Canberra United has added another defender to its roster for 2021/22 with the signing of fullback Ally Haran.
After coming through the college system with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, it’s been a frustrating few years for the 25-year-old. She was drafted to the Seattle Reign but not signed, making her way to Iceland to appear 17 times for Selfoss.
Amidst COVID interrupted pre-seasons and less than ideal preparation, Haran has barely managed to appear in the NWSL over the past three years. She’s been substituted on twice for the Orlando Pride in 2021.
The transfer to Canberra comes as an opportunity for her career to grow in a way it hasn’t been able to previously.
“Definitely game minutes,” Haran told media when asked what she was looking for out of this season.
“They [Canberra] did so well this past season that hopefully I can help and be a good part of the team and help them make it all the way this year. Hopefully we can have a winning season and I can help be a part of that.”
Canberra United finished fourth in the 2020-21 season, making finals for the first time in four seasons. The club still hasn’t won a final since the 2014 championship winning year, however.
That push for success comes in the form of a completely new venture for the defender, having never played outside of the US in her short career so far.
Haran explained that it was following the advice and recommendations of her teammates that led to a phone call with United coach Vicki Linton about making the move.
“Never had the opportunity yet to play out there,” Haran said.
“Honestly when it came up, I’ve had lots of former teammates that have gone over to play in Australia, and they absolutely loved it, had nothing bad to say about it.
“I had a teammate that played there in 2019, Kaleigh Kurtz, and she absolutely loved it. I talked to her about it a little bit, and she said the city was awesome, she liked the team, the girls.
“I liked the way Vicki talked about the team, and what their goals were for the year. When the opportunity came up I was all for it and excited to make it happen.”Embed from Getty Images
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In terms of how Haran fits into the United line-up, Linton has a couple of options for the versatile defender.
She’s played as both a centre back and fullback in her career so far, but her skillset suits her closer to goal. Haran likes to organise the defensive group, and has that burst of pace needed to get in position to stop a quick attack.
“I did a little bit of fullback with the Pride this year,” Haran explained.
“It depends on what role each team needs me as. I definitely like defending while attacking, I like having the backline organised so we don’t have to do too much, so we don’t have those ‘oh no’ moments.
“I definitely do bring a little bit of speed, so if the ball goes too far over I can recover and mark if needed.”
That pace that she adds seems to be a feature of the squad that Linton is building for the 2021/22 season.
The shoring up of the defence, plus the addition of a holding midfielder in Haran’s Pride teammate Chelsee Washington, gives the players ahead of centre more options than ever.
Holly Caspers and Chloe Middleton provide dynamic options up the wing, while Grace Maher has already shown what she can do as a creative midfielder.
With Allira Toby up front alongside Julie Dolan Medallist Michelle Heyman, expect United to burn plenty of teams when attacking in the upcoming season.
United plays its first game of the A-League Women 2021/22 season on opening night, Friday December 3, hosting Melbourne City at Viking Park.
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