Sam Kerr made her highly-anticipated debut for Chelsea last Sunday, notching an assist in a 3-1 win over Reading. Though Kerr’s blockbuster move to Chelsea was announced in November, the rules of the British transfer system meant she had to wait until the new year to make her first appearance with the Blues.
After a bit of a nervous start, during which Kerr uncharacteristically skied an easy opportunity over goal, the Australian superstar settled down and looked comfortable playing with a team she only just joined the week prior.
In the 16th minute, Kerr was given her proper introduction to the WSL, as keeper Grace Moloney toppled the striker with a reckless challenge that resulted in an immediate red card.
Welcome to the WSL Sam Kerr. #WSL #BarclaysWSL #SamKerr #CheRea pic.twitter.com/2iida4iV0l— She’s On The Ball (@ShesOnTheBall1) January 5, 2020
Welcome to the WSL Sam Kerr. #WSL #BarclaysWSL #SamKerr #CheRea pic.twitter.com/2iida4iV0l
Kerr would remain on the ground for several minutes before rising to her feet. Minutes later, her slick back-heel assist to Beth England leveled the game at 1-1. That kind of improvisational flair is exactly what Chelsea was hoping for when they signed Kerr to her record deal, and the Blues faithful are optimistic this is just the first of many goals they’ll see involving Kerr and England.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Chelsea Football Club Women (@chelseafcw)
A post shared by Chelsea Football Club Women (@chelseafcw)
Kerr missed on several shots that we have seen her confidently tuck away in the NWSL, but given the new continent and team, as well as the sky-high expectations for the 26-year-old striker, it’s hard to be anything but pleased with her performance if you’re a Chelsea fan. Even a blocked shot of Kerr’s became a moment of magic when Guro Reiten one-touch volleyed the rebound into the net.
Top bins level: ????#BarclaysFAWSL x @guro_reiten pic.twitter.com/KzvFDhDGpM— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) January 6, 2020
Top bins level: ????#BarclaysFAWSL x @guro_reiten pic.twitter.com/KzvFDhDGpM
Beyond playing a smart, controlled game, Kerr looked comfortable working with a Chelsea team that was already on the brink of greatness without her. Now she’ll just have to bury her first WSL goal to finalize her arrival.
“[An assist] is good but I missed a few chances there so I have to sharpen up on my shooting,” said Kerr. “I was actually nervous because it [the game’s early chance] was my first one-on-one in a few months.”
Kerr has already made herself a fan favorite of the Blues community off the field, and after the game she rewarded their support by sticking around to take pictures and sign autographs. One fan even brought an inflatable kangaroo to show her.
Chelsea’s manager Emma Hayes was likewise pleased with Kerr’s performance, saying that she “could not ask any more” of Kerr in her debut. Hayes went on to describe Kerr as “humble, hard-working, honest, thoughtful, and an unbelievable team player.”
“You can have top players,” Hayes added, “but to have a top player who is a top person – happy days.”
Kerr’s arrival means Hayes has some excess talent to manage, as the Blues’ attacking options also include Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann and England’s Fran Kirby, as well as Sunday’s goal scorers – England, Norway’s Guro Reiten and Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert.
But asked about the added competition for places, Hayes replied: “It’s their problem, it’s my privilege.”