March 6, 2010

Damallsvenskan 2010 preview 1

League leaders lose a lot

Last year's top two teams in Damallsvenskan, Linköpings FC and Umeå IK, have both been hard hit by players moving, mostly to WPS teams. LFC loses their top three offensive players (Kosovare Asllani to Chicago Red Stars, Jessica Landström to New Jersey Sky Blue, and Caroline Seger to Philadelphia Independence). Linköping is hoping that forward Josefine Öqvist, who was injured for most of last year, will stay healthy and regain her scoring form; the club has also acquired Finnish forward Linda Sällström who played last at Djurgården. On defense, LFC retains the services of national team player Charlotte Rohlin and Nigerian international Faith Ikidi, both of whom who had good seasons last year, and goalkeeper Sofia Lundgren, who is currently third keeper for the national team.

LFC is out of the Women's Champions League after tying at home and then losing to the Frauenbundesliga's Duisburg last year; LFC's first game of the year will be against Umeå IK in the Supercup (a single game between last year's top two teams) on March 21. LFC's domestic season starts April 3 against Kopparbergs/Göteborg, which will be a challenging start for them. Sky Blue fans interested in getting a peek at what Landström can do might be interested in the brief highlights from last year's K/G v. LFC game (a longer match report in English).

Umeå IK loses their top goal scorer and point leader Ramona Bachmann (Atlanta Beat) as well as their second (Madeline Edlund, to St. Louis Athletica) and third (Johanna Ramussen, also to the Beat) top point getters. Their fourth most effective offensive player, long-time Umeå stalwart Hanna Ljungberg, retired in some haste in the middle of last season due to persistent injuries; Umeå also loses Mami Yamaguchi (Atlanta Beat) and Lisa Dahlkvist (Kopparbergs/Göteborg). Frida Östberg, who played last year for Chicago, has returned to her old club UIK after what must have been the shortest retirement in the history of women's football.

UIK will get long headstart on the domestic season, hosting French side Montpellier in the Women's Champions League quarterfinal on March 10 with the return a week later. Last year UIK crashed out of the same tournament (then known as the UEFA Women's Cup) by losing to Russian side Zvezda on a frozen pitch; like last year, Umeå (and most of the rest of Sweden) is still covered in plenty of snow, which might help UIK against Montpellier more than it did against Zvezda. UIK then has the Supercup match against Linköping on the 21st, and their league opener on April 5 against newcomers Jitex, which ought to be an easy win for them.

Up next in part 2: preview for LdB FC Malmö and Kopparbergs/Göteborg