Then the Wanderers came calling with a late offer that scratched her competitive itch. Two of her teammates at the North Carolina Courage, Kristen Hamilton and Denise O’Sullivan, had already committed to joining Western Sydney, and when she discovered they were a W-League basket case who had never made the finals, she saw potential that she wanted to help bring to life.
“I knew they had a new coach and there were people I knew that I’d be around,” Williams said. “I thought, if we can do it right and everybody can buy in, I really think it could be a great challenge and an amazing experience to be a part of.”
You ask yourself, if this was the men’s side, would they ever play there with no running clock? I think it’s ridiculous.
Wanderers star Lynn Williams
Williams, a 21-time US international who scored a brace in a friendly against Costa Rica two weeks ago, will be arguably the most decorated player in the W-League this season. She’s coming off a cracking campaign in the US National Women’s Soccer League, where she netted 12 goals – second only to Sam Kerr. In 2016, she was the competition’s golden boot and MVP.
North Carolina has finished top of the table for the last three seasons running, and last month, they beat Kerr’s Chicago Red Stars 4-0 in the final to seal back-to-back championships. “Luckily for us, they didn’t really show up that game,” Williams said.
She landed in Sydney last Thursday – the morning of the Wanderers’ season-opening 2-1 win over Adelaide United, which she watched through heavy eyelids. That day was the first time she’d seen her boyfriend in nine months.
At least they’re in the same country now, but they’ve gone their separate ways once again as he pursues a career in the NBL, where he’s training with Melbourne United, while she rolls her sleeves up in the W-League. They’re used to it by now. “It’s not ideal, but we make it work,” she said.
Williams will make her debut for the Wanderers on Friday night against the Newcastle Jets in a double-header at Bankwest Stadium. She’s only been here a week but she likes what she sees in the W-League – not just the standard of play but the way it is presented.
“Right off the bat, I was pretty impressed with how every game is on Fox [or streamed], and the whole production of it and how professional they are about that,” Williams said. “The training facilities are amazing – it might even be better than what we have in North Carolina. Those are the investments the women’s game needs.”
But she’s also seen a few areas where improvement is needed. For instance, as her teammates edged a Mary Fowler-inspired Adelaide at Marconi Stadium, she noticed there was no clock showing how much time had elapsed.
“You ask yourself, if this was the men’s side, would they ever play there with no running clock?” she said. “Those are the little things that I think right now in the women’s game are getting overlooked and I think it’s ridiculous.”
Williams was in camp with the US national team when news filtered through about Australia’s historic new collective bargaining agreement, which will see the Matildas and Socceroos receive equal pay and conditions.
It’s an example she believes everyone in women’s football needs to follow – including US Soccer, which is being sued for gender discrimination by 28 women’s national team players who are demanding what the Matildas have just been granted.
“Everybody was talking about it,” she said. “The US is obviously in a lawsuit right now, players versus the federation, and I hope that the federation sees that and sees that women’s sport is here to stay … you’ve got to start paying us the same as you pay men.
“I think we deserve it, and it’s amazing the Australian federation has noticed that.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.