisbane Roar/Avaldsnes IL), Sam Kerr (Perth Glory/Sky Blue FC), Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns)

NWSL announces earlier Game of the Week kickoff

The NWSL announced today that Saturday’s Lifetime Game of the Week between the Portland Thorns and Washington Spirit has been moved up in anticipation of extreme temperatures in Portland this weekend. Instead of the usual 3:50 p.m. ET kickoff time, the game will now start at 3:32 p.m. ET (12:32 p.m. local). There will be no pregame show ahead of the match, but it will still be televised on Lifetime as usual.

Today’s announcement marks the second time the Game of the Week has been moved to an earlier kickoff due to extremely high temperatures in the area. Coincidentally, the previous time was also for a Game of the Week held at Providence Park, when the Thorns match against the Houston Dash was moved up to 2:20 p.m. ET (11:20 a.m. local) in attempts of avoiding afternoon temperatures. Although the league has taken extra precautionary measures to combat extreme heat and maintain player safety, Providence Park’s turf field absorbs heat, making the temperature on the field significantly hotter than in the stands.

The league and Lifetime’s 4 p.m. ET time slot came under heavy criticism following the Houston Dash’s Game of the Week against the Seattle Reign on May 7, when Rachel Daly collapsed with heat exhaustion in the final seconds of the match. She was attended to on the field before being taken to a hospital, where she was treated and later released.

Boston Breakers sign forward Hayley Dodd

(graphic courtesy Boston Breakers)

The Boston Breakers announced today that they had signed rookie forward Hayley Dowd. The 22-year-old Peabody, Massachusetts native played previously this year for the Breakers Reserves after being selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NWSL College draft with Boston’s sixth and final pick.

“I’ve been really pleased. Hayley deserves a contract. She’s been training with us all year, playing with the Reserves and scoring goals consistently for the Reserve team,” Boston Breakers head coach Matt Beard said in the team’s press release. “She can actually play in more than one position, which we’ve been impressed by. We’ve got six weeks (left in the season), and she’s got an opportunity to stake a claim to be here long-term.”

Dowd led the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) with 13 goals, helping the Breakers Reserve advance to the WPSL Final Four. During her previous two summers, she played for Boston’s College Academy team in the WPSL. At Boston College, she was a two-time All-ACC Second Team selection, tallying 39 goals and 12 assists in 81 games for the Eagles.

Sky Blue sign former Rutgers defender Cassidy Benintente

Sky Blue has signed defender Cassidy Benintente. (photo by Jeffrey Auger Photography, courtesy of Sky Blue FC)

Sky Blue FC announced today that they had signed defender Cassidy Benintente, who came to them via the discovery process. Benintente is a New Jersey native and former Rutgers Scarlet Knight, and has been training with the team since the preseason.

“All of our players trust her, which we feel is very important in order for us to maintain the improving chemistry of our team,” assistant coach David Hodgson said in the team’s official statement. “Cassidy is capable of playing several positions, and she is very familiar with our system and style of play. Her ability is what makes her deserving of this pro contact, but we also must commend her incredible resiliency to stick with the team since the beginning of preseason when there were no guarantees that we would arrive at this moment.”

After not taking the field for the Scarlet Knights in her first two seasons, Benintente played in 45 matches for Rutgers over her junior and senior years. She, along with Sky Blue teammates Erica Skroski and Madison Tiernan, was a part of the 2015 team that advanced to the NCAA College Cup for the first time in program history.

Courage sign Caroline Stanley as goalkeeper replacement

The North Carolina Courage announced today that they had signed Caroline Stanley as a goalkeeper replacement for Sabrina D’Angelo, who will miss tonight’s game due to illness. The signing is likely a very short-term deal, giving the nature of D’Angelo’s absence. Although the NWSL does not allow teams to temporarily sign players in the wake of player illnesses or minor injuries, exceptions are made for goalkeepers, as each team is required to have two keepers dressed for each match.

Stanley is coming off a short stint with the Orlando Pride, where she was originally signed as a replacement for backup keeper Aubrey Bledsoe, sidelined by a concussion. In her first game with the Pride, starting goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris suffered a quadriceps injury, and Stanley entered the match against her first pro team, the Seattle Reign. She remained with the Pride as Harris recovered and rehabbed her injury, serving as backup to Bledsoe. She was waived two weeks ago following Harris’ return to the team.

Last season Stanley split starting goalkeeping duties for Sky Blue FC with Caroline Casey. Stanley saw time between the post in 11 matches for the New Jersey club in 2016, but was waived ahead of the 2017 preseason following the team’s drafting of Canadian-allocated keeper Kailen Sheridan. She was a member of the Seattle Reign’s 2015 squad while then-starting keeper Hope Solo was away on national team duty for the World Cup. She made one appearance for the Reign.

US U-16s and U-19s to see overseas action

The US U-16 and U-19 youth national teams will be headed overseas at the start of next month. The U-16s depart for Germany on Sept. 6 for a training camp and two friendlies, while the U-19s depart on Sept. 2 for a tournament in China.

The U-16s will be in Germany from Sept. 6-15, during which time they will hold a training camp before taking on their German counterparts in a pair of friendlies. The U-19 squad will depart a few days earlier than the U-16s, leaving on Sept. 2 for a two-week trip to China to participate in the CFA International Women’s Youth Tournament. There they will take on the U-20 teams of the host nation, Japan, and Iran. The US opens the tournament on Sunday, Sept. 10 against Japan before taking on China on the 12th and closing out the tournament on Sept. 14 against Iran.

U-16 head coach Kacey White has called in 20 players for the trip to Europe, while Kari Sarver, head coach of the U-19 WNT, has named 22 players to her tournament squad. Three of those players are teens Jaelin Howell, Brianna Pinto and Sophia Smith, all of whom have recently spent time with the U-20 team, as well as have been called into camp with the senior national team this year.

US U-16 GNT Roster by Position

GOALKEEPERS (2): Ryan Campbell (So Cal Blues; Dana Point, Calif.), Mia Justus (Sky Blue -PDA; North Brunswick, N.J.)                            
DEFENDERS (6): Kayla Colbert (Legends FC; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), Caroline Gray (Concorde Fire; Johns Creek, Ga.), Katherine Groff (NC Courage; Raleigh, N.C.), Samar Guidry (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), Makenna Morris (Bethesda SC; Germantown, Md.), Smith Hunter (Reign Academy; Seattle, Wash.)                                                     
MIDFIELDERS (7): Aislynn Crowder (Hawaii Rush; Mililani, Hawaii), Devi Dudley (La Roca Futbol Club; American Fork, Utah), Tatiana Fung (LAFC Slammers; Fullerton, Calif.), Maggie Graham (NTH Tophat; Atlanta, Ga.), Samantha Kroeger (World Class FC; West Milford, N.J.), Michaela Rosenbaum (Santa Rosa United; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Allyson Sentnor (South Shore Select; Hanson, Mass.) 
FORWARDS (5): Michelle Cooper (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.), Talia DellaPeruta (NTH Tophat; Cumming, Ga.), Dilary Heredia-Beltran (SPORTING Blue Valley; Overland Park, Kansas), Trinity Rodman (So Cal Blues; Newport Beach, Calif.), Reilyn Turner (So Cal Blues; Aliso Viejo, Calif.)

U.S. U-19 WNT Roster by Position

GOALKEEPERS (2): Claudia Dickey (Charlotte Soccer Academy; Charlotte, N.C.), Meagan McClelland (Sky Blue – PDA; Kearny, N.J.)     
DEFENDERS (7): Maycee Bell (SPORTING Blue Valley; Wichita, Kan.), Sydney Dawson (Internationals SC; Akron, Ohio), Madelyn Desiano (So Cal Blue Soccer Club; San Clemente, Calif.), Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; San Jose, Calif.), Shae Holmes (Real Colorado; Highland Ranch, Colo.), Brianna Martinez (New Mexico Rush; Albuquerque, N.M.), Kate Wiesner (LAFC Slammers; Monrovia, Calif.) 
MIDFIELDERS (7): Cori Dyke (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Emily Gray (Penn Fusion; Sewell, N.J.), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Jenna Nighswonger (LAFC Slammers; Huntington Beach, Calif.), Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Astrid Wheeler (Concorde Fire; Atlanta, Ga.), Summer Yates (Pacific NW; Pasco, Wash.)                                                   
FORWARDS (6): Jordan Brewster (Internationals SC; North Canton, Ohio), Jordan Canniff (Washington Spirit Academy – Baltimore Armour; California, Md.), Aleigh Gambone (Texas Rush; El Paso, Texas), Rachel Jones (NTH Tophat; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.)

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