We’re just 5 days away from the opening match of the 2019 NWSL season, and the North Carolina Courage have released their final roster. The Courage are coming into 2019 at the top of the pile after winning the NWSL Shield and Championship in 2018. There have been very few since last season - as you’d expect from the best team in the world - but the few changes have definitely solidified the team without giving up any production.
The released roster has 22 players on the senior team (the team’s main squad) and 1 player on the supplemental roster (players that are payed the league minimum salary but don’t count against the cap). The Courage have offered contracts, presumably as supplemental players, to rookies Leah Pruitt, Hailey Harbison, and Lauren Milliet. In addition to the rookies, defender Ally Haran is joining the team from Iceland, goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe is coming back to the NWSL from Sweden, midfielder Julie Spetsmark is also transferring from Sweden, and defender Ryan Williams are joining the team in 2019.
Just three players left the team after the extremely successful 2018 season. Forward Darian Jenkins was traded to Seattle, goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo transferred to Swedish side Vittsjö GIK, and defender Morgan Reid was just traded to the Orlando Pride. Japanese international Yuri Kawamura tore her ACL in July and was released midway through 2018 so that she could recover in Japan.
The league made a great decision by expanding the roster to 22 players plus 4 supplemental players for 2019. Primarily, the expansion allows for a much larger base of players to make a modest salary playing in the NWSL. The change also makes it much easier for teams to deal with the upcoming 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Somewhere between six and ten Courage players will miss big parts of the season with their respective national teams. This means that those new additions will have plenty of opportunities to make an impact on the season and earn their place in the league.
All players marked Federation in the list below will almost certainly miss time for the World Cup. In addition to those players, Jessica McDonald, Debinha, and Abby Erceg are expected to participate in the tournament. Heather O’Reilly has taken a job as a commentator for the World Cup, so she will miss some time as well.
Here is the full roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Stephanie Labbé (FED, CAN), Katelyn Rowland
Defenders (7): Abby Dahlkemper (FED, USA), Abby Erceg (INTL, NZL), Ally Haran, Jaelene Hinkle, Julie King, Kaleigh Kurtz, Merritt Mathias
Midfielders (10): Debinha (INTL, BRA), Elizabeth Eddy, Samantha Mewis (FED), Heather O’Reilly, Denise O’Sullivan (INTL, IRL), Cari Roccaro, Meredith Speck, Julia Spetsmark (INTL, SWE), Ryan Williams (SUP), McCall Zerboni (FED, USA)
Forwards (4): Crystal Dunn (FED, USA), Kristen Hamilton, Jessica McDonald, Lynn Williams
FED- Federation Player
INTL- International Player