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W-League preview: Will Melbourne City be champions again?

Posted October 27, 2017 17:56:52

How do you build excitement for a competition that’s been around a decade?

You recruit some of the biggest stars in the game and pump up the competitive storylines that drive each team.

You’ll need adequate funding, an all-in approach for effort and support, and it certainly helps if you’ve got validation from Sam Kerr that it matches with America’s best league in the world.

W-League champions

SeasonChampions
2016-17Melbourne City
2015-16Melbourne City
2014-15Canberra United
2013-14Melbourne Victory
2012-13Sydney FC
2011-12Canberra United
2010-11Brisbane Roar
2009-10Sydney FC
2008-09Queensland Roar

The tenth season of the W-League has all of this and more.

On the back of our national team’s success, especially the past two years — women’s football is in high demand in Australia.

Leaving the Matildas’ achievements at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, in the Olympic qualifiers and at Rio out of the picture, 2017 has been an incredible year for women’s football.

Reflecting on the Tournament of Nations and friendlies against Brazil, they were undefeated, beat the United States for the very first time and sold out a stadium in Western Sydney.

These efforts have had a knock-on effect and formed a wake-up call for the FFA to re-vamp its domestic program.

Taking notes from some of the other codes that market genders so well, they’ve set up 25 doubleheaders, introduced a base salary so players can focus on their football, and increased the amount of money each club has to work with.

These moves have injected excitement into a league that was almost left behind in the women’s sports domain earlier this year.

There’s been so much player movement this pre-season, it’s been hard to keep track.

Melbourne City on the hunt for hat-trick

But it has generated a lot of press and anticipation for the competition, even though — for a third year running — we are all asking the same question.

Will Melbourne City be the Champions?

Yes, they’ve got better facilities and funding than other franchises, but hats off to City who continue to recruit well each year.

This time they’ve snared the experienced Kyah Simon and Alannah Kennedy from Sydney FC.

Japanese veteran Yukari Kinga has moved south, swapping Canberra green for City blue and they’ve also got National Women’s Soccer League Rookie of the Year Ashley Hatch on board.

Former Socceroo Patrick Kisnorbo will take the reins as head coach, allowing Jess Fishlock to step back into a playing assistant/midfielder role.

Canberra United ready for another challenge

Alone in the capital, Canberra United have always been strong contenders.

Knocked out of the semis after topping the league as premiers for 2016-17, they’ll be hungry to finish the season on a higher note.

Former Matildas midfielder Heather Garriock has been appointed their new head coach and she’s got local favourites Michelle Heyman and Ashleigh Sykes leading from the front as co-captains.

Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley and Seattle Reign keeper Haley Kopmeyer are both on loan with Canberra during the American offseason.

While English footballer Laura Bassett and former Western Sydney star Ellie Carpenter have joined the ranks.

However, they face an early hurdle with half their squad missing for the first game.

Six of their young talents are gearing up for the U19s Asian Football Confederation semi-finals with the Young Matildas next Monday.

Glory ready to shine with Kerr

Moving west, Perth Glory hold the best piece on the W-League chessboard with striker and captain Sam Kerr back in purple.

They’ve signed three NWSL stars — midfielders Amanda Frisbie and Nikki Stanton — who will feed forward Rachel Hill the ball.

Having made last year’s grand final and based on Kerr’s achievements alone — they too, look really good heading into 2017-18.

Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar have also been tipped as strong contenders.

The two eastern clubs have been dominant throughout the league’s history and have picked up some great names.

Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Cooper and Chloe Logarzo have all moved to Sydney and they’ve recently added the NSWL 2016 first draft pick, Emily Sonnett.

Two other Portland Thorns players including Matildas Hayley Raso and Celeste Boureille have signed with Brisbane.

They join Brisbane’s core group of Clare Polkinghorne, Tameka Butt and Katrina Gorry.

Young Adelaide United side the quiet improvers

But keep a watchful eye on Adelaide United, who’ve largely gone under the radar.

Jenna McCormick and Emma Checker have both moved to South Australia, Alex Chidiac is staying loyal to the Reds and United have also signed four American imports.

Chicago Red Stars defender Katie Naughton and midfielder Danny Colaprico are back on one-year loans and this time they’ve brought teammate Alyssa Mautz with them.

Although Adelaide finished sixth in the 2016-17 regular season, they finished strong.

With just two rounds to go they made headlines defeating the Western Sydney Wanderers 10-2 at home.

The two teams equalled the W-League’s record for total goals scored in a match and there were two players who scored hat-tricks.

A younger squad, packed full of emerging talent — sometimes it’s the underdogs you need to worry about.

Topics: sport, soccer, melbourne-3000, vic, sydney-2000, nsw, canberra-2600, act, brisbane-4000, qld, adelaide-5000, sa, perth-6000, wa, australia

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