American connection guides Jets revival

Well over a dozen American players are spending their off-season in the Westfield W-League, and Newcastle Jets are among the major beneficiaries.

Newcastle enjoyed little pre-season attention but at the midway point of the campaign, they are currently on track for a first finals appearance in seven years.

The recruitment of Caprice Dydasco and Megan Oyster from Washington Spirit attracted few headlines, but the pair’s impact has clearly been significant.

The background story of the former is particularly interesting. Dydasco was born and bred in Hawaii – her middle name is Ka'anohikula – and she boasts Guamanian and Chinese heritage.

Dydasco moved from the Pacific to study sociology at UCLA in California, where their football team was hugely successful in the competitive college scene. Quirkily, three members of that team are also featuring in this season’s Westfield W-League; Jets teammate Oyster, plus Adelaide United duo Sarah Killion and Abby Dahlkemper.

And Melbourne Victory pair Hayley Raso and Christine Nairn are more former teammates – this time from Spirit. “It feels like at least once a game we play against someone we know,” says Dydasco.

It is, however, her on-field relationship with Oyster that is the most enduring. Indeed their careers have mirrored each others with Oyster also firstly at UCLA, then Washington Spirit, and now at the Jets.

“I played next to her at college because she was my centre-back,” says the former defender. “We love playing on the same team. Sometimes we don’t even have to talk on the field, we just make eye contact and she gets the ball to me.

Aside from playing and training, Dydasco spends her time “exploring the city, or hiking, or visiting the cafes, or having a coffee at the beach” and she has also made several school visits in the Hunter.

Dydasco, who surfed when she was younger back in Hawaii, is particularly enjoying Newcastle’s famed beaches, naming Merewether as a standout.

And while Dydasco is enjoying a new life experience Down Under, she is similarly enjoying a new on-field experience too. She spent her career as a left-back, but has found herself pushed into centre midfield by Newcastle coach Craig Deans where her work-rate and game sense have proved invaluable.

And Dydasco has taken to the role like a duck to water. “It is always good to have a challenge that is new,” she says.

The Jets head into Sunday’s potentially epic Fox Sports/ABC TV match against high-profile leaders Melbourne City having lost only once in six games, with their goal breached just three times.

“I think we are really doing well as a team,” Dydasco says, happily deflecting credit to her teammates. “A few of the girls have been saying we are really gelling this year. We still have a lot to work on, but so far it has been a good team effort.

“They (the players that have been here for a while) are very hungry to make it to the playoffs so that is our first goal. If we do that, the plan from there is to win it (the league).”