Perth Glory Women's Westfield W-League season opener against Western Sydney Wanderers is set to feature a strong North American flavour, with eight players from USA and Mexico ready to kick-start their campaigns.
Glory has signed Mexican international Arianna Romero and Chicago Red Stars striker Alyssa Mautz, linking up with Vanessa DiBernardo and Nikki Stanton in a new look Perth Glory Women side.
The Western Sydney Wanderers have also embarked on a busy pre-season of their own, bringing in a new coach and an American quartet of players in Kendall Fletcher, Paige Nielsen, Alex Arlitt and especially forward Katie Stengel. The Americans join Matildas trio of Casey Dumont, Joanne 'Joey' Burgess and 15-year-old Ellie Carpenter, who had a breakthrough season 8 in the women's top flight.
Considering all the changes, it's a game Bobby Despotovski is very much looking forward to.
"It's a double-header, we're expecting to have a few thousand people there," Glory's all-time leading goal scorer said.
Despotovski also revealed the team's finals aspirations for Season 9 and the importance of Captain Sam Kerr.
"The team goal is to get into the top 4," he said.
"Sam is crucial to us being one of the best footballers in the world."
Despotovski has also brought in a raft of local talent too, including experienced striker Rosie Sutton and goalkeeper Melissa Maizels. Both are likely to feature against Western Sydney this Sunday afternoon.
Glory's first match of the Westfield W-League season is part of an exhilarating double header with the Hyundai A-League side, who also take on the Wanderers this Sunday.
Gates open at 3pm, before the boys kick off at 4pm at nib Stadium, with the Women's match commencing at 6:40pm.
Head to this excting match and purchase your tickets here: http://bit.ly/2eq8UTI
Perth Glory FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Westfield W-League Round 1
6:40pm kick off at nib Stadium
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Melissa MAIZELS (gk), 2.Sarah CARROLL, 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Alyssa MAUTZ, 5.Patricia CHARALAMBOUS, 6.Carla BENNETT, 7.Nicole STANTON, 8.Shawn BILLAM, 9.Rosie SUTTON, 10.Vanessa DIBERNARDO, 11.Emily HENDERSON, 13.Jaymee GIBBONS, 14.Caitlin DOEGLAS, 15.Angelique STANNETT, 18. Gabby DAL BUSCO (gk), 20.Samantha KERR (c), 22.Arianna ROMERO
**two to be omitted**
Outs : Nil
Coach: Bobby Despotovski
Western Sydney Wanderers Squad : 2.Caitlin COOPER (c), 3.Nikola ORGILL, 4.Chloe O’BRIEN, 5.Helen PETINOS, 6.Kendall FLETCHER, 7.Sarah YATIM, 8.Erica HALLOWAY, 9.Katie STENGEL, 10.Paige NIELSEN, 13.Eliza AMMENDOLIA, 14.Alex ARLITT, 16.Alix ROBERTS, 17.Sophie HANCOCK, 18.Angelique HRISTODOULOU, 22.Casey DUMONT (gk), 23.Joey BURGESS, 30.Courtney NEWBON (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Unavailable : 1.Jada WHYMAN (gk) (international duty – 1 week), 11.Georgia PLESSAS (international duty – 1 week), 12.Rachel LOWE (international duty – 1 week), 15.Ellie CARPENTER (international duty – 1 week)
Coach: Rich Byrne
Key Match Up - Arianna Romero v Katie Stengel
It's set to be exciting at both ends of the park on Sunday, however the match-up between Romero and Stengel is too hard to take your eyes off. Central-defender Romero has 31 caps for Mexico, including an appearance off the bench in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup against France in Canada. Her opponent Katie Stengel represented German giants Bayern Munich in 2014-15, scoring 9 goals in 20 games and participating in the UEFA Champions League. We can't wait for this one.
Star: Vanessa DiBernardo
Attacking-midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo has had a superb last 12 months - earning Perth Glory's Most Glorious Player and Golden Boot awards in May, driving her Chicago Red Stars to a third place finish and semi finals in the National Women's Soccer League in the USA. DiBernardo finished second on the assists chart in the US and has even been touted for US national team selection, who are the current FIFA Women's World Cup Champions. Westfield W-League Season 9 could be another big step forward for the 24-year-old.
One-to-watch: Sarah Carroll
While most eyes will be on the imports, Sarah Carroll will continue her role as a quiet achiever in the full-back position. Carroll enjoyed a strong Westfield W-League Season 8, locking down her position in Glory's side with her strong ability to create attacking play from defence. Expect her to be a big presence against the Wanderers this weekend.