Chloe Logarzo says Sydney FC need to shake off their habit of making slow starts when they host Melbourne Victory in their W-League season-opening Big Blue at Kogarah.
The Sky Blues take on Victory at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium to start their title defence next Sunday in a double header to be played alongside the men's round six A-League Big Blue.
It will be a happy return to Kogarah for Sydney FC, the ground where they won their third W-League championship in February, downing Perth Glory 4-2 in the final in front of a record crowd.
But for many Sydney FC players, including Logarzo, there was little time to stop and celebrate.
Logarzo left for the US where she played for Washington in the Women's National Soccer League, helping the Spirit to a respectable fifth-placed finish as they just missed the finals having struggled the previous season.
The Matildas midfielder also starred for Australia at the FIFA women's World Cup in France in June, featuring in all four Matildas matches and scoring Australia's equaliser in their dramatic 3-2 comeback win over Brazil.
Speaking to the Leader from Matildas camp ahead of their friendly matches against Chile, Logarzo said it was important the Sky Blues got their W-League campaign off to a fast start.
"It should be a great game. We've got some good recent memories at Kogarah. This year is going to be a really big one for us. I can't wait to step back on the field with the girls. It's a very important W-League season for the Matildas girls especially in the lead up to the Olympics. I think it's going to be one of the best yet and you'll definitely see the level improve again," she said.
"I love Kogarah. It's very intimate. When it's full it feels like there's about 50,000 people there. I love the environment there so much, it's a special place to play.
"I've got a couple of friends that play for Victory in Teigen Allen, Casey Dumont and Laura [Brock, nee Alleway]. It'll be a good hit out and a great way to start the season. They did really well to win the minor premiership last season and they're a good side.
"We've had a shaky start the last couple of years so I think it's important we start the season off strong so hopefully we're not scraping to get into the finals.
"I think it's important for us to set a goal as a team not to be losing points on home soil. We have to be making Kogarah our little fortress and somewhere that no one takes points from."
Logarzo said while it had been a busy time for her playing football in the US and racing home to start the Australian domestic season, while also being called away to a Matildas camp on the eve of the season, it was something she relished as part of a more professional women's game.
But the Sky Blues midfielder said there was still plenty of room for improvement for the W-League to reach the standards of the WNSL in the US.
"It was good [in the US]. I had a lot of fun. The team did pretty well. They finished almost last last year, we just missed out on semis this year which was a big improvement," she said.
"I haven't really had much pre-season. I only just got back [last week], then I went to Wagga to play Newcastle in a friendly [with Sydney]. It was a nice couple of days to come back into the fold with the girls.
"I'm really stoked to be home. I've been away the last seven months with Washington. I can't wait to get back down to Kogarah for the double header with the girls. It's our first game back together since winning the championship and I love coming home.
"It's a busy time but we're professional athletes. That's our job, making sure when we come in we can adapt to the environment around us. It's good that we have so many players going away and playing all year round. I think it raises the standards of the W-League.
"I think the W-League is a great league. But it's still at an amateurish kind of level. Not every athlete is full time. Over [in the US] no one is working or in school. They're getting paid to come to training at 10, spend half the day there, treat injuries, recover and then play. It's still a side thing for some people here. We're trying to bridge that gap but it's hard to maintain when our season is only four or five months long.
"But it's something that we need to strive towards. [The W-League] falls a little short [of the WNSL standards] at the moment but we're making sure we're picking it up to give ourselves the best possible opportunities as emerging athletes playing professionally across the world."
The W-League match kicks off at 4pm next Sunday, with the A-League clash to follow at 6.30pm.