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NWSL Players Association names 18-player board for 2020 season

The board will represent all non-allocated players in the league throughout a critical season for the NWSL.

Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley dribbles the ball under pressure from the Houston Dash's Haley Hanson during the 2019 season at BBVA Stadium. (Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos)

The NWSL Players Association has announced its new leaders, naming 18 players to its board of representatives for the 2020 season.

The players association represents all players in the league who are not allocated by their respective national teams. This excludes all U.S. and Canadian national team players named to the 2020 allocation lists.

The NWSL Players Association board will represent players during a critical year for the league. Women’s soccer saw a major boom in support following the success of the 2019 FIFA World Cup and it translated into record-setting spike in attendance during the latter half of the NWSL season. 

In the offseason, the league named Lisa Baird as its new commissioner — filling a position that was vacant for three years — and inked a new broadcast deal with CBS and Twitch.

The new representatives will also be tasked with helping to  deal with the NWSL season postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

2020 NWSL Players Association board:

Chicago Red Stars

Kealia O’Hai Watt: This will mark Watt’s first season in Chicago after a trade with the Houston Dash, where she previously played for six seasons. Watt was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NWSL draft and has experience playing for the U.S. national team at the youth and senior level.

Makenzy Doniak: Another first-year player with the Red Stars, this will be Doniak’s fifth season in NWSL. The forward has previously played for the Western New York Flash, the North Carolina Courage and the Utah Royals.

Houston Dash

Betsy Brandon: This is Brandon’s second season with the Dash after she was initially signed as a national team replacement player in 2019. The midfielder is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the youngest player representative on this year’s board at age 24.

Katie Naughton: The defender was traded to Houston from Chicago after serving as a key player for the Red Stars’ defense for four years. Naughton represented Chicago on the board last season. 

North Carolina Courage

Kristen Hamilton: This will mark Hamilton’s fourth season with the Courage after Hamilton featured heavily in the team’s 2019 championship-winning squad. The league veteran is in her seventh year in the NWSL, and also represented the Courage on last year’s board.

Lynn Williams: Although Williams has received semi-regular call-ups to the U.S. national team — including a spot on the team’s roster for the Concacaf Olympic qualifying — she is not an allocated player. The striker was selected No. 6 overall in the 2015 team by the Western New York Flash and moved with the team when it became the North Carolina Courage in 2017.

OL Reign

Lauren Barnes: A long-time staple of the Reign, Barnes joined the team in 2013 and has since won two NWSL shields and played in two league title matches. She served as the team’s captain in 2019 and also represented the team on last year’s players association board.

Jodie Taylor: One of the few national team players named to the board, Taylor is a longstanding member of the English national team, most recently featuring in the team’s FIFA World Cup roster. She joined the NWSL in 2014 and has played for the Washington Spirit and the Portland Thorns. This will be her third year with the Reign.

Orlando Pride

Toni Pressley: A central feature of the Pride backline for four seasons, Pressley is a veteran of the NWSL and a noted leader for a team that fields nine national team players. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, the defender has returned to full strength for the 2020 season.

Bridget Callahan: Entering her third season with the Pride, Callahan has become an important factor for the Pride on and off the field. Coach Marc Skinner called her a valuable link between young and veteran players throughout the 2019 season.

Portland Thorns

Emily Menges: After falling to Portland late in the 2014 NWSL Draft, the defender has won an NWSL championship and an NWSL shield during her six seasons with the Thorns. She will bring experience to this year’s board after representing Portland in 2019.

Britt Eckerstrom: This will be the keeper’s fifth year in the NWSL and her fourth year with the Thorns. She is also returning to the board after representing Portland in 2019, making the Thorns one of only two teams to return both of its representatives from last season. 

Sky Blue FC

Madison Tiernan: The midfielder is entering her fourth season with Sky Blue FC, notching 42 total appearances for the team. She also represented the club on the players association board in 2019.

McCall Zerboni: A recent addition to Sky Blue FC, Zerboni was acquired in the offseason in a trade for the rights to Hailie Mace after winning the 2019 NWSL championship with the North Carolina Courage. Zerboni has played in the NWSL since it was formed, previously playing for the Western New York Flash.

Utah Royals

Nicole Barnhart: One of the most experienced players in the league, Barnhart is entering her 11th season of professional soccer. She was originally allocated to FC Kansas City as a national team player and moved with the club when it became the Utah Royals in 2018.

Rachel Corsie: One of the few national team players to serve as a player representative, Corsie played every minute of the 2019 FIFA World Cup for Scotland. This is her sixth season in the NWSL and her third with Utah.

Washington Spirit

Tori Huster: A member of the Spirit’s original roster, Huster is entering her eighth season with the club. She also represented the team on the 2019 players association board.

Megan Dougherty Howard: A  2017 draft selection, Howard has played for Washington during all three years of her professional career. This is her first year as a player representative.

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