World Cup stars return to NWSL

By Joe Veyera

From the beginning, we all knew the FIFA Women’s World Cup would be over by the evening of July 5.

Of course, that doesn’t make the end of one of the most exciting months of women’s soccer any easier. Fortunately, more than 50 players fresh off a stint competing against the world’s best are headed back to the States to rejoin their NWSL sides for the final half of the season.

While Reign FC will boast its dynamic U.S. Women’s National Team duo of goalkeeper Hope Solo and forward Megan Rapinoe for the rest of the year, fans at the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium will also get to see several others players coming off their appearances on the world stage.

Are you curious as to who is coming to Seattle over the final five regular season home games? We’ve got you covered.

In all, 28 players that graced World Cup rosters will stop in the Emerald City in the next two months, starting this Saturday.

Saturday, July 11 at 7 p.m. — Western New York Flash

Though this weekend’s matchup will serve as a homecoming for Solo and Rapinoe, the Flash return to Seattle for the second time this season with a USWNT duo of their own.

Forward Sydney Leroux appeared in four matches for the U.S., notching an assist, while defender Whitney Engen was available on the bench for the duration of the title run.

The lone member of the Cameroonian National Team to play in the NWSL — forward Ajara Nchout Njoya — scored her country’s only goal in a 2–1 loss to Japan on June 12. Njoya appeared in the latest clash between Reign FC and the Flash, coming on as a second half substitute to help ignite her team’s offense in the 1–1 draw.

Nigerian midfielder Halimatu Ayinde, signed by Western New York during the World Cup, will likely see her first league action on Saturday after appearing in three WWC matches.

Sunday, July 26 at 4 p.m. — Portland Thorns

The yearly rivalry tilt with Seattle’s neighbors to the south brings eight World Cup competitors to town, including USWNT midfielder Tobin Heath, and forward Alex Morgan. The two combined to play nearly 900 minutes over the duration of the tournament, with both scoring a goal and starting in the final against Japan.

Thorns FC also return a trio of Canadians in defender Rhian Wilkinson, midfielder Kaylyn Kyle, and forward Christine Sinclair, who led the national team with two goals.

Forward Jodie Taylor notched a goal for England in the tournament in the team’s 2–1 quarterfinal win over Canada, while goalkeeper Nadine Angerer posted two clean sheets in seven starts for Germany. Both are the lone NWSL players to compete for their respective countries.

Australia’s Steph Catley, — who started all five of the team’s matches at defender — rounds out Portland’s league-high number of WWC competitors.

Wednesday, August 12 at 7 p.m. — Houston Dash

Mark your calendars for the lone appearance of the Adidas Golden Ball winner, U.S. forward Carli Lloyd.

The USWNT’s hat trick hero is one of just six players that Houston sent to the World Cup, with three each on the U.S. and Canadian National Teams.

Alongside Lloyd for the U.S. was midfielder Morgan Brian and defender Meghan Klingenberg, while goalkeeper Erin McLeod, and defenders Lauren Sesselmann and Allysha Chapman suited up for Canada.

McLeod had three shutouts, while Chapman and Sesselmann started five and four games, respectively in the Canadians’ best showing since 2003.

Wednesday, August 26 at 7 p.m. — Boston Breakers

While the Boston roster sported a trio of World Cup participants at the tournament’s start, its most notable national player didn’t join the fold until her run in Canada was over. Australia’s leading goal scorer for the tournament, forward Kyah Simon, signed with the Breakers last week for her second stint with the team, after leading the Matildas to their second straight quarterfinals appearance.

Defender Bianca Sierra played 46 minutes for Mexico in a group play tilt with England, forward Rafaela saw 13 minutes of action across a pair of matches for Mexico, while goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher did not appear for the U.S. while backing up Solo in goal.

Saturday, August 29 at 7 p.m. — Sky Blue FC

Seattle’s regular season home finale puts them up against a Sky Blue FC side that includes six national teamers across four nations.

U.S. defenders Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara anchor the SBFC backline after appearing in five matches combined in Canada, with the latter scoring in the team’s 2–0 win over Germany.

An Australian duo also returns for Sky Blue FC in defender Caitlin Foord and forward Samantha Kerr, after each appearing in all five of the Matildas’ matches.

Mexican forward Monica Ocampo and Canadian forward Jonelle Filigno round out the team’s WWC contribution.

As one can see, there is a lot of quality soccer left to be played on the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium this season. Fans looking to see the above matches and witness World Cup stars with their own eyes can visit for tickets. Single match tickets, 3 match packs, and half season tickets are available now!

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