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Players to watch during the 2021 NWSL season

The 2021 NWSL season gets underway on Saturday, 15 May, with some phenomenal talents taking to the field.

The transfer window generated plenty of buzz, with star signings and new partnerships set to make this NWSL season one of the most electric to date. Here are some key players to watch out for.  

The Chicago Red Stars player rose to stardom in 2019 for her performance in the FIFA World Cup. She’s played a key role in the success of the USWNT, boasting over 100 appearances thus far. 

Ertz came harrowingly close to leading the Red Stars to victory in 2019 and has since then continued to maintain the same level of excellence. While her versatility as a defensive midfielder excites spectators, opponents fail to contain these abilities. 

The Brazilian international stands as a six-time FIFA World Player of the Year. Though she has yet to win any accolades with the Orlando Pride, she is not to be underestimated in the league. She’s a vital factor in the team’s attack. Her athletic abilities and dynamic creativity on the pitch inspire opponents to struggle.

Orlando reinforced Marta by signing a variety of individuals that play to the Brazilian’s strengths. The team is definitely to be watched out for in the upcoming season. 

After a stunning season with the North Carolina Courage, Dunn left to revolutionize the Portland Thorns. During her time with the Courage, Dunn scored 17 goals in just 39 games. She stands as one of the best players in the NWSL, with capabilities spanning the backline, midfield and attack. 

Now, Dunn, along with Lindsey Horan and Christine Sinclair, undoubtedly make up the most exciting roster in the league. 

This list wouldn’t be complete without international sensation Megan Rapinoe. The star became unrecognizable after the 2019 FIFA World cup, shocking audiences with stunning goals and unfathomable attacking abilities. Now, she hopes to maintain the same tempo by leading OL Reign to victory. After a difficult 2020, she feels rejuvenated and ready to take on opponents. 

Eugenie Le Sommer
Eugenie Le Sommer is heading to Tacoma | Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

The all-time leading goal-scorer for Olympique Lyonnais is joining OL Reign on loan this season. The French national team star is headed to Tacoma, ready to revolutionize American soccer with her phenomenal striking abilities. Her strengths and unique style of play ranked her fifth best women’s footballer in 2018, 10th best in 2019 and 12th best in 2020. Her descending order is not to be underestimated, however, as Le Sommer is set to link with Megan Rapinoe to kick off an electric campaign.

Joining Crystal Dunn at the Portland Thorns is number one draft pick Sophia Smith. The 20-year-old stunning audiences at Stanford, leading her side to win the national title in 2019. She scored 24 in 33 games that season. At just 16 years old, Smith was called up to feature for the US National Squad. 

This is her first year playing in the NWSL and audiences are already thrilled to witness her partner with Dunn to achieve greatness. 

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