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How W-League clubs shape up this season

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 Emma Kemp

WHO'S WHO AND WHAT'S NEW IN THE W-LEAGUE

ADELAIDE UNITED

Coach: Hussein Skenderovic

Last season: 5th

The Lady Reds are still chasing finals football and have signed league's first Brazilian player to help. Defender Monica Hickmann Alves brings big-game nous to an outfit that's undergone yet another rebuild. Young Matildas Alex Chidiac, Emily Condon and Grace Abbey headline a youthful squad boosted by expert campaigner Racheal Quigley. Skenderovic has also signed American trio Danny Colaprico, Sofia Huerta, and Katie Naughton.

BRISBANE ROAR

Coach: Mel Andreatta

Last season: 4th, semi-finalists

If Brisbane model this season on any match it should be the semi-final, when they became the only side to hold Melbourne City scoreless in regulation time before falling on penalties. Despite a contractual dispute, stalwarts Clare Polkinghorne, Tameka Butt, Katrina Gorry and Angela Beard have re-signed, while new faces include Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, Danish defender Nina Frausing-Pedersen and US midfielder Maddy Evans.

CANBERRA UNITED

Coach: Rae Dower

Last season: 2nd, semi-finalists

American recruits Jasmyne Spencer and Celeste Boureille bring plenty of punch to an attack already boasting Matildas striker Michelle Heyman and Julie Dolan Medal winner Ashleigh Sykes. Defence, meanwhile, is a work in progress as Emma Checker continues her recovery from an ACL tear, though Japan World Cup-winner Yukari Kinga will add experience. Expect to see Heyman try her hand in attacking midfield behind Spencer.

MELBOURNE CITY

Coach: Joe Montemurro

Last season: Premiers and champions

Last season's runaway winners have targets on their backs as rivals clamber to catch up with the league's newest and richest club. The loss of mercurial Matildas co-captain Lisa De Vanna and Scottish gun Kim Little takes the shine off City's front third. But Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock's retention is a coup, as is snaring Erika Tymrak on loan from Kansas City and poaching Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams from Canberra United.

MELBOURNE VICTORY

Coach: Jeff Hopkins

Last season: 9th

After a shocking season with just seven points from 12 games, Victory are rather hoping that former Brisbane title-winning coach Hopkins can inject a winning mentality back into the squad. English striker Natasha Dowie is on board, as are goalkeeper Bianca Henninger and fellow American, defender Samantha Johnson. The rebuild is evident but don't expect any finals action this time.

NEWCASTLE JETS

Coach: Craig Deans

Last season: 6th

After finishing just three points outside the finals but with the least number of goals, the Jets' priority has understandably been hiring a gun striker. They reckon they've hit the jackpot with American Jen Hoy, who replaces Tara Andrews and has pace to burn. In another promising sign for the Hunter-based club, Deans has proven he can hold onto big players by retaining Chloe Logarzo after her breakout year with the Matildas.

PERTH GLORY

Coach: Bobby Despotovski

Last season: 8th

Sam Kerr has finally recovered from her long-term foot injury and is itching to get started alongside American Vanessa DiBernardo, who was honoured for scoring last season's goal of the year. Expect Glory to hit the back of the net more often. Defence has been the weak link though Mexican international Arianna Romero will help solve that problem with assistance from midfield recruit Alyssa Mautz.

SYDNEY FC

Coach: Daniel Barrett

Last season: 3rd, grand finalists

Pledging to spend the whole salary cap, Sydney are on the verge of unveiling a South American import. Not that the team's local expertise is lacking. The Sky Blues boast the least-changed squad along with the addition of added experience in Servet Uzunlar and Georgia Yeoman-Dale. August's heartbreaking Rio Olympics exit has Matildas Kyah Simon, Caitlin Foord and Alanna Kennedy hungry to hunt down Melbourne City.

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS

Coach: Richard Byrne

Last season: 7th

The Wanderers are banking on a new coach to achieve new things - like making finals for the first time. If Byrne, the club's third mentor in five seasons, can successfully mesh a solid roster it could just happen. Captain Caitlin Cooper, goalkeeper Casey Dumont and Matilda Ellie Carpenter are the local stars while club-hopper Kendall Fletcher headlines an American quartet also including Paige Nielsen, Alex Arlitt and striker Katie Stengel.

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