Sky Blue Heads West To Kick Off 2017 Season

Sam Kerr, Sky Blue

Sky Blue FC will start the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League season on the road in Washington where the team will face Seattle Reign FC.

The match on Saturday at Memorial Stadium is set for a 10 p.m. (EDT) kickoff and can be seen live via NWSL streaming partner go90.

“Since the schedule was announced, we have been looking forward to April 15th,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We feel that we had a very successful preseason, and we now aim to translate our performances from training into the league where it really matters.”

Sky Blue FC starts the season in Seattle for the second consecutive year after handing Reign FC its first-ever loss at Memorial Stadium in 2016, 2-1. The result ended a 22-match unbeaten streak for Seattle on their home pitch, as Holly began his tenure as head coach.

Sky Blue figures to have more players making their NWSL debuts on Saturday night, beginning with free agent acquisition Daphne Corboz, who joins the midfield after spending the past two seasons playing overseas with Manchester City.

Five 2017 NWSL College Draft selections also earned professional contracts with Sky Blue FC after successful preseasons, with those being Canada international Kailen Sheridan, 2016 NCAA College Cup champions Kayla Mills and Mandy Freeman, as well as prolific college goal-scorers McKenzie Meehan and Madison Tiernan.

Defensively, Sky Blue FC will once again be anchored by captain Christie Rampone in 2017. Sharing time with her on the back line will be second-year players Erica Skroski and Erin Simon, with Mills and Freeman joining veteran Domi Richardson as the defensive player pool. Behind them will be a pair of young goalkeepers in rookie Sheridan, who was allocated by the Canada Women’s National Team, and second-year returner Caroline Casey, who recorded the win in net against Reign FC a year ago in her professional debut.

The Sky Blue FC midfield appears to be exceptionally strong, beginning with the return of veterans Sarah Killion, Raquel Rodriguez, Taylor Lytle and Nikki Stanton. New players who are arriving into the midfield include New Jersey natives Corboz and Tiernan.

A focal point of Sky Blue FC’s will be Australia international Sam Kerr, who has led the team in goals during each of the past two seasons despite playing in just 18 total matches (15 starts). In four NWSL seasons, Kerr has registered 36 goals and 11 assists in only 59 appearances.  

Another exciting aspect that Sky Blue FC fans will see in 2017 is the movement of U.S. international Kelley O’Hara to forward. A prolific playmaker at Stanford University (57 goals, 32 assists), O’Hara has spent most of her professional career at defender for both club and country.

Rounding out the Sky Blue FC attack will be second-year England international Leah Galton (three goals, four assists in 2016), along with veterans Maya Hayes (three goals in 2016), Kim DeCesare and rookie Meehan. Tasha Kai will begin the 2017 season on the 45-day disabled list after undergoing offseason procedures on her left and right ankles.