Bay FC wants to 'change the face of American soccer,' says new signing Jen Beattie

ByAmanda Davies and Rebecca Hall
Sunday, March 17, 2024
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Bay FC may be the new kid on the NWSL block, but recent signing Jen Beattie has insisted that the team isn't there to make up the numbers, rather to "change the face of American soccer."

Beattie, a true legend of the women's game, left Arsenal to join Bay FC in February. The defender had two stints at the North London club - from 2009-2013 and rejoining in 2019 until she left earlier this year - and played for Montpellier, Manchester City and Melbourne City in between.

While the former Scotland international made it very clear that Arsenal will always hold a very special place in her heart, she clearly has big ambitions for Bay FC, which will be based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The team was co-founded by four US women's soccer legends - Aly Wagner, Danielle Slaton, Brandi Chastain and Leslie Osborne - and has had financial backing from global investment firm Sixth Street.

RELATED: Bay FC announces team's 2024 schedule for inaugural season with NWSL

As well as Beattie, Bay FC has signed several high-profile internationals ahead of its inaugural season, including Zambian Racheal Kundananji for a reported $787,000 world record fee, Nigerian star Asisat Oshoala and Mexican forward Scarlett Camberos.

Beattie credited the four founding ex-players with helping to set the tone of the club and shaping how they want Bay players to be, both on and off the pitch.

"The way that they wanted to play football was hopefully what will suit me," Beattie told CNN Sport's Amanda Davies. "It was massive. It didn't take very long to convince me, I'll be honest ... Everyone wants to lift trophies and everyone wants to be as successful as possible."

Bay FC, and its star-studded roster, is not the first expansion team to enter the NWSL attempting to shake up the status quo.

RELATED: Bay FC settling into new San Jose home ahead of inaugural season

Los Angeles-based Angel City was founded in 2020 and was announced with a majority female ownership, backed by the likes of Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King.

It is perhaps fitting that Bay FC's inaugural game will be against its interstate rival, which finished fifth in the NWSL last season. The game gets underway at 4:30 p.m. local time (7:30 p.m. ET) on Sunday at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.

"I'd say that every team's a rivalry but, of course, Angel City have absolutely smashed it in their first couple of seasons as an expansion team in recent years," said Beattie. "What they've done as a club, we hugely respect that.

"When I saw Angel City away as our season opener, I was like, 'OK, it doesn't really get much bigger than that.' It will be an awesome game as my intro to the league."

Beattie says that Bay FC head coach Albertin Montoya wants to bring a new style to the American game: "He wants the ball at our feet, he wants short passes. He's come from the Spanish style of play."

New fans to the team and the sport shouldn't be too concerned about first-game jitters though. Beattie herself talked about the impressive progress of the new squad: "I've been in awe of how quickly people can come together."

Renowned for her iconic headers and decisive defending, Beattie leaves behind a legacy at Arsenal having made 166 appearances and knocking in 33 goals.

When it comes to the English Women's Super League title race, she said that she is an Arsenal fan "first and foremost" and only wants to see her former club lift the trophy come the end of the season, though a 3-1 defeat against league leader Chelsea on Friday dented the Gunners' title hopes.

It will be some comfort to Arsenal fans that Beattie is still adjusting to saying "they" instead of "we" while discussing her old club, and she said that she is "constantly on WhatsApp, constantly on FaceTime" to her friends there.

"I've still got some of the best mates in the world in that team ... I'm still keeping in touch as much as I can," she added.

However, eyes now turn to Bay FC and its impressive roster to see just how much of an upset the team can cause in the NWSL.

"I'm 32," said Beattie. "I still feel like I've got so much left in my legs to play."

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