Eight foreigners sign with US women's league

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The Independent Football

Four players from women's Olympic soccer champion Norway were among eight foreigners to sign with the Women's United Soccer Association.

Four players from women's Olympic soccer champion Norway were among eight foreigners to sign with the Women's United Soccer Association.

In all, 16 international players will join the WUSA when it begins its first season in April.

Norway's Hege Riise, Bente Nordby, Gro Espeseth and Ann Kristin Aarones, all regulars of the team that beat the United States for the gold medal in Sydney, joined the league. Also signing were Sweden's Ulrika Karlsson and Kristin Bengttson, Canada's Charmaine Hooper and England's Kelly Smith.

"In order for the WUSA to have the premier women's soccer league in the world, we needed to include some of the top international players," said Lauren Gregg, WUSA vice president of player relations.

"I think this group, in particular, represents some of the finest foreign players available. Much like the US players, these athletes represent the foundation of women's soccer in their particular country."

Riise, a central midfielder, won the Golden Boot as leading scorer in the 1995 World Cup won by Norway. She also played for the 1996 Olympic bronze medalist squad.

Espeseth, a defender, has played for Norway for nearly a decade and was on the 1991 World Cup runner-up as well as the 1995 championship team. Nordby has been Norway's top goalkeeper for the past four years. Aarones scored the winning goal in the 1995 World Cup against the Americans.

The other eight international players will be added shortly, and the league will have a foreign player draft this fall.

The league will play in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco Bay area and Washington.

It will feature nearly every member of the United States' 1999 World Cup championship team, including Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett, Carla Overbeck and Briana Scurry.

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