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Sky Blue FC takes on OL Reign in Tuesday night’s late NWSL game, and I’m excited to watch Midge Purce make her debut for the former club. Purce hasn’t been put in the best position to show off her skills for most of her young career, but she’s finally in a team that sees her as a star attacker.
Purce was drafted by the Boston Breakers, who were poor in her rookie season, then subsequently folded. She was used primarily as a right back during her first season with the Portland Thorns, but finally got to show what she’s got to offer as a striker last season. Her highlights were nuts, and her stats suggest she was just as productive as this video makes her look.
But Purce wasn’t exactly what Thorns coach Mark Parsons wanted in a striker. She was benched for Portland’s playoff loss to the Chicago Red Stars, then traded to Sky Blue this offseason.
This season, for the first time, Purce enters a team that sees her as a star attacking player and wants to build around her talents in the final third. I’m not sure if that’s going to be at the No. 9 spot or on the right wing — Sky Blue’s roster lists her as a midfielder — but she’s certainly not playing right back.
Purce still is in the mix to play in the back line for the United States women’s national team, and doesn’t mind shifting between roles for club and country. “I love it,” Purce said when asked about USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski and Sky Blue head coach Freya Coombe playing her in different positions. “They tell me it’s a sign of a good player. It makes me understand the game with more depth.” Purce added that her favorite position was “whichever one puts me on the field.”
Personally, I’m hoping Purce gets some time as Sky Blue’s center forward. She’s been unfairly miscast as a player who’s overly reliant on her pace, when her best quality is her ability to ghost away from defenders and finish first-time shots. She’s certainly a good dribbler and effective at beating fullbacks for pace, but if I’m Purce’s manager, I want to get her in good scoring positions at all costs.
In any event, it’s going to be great to finally see Purce in a team that sees her as one of its attacking stars, not as a defender, a backup, or utility option. It feels like it’s taken forever to get here, but Purce is still just 24, and has a lot of time left to become the best version of herself. I’m excited to finally see her get the opportunity.
An anthem news update
Following yesterday’s story where I advocated not playing the national anthem before games, the NWSL announced a new policy. The anthem will still be played, but players have the option of staying in the locker room.
I don’t think this solves anything, but the good news is that this was player-led, not something dictated by the league. While I disagree with the new policy, I’m happy that the league let the NWSLPA take the lead and accepted its decision.
Houston Dash vs. Utah Royals — 12:30 p.m. ET
I’m hoping we get to see Houston’s second-year attacking midfielder CeCe Kizer, who head coach James Clarkson says has improved dramatically this offseason. Utah is short-handed due to a lot of injuries and personal absences, but I’ll be keeping an eye on rookie Tziarra King, one of the most technically gifted players in the league.
OL Reign vs. Sky Blue FC — 10:30 p.m. ET
Besides Purce, I’m also excited to see Canadian rookie attacker Evelyn Viens, who Coombe says is ready for playing time right away. She was a monster up top in college, getting off 113 shots in 20 games despite usually facing a dedicated double-team. On Reign, I can’t wait to watch Alana Cook, the USWNT center back on loan from PSG.