New clubs and silverware in store

A pair of Kiwis at opposite ends of their careers are on the move while two others are in line to receive title-winning medals as New Zealand’s overseas-based players continue to have an impact at their respective clubs.

The second stint of All Whites goalkeeper Glen Moss at the Wellington Phoenix has come to a close, the veteran gloveman joining Ernie Merrick at the Newcastle Jets. It is the third time Moss has linked up with Merrick after the Scotsman coached him previously at both the Phoenix and Melbourne Victory. Moss was between the stick for the first ever Phoenix game in 2007 and made nearly 150 appearances in his two spells with the club. He has 29 caps for the All Whites and is in line to be part of Anthony Hudson’s squad at the FIFA Confederations Cup next month in Russia.

A dark horse for selection in that group could be young uncapped striker Myer Bevan, who has now joined the professional ranks after signing with the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Canadian outfit play in the Major Soccer League (MLS) but also have a team in the United Soccer League (USL). Bevan, who had been refining his skills at the Nike Academy in England, will line up in that second-string side initially and is set to join a pair of Kiwis with Deklan Wynne and Francis De Vries also in that squad. Bevan will link up with his new club after representing his country at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic next month and has signed at a victorious moment for Whitecaps 2 with the team having just posted a 3-1 success over the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. Wynne played the full match at left back and picked up a late booking while De Vries missed out due to injury. Former All White Chris James is on the books of the Switchbacks but is likewise currently sidelined through injury. Coming out the other side of an injury battle is Jake Gleeson, who returned to the Portland Timbers’ starting line-up for a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United that was watched by a crowd of more than 21,000. The big shot-stopper proved he had lost none of his sharpness by making a smart save with his right boot just before half-time and later mingled with the Timbers fans during an official public appearance.

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In the women’s game in the United States, Rosie White played 72 minutes in the Boston Breakers midfield as they drew 1-1 with the Chicago Red Stars while Katie Bowen’s FC Kansas City also picked up a point, the Football Fern coming on for the last 20 minutes of a scoreless stalemate against the Portland Thorns. Meanwhile Rebekah Stott kept her place in the Seattle Reign back three for her second consecutive start and was involved in an action-packed encounter as the Reign swept aside Washington Spirit 6-2 in front of over 3,000 fans. Former Ferns captain Abby Erceg was the only Kiwi not to pick up any National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) points as the North Carolina Courage suffered their first setback of the season in a 3-1 loss to the Orlando Pride. It was a game to forget for the central defender, who left the team without its captain after being dismissed just before the hour for a second bookable offence. Fortunately for Erceg and co, the loss did not prove too damaging for the Courage as they were able to hold onto top spot.

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Away from the big league, Martine Puketapu continues to impress in the early stages of her time at Colorado University. The former Three Kings United player enrolled early in January to get used to her new surroundings and gain a head start before the 2017 fall season. She has made an immediate impact, joint top-scoring for the team in the spring season with three goals in just five games. “She brings a professional work ethic every day to training and to games and she has scored some good goals,” says coach Danny Sanchez. “It’s good to have this first semester to get acclimated. Even though she’s just a freshman in the fall, she’s got five good competitive games under her belt and I think she’s only going to get better because of her approach to the game.”

With Max Crocombe the only Kiwi involved in the lower league play-offs across the Atlantic, the sole current All White still in action in England is Winston Reid but he might have wished the Premier League season was already over after being on the wrong end of a 4-0 humbling by Liverpool. The disappointing defeat was the last match of West Ham United’s inaugural campaign at their new London Stadium home and Reid had the honour of skippering the side. He is likely to lead the mid-table Hammers out again as their season wraps up on Sunday against Burnley. Looking to extend their season are Carlisle United, for whom Crocombe again acted as reserve goalkeeper as the Cumbrians drew 3-3 with Exeter City in the first leg of their League Two semi-final. Also aiming to end on a high is Sam Brotherton, whose Sunderland U-23 side will compete in the final of the Premier League Youth International Cup against Portuguese giants Porto overnight. Brotherton has had to make do with a place on the bench recently but would relish a call-up to the starting side for a game that is expected to draw around 18,000 fans to Sunderland’s cavernous Stadium of Light.

Also in action over the next 24 hours will be Anna Green, who is set to assume her usual position on the left-hand side of Reading’s three-strong defence as they take on Yeovil Town in the FA WSL Spring Series on Wednesday evening. The clash against the bottom-placed Glovers is the perfect opportunity for Reading to get back on track after three consecutive losses in a tough run of fixtures against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. In the second tier of the Spring Series, Olivia Chance made the most of her first ever appearance at Everton’s famous Goodison Park by getting on the scoresheet as the Toffees defeated Watford 4-0. The former youth international came on in the 68th minute and made a positive impact on her arrival, teeing up Simone Magill for an opportunity before finding the net late on with a deflected strike from 20 yards. Everton are now three points clear at the top of the table and need only a point away against the London Bees on Saturday to secure the title.

Over the channel in mainland Europe, Betsy Hassett is also on the verge of lifting some silverware but the celebrations are on hold for now after Ajax were held to a 1-1 draw against defending Eredivisie champions FC Twente. Elsewhere in Holland, the club season ended on a low note for Ryan Thomas as PEC Zwolle surrendered a 1-0 lead to be outclassed 4-1 by PSV Eindhoven. The All Whites midfielder played the full 90 minutes on the left wing and, despite time on the sidelines through injury, ends the campaign as one of the most-played members of the Zwolle squad, who finish in 14th place on the 18-team table. Tamati Williams’ hopes of joining Thomas in the top flight are now over for another year after the goalkeeper watched from the bench as RKC Waalwijk earned a 1-0 win at FC Emmen but were eliminated from the Jupiler League play-offs 5-2 on aggregate. Fellow All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic helped SpVgg Unterhaching to a 5-1 win over SpVgg Bayreuth in the German Regionalliga but Amber Hearn couldn’t get on the scoresheet as USV Jena were soundly beaten 3-0 by SC Sand in the Frauen Bundesliga. Across the border in Switzerland, Ria Percival was also on the losing side as FC Basel fell 1-0 at the hands of FC Zurich.

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In Scandinavia, defender Tyler Lissette played his part in keeping a clean sheet for IFK Varnamo in a nil-all draw against Varbergs BoIS in the Swedish Superettan while Football Ferns captain Ali Riley and Hannah Wilkinson were both left empty-handed in the Damallsvenskan, Sweden’s top female league. Riley was cautioned as FC Rosengard suffered a rare reversal, 1-0 to Hammarby IF, and was joined in tasting defeat by Wilkinson, whose Vittsjo GIK were pipped 3-2 by IF Limhamn Bunkeflo. Nearby in Norway, Kirsty Yallop managed to post a point as Klepp drew 1-1 with Roa in the Toppserien.

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In the Southern Hemisphere, it continues to be a busy South African season for Jeremy Brockie and Michael Boxall with SuperSport United chasing success on several fronts. With a Nedbank Cup final and the Confederation Cup – not to be confused with the FIFA Confederations Cup – also on their minds, the Kiwi pair took on title-chasing Cape Town in the Absa Premiership and both were involved in goalmouth action, Boxall having an effort saved in the first half before Brockie popped up to put his side 3-2 ahead in the 74th minute with a close-range finish. SuperSport went on to win 4-2 but had to settle for a point a few days later in Confederation Cup action against Guinea’s Horoya. Both New Zealanders were rested for SuperSport’s opening group stage encounter of the competition but Brockie came off the bench to help set up an 83rd-minute equaliser as the game ended 2-2. In Indonesia, Shane Smeltz entered the fray soon after half-time but couldn’t prevent Borneo falling 3-0 to Bali United in Liga 1 while, closer to home, Marco Rojas signed off his A-League season with something to celebrate by being named Melbourne Victory Players’ Player of the Year.

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