Over the next two days, ProSoccerTalk will be providing quick capsules of the eight teams participating in the new National Women’s Soccer League. Next up: Seattle Reign FC.
Earlier today we talked to Laura Harvey, the former Arsenal Ladies manager who has recently seen ‘general manager’ added to her head coach’s responsibilities in Seattle. The 32-year-old is used to the dual role, her job in London asking her to build as well as coach the squad, but with Harvey abruptly taking on the extra duties after Amy Carnell resigned on Monday, there is a sense of disorganization emanating from Reign FC. If the club carries similar problems into the regular season, road games at Chicago, Portland and Kansas City will punish them ahead of their home opener on May 4.
Unfortunately, scheduling and front office transitions aren’t the only problems for Seattle. They’re not even the biggest issues. Reign FC will start the season without their three original U.S. allocations, and featuring a roster stocked in midfield but thin everywhere else, there are questions whether they can score or prevent goals.
The transition to the NWSL was always going to be difficult for a coach who had significant talent advantages in London, but thanks to some preseason misfortune, Harvey’s first task will be to revitalize hope in Seattle.
Who you know: Seattle were allocated three of the most recognizable names in U.S. women’s soccer: Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Amy Rodriguez. At the time, Seattle’s looked like one of the stronger allocations, even if Rapinoe was going to be in France until June. But then word came that Rodriguez was pregnant and out for the year. With Solo having recently undergone wrist surgery, none of the team’s big three will be with them in Chicago.
Carnell did go out and trade for Keelin Winters, a strong, all-purpose midfielder on the fringe of the U.S. Women’s National Team, but until Solo and Rapinoe return this summer, this team will lack the star power that could attract some Sounders fans to the team’s games in Tukwila.
Who you should know: Teresa Noyola is a former MAC Herman Trophy winner who will provide the creative presence in Harvey’s midfield. Christine Nairn, a Herman Trophy finalist last year, and Welsh international Jessica Fishlock can provide goals from the middle, while Canadian Kaylyn Kyle adds a deeper presence. Though it lacks headlining talent, Seattle’s midfield is as deep as any in the league.
What it means: According to Harvey, Seattle will try to overload the middle in an attempt to make their midfield advantage decisive. The extent to which they can force their early matches into a batter of midfields will determine their survival.
If Seattle can stay within reach of the rest of the league, they’ll likely have a base to build from when their stars return. If the Reign can’t be within a couple of games (say, six-to-eight points) come mid-June, their Solo and Rapinoe aren’t likely to save them.
The first game in FC Kansas City history will take place Saturday against the Portland Thorns.
More NWSL previews:
- Team preview: Boston Breakers
- Team preview: Chicago Red Stars
- Team preview: FC Kansas City
- Team preview: Portland Thorns
- Team preview: Seattle Reign FC
- Team preview: Sky Blue FC
- Team preview: Washington Spirit
- Team preview: Western New York Flash