Have you been missing Utah Royals FC just like us? Well, the opportunity to satisfy some of those cravings is almost upon us. Six players on the current roster and one player whose option was declined will be applying their craft in Australia on loan. For many players, the W-League is a way to make supplemental income given that the maximum salary in the NWSL is only a mere $44,000 a year. Of excitement for us is that it is also a way for players to improve their skills and grow in preparation for the non-W-League season, even operating as a scouting springboard for bigger clubs. In many ways, it is the pre-season before the pre-season and with all our players likely to play a substantial amount of minutes you can guarantee Laura Harvey and her staff will be watching not only our own players but potential offseason targets as well.
What is the W-League?
The W-League is the highest level of women’s soccer in Australia, as well as one of the most competitive women’s soccer leagues in the world. This year, it will run from October 25th to February 17th. The league consists of nine teams, with each team playing twelve matches before breaking off into a semifinal playoff format.
How Can I Watch?
Lucky for us, games are watchable via ESPN+. Although because of the time difference between the United States and Australia the majority of these games take place between the hours of 9 PM and 2 AM Mountain Time, however, they will still be streamable upon completion through the ESPN+ platform.
Lo’eau Labonta and Sydney Miramontez will kick off the first game of the 2018-2019 season in the Sydney Derby this Thursday at 2:30 AM. Yeah, sorry about that. Time zones, ya know. Although, there are plenty of options for those of us who are not bats, like a kickoff at 9:30 PM on Saturday, October 27 between Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory. Nonetheless, these midnight hours will definitely be an unfortunate struggle for many of us trying to get our women’s soccer fix.
Who is Going?
We’ve got six, and with former URFC midfielder Katrina Gorry, we’ve got seven. Those seven players are spread across six different teams so it isn’t exactly easy to pick who to root for considering that only Lo Labonta and Sydney Miramontez will play on the same team together. That said, that diversity will make it an interesting teammate vs. teammate type of affair, further nuanced by the fact that many players on rival teams in the NWSL have become teammates now as well.
Lo’eau Labonta - Western Sydney Wanderers
Labonta is a fan favorite for the WS faithful (I get it Sydney; she’s one of my favorites, too), and it was not exactly a surprise finding out that she would return to the eastern coast of Australia after a successful 2017-2018 season. Look for her to play a key role in jumpstarting the attack.
Sydney Miramontez - Western Sydney Wanderers
Like her Utah Royals teammate, Miramontez will also be playing in Sydney. While the Kansas native has never made a loan move before, this will be an excellent opportunity for one of the youngest players on the Utah Royals FC roster to get some valuable minutes and experience, to ultimately prepare herself to take over a starting role as Becca Moros, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara enter their mid thirties.
Rachel Corsie - Canberra United
Corsie had an absolutely phenomenal year with both Utah Royals FC and the Scottish National Team. Look for her to lead the defense of a team that might be a bit of a surprise package. That said, given the value of Corsie to Utah Royals FC, we’ll be crossing our fingers for an injury-free season.
Gunny - Adelaide United
ICYMI: Icelandic internationals @Gunnhildur_Yrsa and @fanndis90 have signed on for 2018/19! #AUFC #WLeague— AUFC Women (@AUFCWomen) October 12, 2018
Read more: https://t.co/DXCgfVLlW4
Membership: https://t.co/5yRzmcFit1 pic.twitter.com/oEOOkMfvrk
This will be Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir’s first trip to Australia, but she’ll be surrounded by some familiar faces, including Icelandic national teammate Fanndis Fridriksdóttir. Look for her to make a starting impact for a team that finished at the bottom of the table last year.
Katie Stengel - Newcastle Jets
This will be the third trip to Australia for the Queen of the Utah Throne. Originally with the Western Sydney Wanderers in 2016-2017, Stengel played with the Newcastle Jets last year where she came short of winning the golden boot, scoring 10 goals in 13 games. Given her performance last year for the Jets and her performance for Utah Royals FC this year, expect her to play a part in the golden boot race with some fantastic strikers, including Sam Kerr.
Samantha Johnson - Melbourne Victory
Johnson originally made her W-League debut in 2014 for Sydney FC before taking a year off. She returned in 2016-2017 with the Melbourne Victory where she returns again this year. Look for her to use this as a launching pad for a breakout season next year with Utah.
Katrina ‘Mini’ Gorry - Brisbane Roar
Katrina Gorry’s time with Utah Royals FC ended when her option was declined after losing her starting position to Lo’eau Labonta and Taylor Lytle two-thirds of the way through the season. Regardless, once a royal always a royal, and we will definitely be cheering her on. That said, in pure speculation, Gorry could potentially be given a new contract, depending upon her performance in the W-League this season. Regardless, we wish her all the best as she joins Brisbane Roar, her hometown club, where she has made 72 appearances since 2012.
Will you be watching the W-League? What team are you cheering for? Let us know on the socials or in the comments below.