Sky Blue’s Rampone: Gazing at Europe From N.J.

rampone 2016

by TOM SLATER

As the Sky Blue defender and team captain Christie Rampone prepares for her final professional soccer season, she looks at a quartet of her former teammates on the United States women’s national team and is a little jealous.

Not much. Just a twinge.

First Alex Morgan went overseas. Then Crystal Dunn packed her bags. And then Heather O’Reilly changed her residence. Finally Carli Lloyd made the leap.

All are U.S. internationals who have played in the National Women’s Soccer League and are now playing in Europe.

Morgan is with Olympique Lyons in France. In England, Dunn signed with Chelsea, O”Reilly plays for Arsenal and Lloyd is with Manchester City.

All but Dunn are expected to return to the NWSL later this year, but when they come back and how much they will have left in the tank remains to be seen.

Rampone, who is one of the few players who has played in all three professional women’s leagues in the United States since 2000, has few regrets, but not playing in Europe is one of them.

“I would have liked that opportunity,” she said after a recent Sky Blue practice. “It would have been a chance to play for different coaches and play a different style of soccer. Over there, it’s a lot more technical. In the NWSL, it’s fast and a bit physical, more of a power style. You can see players who come over here from Europe taking a while to get used to the game.”

In the early going, the NWSL/U.S. stars have begun to make their mark. Morgan has played the most, scoring a a hat trick against Rodez in the French Cup. She added two goals in a span of three minutes against Albi to help OL clinch a 5-0 win in league play.

Dunn had a quick introduction with Chelsea, scoring a goal and an assist in her first match, against Doncaster Rovers Belles in the FA Cup fifth round.

Lloyd went the full 90 minutes in her first competitive match in England in Manchester City’s 1-0 win against Reading, also in the fifth round.

O’Reilly is settling in with Arsenal, which will play in the England’s Super League and is in the process of defending its FA Cup title.

While O’Reilly is retired from international play, the other three are fixtures with the U.S. side and marquee names for the NWSL. But Rampone doesn’t think this will lead to a mass exodus for Europe.

“I see it as individual decisions,” she said. “I don’t see a lot of players leaving NWSL to go overseas. But I do think it will be an option for some players. It’s a chance to hear other coaches’ voices and a different style of play.”

Notes

Sky Blue opened its season with a 3-1 win over St. John’s last Saturday. Maya Hayes, Kelley O’Hara and Sarah Killion scored goals to bring Sky Blue back from an early 1-0 deficit. … The Australian international Sam Kerr reported to camp this week. That leaves Tasha Kai as the only player not in New Jersey. Kai is recuperating in Hawaii after postseason surgery. She will be in camp in mid-April but is not expected to see match action until early May. … Sky Blue let go players on Tuesday, trimming its roster to 25. The club released goalkeeper Tori Corsaro; defender Cassidy Benintente; midfielder Jackie Bruno; and forwards Rachel Breton, Alexis McTamney and Erica Murphy.