The NWSL is the first league back in America, and it starts this weekend. Eight clubs (Orlando removed) will isolate in Utah and play a tournament. Unlike MLS, there is no attempt at having a season afterward. If you enjoy soccer, this is it for the women. As far as United States women’s national team stars playing, that is a mixed bag. Favorites such as local Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz and Crystal Dunn are in. Others like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath are missing for health concerns or injury. USWNT players aside, the tournament is chock full of players looking to prove themselves on a big stage. We want to highlight a few players from Cincinnati to keep your eye on.
#13 Bayley Feist – Washington Spirit – Cincinnati
An Oak Hills grad and Kings Hammer product, Feist is Cincinnati through and through. After leaving high school she went on to play for Wake Forest and put 22 goals in the back of the net. All that hard work paid off in January of 2019 when she got word that she had been selected in the NWSL draft by the Spirit. Then came the battle of making it through the camp and onto the team. It can be difficult to earn a slot on an NWSL roster even as a draft pick. In 2019, the forward started four matches, saw time in 12 and landed one goal with two assists. Feist is young and has a lot to prove heading into the tournament
- Washington Spirit’s first match is vs Chicago Red Stars this Saturday @ 10 p.m. on CBS All Access
#42 Sam Murphy – North Carolina Courage – Liberty, Ohio
Murphy played Goalkeeper for the University of North Carolina and put together quite a few seasons. Most notably, she only allowed seven goals in her 2018 season. Sam got her shot with the NWSL champions last year and was brought on to boost the keeper core. In the NWSL, clubs will be playing matches close together, and this may give Murphy a chance to show her talents on the pitch. Playing for on the tournament favorites will be a big test for the young aspiring keeper.
- NC Courage kick off the tournament vs Portland Thorns. Saturday 12:30PM on CBS
#23 Tori Huster – Washington Spirit – Cincinnati
Huster has been with the Spirit since 2013. After being drafted by New York in 2012, she was then picked up in a supplemental draft the following year. Huster played locally for Saint Ursula Academy and Ohio Elite Soccer Academy. Several times in her NWSL career the local season wasn’t enough, and she headed overseas to play. During the 2013-14 offseason, Huster played for the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Westfield W-League in Australia. She played in 2014-2015 for the Newcastle Jets and again on loan for the Jets in 2017-18. Last season for the Spirit she started in 22 matches and will likely be a key player in this year’s tournament. Huster can score, and she was tied for assists last season, but her main strength is her accurate passing.
- Washington Spirit’s second match vs North Carolina Courage is this Wednesday 7/1 at 10 PM on CBS All Access
#1 Aubrey Bledsoe – Washington Spirit – Cincinnati
The Spirit acquired their starting goalkeeper from the Orlando Pride in 2018. Last season she thrived for the Spirit with three NSWL team of the month awards and then was awarded the 2019 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year. Recently on loan with Sydney FC, she helped it win its second straight Grand Final and was named the 2018–19 W-League Goalkeeper of the Year. Bledsoe played locally for St. Ursula Academy and then went to Wake Forest. Look for Bledsoe to be between the sticks for most of this tournament and continue her success of the past few years.
- Washington Spirit’s 3rd qualifying match is vs Portland Thorns FC 7/8 10 PM on CBS All Access
#1 Rose Lavelle – Washington Spirit – Cincinnati
World Cup Winner – loved by all in Cincinnati, needs no introduction
After the qualifying rounds, the tournament will become a knockout competition. Follow NWSL and Cincinnati Soccer Talk for further updates.