A-League Women: Matildas hero Cortnee Vine departs Sydney FC after four years alongside Charlotte McLean

Jamie Dunkin
The Nightly
Sydney FC have lost two star players in the one hit
Sydney FC have lost two star players in the one hit Credit: Getty Images

Sydney FC have lost two of their best players in one hit, as two-time Player of the Year Charlotte McLean departs Sydney FC alongside Matildas hero and marquee Cortnee Vine.

The duo will move to the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States, as they search for professionalism and the chance to catapult themselves into Europe after four consecutive years of dominating the A-League Women.

McLean and Vine both joined Sydney ahead of the 2020/21 season, winning the premiership three consecutive times and recently completed back-to-back championships. Vine’s era at Sydney saw her become not just the first name on the team sheet at club level, but a consistent figure in the Matildas set-up.

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After Vine’s winning penalty at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-final against France she became a household name and became the marquee face of the A-League Women in a massive coup for the club and competition.

Sydney saw a sizable increase in attendances following the tournament, with an average crowd of 4,114 and a league-record attendance of 11,471 for the Sydney Derby in Round One - due in no small part to Vine. Her impact on the club and the crowds may be harder to replace than her stellar on-pitch contributions.

Vine remarked she would love to return to Sydney one day, and at age 26, still has a good few years ahead of her. Her most recent season was her most effective, scoring 11 goals and assisting six more as Sydney nearly won a fourth consecutive premiership. Staggeringly, Vine was the oldest on-field player for Sydney during their recent Grand Final triumph.

“The last four years at Sydney FC have had a life-changing impact on me and I’m extremely thankful to everyone at the club,” she said.

“I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities I’ve had as a Sydney FC player and one day I would love to return to Sky Blue.”

Vine ends her time in Sky Blue having scored 30 goals in 65 matches, putting her fourth on the club’s all-time charts.

McLean was plucked from obscurity by manager Ante Juric, and quickly set herself in the upper echelons of the league and in the bracket of the league’s best centre-backs. Still in pursuit of her first Matildas call-up a move to the United States could be crucial in McLean wearing green and gold.

Her defensive record coincides with Sydney’s dominance - McLean was involved in 38 clean sheets from 74 matches, and had captained the side on multiple occasions.

“I will never forget the experience and development I’ve undergone at Sydney FC,” McLean told the club’s website.

“Sydney FC has given me the chance to fulfill many of my sporting dreams and helped open a pathway to my next challenge.”

How Sydney replace the two will be crucial. The Sky Blues are in negotiations with a high-profile Australian player, as well as off-contract foreign duo Fiona Worts and Shea Connors.

Ante Juric, who re-signed on Thursday, has made a habit of finding the diamonds in the rough, and has already secured many young players for the future such as Indiana Dos Santos and Maddie Caspers. Juric will also have one less headache as captain Natalie Tobin will return from her ACL injury likely in time for the season start, alleviating some of the pain of McLean’s departure.

Vine is set to be part of the Matildas squad gunning for gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics, which kicks off in July.

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