Wambach, Lloyd headline WNY Flash international allocations
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • January 11, 2013 @ 3:27pm
Women’s soccer 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year Abby Wambach will return to her hometown for the debut season of the National Women’s Soccer League as a member of the Western New York Flash.
While the addition of Wambach will certainly steal the headlines—she ranks second all-time in U.S. Women’s National Team history in goals behind Mia Hamm, after all—WNY head coach Aaran Lines also reeled in veteran midfielder Carli Lloyd, who was perhaps the most electric Yank during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, potting two goals in the final win against Japan.
Devastatingly effective in the air and one of the most clinical finishers the women’s game has ever seen, Wambach notched five goals in London, earning her the prestigious honors from FIFA. She’s scored 152 goals—only six shy of Hamm’s record—in 198 caps in her international career that began in 2001.
Lloyd visited the Flash’s training center at Sahlen’s Sports Park to speak to and encourage the WNY Flash Academy youth teams last October.
Also assigned to the Flash are Canadians Jodi-Ann Robinson, a member of Lines’ WPSL-Elite championship team, and Bryanna McCarthy, as well as Mexico’s Veronica Perez and Pamela Tajonar. Interestingly, the Flash were the only NWSL team with only two U.S. National Team players—the other seven teams had three—while the Portland Thorns’ additions of Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Rachel Buehler and Canadian superstar Christine Sinclair immediately position them as favorites. [See the full list of allocations here].
McCarthy is a 21-year-old defender whose father was born in Jamaica—she only owns four caps with the full Canadian National Team and two starts, and she just wrapped up her college career at the University of West Virginia. Robinson came off the bench for the Flash last season, but her fitness and effectiveness both improved as the season progressed, and she produced in crucial moments as a late-game sub.
Perez is an interesting pick-up too, as she scored the game-winning goal for Mexico in El Tri’s World Cup Qualifier upset in 2010. She graduated from the University of Washington and will immediately partner up top with Wambach to form a dangerous attacking duo. Perez played last year for the Seattle Sounders of the W-League.
Tajonar, a 28-year-old goalkeeper, has Buffalo ties from playing under Lines when the Buffalo Flash won the W-League Championship in 2010. She owns almost 40 caps as Mexico’s goalkeeper, and she played most recently in the Spanish First Division.
The new National Women’s Soccer League announced the allocation of 55 international soccer players from the United States, Canada and Mexico on Friday afternoon, as a detailed process—which included player preferences, team preferences and an impartial third party—assigned North America’s best talent to the NWSL’s eight teams.
Why are these allocations important? Western New York owner Joe Sahlen won’t have to open his wallet for these acquisitions, as the U.S. Soccer Federation will pick up the salaries of internationals in the new pro league.