Sky Blue’s Pearce Out for Rest of NWSL Season

holly and rampone

Sky Blue logoThe news from Sky Blue was stunning late Friday.

Only two days after Sky Blue’s coach, Christy Holly quit, the team announced that its captain and the face of the franchise, Christie Pearce, has played in her final game of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League season — and most likely her career,

The team issued a news release late Friday, citing “accumulative injuries” as the reason for Pearce leaving the team.

“I’ve always had a really good awareness of my body and the ability to recover,” Pearce said in the statement. “I feel that I started the season off strong, but I’ve been consistently fighting through injuries, and I’m not able to give to the team what I consider to be my 100 percent. This decision, while it is hard to swallow, I know is the right thing for me and the team because I just can’t leave it all on the field every day.”

The news spread quickly through social media. Former and current teammates expressed their feeling about the New Jersey native, who was a medical marvel, playing at high level past age 40 (she turned 42 in June).

After playing every minute of every match during the 2016 season, Pearce has been slowed by injuries this year. She made 16 starts in 2017, registering 1,440 minutes.

Pearce, dubbed Captain America during her play with the United States women’s national team, has played with Sky Blue since the NWSL’s founding in 2013. She earned 311 caps, which is the second-most in international soccer (male or female).

She  won two FIFA Women’s World Cups with the U.S., and three Olympic gold medals and one silver.

“It goes without saying that Christie Pearce will be greatly missed throughout the rest of the 2017 season,” Tony Novo, the club’s president and general manager said in the release. “We must always remember that players have a life off the field as well, and their personal well-being must remain at the forefront of a decision like this.”

Pearce thanked her fans in the news release and also sent out her own tweet later.

The news capped a horrible month on and off the field for Sky Blue.

They’ve lost all three games played in the last 30 days, dropping from fourth to sixth place. Their defense has been porous — allowing a league-record 14 goals in those three games, including 11 in the second half. Injuries and international play have rendered their two biggest stars tired or injured.

Holly left the club on Wednesday and deserves credit for keeping the team in contention the last two seasons. No replacement, interim or permanent has been named. Friday night, Sky Blue told EoS that the assistants Jill Loyden, Dave Hodgson, Paul Greig and Maria Dorris, who were all retained, would share duties on Saturday night when Sky Blue (7-9-2, 23 points) hosts Seattle (7-5-6, 27) at 7 p.m. at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field. The

Even with the upheaval, Sky Blue is only four points behind the Reign for the fourth and final playoff spot.

But the Reign won’t be a soft touch. Seattle became only the second team in NWSL history to score twice after the 90th minute in a 2-1 win over Chicago in a midweek game. It was the second comeback victory this season for Seattle.

The Reign will be without the NWSL’s leading scorer, Megan Rapinoe (12 goals) but will still have plenty of firepower. Nahomi Kawasumi has five goals and a league-leading seven assists.

Sky Blue also has the ability to score goals. They’ve scored 29 goals — with Sam Kerr leading the way with 11. That total ties her for second