JETS coach Craig Deans said the UCLA connection with centre-back Megan Oyster was one of the attractions of signing Western New York Flash goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, who could make her W-League debut as early as Sunday.
Newcastle announced on Tuesday that Rowland was a replacement for fellow American Kelsey Wys, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in the round three win over Perth.
Rowland is expected to arrive in Australia on Friday and Deans said the 22-year-old could feature for Newcastle in the round-five clash against second-placed Sydney at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
“I suppose it depends on a couple of things,” Deans said.
“If she gets here and feels good physically, is one question, and the other is if she’s got all her paperwork, ITC [international transfer clearance] and everything’s in order with the FFA.
“We’ve got a couple of days to get that in order, and if we do that and she’s physically recovered from the flights, we’ll have a good look at her.
“Their season finished only a few weeks ago, so physically she should be in a decent place, and I think it will just come down to how she’s feeling after the travel.”
Deans said Rowland was “probably the best option that came through” from agents following the injury to Wys and her time at UCLA with the Jets’ reigning player of the year was a bonus.
“She’s played with Megan Oyster before so that worked well,” he said. “They have an understanding of each other already.”
Claire Coelho has stood in goals in Wys’ absence and Emerging Jets 15-year-old Annalee Grove was signed on a two-week contract as her back up.
Coelho was named player of the match in the 1-0 home victory over Perth, in which she came in the 10th minute, and was in goals in the 5-2 away loss to Canberra last Saturday.
“There were a few sloppy goals on our behalf, not necessarily the goalkeeper,” Deans said of the defeat in Canberra. “At the end of the day, Kelsey was our first-choice keeper and we lost her, so it’s my responsibility to make sure the squad is as strong as it can be.
“If we lost a first-choice player in any position, we’d have to go and try to strengthen the squad and get a replacement, and the goalkeeper situation is no different.
“Once the club instructed us to find a replacement player, we had to find the best we could. That’s a challenge for Claire and if she responds to it in the right way – no player is guaranteed a position.”
Earlier: The W-League Newcastle Jets have signed Western New York Flash goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland as an injury replacement for fellow American Kelsey Wys.
The Jets announced the signing on Tuesday, saying Rowland would “join the side as soon as possible once international clearances are finalised”.
The 22-year-old was part of the Western New York Flash side who won the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Championship this year.
Wys, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in round three against Perth, played for Washington Spirit in the NWSL final against Western New York Flash.
Rowland played for Kansas City in 2015 and was part of the U-20 and U-23 US teams.
“Obviously with Kelsey and her injury it’s important that we keep competition for spots high and signing Katelyn will allow us to do that,” Jets coach Craig Deans said in a statement.
“She will bring with her the experience of playing in a successful championship-winning team and we are looking forward to her bringing her experience and quality to our side.”
Rowland will play club soccer abroad for the first time.
“I am extremely excited. This will be my first time playing in Australia, so everything about it will be a new experience for me,” Rowland said in the statement.
“I have heard nothing but great reviews about the W-League and the quality of play it possesses.
“I am looking forward to getting there, meeting the team and getting to work towards a W-League championship.”
Rowland was expected to arrive in Sydney on Friday morning.
Mount Hutton’s Annalee Grove, 15, was signed on a two-week contract as a short-term replacement for Wys. Claire Coelho came on for Wys in the 1-0 win over Perth and started in goals in the 5-2 loss to Canberra last Saturday.
The Jets host Sydney on Sunday in round five at McDonald Jones Stadium.