METUCHEN, NJ – Four players with United Women’s Soccer (UWS) experience have inked new pro deals – two each from Santa Clarita Blue Heat and NJ Copa FC. One player came back to the United States in the NWSL, while three others signed with teams to continue their careers overseas. Meanwhile, Catarina Macario (LAGOC – 2019 UWS National Champion) was recently named to the U.S. Women’s National Team training camp roster in the Netherlands.
Natalia Kuikka (Santa Clarita Blue Heat 2017) will come back stateside to play for Portland Thorns in NWSL. Kuikka most recently spent time with Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC in Sweden, playing in 19 matches and netting three goals. The Kemi, Finland-native was previously named Finland National Player of the Year after her efforts leading Santa Clarita to the UWS Championship match. The midfielder/defender is a proven winner, picking up a 2018 NCAA National Championship with Florida State, a 2019 Svenska Cupen Damer (Ladies Swedish Cup) crown, and a 2020 Damallsvenskan title.
Evdokia Popadinova (Santa Clarita Blue Heat 2018-19) recently made her debut for Napoli Femminile in Italy Serie A alongside 2019 UWS player Vivien Beil (Connecticut Fusion). Evi moved on from AaB Kind Elitefodbold in Denmark after a brief stint that saw her score one goal in four appearances. The high-scoring forward is the four-time reigning Bulgarian Footballer of the Year. Popadinova dominated the college ranks – first at NAIA side Northwestern Ohio where she scored 36 goals in 44 matches; before nabbing back-to-back All-American honors at Florida Gulf Coast the previous two seasons.
Krystyna Freda (NJ Copa FC – 2016) Freda is on the move to Appollon Landies FC of the Cypriot First Division. UWS’ first ever Player of the Year has netted the 2nd most goals IN THE WORLD out of any player in 2019 (84) and 2018 (82). Overall, Freda has picked up a whopping 245 goals in her three seasons in Cyprus, including 12 UEFA Women’s Champions League goals. The Somerset, NJ-native recently made her debut with the Cyprus WNT, picking up her first cap against Portugal on October 27th. Freda was a standout with NJ Copa in 2016, netting 15 goals and three assists in 11 games, leading the league in points and goals.
Alana Nicole O’Neill (NJ Copa FC – 2017) O’Neill signed with German club Arminia Frauen ahead of the 2020-21 season. The former Syracuse Orange previously spent time with Lugano in the Swiss top flight and Benfica in the Portuguese first division. The Chester, NY born defender started 72 games, tallying seven goals and three assists over four years at ‘Cuse.
Get to know UWS alumni like these each week as they take over the league’s Instagram story @uwssoccer. Check out the latest IG story highlights where featured pro Vivien Beil shares about her life overseas. The UConn alumna played for Connecticut Fusion in 2019 and garnered Second Team All-UWS and First Team All-UWS East Conference accolades. She currently plays for Napoli Femminile in Italy.