Boyd gets chance to show­case skills in den­mark af­ter learn­ing from no. 1 goalie in world

Chicago Sun-Times - - RED STARS BEAT - BY ANNIE COSTABILE acosta­ @an­niecosta­bile

Emily Boyd’s op­por­tu­nity to play her first stint over­seas pre­sented it­self dur­ing the fi­nal weeks of the NWSL Chal­lenge Cup.

Red Stars coach Rory Dames re­ceived a call from HB Køge, a team in Den­mark, ex­press­ing in­ter­est in his No. 2 goal­keeper, and he had one thing to say about it.

“I spoke to Emily the last week we were in Utah,” Dames said. “And I told her she needs to get games.”

There’s an ob­vi­ous rea­son for that. The No. 1 goal­keeper in the world, Alyssa Nae­her, is ahead of her on the depth chart.

Play­ing be­hind Nae­her has pre­sented a unique op­por­tu­nity for Boyd. She’s learn­ing from the best keeper in the game, but the only time she saw ac­tion last season was when Nae­her was play­ing for the U.S. Women’s Na­tional Team in the World Cup.

Since be­ing se­lected with the 15th over­all pick in the sec­ond round of the 2018 NWSL Col­lege Draft, Boyd has played 13 games. Her most con­sis­tent stretch came in 2019, when she started 10 games for the Red Stars. Dames said he was im­pressed with Boyd’s play, but there was room to im­prove.

Boyd’s game has changed sig­nif­i­cantly un­der the tute­lage of Nae­her. Dames said her main ar­eas of growth have been her level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, her fit­ness and her men­tal ap­proach to the game.

“Emily was a young kid com­ing into the league out of col­lege, and Alyssa was a proven world-class goal­keeper,” Dames said. “Nae­her is in the top five or six fastest play­ers on our team when we do sprints. Fit­ness­wise she’s very high in the group.

“You learn a ton of things when you train with Alyssa ev­ery day. You see things that she does well that maybe you don’t, you see her tech­nique, her form, how she does it, how she trains it and how she im­proves at it. That’s in­valu­able, not just for Emily but any­one that trains with Alyssa.”

Boyd, along with Makenzy Do­niak, who also will play for HB Køge in the Elite­di­vi­sio­nen league, are two of six Red Stars who will be play­ing over­seas this fall, Dames said.

Two other Red Stars who have fi­nal­ized their over­seas con­tracts are for­ward Rachel Hill, who will play in Swe­den for the Da­mallsven­skan league’s Linköpings FC and goal­keeper Cassie Miller, who will re­join Apol­lon Ladies FC of the Cypriot First Di­vi­sion.

The Red Stars said all loans end be­fore the 2021 NWSL pre­sea­son. Dames an­tic­i­pates March will be the ear­li­est the team can re­turn to any type of ac­tiv­ity.

If that’s the case, it’s crit­i­cal for Boyd’s con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment that she finds a rhythm in the box. She’ll have that op­por­tu­nity in Den­mark, where she will have her first chance to play con­sis­tently since col­lege.

“No mat­ter how many times you scrim­mage, or how many times you do small stuff in train­ing, you can’t repli­cate a real game,” Dames said. “You can only play in them.”

Miller is the Red Stars third goal­keeper on the ros­ter, and Dames said she and Boyd will be com­pet­ing for the start­ing spot next season when Nae­her leaves for the Olympics.

Miller has two years of over­seas ex­pe­ri­ence over Boyd. Whoever will be in goal next sum­mer will de­pend on each player’s de­vel­op­ment over­seas.

“I told [Boyd] if you want to be the per­son we turn to when Alyssa leaves for the Olympics, you have to go some­where and get games be­tween now and then,” Dames said. ✶

“No mat­ter how many times you scrim­mage, or how many times you do small stuff in train­ing, you can’t repli­cate a real game. You can only play in them.”

Rory Dames, red stars coach


Emily Boyd, mak­ing a save against the Thorns in the pre­lim­i­nary round of the NWSL Chal­lenge Cup, will get more play­ing time in Den­mark.


Alyssa Nae­her, who played for the U.S. women’s na­tional team in the World Cup last year, has helped Emily Boyd raise her game.

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