During the international break that runs from August 26 through September 3, three Reign FC players will travel to England for the 2019 Nordic Tournament with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team. Reign FC goalkeeper Casey Murphy, defender Schuler DeBree, and forward Bethany Balcer are among the 16 NWSL players selected to the 23-player roster. They are joined by five who currently play in Europe and two of the top college players in the country.
The trio are Reign FC’s three youngest players. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski is eager for them to get time under U.S. U-23 head coach B.J. Snow.
“They need minutes, so the more they play this year the better they can get,”Andonovski said of his first-year players earning selection. “This will be a great opportunity for the players and we are excited to see how they perform in the tournament.”
Murphy signed with Reign FC on May 15, 2019 from Montpellier in the French Division 1 Féminine. She has five clean sheets and a 1.08 goals against average, best in the NWSL among keepers with 10 or more starts, in her first season of NWSL play. Murphy is in her third year earning selection to the U.S. U-23s and has twice been called into the full national team.
“I am honored to be called back and represent the USA,” Murphy said. “International competition excites me and makes me stronger. It presents different opponents/styles of football, and I’m someone who wants that challenge to deepen myself and reach one of my goals of being on the full team.“
DeBree came up through the U.S. youth ranks, first appearing with the U-14s back in 2010. DeBree signed with Reign FC from AC Sparta Praha on July 15, 2019. She was the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NWSL draft, but chose to play in Europe rather than sign with the Washington Spirit last season.
“I have learned something valuable from every coach I have had in my youth career. I always come away from camps with a new appreciation for the game, and with so many new things to develop in my own play,” DeBree said about her prior national team experience. “It’s fascinating to see how each coach sees the game differently, and how they think I can best contribute to their system. I've also learned that versatility and coachability are two of the best assets to have.”
DeBree featured in the U-23 WNT squad that was defeated by Reign FC in the Portland Invitational Tournament during the 2019 pre-season.
Balcer joined Reign FC on April 17, 2019 as an undrafted rookie. The forward has three goals and an assist in 1,215 minutes with Reign FC in her first year of professional play. The call-up to the U-23s is Balcer’s first opportunity to represent her country.
“It’s been a dream ever since I can remember. You grow up watching the U.S. Women’s National Team and hope that one day you can be a part of a legacy like that,” Balcer said about the honor of wearing the red, white, and blue. “It became more realistic after joining Reign FC and being able to continue to develop at a high level. I’m so blessed by this opportunity and grateful to both Vlatko and BJ for allowing me to fulfill this lifelong dream.”
The USA will face Norway on Aug. 28, England on Aug. 30, and finish with Sweden on Sept. 2. All the matches will be played at Loughborough University in Loughborough, England, which is approximately 45 miles northeast of Birmingham.
Murphy, DeBree and Balcer will not miss any NWSL matches due to the call-up to the U-23 WNT.
Full U.S. U-23 WNT Roster – 2019 Nordic Tournament - England
GOALKEEPERS (2): Emily Boyd (Chicago Red Stars; Seattle, Wash.), Casey Murphy (Reign FC; Bridgewater Township, N.J.)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; Worcester, Mass.), Schuyler Debree (Reign FC; Fair Haven, N.J.), Brooke Denesik (Biike Kazygurt/KAZ; Anthem, Ariz.), Emily Fox (UNC; Ashburn, Va.), Madison Pogarch (Portland Thorns FC; Hartland, Mich.), Erin Simon (West Ham United/ENG; Oakhurst, N.J.), Samantha Staab (Washington, Spirit; San Diego, Calif.), Gabby Vincent (Utah Royals; Colombia, Md.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Carlyn Baldwin (Sporting CP/POR; Oakton, Va.), Jordan DiBiasi (Washington Spirit; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Julie James Doyle (Sky Blue FC/Fairview, Texas), Haley Hanson (Houston Dash; Overland Park, Kans.), Cece Kizer (Houston Dash; Overland Park, Kans.), Savannah McCaskill (Chicago Red Stars; Chapin, S.C.), Marisa Viggiano (Orlando Pride; Troy, Mich.)
FORWARDS (6): Bethany Balcer (Reign FC; Hudsonville, Mich.), Imani Dorsey (Sky Blue FC; Elkridge, Md.), Kristen Hamilton (NC Courage; Littleton, Colo.), Hailie Mace (Rosengård FC/SWE; Ventura, Calif.), Paige Monaghan (Sky Blue FC; Roxbury Township, N.J.), Sophia Smith (Stanford; Windsor, Colo.)