NWSL: Jodie Taylor re-signs with Reign FC, Estelle Johnson with Sky Blue

NWSL
Jodie Taylor of Reign FC goes for the ball during a match against the Washington Spirit in May 2019. Photo courtesy of Rachael Kriger/Last Word on Soccer.

Tacoma, Washington — Jodie Taylor isn’t heading back to England. While plenty of Australian players are jumping ship from the NWSL to England’s FA WSL, Taylor is an English native staying put on the west coast. She re-signed with Reign FC for the 2020 season, with an additional one-year option.

Taylor scored five goals and provided three assists in 2019 for the Reign. She’s been part of the club since 2018 and has made 22 league appearances for the club. Taylor’s role for the Reign propelled her to more roster and game chances for the English Women’s National Team.

She was on England’s roster for last summer’s World Cup. She only scored once during the tournament, against Argentina in the group stage. Overall, Taylor has scored 19 goals in 48 appearances for England.

“I am pleased to be returning to Reign FC for the 2020 season,” Taylor said. “There have been some exciting developments this off season, which I feel will only strengthen the club and team. I am eager to get started on what will be a promising year.”

Reign FC also made a trade with the Orlando Pride on Wednesday, bringing in veteran midfielder Dani Weatherholt. In exchange, the Reign sent down a second round draft pick in the 2021 NWSL College Draft. Weatherholt has been in Orlando for the past four seasons.

She was Orlando’s fourth round pick in the club’s first-ever NWSL College Draft. Weatherholt averaged 1,338 minutes per season with the Pride, and made 19 appearances last season. Her most appearances came in 2018, when she recorded 23 appearances and scored two goals.

“I am beyond grateful to be joining Reign FC for the upcoming 2020 season,” Weatherholt said. “Reign FC is a team I have deep respect and admiration for, with world class players and people both on and off the field. I can’t wait to get into preseason and pour everything that I have into this club.”

Estelle Johnson is staying in New Jersey

Sky Blue FC is adding plenty of weapons this offseason to produce a solid core in 2020. However, despite adding new pieces, retaining veteran players is on the list of priorities, too. On Wednesday, the club announced the re-signing of Estelle Johnson.

Johnson’s contract is for one season.

“Estelle is an important leader for us on and off the field,” Alyse LaHue, Sky Blue general manager, said. “Her steady presence on the backline was crucial for us last season so we’re thrilled to have her return for 2020.” 

Johnson featured in her first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 with Cameroon. She featured in all four matches and has been a professional since 2010. Johnson was around during the WPS days, featuring for the Philadelphia Independence and New York Flash. When the NWSL formed in 2013, Johnson joined the Western New York Flash for one season.

From 2015-18, she was a member of the Washington Spirit. Then, after four seasons, Johnson joined Sky Blue FC. She made 15 appearances for Sky Blue last season, and even celebrated her 100th league match on July 28, 2019.

“I am delighted to have Estelle continue to play for Sky Blue,” Freya Coombe, Sky Blue head coach, said. “She is a solid defender that brings great experience and leadership to the team. She will be key to the success of the team this season.”

Thorns bid farewell to Hayley Raso

Another Australian is heading to England.

Sam Kerr’s move to Chelsea made a splash this year, but now Hayley Raso is following in her footsteps. Leaving the W-League early, Raso decided to join Everton. Australian international Tim Cahill spoke highly of Raso’s physicality and mental toughness.

“Hayley is very feisty, she is a great footballer and she has a great mentality,” Cahill said, via Everton’s website. “She suits Everton so much – she is a workhorse and takes pride in the way she plays. [Hayley] is engrossed in her football.”

Cahill said that Raso wants a new challenge.

“She wants to play at the highest level and she’s a fighter,” Cahill said. “[Hayley] is always trying to break barriers and better herself.”

Raso spent the last four seasons with the Thorns, totaling over 70 appearances and scoring 13 goals. Raso’s rights will still be retained by the Thorns, if she decided to return to the NWSL. The Australian spoke highly of her time in Portland.

“I will be forever grateful to the Portland Thorns for taking a chance on me and allowing me to represent this amazing club for the last four years,” Raso said. “I am incredibly proud to have been coached by Mark [Parsons], who developed me into the player I am today, as well as playing alongside some of the greatest players in the world.”

More NWSL news and notes

  • North Carolina Courage: Hailie Mace officially signs a two-year deal with Courage.
  • Reign FC: Schuyler Debree has been granted a period of Player Elective Leave.
  • Reign FC: Morgan Proffitt has announced her retirement.
  • Houston Dash: Club waives defenders Lindsay Agnew and Jazmin Jackson.
  • Reign FC: Club waives Addison Steiner.
  • Washington Spirit: Club announces preseason training for two weeks in South Florida.

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