A fresh start has perhaps arrived much sooner than anticipated for recent Houston Dash signing Kaylyn Kyle, but alongside new beginnings for the Canadian international there is always room for a throwback here and there.
A Bronze medallist at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Kaylyn has 79 caps and five goals for Canada and spent last year’s inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season with Seattle Reign. Moving to the Boston Breakers ahead of the 2014 campaign, few would have predicted that she would be making another switch so soon after joining.
Last week, it was announced that after two starts for Boston, Kaylyn, 25, would be heading to the NWSL’s first expansion team – the Houston Dash. Midfielder / defender Nikki Washington went to the Breakers in exchange and Kaylyn links up with Canadian national team counterparts in goalkeeper Erin McLeod and (currently injured) defender Lauren Sesselmann.
The Canadian contingent at the Dash is minimal when held up next to the base of American players in the squad and the chances of Canadian national team favourite Celine Dion getting airtime in the locker room appear slim! As Dash forward Ella Masar revealed on here, Mexican international Arianna Romero is a strong influence on team music at present.
Kaylyn got an instant starting opportunity as the Dash took on FC Kansas City on Saturday so maybe a chance as team DJ could be in the offing too at some point. With Canada, there is a Washington Spirit defender who is trusted with the track choices but Kaylyn gets her input too.
“With the national team it’s usually Robyn Gayle and she puts mixes together. I’m usually the one people come to for music too.”
Music is utilised in different ways depending on the club or international team concerned, but it is safe to say that for the Canada squad it is a fundamental element. Goalkeeper Erin McLeod, strikers Kara Lang and Christina Julien, and even head coach John Herdman have all discussed its relevance to the national team in interviews on here.
Among the revelations was captain and Portland Thorns star Christine Sinclair’s use of Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ as a pre-game motivational song. Then there is the ritual of singing ‘The Power of Love’ on the bus or in a team huddle after a victory.
Celine Dion is of course an iconic artist and individual in Canada and that is reflected in how often her material is heard when the national team gets together. If Kaylyn was given the opportunity to record any cover version however, with one of her career teammates to link up with on the song, she would take it back to the 90s with a certain defender.
“I would do ‘This Is How We Do It’ (by Montell Jordan) and it would probably be with Carmelina Moscato.”
Fellow Canadian Moscato was actually the other player involved in the trade that took Kaylyn to the Boston Breakers. The deal saw Moscato move from the Breakers to Seattle Reign where Kaylyn had made 19 starts last season, scoring three goals.
For women’s soccer in Canada, there are some incredibly important moments to look back on with regard to leading it to its current highly encouraging state. The Bronze in the 2012 Olympics was understandably huge for a nation that had gone 76 years without achieving a medal in a traditional team sport. With that in mind, it is not difficult to appreciate why Diana Matheson’s last-gasp winner against France to secure the feat was so frantically celebrated.
There was also the remarkable fourth-placed finish at the 2003 World Cup after Canada had previously never made it beyond the group stage. Charmaine Hooper’s quarter-final winner against China in that tournament was crucial in laying foundations for the women’s game in Canada.
The profile of the national team’s players has rocketed in recent years and all the more so since London 2012. Kaylyn played all six games in the competition that summer and the Saskatoon native proudly stood on the medal podium alongside her teammates.
Erin McLeod and midfielder Desiree Scott are known for their impressive vocals and Kaylyn shares some further inside information on the singing ability and musical preferences within the team.
“Carmelina Moscato is good on karaoke but Steph Labbé is a horrible singer! Me and Melissa Tancredi usually have sing-offs but we’ll do it without music playing, which makes it more interesting.
“Rhian Wilkinson has horrible music taste… but she is amazing!”
Growing up, Kaylyn played numerous other sports such as basketball and tennis, but once she started with soccer as a six-year-old it stuck with her. With a mum who played volleyball and a dad who was a hockey player at pro level, she was actually a back-up goalkeeper for her provincial team as a youngster.
She would kick a ball around on the park by herself as a kid, even though friends tried to get her to play hockey with them. Kaylyn was an observer at the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship, held in Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria. Her parents drove her to Edmonton and it was at this tournament that top-level future players like Euro 2013 final hero Anja Mittag and five-time consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year Marta were featuring.
Canadian players who would become teammates and friends of Kaylyn were also in action, such as the aforementioned Erin McLeod and Carmelina Moscato. The competition’s Golden Shoe and Golden Ball winner was Christine Sinclair and Kaylyn looked up to her massively as a teenager, and as is clear later on in the interview, she still does.
The tournament had become the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Championship by the time of the 2006 edition and Kaylyn was on the team this time, and again in 2008. Her sister Courtnee also had the soccer bug and played at a national level. She has recalled how she always knew Kaylyn would make it on the international stage, even if her sister may not have truly thought it would happen.
The love of the game goes way back for Kaylyn and so too does her connection with music, as this next recollection proves!
“I’m always singing in the changing room but I’ve never had to get up and sing in front of everyone. I sing in the shower and my parents actually bought me a radio to listen to while I was in the shower when I was younger.
“I like almost any music. I grew up with country; I’m a really good country dancer too by the way!
“I also like old school rap and some dance like Avicii. I don’t really like the hardcore, head-banging kind of music.”
Music love and status as an accomplished and marketable athlete have led to Kaylyn becoming a Beats By Dre endorsee. The brand requires little introduction to many people but co-founded by legendary hip-hop artist and producer Dr. Dre, it has become synonymous with music listening through headphones.
Such endorsements have long been a huge part of sports and Kaylyn describes what her link-up with ‘Beats’ has largely entailed so far.
“I’ve done a commercial for them, I’ve done stills, and the first big thing I went to last fall was an event with all other athletes and musicians so that was great. I think it’s a really cool and empowering company with no bullshit.
“I love endorsing products that fit my lifestyle.”
A former player with Vancouver Whitecaps and also Piteå IF of Sweden’s Damallsvenskan, Kaylyn made her debut for Canada’s senior team as a 19-year-old in a defeat against the US in 2008. Four years later, she started or appeared in every game at the Olympics, including the pulsating 4-3 extra-time semi-final loss to the US, and also the Bronze medal clash with France.
The Games were a resounding success as a spectacle for the UK and the closing ceremony featured performances from a plethora of British artists. One of those was a girl band Kaylyn, like millions of others, was listening to once upon a time. She thought back to them when asked for the first tape or CD she ever had.
“I think the first one I bought was the Spice Girls.”
As detailed in my interview with Houston Dash forward Ella Masar, there is much to be excited about for everyone connected to the team. They may have the shortest history to date of the nine NWSL clubs but the support is most definitely there.
A win away to the Boston Breakers is countered by the defeats to the Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City. However, US international defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen are still to join after their Champions League final with Tyresö FF against VfL Wolfsburg on May 22nd. They will come to a group possessing undoubted talent and head coach Randy Waldrum sees Kaylyn as a player who can bring vital composure on the ball amongst other qualities.
Technical and physical attributes count for a huge amount but experience is undoubtedly crucial too. Kaylyn, who was also deployed in defence with Seattle Reign last year, has that to her name and looking beyond merely this current season she believes her career has been worth much more than just progressing her as a player.
“It has honestly shaped me into the woman I am today. I’ve matured from being a really young player and you work with so many coaches and players and you get to be in all different social settings, so the right work ethic is really important.”
Many may not know that as a seven-year-old, Kaylyn was in hospital for a month after sustaining serious injuries when she was knocked off her bike by a car. It was certainly a significant experience to go through and she made reference to the anniversary of it on the day of the season opener for the Breakers at Seattle.
It has been an adventure to say the least for the former University of Saskatchewan player – from Silverwood Rangers and the harsh winters back home, to the heat of Houston! Family is naturally the most important part of her life and when discussing her time away from soccer, Kaylyn mentioned her sister Courtnee and also boyfriend Gabriel Farfan, a California-born midfielder currently with Chiapas (on loan from Chivas USA) of Mexico’s top division.
“I’m actually learning Spanish at the moment. I love travelling and seeing different places, my sister lives in Dublin too.
“I love yoga and also biking, but on a beach cruiser bike. That’s something me and my boyfriend like to do.”
The regular closing section of the interviews on the site sees each player given the chance to honour some of their career teammates. They are asked to imagine themselves in a 5-a-side team and to choose four of the best they have ever played alongside to join them in the line-up.
Kaylyn, who scored in the semi-final as Canada won Gold at the 2011 Pan-American Games, had some great players to select from. Of the few she mentions, two will have to start on the bench, but it is an American-Canadian team nonetheless!
“Starting with my forward, I would choose Christine Sinclair because she’s the best in the world. Even if some don’t admit it, she is!
“A goalkeeper, that’s tough. I think I would go with Erin McLeod and Steph Labbé, I’m good friends with both and they can switch.
“In midfield, I would have Megan Rapinoe who I played with at Seattle last season. She’s clever on the ball and it’s fun when she plays; she enjoys the game.
“For a defender, I really enjoyed playing with Lauren Barnes at Seattle. It’d be her or Carm (Carmelina Moscato) – they’re so good on the ball and they’re really smart players.”
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