So here’s a new twist for the already hamstrung Seattle Reign. The team that was allocated Megan Rapinoe (who won’t report until June) and Mexican playmaker Teresa Noyola (also contracted with a European club until June) may now be without the player expected to be their leading scorer during the upcoming campaign, though there may have been little way to foresee why U.S. Women’s National Team forward Amy Rodriguez won’t play for Reign FC this season.
Sources confirmed late Tuesday evening that Rodriguez is pregnant, with her and husband Adam expecting the couple’s first child. Seattle Reign FC later confirmed via Twitter that the 25-year-old will miss the upcoming domestic season.
“We congratulate Amy and her husband on this wonderful news,” team owner Bill Predmore said via press release late Tuesday night. “We let her know we are here to support her in any way we can and that we look forward to having her join the club in 2014.”
Putting sports aside, congratulations are in order. The parents-to-be, married since October 2011, are about to embark on a new family. On the list of things that transcend sport, this is near the top. Assuming this is relatively recent news, the joy of days like these should highlight a long life together.
But there are obvious competitive implications, both for the national team and Rodriguez’s new NWSL club.
On the international level, Rodriguez was called into Tom Sermanni’s first national team camp, and there’s no indication yet she’ll miss early March’s important Algarve Cup tournament. Perhaps as important, she won’t miss the vital training sessions and friendlies that define these first weeks under Sermanni’s stewardship. For Rodriguez, a player who was slowly losing playing time under Pia Sundhage, those first impressions are especially important.
Come spring, Rodriguez seems set to step aside, but with the type of physical shape in which U.S. women’s national team members keep themselves, she may not miss many national team opportunities. Christie Rampone legendarily was pregnant as player and coach for WPS’s first title winners. Rodriguez won’t replicate that feat, but if she delivers in late summer, she could be back playing before the end of the calendar year.
Her time out of the team is unlikely to make-or-break her fortunes with the national team, especially considering much of the summer’s focus will be on the domestic season. As far as the national team ambitions of the two-time Olympic gold medalist, the timing couldn’t better.
Domestically, however, the effect is obvious. Seattle loses one of their best players, and with limits on free agency, it’s unclear how the Reign can come close to replacing her probable contributions. An already mixed offseason for general manager Amy Carnell and head coach Laura Harvey just got more complicated. Whereas Seattle looked like one of the winners on allocation day, now no team in the league may be in worse shape.
“Amy’s pregnancy came as a surprise and has introduced some challenges that we are now beginning to work through,” Harvey said on Tuesday.
Expect Seattle to work with the league to determine what kind of roster and salary cap flexibility the team might get. According to the team’s Facebook, they’ve already reached agreements with three free agents and one international.
“In light of the news, we are conferring with NWSL about potential adjustments to the cap and roster,” Carnell said.
If U.S. Soccer does right by the them, Seattle may get some extra room to try and replace A-Rod.