The National Women’s Soccer League kicks off this weekend and there are Matildas aplenty plying their trade in America’s top flight.

With 13 Matildas spread across five teams, here’s the quick guide to who is playing where.

Reign FC

Formerly known as Seattle Reign, seven members of the squad spent their summer playing for Melbourne City in the W-League. Lydia Williams has spent three seasons at the club, with Steph Catley donning the navy for a second straight season.

Elise Kellond-Knight will be playing her first NWSL season after being prevented from signing for the Reign in 2018 thanks to a ‘discovery clause’.

Reign start its season away to Houston Dash and will look to improve on its third place finish in the league and semi-final loss to the Portland Thorns in the post season.

Houston Dash

Reign’s opening opponents currently have two Matildas on their roster. Houston Dash picked up Kyah Simon ahead of the 2018 season after her club at the time – the Boston Breakers – folded prior to the season starting.

Clare Polkinghorne was a mid-season signing last year and is back for another season in orange. This Dash side is filled with names W-League fans will be familiar with Veronica Latsko (Adelaide United), Christine Nairn (Melbourne Victory) and Sofia Huerta (Sydney FC) all playing for the Dash.

The team finished sixth in 2018.

Portland Thorns

The Portland Thorns fell just short of back to back NWSL Championships last year as they lost to an utterly dominant North Carolina Courage in the final.

The team have three Matildas on its roster and – fingers crossed – all three players will be injury free. Ellie Carpenter signed as soon as she turned 18 and became not only the youngest person to play in the NWSL but the youngest goal scorer when she scored against the Washington Spirit.

Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso have both been injured during their Thorns’ stints but both have a clean bill of health. This will be Foord’s second season in Rose City while Raso has spent the last three seasons at the club.

The Thorns play Orlando to start the season.

Orlando Pride

The Florida-based team has two Matildas in its ranks. Alanna Kennedy has cemented herself as an important part of this Pride team. She plays as a defensive midfielder as opposed to a centre back which is where Australian and Sydney FC fans will be most accustomed to seeing her play.

Emily van Egmond will wear purple for a second season after she signed with the Pride in 2018. There are plenty of familiar faces for Aussie fans with Dani Weatherholt (Melbourne Victory), Chioma Ubogagu, Carson Pickett (Brisbane Roar) and Rachel Hill (Perth Glory) all playing for the Pride.

With the likes of Brazilian legend Marta and USWNT star Alex Morgan also on the roster, Orlando will look to build on its seventh placed finish last season.

Chicago Red Stars

In Chicago, it’s all about Sam Kerr. She spent three seasons at Sky Blue FC before moving to Chicago at the start of the 2018 season. She is a bona fide champion of the competition winning the MVP award in 2017 and securing back to back golden boots in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Red Stars finished fourth last season and lost to eventual champions North Carolina in the semi-final. Another W-League-heavy squad, Chicago has players such as Nikki Stanton and Alyssa Mautz who played at Perth with Kerr. Arin Wright (Newcastle Jets), Katie Naughton (Adelaide United), Yuki Nagasato (Brisbane Roar) and Danielle Colaprico (Sydney FC) also feature for the Red Stars.

They face North Carolina in round one.

Washington Spirit

Last but not least the Washington Spirit has acquired to Australians for the 2019 season. Following their grand final win in the W-League with Sydney FC, Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison have made the move to Washington.

Logarzo has been signed on a loan deal from Sydney in her first taste of NWSL football. Harrison has signed a permanent deal with the club in what is her first foray out of Australia to play football.

The pair’s Sydney FC team mate Aubery Bledsoe will don the gloves for the Spirit while Paige Nielsen made five appearances for Canberra United in the 2018-19 season.

The Spirit finished eighth in the 2018 and kick off their season against Sky Blue FC.

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Marissa Lordanic
marissa.lordanic@gmail.com