Melbourne City has completed its roster for the 2021/22 A-League Women season with Marisa van der Meer and Meisha Westland.
Last year City was still constructing its squad with the 2020 season well underway. This time City has built a side months out from kickoff, with the two youngsters the final pieces of the puzzle.
2021 will be van der Meer’s first season in Australia, but she is no stranger to an elite environment. The 19-year-old defender is considered an up-and-coming talent of New Zealand football, and was called up to the recent Olympic squad.
“Marisa gained some valuable experience as part of New Zealand’s squad in the Tokyo Olympics,” coach Rado Vidosic said.
“We’re looking forward to working with her and watching her continue to develop as a player.”
Last season, Melbourne City had an uncharacteristically leaky defense. Vidosic’s hastily assembled team had strong individual players, but little in the way of tactical options.
Injuries to any of the defenders left the team exposed. The ability of van der Meer to play anywhere across a back four is something that Vidosic appreciates about the player.
“She is capable of playing multiple positions, so will add further versatility and depth to our defence,” he said.
Upon signing for her first professional club, the Football Fern spoke glowingly of City’s reputation.
“I’ve heard very good things about the setup that City have,” she said.
“I made this move to Australia and City because I see it as a really good opportunity to not only play in a great team, but to challenge and better myself as a player.”
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20-year-old Meisha Westland joins from Lions FC in Queensland, and hopes to make an impression in her first top-flight season.
“My goals this season are to make by debut and have an impact on the field,” the defensive midfielder said.
“I really want to showcase what I can do on the pitch, both in training and on game day.”
Westland will add balance to a midfield brimming with attacking talents. Leah Davidson will likely be Vidosic’s first choice in the defensive role, but Westland will also offer support for the likes of Rhianna Pollicina and Leticia McKenna to unlock defences.
“Meisha has been a player we’ve had an eye on for a while and she’s very deserving of this opportunity,” Vidosic said.
“She suits our style of play and we’re excited to work with her and see her continue to improve.”
Westland reinforces what is looking like a defensively strong side for 2021/22. Her ability to break up attacks and distribute the ball will be an important factor in any City success.
She has the vision and passing range that are usually associated with the best deep-lying playmakers. If she is deployed alongside Davidson, they could be a very productive double act in the centre of the park.
Westland and van der Meer are the final recruits of the season. They are versatile, young and talented. City have planned ahead and the future looks exciting.
Melbourne City FC 2021/22 A-League Women Squad
Melissa BARBIERI (gk), Chelsea BLISSETT, Emma CHECKER (c), Naomi CHINNAMA, Leah DAVIDSON, Sally JAMES (gk), Caitlin KARIC, Darcey MALONE, Leticia MCKENNA, Holly MCNAMARA, Rhianna POLLICINA, Rebekah STOTT, Kaitlyn TORPEY, Tori TUMETH, Marisa van der MEER, Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, Meisha WESTLAND, Hannah WILKINSON.
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