Canadians came roaring out of the gate in the first week of the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League season.
Of the 11 Canadians in the NWSL, nine were part of their team’s starting lineups. Only Christine Sinclair (injury) missed weekend action, while Diana Matheson was used as a late sub. It was also interesting to see how well the rookies adapted to the pace and style of play with their respective clubs.
Here’s a closer look at how the Canadians fared in week one:
Janine Beckie had an impressive regular season debut for the Dash versus the Chicago Red Stars. She started up top and it was clear she has already developed chemistry with teammates Rachel Daly and Carli Lloyd. Beckie netted her first NWSL goal in the 54th minute to make it a 3-1 game for Houston.
Allysha Chapman started at left back for the Dash. The 27-year-old was solid in her 90 minute showing, much like she’s been with the national team since her debut in 2014.
FC Kansas City
Desiree Scott returned to the Kansas City lineup after two years overseas. The holding midfielder played a full game in FCKC’s 0-1 loss to Western New York. She had two shots, one on goal and committed one foul.
Josée Bélanger made her NWSL debut as a right fullback. She played a full match in her squad’s 2-1 loss to Portland. Most noticeable was her game-long battle versus Thorns midfielder Lindsey Horan. She had less of an attacking role compared to what coach John Herdman draws out of her with Canada.
Kaylyn Kyle had a physical performance as a central midfielder. Over 90 minutes, she committed three fouls and earned a yellow card late in the game for a reckless foul. Kyle’s vocal leadership was visible throughout the match.
Christine Sinclair did not dress in her side’s 2-1 home opener victory over Orlando. She is currently nursing a left Achilles injury.
Stephanie Labbe earned a clean sheet in her NWSL debut, a 1-0 win over Boston. The Breakers directed nine shots on goal, but Labbe was only required to make one save. Even so, she was vocal and communicated well with her back line.
Also suiting up in her first NWSL match was central defender Shelina Zadorsky. She helped preserve the shutout for Labbe and commanded the ball, while directing traffic. She played on the left side of her defensive partner Megan Oyster, which is where she normally lines up beside Kadeisha Buchanan while playing for Canada.
Diana Matheson made her 52nd appearance for the Spirit as a sub in the 75th minute. The coaching staff decided to rest the experienced midfielder after she returned from a busy stint with the national team in the Netherlands.
Western New York Flash
Sabrina D’Angelo saved four shots to notch a clean sheet in Western New York’s 1-0 victory over Kansas City, the defending NWSL champions. Despite a number of breakdowns by her back line, the goalkeeper was focused, poised and vocal.
Part of the starting XI, striker Adriana Leon had two shots in her first game for the Flash. She was subbed out in the 69th minute.
In Sweden’s Damallsvenskan, striker Nkem Ezurike netted her first goal for Vittsjö GIK in the club’s season opening 1-1 draw with Kvarnsvedens IK. Marie-Eve Nault and Melissa Tancredi were both on the pitch for KIF Örebro’s 1-1 tie against Umeå IK. Tancredi had two shots and was cautioned in stoppage time.
In Germany’s Bundesliga, Sophie Schmidt was used as a substitute in FFC Frankfurt’s 1-0 victory over Bayern München. Frankfurt has a higher stakes match next week, when they meet Wolfsburg in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal on April 24th.
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