It was a long time coming, but on Friday the reports were proven true: the Washington Spirit had landed Canadian defender Candace Chapman to bolster their back line. It had been a week since Equalizer Soccer had broken the story, but then late Friday, the player herself made it official:
In the process, Chapman became the second Canadian women's team player so far to land a free agent contract with the NWSL. The other, forward Tiffany Cameron, was signed by the Seattle Reign to bolster an attack that is now lacking Amy Rodriguez.
Both will be stepping from the metaphorical frying pan into the fire -- Cameron will likely be faced with the task of trying to not only learn the professional game, but also to step into some big shoes as both Mexican star Teresa Noyola and American star Megan Rapinoe are engaged in European contracts until mid-summer at the earliest. While she got some international experience recently while at the Yongchuan Cup/Four Nations Tournament in China last month - she was a sub for all three games - she failed to register on the score sheet. She is however known as a prolific scorer, netting 19 goals in three seasons for Ohio State.
In the meantime, we do know that she knows how to drop some sick rhymes, as you can see from the video below:
Meanwhile, Candace Chapman will be in tough in Washington. For one, she is coming off an injury from her time at the London Games, from which she is still recovering. It's probably the most plausible of all explanations as to why she was left off the allocation list. But judging from the list which emphasized youth, it could simply be that given her age, Chapman may not figure in John Herdman's master plan for Canada's road to 2015.
But nevertheless, as a known excellent defender for the Canadian side with WPS experience to boot, she will join with the likes of Ali Kreiger and her national teammate Robyn Gayle in what looks a very solid defence. While the situation with Mexican Alina Garciamendez still remains unclear at this point, the trio of Krieger, Gayle and Chapman will bring an excellent stability to the Spirit backline.
And whlle there are just a small handful of slots available for free agents in the NWSL, it's not likely that Canadians will factor in any of them. With Melissa Tancredi already declaring her unavailability for 2013, eyes may fall on Jonelle Filigno or Chelsea Stewart, two members of the bronze medal team that was left off the list. However, Filigno's injury woes and Stewart's inconsistency will likely rule them out. Plus the fact that any further Canadians will require teams to use an international slot, may also serve as a deterrent.
So with the NWSL's Canadian content now likely locked at 18 players, the focus will be on how these teams will employ these Canadians in their battle plans, and we here at Waking the Red (along with some of our sister MLS blogs like The Daily Wiz, Sounder at Heart and Stumptown Footy) will follow these 18 and their travails as the season progresses.