Auswest Fencing & Wrought Iron

The greatness of NWSL internationals continues to be underappreciated

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: NWSL

ISI Photos-Trask Smith
ISI Photos-Trask Smith

If Sam Kerr and Nahomi Kawasumi were American, we would have heard a lot more about their huge weeks.
by

Richard Farley
Published
17 May 2017

They were performances that made fans thankful to have their women’s league. One was from Tobin Heath, a four-assist night that highlighted the craft and ferocity of a domineering star. The other was from Christen Press, whose Sinclair-esque goal, assist, and forced-penalty day poured kerosene on the already heated Press-Morgan debate.

When U.S. Soccer decided to fund the NWSL, undoubtedly, these were the performances it had hoped to foster. And those fans who persevered through the Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer were left buzzing at their payoff, fulfilled and agape at what their new, now entrenched league can offer.

And, of course … none of that actually happened.

At least, it didn’t happen via Heath, Press, or any of the other U.S. women’s national team stars who have become the faces of the NWSL. Instead, those performances came from two internationals, Japan’s Nahomi Kawasumi and Australia’s Sam Kerr, perhaps explaining why few beyond the NWSL’s hardcore fans took notice of their record-setting, intimidating performances.

Kawasumi’s was the best performance the NWSL has ever seen from a wide player, her pristine and purposeful touches making every ball played down Seattle’s right into a scoring chance. As for Kerr, an attacker with World Player of the Year potential, it truly was a day worthy of Christine Sinclair, with the 23-year-old’s drive setting up Leah Galton’s goal displaying the same gravity we would see from one of the Canadian icon’s runs.

The potential buzz from those performances is, of course, debatable, but even in the shadows of the NWSL, the exploits of Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe can see the light of day. The rest of the U.S. women’s national team? Fans who care most about their favorite U.S. players’ club form still, likely, outnumber the league’s diehards, a state that’s existed since the league was imagined some five years ago. Since late 2012, the reality of the league remains unchanged: The mundane, week-to-week of its 10 teams’ results sits dim next to the national team stars.

Another reality, though, is embodied by Kawasumi, Kerr, and the myriad other international stars that call the league home. The NWSL may be our (Americans’) domestic league, but it’s not strictly a domestic league. Where would the circuit be without Sinclair, as big a star as the competition has ever had? Without Scotland’s Kim Little, the best player to play in league history, or Wales’ Jessica Fishlock, her partner in crime in Seattle? Where would the NWSL be without players like Veronica Boquete (Spain), Amandine Henry (France) and Marta (Brazil) dropping in, or without the best of a deep Australian player pool spending much of its time on U.S. soil?

Fifty-one international players claim roster spots across the league’s 20-woman squads, but that one-in-four ratio understates their importance. Almost no foreign players come to fill out the league’s depth charts. Their contributions are crucial. Forty-five of those imports start or regularly play as substitutes, while another four have been left out only because of injury. The NWSL may be a U.S.-driven league, but international players play an indispensible part.

Thanks to Kawasumi and Kerr, that part was on full display last weekend, but they weren’t the only internationals to stand out. Fishlock was her typical, invaluable part of Seattle’s midfield, as was Scottish international Rachel Corsie in Seattle’s defense. Brazilians Camila and Marta played vital roles as Orlando upset previously undefeated North Carolina. Canadian Adriana Leon continues to be dangerous for the league’s surprise team, Boston, while New Zealand’s Rosie White has transitioned with ease and pugnacity into the Breakers’ midfield.

Had their performances come instead from Morgan Brian, Julie Johnston, or Lindsey Horan, more would have taken notice. That’s not breaking news; that’s natural. People have biases, and most NWSL fans are going to be biased toward supporting the U.S. women’s national team. What that is, though, is slightly unfair to those players, whose achievements deserve the same respect an American’s.

[Counting down the five best intenational players in NWSL history]

That bias, though, isn’t the only thing muting international players’ acclaim. As a young league, the NWSL has only so many ways to amplify its own message. The league has finally gotten to a place where, when reason arises, it can crack a SportsCenter Top 10 highlight reel. English striker Rachel Daly’s opening weekend goal for Houston was testament to that. The more mundane greatness of a Kawasumi, or even a Sinclair? Scott Van Pelt won’t have that copy in his teleprompter.

The NWSL is a long way from being able to manufacture its own stars, or drive narratives that would take Sam Kerr to the masses. For as spectacular as Little was in Seattle, the former MVP didn’t capture imaginations beyond the league’s devoted. As much as that may be a U.S.-versus-international thing, it may also be a fact of a five-year-old business. When it comes to carving out a place in sports culture, the NWSL can’t be expected to do much.

But the lack of attention is also a fact of women’s sports coverage. Though leagues like the NWSL and WNBA have some bandwidth in the broad conversation, there’s rarely enough room for two stories at once. Consider this year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament, and the lack of attention the University of South Carolina got for winning the title. The story that carried the day, there? The fact Connecticut fell short. Consider also last fall’s WNBA playoffs. After a brilliant clinching game, LA Sparks icon Candace Parker went from sports show to sports show celebrating her team’s title. It was rare that those shows also also featured the regular-season MVP, Nneka Ogwumike, too.

There are too many realities here to decide which is most dominant, and it is worth considering how spectacular, audacious and transcendent a foreign star would have to be to capture a broader imagination. An NWSL record four assists weren’t good enough for Kawasumi, nor was Sam Kerr’s commanding performance against Houston.

Is there something a non-U.S. player could do to get the acclaim that the likes of Tobin Heath would get if she set a league record? And if not, what are we watching these games for? The amazing talents, competition, and conflicts? Or are we just here to see the American players do well?

Even in this column, we talked about U.S. players first. We crafted a hypothetical to make the message hit home. For hardcore NWSL fans, that trick was unnecessary, perhaps even insulting, but for those who keep the league in a very specific, very confined corner of their fandom, that trick may have convinced them to read this far.

Read more at https://www.fourfourtwo.com/us/features/greatness-nwsl-international-players-underappreciated-sam-kerr-uswnt#adM2aQ8ilU3XY7b3.99

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WLeague – Perth Glory Awards Winners 2016/17 Season

July 19, 2017 By: Penny Category: W League

Tash Rigby 2017 Coaches Award Perth Glory

Bobby Despotovski WLeague Coach of The Year

Sam Kerr’s triumph over tribulation

June 11, 2017 By: Penny Category: W League

Standing in the spotlight, camera lenses pointed in her direction, flashes firing, Sam Kerr grasped a bronzed medallion that carried the weighted of a storied name with a storied history of winners.

Julie Murray, Joanne Peters, Heather Garriock, Lisa De Vanna, Sally Shipard; this was the night that a once precocious teenager officially fulfilled her promise.

“I’ve never really won a major individual award,” said Kerr.

“Obviously this is the highest achievement so it’s a massive honour and I think something I will look back on when I am older and be very proud of.”

Julie Dolan Medalists reunion: Lisa De Vanna, Sam Kerr, Heather Garriock (Photo: Ann Odong)

For nearly a decade, Sam Kerr has been one of the most entertaining and dangerous players in the W-League – in Australian football.

Since bursting onto the scene as a 15 year old – still holding the record for the youngest W-League goal scorer – the pacy winger’s game has matured and developed over time to make her a crucial part of whichever team she lines up for.

Time has also brought consistency with the 2016/17 W-League season arguably her best, resulting in the West Australian earning acclaim from the FFA, media and fans alike.

Darkest before dawn

Kerr’s performances are even more noteworthy when you consider it almost didn’t happen.

“If you had asked me a year ago if I thought I would be playing this year, I probably would have said no,” she stated.

“I was ready to hang the boots up because I wasn’t coping mentally.”

April 2016 saw Kerr continuing what was to be an almost 8 month rehabilitation after rupturing foot ligaments in November 2015.

3C/35F watching training 😨

A post shared by Sam Kerr (@samanthakerr20) on

It was the third serious injury in her career following a knee reconstruction in 2011 and subsequent knee injury in 2014.

While she had successfully returned from the previous setbacks, this time the long layoff mentally played havoc with the Glory captain.

“I’d played 6 months of football in two years,” she said. “It wasn’t worth it really for me to be that down off the field when I wasn’t really playing any football.”

“I remember last year Staj [Matildas coach Alen Stajcic] was giving me all the time I needed and being very understanding but my foot didn’t ever feel like it was getting better.”

Present at the ceremony to recognise her daughter, Kerr’s mother Roxanne played an important role in her daughter’s mental health – especially while she was thousands of miles from home in the United States.

“I had many conversations with my Mum about giving it up.  Obviously it’s very tough because people want you to stay around.”

“It was a bit of a rocky patch and when you haven’t played in 9 months, you kind of doubt your ability and you doubt if it’s really worth it.”

“I really thought about it but I finally got the pain out of my foot and then things started to look up.”

Roxanne Kerr and Sam Kerr (Photo: Ann Odong)

 

Pain free, the 23 year old finally saw glimpses of light at the end of what had been a dark tunnel.  That ray was the Rio 2016 Olympics but there was still one hurdle to overcome.

“Staj gave me an ultimatum,” she remembered.  “I had to play 30 minutes to get picked in the Olympics.”

Kerr’s return to football occurred 222 days after first rupturing her foot ligament and it was a return that provided further clarity about her relationship with football.

“I went on [for Sky Blue FC] and with my first touch I scored a volley.  It was meant to be I think,” she laughed.

“That was my sign that I was meant to keep playing and that kind of just sparked the fire again.”

“When you make it back, you know what it was worth.”

Re-capturing passion

Named captain of her hometown club in 2015, Kerr had little time to acclimatise to the role before it was all halted by that career threatening injury.

Returning to Perth Glory for the 2016/17 season, there was some trepidation after lows of being sidelined for months and the highs of the Rio 2016 Olympics campaign.

However what she found in Glory, and in 2016/17 Coach of the Year Bobby Despotovski, was freedom rather than pressure and expectation.

“Bobby let me play freely and made me realise why I loved the game and why I started playing it in the first place,” said Kerr.

“That’s why I was so grateful for my teammates at Glory this year.  They really picked me out of that hole and made me find my love for the game again.”

Kerr and Perth Glory teammates (L-R) Sarah Carroll, Rosie Sutton, Natasha Rigby and Melissa Maizels (Photo: Ann Odong)

 

Throughout the season Kerr’s high regard for her teammates was palpable.  While she continued to receive praise week after week, the captain regularly diverted attention to her teammates.

It was no different on the night of her greatest individual recognition with Kerr paying tribute to her team.

“It is a reward for our team,” she stated emphatically. “We put in lots of work this year.”

“Honestly everyone in our team deserves a little bit of this medal because I think we worked above and beyond, and finished above and beyond where we probably should have on paper.”

“It is a credit to our team and I am very proud to be a part of the team.”

After the trials of the past two and half years, Kerr’s plans for the future are understandably relatively simple.

“For the next year its just to keep fit. Stay healthy.  That’s my main priority and then hopefully good form will follow.”

“My main priority is America and then W-League and Asian Cup next year.”

WLeague Player of the Year 2016/17 Sam Kerr

June 11, 2017 By: Penny Category: W League

Juli Dolan Medal winnner

PENNY TANNER MEDIA MVP AWARD | For the second time Perth Glory Women captain Samantha Kerr has been voted by media members as the Most Valuable Player.

Kerr lead the Glory with 10 goals, 4 assists, led the competition in shots on goal and created 38 chances.

VOTES: Kerr (8), Lydia Williams (3), Jess Fishlock (3), Ashleigh Sykes (1), Sofia Huerta (1)

GLORY WLEAGUE DOUBLE HEADER KICK OFF AT 640PM SUNDAY AT NIB (ALEAGUE kicks off at 4pm)

December 02, 2016 By: Penny Category: W League

 

CATCH SAM KERR ON RADIO FREMANTLE 107.fm RADIO SATURDAY BETWEEN 11-12noon

Samantha Kerr signs on for more Glory

October 07, 2016 By: Penny Category: W League

Samantha Kerr

Matildas star and Perth Glory Women captain Samantha Kerr has signed on for another season with her home-town club as coach Bobby Despotovski eyes off his maiden W-League championship.

Perth born Kerr has been in scintillating form with her US club Sky Blues FC in recent weeks, scoring in her past four games.

The 23-year old was part of the Rio Olympics campaign and scored for the Matildas in their second match against Germany.

After missing most of last season due to a foot injury, Kerr said it was great to be heading back to Perth for another year.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time since Rio and I’m looking forward to the new W-League season” she said.

“I’m excited to be heading back home and I think we’ve got a good core of players to build on from last season”.

Despotovski said he was happy to have one of his big stars back for another year.

“Samantha’s a quality player, we know what she can do and is a weapon up front for us” he said.

Despotovski was also hopeful last season’s MGP and Westfield W-League goal of the year winner Vanessa DiBernardo would be back for another season. The American is currently playing with Chicago Red Stars who are eyeing off a play-off campaign.

“We’re close to finalising a few things with Vanessa so hopefully that will come off” he said.

Glory Women will play their first match of the season against the Western Sydney Wanderers in what will be a double header at nib Stadium on Sunday November 6 at 6.30pm.

The Glory Women clash will follow Glory’s Hyundai A-League match against the Wanderers, which kicks-off at 4pm.

– See more at: http://www.perthglory.com.au/article/samantha-kerr-signs-on-for-more-glory/og5ryyq43het1kpf2lci1cik8#sthash.Rx6He47D.dpuf
Read more at http://www.perthglory.com.au/article/samantha-kerr-signs-on-for-more-glory/og5ryyq43het1kpf2lci1cik8#8VKHeGLzP4SXABPL.99

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Raising An Olympian

August 26, 2016 By: Penny Category: WA on the world stage

Great work Ann Odong!

Soccer Mums on the road. (Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord – Perth Glory, Emily Van Egmond)

https://audioboom.com/boos/4925011-raising-an-olympian

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Raising an Olympian: Soccer Mums on The Road

August 12, 2016 By: Penny Category: WA on the world stage

https://www.facebook.com/attn/videos/1104268306275294/

 

Ann Odong from Thewomensgame brings Sam Kerr, Cailtin Foord and Emily Van Egmond’s Mothers in a tereffic interview about loving your daughter and supporting their sporting comitment.

Ready in Rio: Sam Kerr and Mackenzie Arnold

August 03, 2016 By: Penny Category: WA on the world stage, World Football

sam-kerr-interview

In just a handful of days, forward Sam Kerr and keeper Mackenzie Arnold will be able to truly call themselves Olympians.

With the team having been in Rio for a number of weeks already, it’s been an incredible atmosphere for the team to ruminate on that fact as preparations for their gold medal run continue. For Kerr “everyone dreams of being an Olympian, so the fact that it’s only five days away is a little bit surreal.”

Perhaps no one is more grateful for the honour than Kerr, with a ruptured ligament in her foot that sidelined her from the 2015-16 W-League Season and ruled her out for the AFC Olympic Qualifiers.

Down to the wire her place on the roster to Rio was unknown. That didn’t stop her hard work, and now with their first match only days away it’s all paying off.

“It was a bit of a late rush, left it to the last minute” she admits.

“But I’m feeling good now, foot’s good, body’s feeling good. I feel like my fitness has jumped the past few weeks and I’m ready for the tournament to start.”

Looking ahead to the Olympic Tournament, and with their opening game against Canada, both Kerr and Arnold speak on the strength, fitness and speed of the Canadian side.

Kerr noting that “they’re more of a counterattack team, rather than a football team, but we’re focusing on ourselves and are confident we can get the result we want.”

Part of that includes knowing strengths and for Australia one of those is undoubtedly the speed they bring both up top and from their defence “We’ve got a lot of pace up top and I think it’s no secret, the whole world knows it.”

From Arnold, another strength is in the preparation the team had taken “We’ve been in Brazil a month, but we’ve been in camps for nearly half a year now. And although Brazil is a different environment, we’re more than ready to go.”

Arnold speaks to everyone being confident in their abilities, and how for her it’s been fellow keeper, Lydia Williams who has played such an important role.

“I’ve looked up to Lydia since I was 17 years old. I remember my first Australian camp she was in there with me, so having Lydia there as nearly a mentor to me means a lot. To even experience these Olympic Games with her is more than I could ask for” Arnold said.

This is a young team, many of them are first time Olympians, but for Arnold what’s important is the confidence they have in their own abilities, as well as the confidence that they have in each other “We have strong confidence in each other to get as far as we can and hopefully that’s a gold.”

Australia plays their opening game against Canada in São Paulo, Thursday August 4, 4am AEST

Reference: http://thewomensgame.com/2016/08/ready-in-rio-sam-kerr-and-mackenzie-arnold/

Ashfield Reserve is home for the Perth Glory Women in season 2015/16

October 15, 2015 By: Penny Category: W League

BASSENDEAN Mayor John Gangell would like to make Ashfield Reserve a football hub after he announced the Town would be home to the Perth Glory Women’s side earlier this month.

The side, which forms part of the W-League, will call the reserve home and host several games throughout the season.

Reference: Guardian Express Newspaper September 29

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