Emily Van Egmond believed fans would be excited to see what the Jets can produce this W-League season, ahead of the announcement that goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom and midfielders Tori Huster and Arin Gilliland will join striker Katie Stengel as American imports at Newcastle
Stengel, who played last season with Western Sydney, was announced as a Jets signing last week. The other three Americans are set to be unveiled on Tuesday.
Huster played with Newcastle in 2012-13 and again in 2014. She also had a season with Western Sydney Wanderers in 2013-14.
The 28-year-old midfielder comes to the Jets this time from Washington Spirit in the US National Women’s Soccer League, where she has also played for Western New York Flash.
Gilliland, a 24-year-old Chicago Red Stars defender, had an impressive W-League debut season with Newcastle last year in midfield and returns in a major boost for the club.
Eckerstrom, 24, was second-string keeper this year with NWSL champions Portland Thorns, who beat North Carolina in the decider 1-0 on October 14. She takes over from Katelyn Rowland, who played for NWSL minor premiers North Carolina and came in as an injury replacement for countrywoman Kelsey Wys at the Jets early last W-League season.
The Americans will join returning Matildas Van Egmond, Tara Andrews, Hannah Brewer and Gema Simon in the Jets squad.
Simon, a captain and foundation Jets player, is yet to be announced but is expected to return following her off-season stint in Norway.
The Jets start the W-League season against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday at McDonald Jones Stadium as part of a double-header with the A-League side.
Van Egmond was the Jets representative at the W-League season launch in Sydney on Monday.
The Matildas No.10’s return to Newcastle was confirmed last Friday and she said then that Jets supporters would be “quite excited to see what we can produce this year” and “I think we’re going to be quite competitive”.
Van Egmond last played with Newcastle in 2014, when she finished with the Julie Dolan Medal as the W-League’s best and fairest. She was also part of the club’s inaugural squad of 2008-09, which made the Jets’ only appearance in the play-offs.
“We haven’t reached the finals for quite a number of years and I think that’s a goal of everyone in the team,” she said. “We’ll take it one game at a time, and all the other teams are bolstering their squads as well, so I think it’s going to be a great season.”
Coach Craig Deans said “the American girls that come in will definitely add to the group” and the squad was potentially better than last year’s, which finished fifth.
“I think our team last year wasn’t too bad,” Deans said. “We got to a game with Melbourne City to make the finals and we weren’t good enough.
“Those players who went through that last year are mostly younger players and I would hope they would have learned from that.”
“Those younger players need to step up and show the mentality that’s needed. We have the potential to be a better team than last year but until they actually get on the field and start to show it, it doesn’t mean anything.”