Perth Glory Westfield W-League season preview: Can Glory remain a force in 2019/20?

By: Matthew Comito

Perth Glory heads into unknown waters in the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign without former captain and Matilda’s megastar Sam Kerr to steady the ship.

Grand Finalists last season, Perth look set to begin an exciting transitional period as talented youngsters and new international imports alike get set to stake their claim to become Perth Glory’s newest stars.

All eyes will turn out west as fans watch on with intrigue to see how Glory Head Coach Bobby Despotovski sets his team out to mitigate the loss of one of the world’s finest footballing talents.

Find out how he plans to do so in w-league.com.au’s comprehensive Perth Glory preview ahead of the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.

Last season:  4TH

W-League.com.au’s things to watch

Kerr departure forces game plan overhaul

Last season Despotovski deployed a specific game style centered around Kerr which he won’t be able to reproduce this season after her departure from the club.

Each week free-scoring Perth backed Kerr and American striker Rachel Hill to outscore the opposition and it usually worked, but in the Process Glory conceded the second-highest amount of goals in the league (26).

In the absence of Kerr and Hill, we can expect to see a far more defensively assured Glory outfit this season, as they simply can’t afford to ship a similar amount of goals without the firepower they used to possess up top.

Who scores Glory’s goals?

Kerr (17), Rachel Hill (6) and Alyssa Mautz (5) combined for 28 of Glory’s 34 goals last season, and none of their top three goal scorers have returned to Perth for the 2019/20 campaign.

Perth was the equal-highest goal scorers with Sydney FC last season, but there’s no doubt they will struggle to repeat that feat this year with their lack of attacking prowess.

American striker Crystal Thomas joins Despotovski’s squad for the 2019/20 Westfield W-League season after scoring three goals in 13 appearances for Washington Spirit in the 2019 NWSL campaign, but Glory can’t rely on her alone to fill the boots of two of the league’s most potent strikers.

Exciting youngsters Leticia McKenna, Caitlin Doeglas and Lexie Moreno are tipped to thrive with extended minutes in the absence of Glory’s attacking stars from last season as Despotovski looks for a spread of goals from around the squad to get results.

Kerr and Hill
Glory need to replace the goals of Sam Kerr and Rachel Hill in 2019/20

First five fixtures

  • Canberra United (a)
  • Sydney FC (H)
  • Newcastle Jets (H)
  • Canberra United (H)
  • Melbourne City (a)

Key match-ups: Sydney FC, Canberra United

Sydney FC

Glory will want to put on a stellar showing against the Sydney FC this season, with memories of their 4-2 loss to the Sky Blues in the 2019/20 Westfield W-League Grand Final stuck in their minds.

Despotovski’s side gets their first crack at the Champions at Dorrien Gardens in Round 3 and will not only use the clash to get revenge on their rivals but prove they can match it with the best without Kerr’s goals spurring them on.

Canberra United

Perth and Canberra have formed an unusual rivalry in past seasons due to the sheer entertainment offered up each time these two sides meet.

Two 4-4 draws in the last two seasons between Canberra and Perth provided drama and entertainment aplenty as both sides refused to give each other an inch, and this rivalry will be showcased twice in the first five rounds of the 2019/20 season.

Playing Canberra twice in quick succession offers Despotovski the chance to prepare for what’s shaping as a two-legged tie that could prove vital in giving either side a positive start in the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.

Players to watch

Leticia McKenna, Lexie Moreno

17-year-old McKenna showed experience beyond her years last season, making 13 appearances for Despotovski’s side and scoring two goals.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Young Matildas starlet Lexie Moreno featured only four times, scoring one goal, but excitement is rife around the Glory camp for what she can produce this season.

These two attack-minded youngsters in Glory’s new-look squad will relish the opportunity for more minutes this season, and despite the massive loss of Kerr and Hill up top Moreno and McKenna may just benefit from the departure of the attacking duo as the attacking load will be shared, rather than funneled through the two superstars.

Leticia McKenna solo
Leticia McKenna

Celia Jiminez Delgado (Celia)

Spanish international Celia joins Glory for the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign, offering much-needed defensive reinforcement to Despotovski’s side.

Fresh from the 2019 NWSL campaign where she played 13 games for Reign FC, Delgado has played 24 times for her country and was part of the squads Spain took to both the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups.

Celia’s value to Despotovski’s squad largely lies in her versatility; she can play as a wing-back, a conventional full-back and across the midfield.

As Glory looks to transition away from their free-scoring style which focussed around Kerr and Hill upfront, Celia brings top-shelf defensive qualities to a Glory squad aiming to be far more defensively solid in the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.

The squad

Arianna Romero
Arianna Romero is back at Perth for the first time since the 2016/17 Season

Squad verdict

There are concerns surrounding Glory’s squad and rightly so – it’s next to impossible to replace Sam Kerr unless you recruit one of the world’s best players – but you can’t discount a squad riddled with young, exuberant talent whose potential knows no bounds.

It’s all about balance for Despotovski this season, who must first ensure his internationals (Celia, Crystal Thomas, Morgan Andrews) gel together with the rest of the squad, then move on to finding how best to use the players at his disposal to forge a team both defensively assured and potent in attack.

Perth will benefit from the experience of local stalwarts like Shannon May, Kim and Sarah Carroll and Natasha Rigby who become more important than ever as the team transitions into a new phase; they’ve seen and done it all before under Despotovski in Perth and will play massive roles in setting the tone for the rest of the squad in terms of what they want to achieve this season.

Perth Glory 2019/20 squad

Morgan Aquino, Eliza Campbell, Kim Carroll, Sarah Carroll, Caitlin Doeglas, Jamie-Lee Gale, Shannon May, Lexie Moreno, Leticia McKenna, Jenna Onions, Natasha Rigby, Celia Jimenez Delgado, Morgan Andrews, Crystal Thomas, Arianna Romero

W-League team shot with Challenge Cup
Perth Glory’s squad won the annual pre-season clash with a WA State team

The boss: Bobby Despotovski

Despotovski heads into his most challenging season in charge of Glory’s Westfield W-League side since taking the reigns in 2015.

In his four seasons in charge at Glory Despotovski has made the Grand Final twice, losing on both occasions, and if the pattern of his side reaching the Grand Final one year and missing out on finals altogether the next continues, Glory could be in for a disappointing 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.

Despotovski faces a stern test of his managerial credentials this season as he takes Glory into a Westfield W-League season without Kerr for the first time, and have been able to rely on her tremendous scoring output for four seasons we’ll see just how he plans to mitigate not having that same luxury this time around.

The kits

Perth returns to their roots this season, reverting back to a purple and orange home kit having played in purple and white throughout recent seasons.

Glory’s home kit features thin pin-stripe detailing on a purple base, with orange detail on the collar, sleeves, kit numbers and lettering.

Their away kit will once again be predominantly white with purple trim around the sleeves, collar and on the shoulders.

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