Somerset, N.J. (Wednesday, December 2, 2009) - 2009 Women's Professional Soccer Champion Sky Blue FC powered its offense today when the club officially announced the signing of Laura Österberg Kalmari, who is the all-time leading goal scorer in Finnish National Team history. Also the most capped active player for her nation with 118 international appearances, Kalmari will provide a significant boost to an already impressive Sky Blue FC offense in 2010.
Laura is magical with the ball, and she has the ability to make others around her shine," Sky Blue FC head coach Pauliina Miettinen stated. "She is brilliant playing with one-touch, and her perception of the field is magnificent. Her pass selection and reading of the game make her one of the world's top players."
Kalmari's Finnish record of 33 goals is among the many historical milestones she has achieved while playing the game of soccer, accomplishments that have not gone unnoticed. On three separate occasions, the versatile playmaker has been awarded the Women's Finnish Footballer of the Year Award. Her incredible ability to find the back of the net is something that has always impressed Miettinen, who was formerly a teammate of Kalmari with the Finnish National Team.
"Laura has the instincts for goal scoring, and that's inherent; you either have it or you don't," Miettinen continued. "Laura is also a very versatile player and can play various positions. I am very excited about this opportunity for both her and the team. She is a great, positive person, and she will be a tremendous asset to us in many ways."
Kalmari most recently played this past season for AIK Stockholm in Damallsvenskan, the premier women's soccer league in Sweden. She began her professional career playing in the Finnish Premier League for Puistolan Urheilijat, Malmin Palloseura and HJK Helsinki before heading west to the United States in 2000 to suit up for the University of Portland for one season. Later that year, she returned to HJK Helsinki for the UEFA Women's Cup and then headed back across the Atlantic Ocean to play for the Boston Renegades of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA). The next stop for the Kirkkonummi native was in Sweden for Umeå IK, where she won a pair of UEFA Women's Cups playing alongside current Los Angeles Sol forward Marta. Before this past year with AIK, Kalmari spent a season with Djurgårdens IF.
"I hope I can bring some experience to the team after playing seven years in Damallsvenskan in Sweden and 13 years in the Finnish National Team," Kalmari commented. "WPS is the best league in the world, and Sky Blue FC is a great team."
For someone who achieved many personal feats during her illustrious career, Kalmari is particularly looking forward to the upcoming WPS season.
"It is a big challenge for me to play with the best players in the best league," she said. "I will be the first Finnish player in this league, and I hope it can help more Finnish players to take this step."
Happy to see Kalmari open the door for Finnish players into WPS is Sky Blue FC General Manager Gerry Marrone.
"With the addition of Laura, we add real 'firepower' up front," he remarked. "In addition, we have a solid core of soccer savvy and highly experienced internationals, which is the key to the progress and development of not only Sky Blue FC, but to the league overall."
Along with her skillful game on the pitch, Marrone also commented about a similarity that Kalmari has to unprecedented leader and team captain Christie Rampone.
"It's nice to expand our true family atmosphere with the addition of Laura and her daughter, Meja," he added. "She is the same age as Christie Rampone's daughter, Rylie, and we are happy to be a team of true 'soccer moms.' Needless to say, we are proud of the bond and diversity of our team."
The previous story is excerpted from a press release by Sky Blue FC and is reprinted by beat writer Lauren Green. Green is a freelance writer who writes for Bleacher Report and Sports, Then and Now. She can be contacted for comment or hire at firstname.lastname@example.org . PHOTO CREDIT: www.skybluefc.com