FC Gold Pride midfielder Camille Abily has confirmed her move back to Olympique Lyonnais in an interview on the team’s website. The 24 year-old cites that “things have changed since [OL President Jean-Michel Aulas] called me personally to tell me he wanted me back”. Abily has had one of the most successful stints in WPS of any international player in the mix.
Her league-leading eight assists and eight goals propelled the Los Angeles Sol to the 2009 regular season title. The team was eventually vanquished by Sky Blue FC in the WPS Championship game but Abily could avoid the same fate this year. She has the opportunity to depart from WPS as a champion as FC Gold Pride clinched the 2010 regular season title with considerable panache and potency.
To be fair, Abily has only recently hit her stride this season. She was traded to FC Gold Pride from the ill-fated Sol on January 7 of this year. But an ankle injury early in the regular season campaign hampered her effectiveness early on. She then struggled to cement her place in FC Gold Pride’s stacked midfield, particularly after former teammate Shannon Boxx was acquired from the Saint Louis Athletica fire sale. But Abily’s newly-discovered form has helped FC Gold Pride overcome an insipid slump that saw three goalless draws. She’s tallied three assists in the past three matches which puts her second in the team with most assists behind Christine Sinclair’s nine. WPS has benefitted immensely from Abily’s talents. Her presence bolsters the league’s case for being the best women’s soccer league in the world. Her loss should be lamented but one cannot begrudge her decision.
Olympique Lyonnais might just be the best women’s club team not located in either the Bay Area or in Germany. Forget Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan, or Bayern Munich – Olympique Lyon is the most successful men’s club team in the world that has pledged the most amount of support towards its equally-successful women’s team. That should be applauded. (Sorry Gooners, Arsenal’s lack of trophies in the past five years leaves Arsene Wenger’s team out of the conversation).
The women’s team has won four straight Division 1 Feminine titles and was finalists in last season’s premier UEFA Women’s Champions League, losing 6-7 in penalties to Germany’s Turbine Potsdam. The club also reached the semi-finals of the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 UEFA Women’s Cup (the erstwhile edition of the UEFA Women’s Champions League). And the team did it with a much more limited squad.
The club currently boasts the likes of Swiss midfielder Lara Dickenmann, Swedish striker Lotta Schelin, French starlets Elodie Thomis and Louisa Necib and Norwegian Isabell Herlovsen who is tied with Denmark’s Johanna Rasmussen for having scored the second-most goals in UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifying. Lyon has been amongst the most extravagant spenders in women’s football. The team’s acquisition of 21 year-old Eugenie Le Sommer from Stade Briochin is proof positive of this. Le Sommer led the league in goal-scoring last year.