Melbourne City preview

A look at how champions Melbourne City are shaping up for their Westfield W-League title defence.

It is hard to imagine a more dynamic debut than that achieved by Melbourne City last year. An impressive recruitment drive saw the team manage to hit the ground running with a barely-believable 6-0 win at Sydney FC. It set the tone for a perfect campaign with a win in all 12 league games, before a penalty shoot-out semi-final victory over Brisbane Roar and a memorable Grand Final triumph over Sydney FC to round out the season.

This season
Melbourne City will find out over the coming months if it is harder to defend a title than win it in the first place. Though they have lost several world class players – Kim Little and Lisa De Vanna among them – there has been some impressively credentialed arrivals. Westfield Matildas superstar goalkeeper Lydia Williams and American internationals Erika Tymrak and Lauren Barnes would get a start in any team in the league. Remarkably City have never lost a Westfield W-League match, though they will face numerous challengers this season, including from a rejuvenated Melbourne Victory.

The captain
Melbourne City captain Steph Catley boasts a remarkable footballing resume – and she is still only 22. Catley has played for NWSL heavyweights Portland Thorns and Orlando Pride and has already accrued over 50 caps for the Westfield Matildas. After six seasons at Melbourne Victory, which included skippering the team to the 2014 championship, Catley is backing up for a second season wearing the City captain’s armband.

“We have put together a really good squad again this year, but I think it will be really tight this year because the other teams have brought in some great internationals,” said Catley.

“What we did last year was remarkable and very difficult to repeat. We want to play good football being a possession-based team, and we want to improve on last year in terms of the way we played.

“The other teams have recruited well and it will be a really strong competition. Sydney FC are looking really good with a great base of Australian players and they are always strong, as are Canberra who have one of the fastest forward lines I have ever seen.”

First match: v Newcastle Jets, CB Smith Reserve, Melbourne, Sunday 6 November, 3pm

Ins: Lydia Williams (Houston Dash, USA/Canberra United), Teigen Allen (Sydney FC), Lauren Barnes (Seattle Reign, USA), Erika Tymrak (FC Kansas City, USA), Jacynta Galabadaarachchi

Outs: Jennifer Beattie (Manchester City, England), Kim Little (Arsenal, England), Lisa De Vanna (Orlando Pride, USA), Beattie Goad (Stanford University, USA), Monique Iannella (Texas Longhorns, USA), Alex Chidiac (Adelaide United), Trudy Burke (Canberra United), Anisa Guajardo