VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 22: Sydney Leroux #14 and Alex Morgan #13 of the United States celebrate a goal while Ana Lucia Martinez #17 of Guatemala watches during the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament at BC Place on January 22, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
If it seems like we've suddenly transformed into Sounders Women At Heart over the last few weeks, there's a good reason for it. Last season the Sounders Women were a team in the second division with only a loose (at best) affiliation to the namesake MLS team and a roster made up mostly of local college players whose names wouldn't be recognized by anyone but close followers of the women's game in Seattle.
But in the space of just a couple of months, the team has transformed into what may be one of the best women's club teams in the world, at least when its new trio of stars is on the pitch. The team is now in the top active division of women's soccer in the country, is coached by local soccer legend Michelle French, is operated by an employee of the Seattle Sounders MLS organization, and — most importantly — sports three key components of the dominant US Women's National Team.
Is it a stretch to say the Sounders Women are now one of the best club teams in the world? Maybe. Soccer is certainly a team game and the bulk of the roster is the same set of local players who performed well at times last year but only made the 2011 W-League playoffs by dint of hosting them. But the WPS has been wiped out, at least for this season. And the three players who joined the team are some of the best in the world. Hope Solo is likely the best female goalkeeper of all time (if such a thing could be measured), Alex Morgan has very quickly become one of the top 5 or so forwards in the world (likely behind only Marta, Abby Wambach, Christine Sinclair, and maybe Yuki Nagasoto, for those keeping score). Sydney LeRoux was the #1 overall pick in the WPS draft in January and is already getting significant minutes in a stacked senior national team.
And this week those players continued to prove their quality. The national team is currently playing in Algarve, Portugal warming up for the Olympics against some of the best teams in the world. On Wednesday, Morgan scored two goals and assisted one, LeRoux scored a goal, and Solo earned the shutout as the US beat Denmark 5-0. This morning, LeRoux added another goal as the US beat Norway 2-1. On Monday they play their final group match when they take on Japan, the team that narrowly beat them in the 2012 World Cup final.
When the Sounders Women take the field for preseason in early April, it'll be a chance to see some of the best in the game and extend the umbrella of our dedication to the Sounders organization. We at Sounder at Heart are looking forward to watching the team closely and I hope the rest of the Sounders faithful will embrace them as well.