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Alana Cook to join OL Reign for NWSL Challenge Cup

The USWNT defender has one year left on her contract at Paris Saint-Germain. Plus other news from around the world.

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UEFA Women’s Champions League Portrait Shoots: Paris Saint-Germain Photo by Karl Bridgeman - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

OL Reign is getting a big boost to its defense ahead of the NWSL Challenge Cup. Meg Linehan of The Athletic is reporting that U.S. national team center back Alana Cook will be loaned to the Reign from Paris Saint-Germain.

France’s Division 1 Feminine was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the new season is not expected to start until September. PSG is still alive in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, which is expected to resume in late August, after the NWSL Challenge Cup concludes.

Cook starred at Stanford before declining to enter the 2019 NWSL Draft, opting to head overseas instead. She signed a three-year deal with PSG, and has impressed in limited appearances with the team.

It’s not clear if PSG just wants to take this opportunity for Cook to regain fitness or if the club is putting her in the shop window in the hopes of fetching a transfer fee from an NWSL club before her contract expires. But in either case, the Challenge Cup is a good opportunity for Cook to get more time in front of USWNT GM Kate Markgraf and head coach Vlatko Andonovski as she fights for a spot on the national team.

Cook has appeared for the USWNT once, in a friendly against Costa Rica, but is also eligible to play for England. She has attended one training camp with the Three Lionesses.

OL Reign was thin at center back even before trading Megan Oyster, and will probably expect Cook to become first choice immediately.

Other news from around the world

U.S. Soccer president addresses repeal of anthem policy | Anne Peterson, AP

Cindy Parlow Cone spoke about the decision at a U.S. Soccer board meeting over the weekend and apologized “for us not being leaders in this fight.”

What about the refs? How NWSL officials will make the Challenge Cup work | Dan Lauletta, The Equalizer

I admit to not giving much thought to how refereeing would be handled at the Challenge Cup, and it’s good to hear that NWSL planned thoroughly.

FFA’s 10-year plan for gender and cultural equality in women’s football | Liana Buratti, Beyond 90

There’s some really interesting stuff in here about participation numbers in Australia and how the FA plans to improve women’s soccer. Expect Australia to move away from its current half-season model for the W-League and take it full time when it becomes financially and logistically viable post-Covid.