Ah yes, it’s that time when people flip a calendar to a new year and resolve to change something in their lives. Since my New Year’s resolutions to be online less and eat healthier are never going to happen, let’s indulge in some delightful distraction by instead deciding what each NWSL team should resolve to do in the new year.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, but Angel City’s plethora of injuries stole whatever success a healthy team would’ve had in their inaugural season. Good thing time is relative and who knows if we can even trust whoever started keeping count, so maybe instead of bending time and space it’s easier to just make 2023 that year.
Ownership in Chicago has been lacking in a number of ways, from Arnim Whisler supporting and enabling Rory Dames to persistent broke boi behavior regarding living conditions in team housing. Finally, Whistler has decided to sell his stake in the club, giving the team a short timeline for a long overdue overhaul. Free agency saw two of their stalwart players leave in Morgan Gautrat and Vanessa DiBernardo, with more players expected to leave. Rebuilding can’t be confined to the pitch, however, a lot must happen and they must get it right.
Houston bumbled around for multiple seasons but seems to finally have the infrastructure and ambition the players and city deserve. They’ve made smart and exciting signings like Maria Sánchez and Ebony Salmon, and now have a new, ambitious general manager in Alex Singer, who hired well-respected assistant coach Sam Laity away from OL Reign. Filling their stadium on a regular basis must also be a goal, which means connecting to the city in ways it hasn’t, and in Houston there’s no better get than Meg.
Sam Mewis was one of two star signings by KC ahead of the 2022 season. Lynn Williams seems to be on the mend and eager to return, while Sam Mewis’ future seems a lot less certain due to a lingering knee issue. I don’t know how the finances can work, but Sam Mewis along with KC’s recent midfield signings, Morgan Gautrat and Vanessa DiBernardo, sounds diabolical, evil, villainous, exciting, thrilling, and I need to – I simply must – see it. Eye of newt, crystals, prayers to several deities to improve the odds – try something, try it all.
Gotham has a superstar and future President on its roster, and has since 2020, yet has focused on other players to be their main draws. Before they retired it was Carli Lloyd, then Ashlyn Harris. While in their primes these would be, and were, fine draws, but the present and future needs to belong to Midge. The front office is showing ambition in rebuilding the squad to make last season a distant memory, and the best case scenario for Gotham – on the pitch and off – is Midge Purce at the center of everything they do.
After six years she made it official, Debinha will not be returning to the Courage. It remains to be seen where she ends up, but the Courage must move on. And by move on I mean refuse reality through whatever scientifically unethical ways possible. Bring on the Debinha clones.
OL Reign’s three NWSL Shields are tied with North Carolina Courage for the most in league history. The difference is that the Courage went on to win the Championship twice, while Reign are still looking for their first. Last season they captured the Shield in dramatic fashion on the final weekend of the season, then lost 2-0 to Kansas City in the semifinals, gifting the first goal in the fourth minute. Winning the Shield is impressive, but capturing the title that’s evaded them must be the aim, and the only way to start is by smudging away all bad juju.
Seems like every NWSL offseason is another rebuild for the Pride. That cycle has to stop and they must actually start building in a direction, with a core. They’ve committed to coach Seb Hines by hiring him full-time from his interim tag this season, so now is the time to go all-in on supporting his direction for the club.
Typically, everything would be swell for a title-winning team that scored the most goals in the league and isn’t expected to lose many, or any, of the players responsible. But the Thorns are not fine. Owner Merritt Paulson is finally seeking a sale of the team after years of accusations and multiple investigations into toxic workplace culture and his protection and enabling of Paul Riley. They also need a new head coach after Rhian Wilkinson stepped down just over a month after winning a championship due to concerns about a relationship with a player. On the field, the Thorns are one of the most talented teams in the league, everywhere else fires are burning.
For a franchise that joined the league in 2021, it’s a disturbing truth that this club has sections in multiple investigative reports. There’s a lot of cleanup that needs to be done, and with a lot more urgency. So far, Louisville’s front office has remained emboldened, releasing only statements rather than answers and genuine action. Trust is important, and they’ve already broken it, and seem unaware of how much is required to rebuild.
Alex Morgan’s 15 goals created history and got the Wave to the playoffs, a first ever for an expansion team. Morgan’s 15 was one away from half of the team’s total goal output, and their second-leading scorers were tied with three goals apiece. Not only is Alex Morgan turning 34 this summer, but she’ll likely be missing for a chunk of the season for the 2023 World Cup. Adding another goal threat could help the Wave make that final jump to a team playing for a championship.
Whatever the solution – psychological, technical, mercury being in retrograde – the Spirit must capitalize on the chances they create far more frequently.