International Players to Watch
Ok, it cannot be denied, the NWSL boasts some of the world’s greatest footballing talent. But, whilst many hail from the motherland itself, not all are home grown. In amongst the Morgan’s, Heath’s and Press’ of the league, float a pool of immensely gifted players from around the globe. These foreign fiends are peppered across the eight competing clubs, bringing their overseas expertise into the limelight for the Challenge Cup.
Who are they?! Where can I watch them?!
Never fear, we’ve got you covered. Here is our rundown of 10 illustrious internationals to keep your eye on.
Team: Utah Royals
Scotland captain Corsie, brings vast experience and an unwavering strength to the Royals defensive line. Her passing accuracy and skilled distribution, means Corsie offers a certain flexibility; a player with the ability to spark a play from the back. Generally speaking, centre backs are not known for their goal scoring abilities, yet Corsie may just be the exception. With over one hundred caps for Scotland, Corise has an impressive sixteen goals to her name. Armband secured, Corsie also led the Scots to their first ever World Cup in 2019.
Team: Houston Dash
English national Daly is one of the most versatile players in the game. A forward for the Dash, but typically a fullback for the Lionesses, Daly can comfortably occupy the front, the back, and everywhere in between. A naturally attacking player, Daly brings speed and a high press to every position she plays. Daly’s adaptability means she has been a regular for England over the past couple of years and this looks set to continue. Donning the armband for the first time, Daly will be leading the Dash in their campaign for Challenge Cup glory.
Team: North Carolina Courage
Brazilian forward Debinha has been instrumental in the Courage’s success over the last few years. Quick and creative, Debinha has an ability to find pockets of space and create little bits of magic with them. Her late runs often see her finish what she started, managing to clock up an impressive ten goals last season. Debinha is nearing the hundred cap mark with Brazil, and at 27 there is plenty more to come. Debinha is in her prime, and with Marta out, it might just be her time to shine.
Team: OL Reign
Having just recovered from an ACL injury, Fishlock’s return is music to Reign supporters’ ears. The Welsh midfielder is notorious for her all-round vision, physicality and consistent quality of play. Highly decorated for club and country, dependably showcasing her talent to create and assist, Fishlock is the core of any team she plays in. With a number of accolades under her belt, including becoming the first player ever to achieve one hundred caps for Wales, it surely won’t take long for Fishlock to find her feet once again.
Team: Chicago Red Stars
Japan’s notorious goal scorer, Nagasato brings something unique to the Red Stars line-up. Usually playing in a more central forward role, Nagasato’s move to the wing last season took a level of resolution and adaptability. Yet her perseverance meant it didn’t take long for her to settle, and she ended the season with a comfortable eight goals and nine assists. For Japan Nagasato has over 130 caps and was a part of the Japanese team that beat the USWNT to lift the trophy at the 2011 World Cup. With a flair on the field like no other, Nagasato will certainly catch your eye.
Team: Utah Royals FC
Nicknamed “The Destroyer” Canadian midfielder Scott is exactly that. Known for her naturally defensive abilities, Scott is a guardian of the back four, finishing an attack before it even starts. Quick to retreat back, and unafraid to put a foot in, Scott is a nuisance to her opposition. Scott has been a key figure at the heart of Canada’s national team and has made over 150 appearances. Scott also has two Olympic Bronze medals to her name and was responsible for that infamous goal line clearance that secured Canada’s third place in London 2012. A seasoned pro, Scott is definitely one to watch.
Team: Portland Thorns
Canada captain Sinclair has been an essential piece of the puzzle in the Thorn’s success in recent years. Her finish, playmaking abilities, as well as her all round intellect on the pitch are second to none. Sinclair is quite simply a force to be reckoned with on the field. Internationally, Sinclair has played in five World Cups and three Olympic Games. She has been shortlisted for the FIFA World Player of the Year seven times, and currently holds the title for the most international goals. Sinclair is also the world’s most internationally capped active player with a colossal 296 caps. A legend of the game.
Team: OL Reign
English forward Taylor has splayed her talents all over the world, having played in no less than fifteen domestic clubs across three continents. Taylor is a clean and concise goal scorer, smart with her positioning and controlled in her finish. Patiently waiting for her debut with the Lionesses, Taylor wasted no time in establishing the right to be there, earning her 50th cap earlier this year. Taylor became the first English player to score a hat-trick at a major tournament and was the top goal scorer of the 2017 Euro’s. Point those fingers to the sky, there are goals-a-plenty when Taylor is on the field.
Country: New Zealand
Team: OL Reign
Having only played a handful of games with Chicago Red Stars, White’s move to OL Reign was welcomed. So far, the New Zealander has represented the Reign on nine occasions, scoring twice. A forward by trade, White can also slip into a midfield role, comfortably operating behind her attacking counterparts. White has already made over a hundred caps for her country, and has represented the football ferns in two World Cups and the most recent Olympic games. White will hopefully be given a little more game time over the course of the tournament to show us what she’s made of.
Team: Washington Spirit
Having just signed with Washington Spirit it will be interesting to see how Japanese forward Yokoyama slots in. Known for her speed and skill, Yokoyama presents problems for a defensive line both on and off the ball. For her country, Yokoyama has a growing number of caps, and a growing number of goals to go with them. With quick feet, and a finesse in testing defenders one on one, Yokoyama’s drive looks to breathe a new lease of life into the Spirit’s attack. Yokoyama’s arrival is certainly one to look out for, expecting good things with her NWSL debut.
By Charlotte Stacey
Photo Credit: Nikki Flores @ Footy Day Photos