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First Half Winners: From NWSL Success to U.S. Glory

The National Women’s Soccer League is more than halfway through its inaugural season, and several players have taken full advantage of the opportunity to bolster their national team prospects.
BY Maura Gladys Posted
June 26, 2013
5:25 PM
Here’s a look at who has made the most of their time in the NWSL.

Lauren Cheney
Cheney has been an offensive powerhouse for FC Kansas City, and that productivity has translated over to the United States women’s national team. She is second in the NWSL in goals (six) and assists (five), and leads FC Kansas City in both categories. The NWSL has been a stage for Cheney to demonstrate her versatility, scary good sense of timing and positioning, and blazing shot. All season, Cheney has shown an ability to bounce back and forth between the NWSL and the national team and make an immediate impact on both squads. Just three days after scoring the United States’ fifth goal against South Korea on Thursday, Cheney scored a brace for Kansas City. Her progression has been a steady upward line that should, barring injury, peak going into 2015’s Women’s World Cup. She faces a tough test in the next two games, against league leaders Sky Blue FC in New Jersey and at home against the Portland Thorns.

Adriana Franch and Ashlyn Harris
While Hope Solo will lock down the national team starting spot for the foreseeable future, Harris and Franch have made their cases as the heirs to Solo’s throne. Franch has been surprisingly good this season, making key saves for the Western New York Flash and earning two shutouts. At only 22, Franch has yet to earn a national team cap, but she was called up for the United States’ friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands in April. A strong college career plus a burgeoning pro career puts Franch in line to get some legitimate minutes in the near future.

Harris was thrown into the fire earlier this year when she started against Sweden in the Algarve Cup in March, and has been a mainstay in Sermanni’s player pool ever since. Harris taken on the less glamorous role of goalkeeping for the seventh place Washington Spirit in the NWSL but has proved that she can be a consistent and at times spectacular keeper. She has yet to keep a clean sheet for the Spirit, but has 37 saves in eight games. If Harris can keep building her resume and put in time with the Spirit, she should keep a pretty strong grip on a spot just behind Solo.

Lori Chalupny
Despite not having played for the U.S. national team since 2009, Lori Chalupny is having the kind of season that is usually accompanied by a call up. Unfortunately, she has not been cleared to play for the U.S. women’s national team due to a history of concussions, so an appearance with the national team is out of the question. (Equalizer Soccer breaks down the questionable logic here.) But regardless, Chalupny has been a bright spot in the Red Stars who sit in sixth place. She leads the team with three goals and is a key cog in the Red Stars midfield with her speed and touch.

Maura Gladys, a featured ASN columnist, works in production for KICKTV. She also runs the goalkeeping blog All You Need Is Glove.

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