Yael Like a Girl: As the NWSL Launches, Some Americans Remain Abroad


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In the absence of a women’s professional league in the U.S. in 2012, a good number of American women took their trade overseas. Now, with the announcement of the new, eight-team National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), some have decided to return home, while others will continue playing elsewhere. Here I examine the dispersal of American players and who will or will not be returning for the NWSL for 2013.


The Swedish Damallsvenskan and the Frauen Bundesliga in Germany saw an influx of Americans in 2012. Additionally, Americans signed contracts in France, Denmark, Holland, Iceland, Russia, Japan, and even Cyprus, among other countries.


It was big news for the NWSL when Ali Krieger announced she would be leaving Germany after five and a half years to come back and play in the U.S. However, names closely associated with the previous league, WPS, and linked to the USWNT, have decided to either remain abroad or head overseas for a stint.

Meghan Klingenberg will remain at Tyresö FF in Sweden, and is now joined by Christen Press. They will play alongside former WPS internationals Marta, Caroline Seger, and Verónica Boquete. I will also be staying in Sweden and continuing my contract with Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC.

Ashlyn Harris, who was allocated to the Washington Spirit of the NWSL, is finishing up a stint in Germany with FCR 2001 Duisburg before returning to play in D.C. College standout Amber Brooks is also currently playing in Germany. She signed for FC Bayern München shortly after finishing her senior season at UNC, but was drafted to the Portland Thorns of NWSL. Keelin Winters will be returning from Germany to play for FC Kansas City, but from everything I’ve heard, goalkeeper Alyssa Naher will remain at her current club, 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam.

Beverly Goebel and Rebecca Moros ventured to Japan in the wake of WPS and have both decided to re-sign with their club, INAC Kobe. Moreover, Whitney Engen has just joined Liverpool FC Ladies, a deal that had been in the works prior to the announcement of NWSL.

Perhaps the biggest recent news in the world of women’s soccer was the move of both Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Health to France. Rapinoe signed with European powerhouse Olympique Lyon and Heath recently arrived in Paris to don the PSG jersey. They will both be back in the NWSL this summer, having been allocated to the Seattle Reign and Portland Thorns respectively, but will be missing the beginning of NWSL.


The above players are all in very different playing situations and stages of their career. Some had existing contracts to honor that were put in place before NWSL was even a thought. Others decided to re-sign with clubs overseas because they had a wonderful experience and/or felt it was best for their personal development. For players like Rapinoe and Health, this was an ideal time to experience another playing environment because it is an “off” year with no World Cup or Olympic tournament for which to prepare.

While the NWSL should prove to be an exciting league with many star players, there are still numerous unknowns and questions surrounding the logistics. It will be interesting to see if and when the players who are currently abroad filter back in, and which players will decide to stay abroad long-term and forgo the opportunity to play at “home.”

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5 Comments on "Yael Like a Girl: As the NWSL Launches, Some Americans Remain Abroad"

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  1. Correction: Keelin Winters is playing for CHICAGO this season, not Kansas City!

  2. Deeg Deegles says:

    Glad I'm not a player having to make the decision to stay or go abroad. Nothing makes you grow like being in a foreign country. I f they are young enough, a year or two in an environment that challenges them should only make them a better candidate for the NT, if that's their desire.

  3. ADEOLA says:


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