NWSL Roundup: Averbuch, McCaffrey suspend careers; preseason begins

Yael Averbuch NWSL
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Tacoma, Washington (March 4, 2019) — Last year, Yael Averbuch competed in one game for the Seattle Reign FC. Later in the year, Averbuch announced that she was battling ulcerative colitis.

This season, Averbuch, 32, is keeping her health a priority. The veteran defender announced that she is suspending her playing career to focus on her health. The Techne Football creator was offered a contract by the Reign FC, but both sides agreed to mutually wait.

NWSL Roundup: Averbuch, McCaffrey suspend careers; preseason begins

However, the Reign retain the rights to sign Averbuch when she’s ready to continue her career. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who coached Averbuch during her 2015-17 tenure with FC Kansas City, called Averbuch a warrior.

“I know how much she loves the game and how hard she has worked to get back on the pitch,” Andonovski said. “The entire team supports her in her fight to get healthy and we’ll welcome her back to the team whenever she is ready to play again.”

Meanwhile, Averbuch kept her own remarks simple.

“I look forward to returning to play with Reign FC as soon as I’m physically able to give it my all,” the defender said.

McCaffrey also suspends career

However, Averbuch isn’t the only National Women’s Soccer League player to announce a move like this. Over in Chicago, Stephanie McCaffrey announced her career would be on suspension as well.

McCaffrey made two appearances last season for the Chicago Red Stars, totaling 10 minutes. The midfielder announced an ongoing battle with a neurological illness. McCaffrey, 27, said she consulted with doctors and her family before making the decision to halt her career.

“While I am sad I did not get to leave soccer on my own terms, I’m incredibly grateful for the time I had with my Red Stars teammates, coaches, and organization,” McCaffrey said. “This group has truly become a second family for me, and I couldn’t have asked for better people to surround me during my final chapter- I can’t thank them enough for carrying me forward during hard times. I’m looking forward to being their biggest fan in their pursuit of a 2019 NWSL championship. I am still being connected to the NWSL through my non-profit Hidden Gems Soccer.”

McCaffrey has been a member of the Chicago Red Stars since 2016. From 2015-16, she featured for the Boston Breakers.

Washington Spirit re-signs six players

Six key pieces of the puzzle are returning to the Washington Spirit.

Ashley Hatch was the Spirit’s golden boot winner last year, scoring four goals in 22 appearances. Hatch has signed on for her second season with the Spirit. She joined the club after spending her rookie career with the North Carolina Courage in 2017.

Also re-signing with the club is Tori Huster, a midfielder. Huster has been part of the Washington Spirit since 2013 and has made over 100 appearances for the Spirit. Her 100th appearance came against the Reign FC during the season opener last year. In 2018, Huster made 17 appearances, featuring on the backline and in the midfield.

Meanwhile, Andi Sullivan was picked with the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018. In her first professional season, Sullivan provided one assist in 23 matches. She did not find the goal, but will hunt it down in 2019.

Other players returning to the Spirit include Meggie Dougherty Howard, Arielle Ship and Mallory Eubanks.

“We have a fabulous group of players returning to our 2019 squad,” Richie Burke, first-year Washington Spirit head coach, said. “I’m really looking forward to getting going with all of them during our preseason preparation starting next week.”

Orlando Pride re-sign five players

While one Brazilian is gone, another will stay.

After losing Monica Hickman Alves this offseason, the Orlando Pride have retained her national team partner. Camila is one of five players to sign a one-year contract with the Pride.

Last year, Camila made a triumphant return from a torn ACL injury, that she suffered in October 2017. The Brazilian midfielder made nine appearances. She made her return against the Washington Spirit on July 7, 2018.

Meanwhile, the Pride don’t have to worry about Ashlyn Harris’ replacement in the summer. Likely, the goalkeeper will travel to France with the U.S. Women’s National Team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Orlando has re-signed Haley Kopmeyer, who will provide a veteran leadership on the backline.

Last season, Kopmeyer made three appearances. She provided a clean sheet against the Seattle Reign FC, but started against Sky Blue FC and for a second match against Seattle.

Meanwhile, forwards Danica Evans and Rachel Hill are on the roster. Defender Toni Pressley is back for her fourth season with the Orlando Pride.

“We are happy to be bringing Haley, Toni, Camila, Rachel and Danica back to Orlando this season,” Erik Ustruck, Pride general manager, said. “All five players have played an important piece in contributing to the Club over their previous seasons and we expect all of them to play significant roles, both on and off the field, this upcoming year.”

“I am personally delighted that the players have signed for the new season,” Marc Skinner, head coach, said. “We’re really excited to finally get started. From now on, it’s a matter of a collective effort to challenge and continually improve every day. It’s the start of something really exciting for everyone involved.”


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