The inaugural season of the National Women's Soccer League begins this Saturday with 12 former Tar Heels on opening day roster. The league begins its first year when the Cindy Cone-coached Portland Thorns FC plays at FC Kansas City on Saturday at 7:35 p.m.
Twelve Tar Heels dot the rosters of five of the league's eight teams and another two former Tar Heels are expected to joins their club later in the season, bringing the total to 14.
The Boston Breakers roster includes midfielder Elizabeth Guess, '06, midfielder Heather O'Reilly, '06, and defender Catherine Reddick Whitehill, '03. (Years refer to final season they played at Carolina). O'Reilly and Whitehill were most recently with the Breakers franchise in WPS whilke Guess joins the team after playing at ADO Dan Haag.
The Chicago Red Stars roster features midfielder/forward Lori Chalupny, '05, and forward Jessica McDonald, '09. Chalupny was most recently with AIK (Sweden) and McDonald had been playing with Melbourne Victory in Australia. Lindsay Tarpley, '05, is rehabbing a knee injury but is expected to join the Red Stars before the end of the season.
The FC Kansas City team includes forward Casey Nogueira Loyd, '09, and defender Courtney Jones, '11. Jones was with Boston in the WPSL last season on a team which won the regular-season championship.
The Portland Thorns FC team, coached by Cone, has a trio of former Tar Heels on its roster, including goalkeeper Adelaide Gay, '12, midfielder Allie Long, '08, and forward Nikki Washington, '09. Midfielder Tobin Heath, '09, is expected to joins the Thorns in late May once her PSG contract is fulfilled.
The Washington Spirit has two former UNC greats on its roster. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, '09, is a member of the Spirit as is defender Robyn Gayle, '07.
In addition to Saturday Portland-Kansas City game, three other games will be played Sunday as the NWSL begins play in its first year.