Canadian defender, Robin Gayle, will play soccer for an American side for the first time in six years since representing the University of North Carolina in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship.
The 27-year-old, who is currently in China with the national team, is one of 16 national players who will take part in the new United States National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). She will turn out for Washington Spirit in the eight-team tournament that starts in April.
Teammate Karina LeBlanc will also participate in the new league. She and striker, Christine Sinclair, will appear for the Portland Thorns.
LeBlanc, Canada’s most capped women’s goalkeeper with 100 appearances, said she’s excited to stay on the West Coast and play in an incredible city.
National women’s coach, John Herdman, identified the players for the new league.
“The selection process was not easy,” said the New Zealand-born coach. “In a perfect world, we would be able to offer contracts to all the players in the program. Ultimately, we have a responsibility towards the future of our game to ensure we prepare the next generation as much as we value our veteran players.
“As part of our planning for Canada’s women program, we have projected what the team should look like in 2015-16 and which players could allow us to be successful as a soccer nation. From that, we have identified what we call ‘Gold Medal Standards’ 2015-16 individual and team standards that the players will need to demonstrate or to be tracking towards to be considered for one of the 16 annual contracts.
“Players will be accountable and with individual performance plans, they’ll know what to work towards to obtain or maintain their spot in the league. I think this will create a positive competitive setting that should raise the quality of our performances and benefit the program’s growth overall.”
Of the 16 players offered contracts to play in the new league, 13 were members of the national side that won a bronze medal at last year’s London Olympics.
The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) will subsidize the salaries of the players in the NWSL.
CSA general secretary, Peter Montopoli, said in addition to securing crucial spots in professional environments for an unprecedented number of Canada’s women players, the league provides a platform for them to play and train with the best while operating under one calendar on the same continent.
“This had been identified as a priority for our women’s program and as an organization, we are pleased to provide this opportunity for our athletes as we move towards FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015,” said Montopoli.
The remaining teams are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas, Sky Blue FC, Seattle Reign and the Western New York Flash.
Meanwhile, Canada defeated China 1-0 but lost to Korea Republic 3-1 – Nichelle Prince netted the goal – at the Yongchuan Cup tournament in China. The four-team round-robin tournament ended yesterday with Canada meeting Norway.