As the partnership between the NWSL and Lifetime TV continues to grow, the league has put together a Team of the Month for the first time since its inception. The NWSL Media Association made the selection based on the performances by the eleven players listed during the month of April and decided that they deserved the honor due to their productivity over the course of the month.
The list of eleven leaves little room for debate
The following were the eleven picked for the NWSL Team of the Month:
Goalkeeper: Stephanie Labbé (Washington Spirit).
Forwards: Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash).
There could be some argument made that the likes of Nicole Barnhart, Hayley Kopmeyer or Abby Smith could have replaced Labbé at the goalkeeper position as all three were incredibly impressive in their three appearances for their respective teams. Although the Spirit are second from bottom in the table, Labbé has kept them in games that they should have lost and also prevented them from losing by bigger margins than they would have had she not been in goal. All in all, the above eleven are the right choices for April's best eleven.
Lavelle and Debinha have breakthrough months
Of the players listed, two are currently making their NWSL debuts. The Boston Breakers' Rose Lavelle and the North Carolina Courage's Debinha are currently playing in their first season in the NWSL and while Debinha is already an experienced professional, Lavelle is playing in her first professional league since being drafted by the Breakers. That is not to take away from the Brazilian who has adapted very well to the league and all that comes with playing soccer in the United States.
Débora Cristiane de Oliveira, otherwise known as Debinha, spent most of her career playing in Brazil and spent some time playing in Norway and China. She then was signed by the now defunct Western New York Flash in January 2017 and was kept on with the rest of the Flash roster as the team was relocated to North Carolina. Debinha has one goal and one assist in her first three games for the Courage but it's her playmaking abilities at the number ten position, allowing the likes of Lynn Williams and Jess McDonald to thrive from her creativity, that have earned her a place in April's Team of the Month. She also is tied first in the league for the most shot on target with seven.
Lavelle is entering the league slightly differently than Debinha. Although she is considered a rookie by league standards, Lavelle has already been capped by the USWNT and started most of the game at the most recent SheBelieves Cup tournament for her country.
Her debut performance against FC Kansas City may not have ended the way Lavelle would have liked as the Breakers went down to a 2-0 loss away from home but her potential was clear for all to see that day. She followed up that performance by earning her first assist and her first goal in the league in the following two games that the Breakers played, helping them up to second in the league at this point in the season.
If Boston wants to make the playoffs for the first time in their history, Lavelle will lead the way for them based on her April performances which also won her NWSL Player of the Month honors.