Canberra’s hidden gem shining brightly

Canberra United are shaping as a massive title threat, and it looks like American midfielder Celeste Boureille is one of their secret weapons.

Canberra achieved one of the great Westfield W-League results last weekend with their 2-1 win over Melbourne City ending an 18-match unbeaten run for the champions.

Now at the halfway point of the season, Canberra are just two points off the summit and building ominous momentum.

Canberra have long been stacked with quality attacking personnel, but the presence of Boureille alongside Japanese Women’s World Cup winner Yukari Kinga in the heart of the midfield, could be the platform on which further success is built.

“Melbourne City have gone undefeated for so long, it meant a lot to us,” Boureille said. “Especially for the young girls to make an impact like that. For Karly (Roestbakken) to score the match-winner at 15, we are so happy for her. That was an incredible game.

“We now have a huge game against Brisbane. Last time we played them it was definitely a battle.

“We gained a bit of confidence (from the win over City), but we are going to have to go out and fight just as much as we did in that City game. It (the Brisbane match) will be a similar game in terms of giving our all, and leaving everything on the field.”

This is Boureille’s second time overseas having enjoyed a brief stint in Iceland a few years back, but it is her first time playing abroad professionally.

“Playing in Australia has been really exciting, and it has been a great opportunity for me to continue developing as a player,” says the 22-year-old.

“Everyone has been so welcoming every since I arrived. My teammates and coaches have been happy and excited to have me.

“It is going by so quickly, I’m sad to say. So I’m trying to make the most of it.”

In some ways, Boureille is following in a path already trodden. Her grandfather played football in France, while her father is a chef by trade, having moved to northern California from Paris.

“I like to cook, but now that I’m away from home, I realise I should have learnt a bit more,” laughs Boureille.

After graduating from media studies at University of California, Boureille earned a dream contract this year with NWSL super club Portland Thorns. The rookie was more than happy to make the move north to Oregon from her native San Francisco.

The club are comfortably the best supported women’s team in the world averaging nearly 17,000 in 2016.

“It is incredible, the fans are all so engaged,” Boureille says. “It is an amazing atmosphere to play in. It is an amazing club and I’m really really happy to be at Portland.”

For now though, the focus is on helping Canberra achieve what would be a record third title. And Boureille could not be happier in the nation’s capital.

“I have had the pleasure of playing along some really talented players on this team,” she said.

“I have learnt so much (off Kinga) so far, she is such a talented and experience player.

"It has been a great opportunity for some of the young players to step in over the past few weeks. Back home I’m the young one, so I know what it feels like for them,” laughs Boureille. “It is great to have them come in and make an impact, that means a lot.

“We have a great well-rounded team, and I’m excited for what is to come.”

Canberra United will meet Brisbane Roar on Sunday at Central Coast Stadium at 2.30pm. Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 and ABC TV from 2pm.