New seasons have finally commenced in Sweden and USA and while the champions immediately rediscovered their momentum in the former, there were some intriguing results Stateside. FIFA.com’s round-up of women’s club news also takes in some crucial match-ups in Japan and Germany.
*USA: Goal flurry opens new campaign *While the focus is starting to turn towards final preparations for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup™, the third season of the National Women’s Soccer League has kicked-off Stateside with potential Canada 2015 stars prominent. Leading the charge was USA’s dynamic wide midfielder Megan Rapinoe who bagged a 15-minute second-half treble as Seattle Reign continued their fine 2014 form with a stunning 5-1 win over Western New York Flash. Portland Thorns ensured it was a good weekend for north-west representatives with Allie Long scoring twice in a dominant 4-1 win against the visiting Boston Breakers in front of over 13,000 fans. Sky Blue FC also opened in winning fashion with a result that suggests last year’s erratic campaign is behind them. The New Jersey-based side saw off champions FC Kansas City thanks to Nadia Nadia’s lone strike. The result lifts Sky Blue to a league record sixth-successive win, while Denmark’s Nadim increased her NWSL tally to eight goals in seven outings since joining the club late last season. Stars and Stripes’ midfield star Carli Lloyd claimed the honour of scoring the first goal of the season in Houston Dash’s 2-0 win over Washington Spirit in Friday’s season opener.
*Sweden: New campaign underway *There were vastly contrasting results for Sweden’s two UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final participants as the new Damallsvenskan season opened. Rosengard took an early lead at the top of the fledgling ladder on goal difference, but only after a comeback win at Orebro. The champs scored four second-half goals without reply, including a double from prolific Swiss striker Ramona Bachmann, after the home side held a one-goal lead at the break. Linkoping had no such luck at Eskilstuna with the home side winning thanks to a lone strike on the hour mark from new signing Olivia Schough. Gothenburg made a strong start with a 2-0 victory at AIK where Netherlands duo Lieke Martens and Manon Melis nabbed the goals.
*Germany: Wolfsburg back in control *
Champions Wolfsburg and fellow title aspirants 1.FFC Frankfurt took full advantage of their respective postponed fixtures with each coming out on top in the only two league matches played in the Frauen Bundesliga over the weekend. Wolfsburg returned to the summit at the expense of Bayern Munich with a routine 4-0 win at Jena that was built around an Alexandra Popp brace. Frankfurt’s visit to Bayer Leverkusen proved much tougher and the seven-time champions only escaped with all three points thanks to a late winner from Spain star Vero Boquete. With three rounds remaining, the leading trio are now separated by just two points, with Turbine Potsdam a further three points adrift.
*Top three: Wolfsburg (48 points), Bayern Munich (47), 1.FFC Frankfurt (46) *
*Japan: Perfect start continues for Leonessa *
INAC Kobe Leonessa maintained the only 100 per cent record after three rounds as the three-time champions seek to bounce back from last season’s unexpected horror campaign. Leonessa eased past Speranza Osaka 3-1, while long-time rivals NTV Beleza were held 1-1 by JEF United at home. Champs Urawa Red Diamonds finally got off the mark with a 4-1 home triumph over Okayama Belle Yunogo. Meanwhile, there was a rare goalscoring feat in the second division as Shiho Tomari - newly signed from Urawa - scored a double hat-trick in Nagano Parceiro’s 6-0 win over the previously undefeated Nojima Stella.
*Top three: INAC Kobe Leonessa (9), NTV Beleza, Vegalta Sendai (both 7) *