Read an article covering the best picks in the 2024 NWSL draft as the league reaches new heights.
Women’s World Cup Players to Watch
By: Josh Darius
The 2023 Women's World Cup will be a monumental moment in women's football, as for the first time, the tournament format will expand to 32 teams. Here are some ballers to lookout for in Australia/New Zealand this summer.
Sam Kerr (Chelsea, England)
Starting us off is The Matildas' skipper, who had a strong season with Chelsea, winning the domestic double. The lethal striker just bags in goals whenever the opportunity arises for club and country. Kerr loves to stretch defenses by staying high as possible, moving along the opposing backlines, and lurking for a chance to break through on goal. As good as Kerr is at being a goal scorer, her endless work rate is also important to Australia's counter-pressing scheme, where they look to expose and dominate their opponents in transitional play.
Kerolin (North Carolina Courage, USA)
The Seleção has always been gifted with generational talents like Sissi, Marta, and Debinha, but coming this July, the Brazilians will introduce the next face of the nation...Kerolin Nicoli. What makes Kerolin so special is her ability to control a game. Having great decision-making skills, you would think the 23-year-old is a 10-year veteran as she can use her flair to beat defenders, lead her team forward by pushing the pace in transition, and be a playmaker in the final third. Although all the attention will be on legendary players Martha and Debinha, the opportunity is there for Kerolin to burst into the scene as the next icon of Brazilian football.
Kadidiatou Diani (Paris Saint-Germain, France)
Moving on from one dangerous winger to another, we have the D1 Arkema Player of the Season, Kadidiatou Diani. Despite her club season coming to an early end—due to injury—Diani tallied a career-high 17 goals and seven assists which ranks on the podium in the D1 Arkema. In all honesty, the French winger is a pain in the rear end to play against because of the tenacious pace she presents. Diani glides past defenders, but what separates her from other wingers is the end product. The PSG star is a direct threat over the top; however, most of Diani's goals come from her crashing the back post and capitalizing on any service coming from the flanks or loose balls that exhibit in the penalty area. And when possession is lost, you can count on the 28-year-old to track and win the ball back for her team. In conclusion, Kadidiatou Diani is an all-around talent that Herve Renard will be excited to have on his roster for the World Cup.
Catalina Pérez (Avaí FC, Brazil)
If one were to describe the Colombian shot-stopper's style of play, it would be hawk-esque: intelligent, patient, and agile. Pérez is not a keeper that rushes off her line in 1v1 situations. Instead, she opts to give the attacking player time to overthink, which allows her to slowly approach and close the angle of the goal, making it difficult for the opponent to score. Pérez is also very poised in the build-up phase as she prefers to play the simple option to keep the possession flowing rather than forcing the spectacular pass for the highlight reel. Fortunately for Colombia, they will head into the tournament with a keeper with amazing stats when facing penalty kicks. So far in Pérez's career, she has saved close to 40% of the penalty kicks taken against her. This quality will be a huge boost for Las Cafeteras if they go past 120 minutes in the knockout stages.
Lia Wälti (Arsenal, England)
What is a Rolls Royce player? A Rolls Royce player adds luxury to their respective teams because of their elegant/suave style of play. Known by her teammates as "Snake Hips," Lia Wälti is the player that will make things happen for La Nati. The Arsenal Regista can wiggle through any complex situation and then execute a pass that keeps possession rolling for her side. With great technical ability and a high soccer IQ, the Swiss skipper will be a true joy to watch in this year's World Cup.
Khadija "Bunny" Shaw (Manchester City, England)
Manchester City is extremely lucky to have the most dominant strikers in men's and women's football. In their respective league, Erling Haaland and Khadija Shaw lead in total goals and goals per90 this season—averaging a little over a goal per90. What makes Bunny difficult to contain is her powerful presence. Standing at 183 cm, she gets her way with opposition as the stats have the Reggae Girls' all-time top goal scorer in the 97th percentile for aerial duels won in the top 10 leagues. Shaw's movement is also elite, using her speed to peel off the last defender and free herself toward the goal. In just four seasons as a professional, Shaw currently has 111 goals in 106 games, and being the face of the Reggae Girls, the lethal goal scorer will be motivated to show the world why she is arguably the best striker in the present game.
Yui Hasegawa (Manchester City, England)
Yui Hasegawa deserves her own "When Football Becomes Art" compilation because when she is on the field, she plays the music, and you dance. The deep-lying playmaker has an aesthetic play style due to her ability to beat a press with her nifty turns, flicks, and endless passing range. Hasegawa's skill to keep the ball is truly incredible, as amongst the top 10 leagues, she ranks in the 90th percentile for pass completions and successful take-ons per90 this season. On the defensive side, the Japanese midfielder is just as remarkable. Her alertness to breakdown play is one of the best in the English's WSL—averaging 1.97 interceptions per 90. Yui Hasegawa is an all-around talent and, quite honestly, maybe the most exciting player to watch in this year's tournament.
Barbra Banda (Shanghai Shengli, China)
The Copper Queens possess one of the deadliest forward partnerships in international football. Both Barbra Banda & Racheal Kundananji are gifted athletically with pace and strength hence, their abilities to attack back lines directly. Nevertheless, being the first woman to score consecutive hat-tricks in the Summer Olympics, Banda is the player to highlight. The Zambian #11 is an elite poacher that loves to play on the blind side of the opponent's last defender. Banda has excellent striker instincts as she has good anticipation inside the 18 and has no fear of striking the ball when in range. All in all, Zambia can be a nuisance to play against. What will be required is an organized defensive low block, which can transition to a swift counterattack by finding their focal point in Kundananji to then provide Banda service either through progressive channels or directly inside the box where the clinical striker can go to work.
Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais, France)
The United States will be on a quest to accomplish a feat that no other team in men's or women's football has done, winning the World Cup three consecutive times. With the United States bringing a young roster to this year's tournament, all eyes will be on veterans like Lindsey Horan to guide the USWNT to ultimate glory. From breaking down opposing attacks to linking up possession, Horan is a midfield maestro that conducts and organizes play for the American side. A deadly trait that the U.S. number 10 brings is the ability to float around the pitch and fill in gaps her teammates leave for them to be involved and productive in the build-up phase. Due to this constant movement, Horan can get involved towards the business end of the attack by making late runs, which is where the maestro scores most of her goals.
Latest posts in our blog
Be the first to read what's new!
A new season is upon us, and with it comes plenty of intriguing storylines. From massive traves and superstar uncertainty in the East to a West perhaps the deepest it has ever been, here is an early season NBA Power ranking.
It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Following last year's list of nine underground teams to watch, I bring the list back with eight new teams you need to follow. From entertaining amateur players to professional coaches revolutionizing the sport from behind the scenes, here are eight underground soccer teams to watch this season.