That cloud on the horizon – the huge, Nothing-esque presence that started to form the day Megan Rapinoe left for Lyon – has finally been blown over Starfire Sports, imposing itself on Reign FC’s season just as it seemed things couldn’t get worse.
The team’s off to a 0-6-1 start, worse in the new NWSL. They’ve lost their last three games by a combined 9-2. Amy Rodríguez is out, pregnant. Hope Solo’s four weeks away from returning to the team. And Rapinoe, the person the team’s counting on to provide some scoring punch, won’t be back from france until late June.
Now comes news that Rapinoe’s upcoming half-season stay may be her only time with Reign FC. While speaking with Sports Illustrated, the U.S. international confessed talks are ongoing about a return to Lyon. According to Grant Wahl, “she’s also leaning toward coming back to Lyon for 2013-14.”
From the piece:
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m definitely thinking about coming back and playing another season here,” she said, noting that the pay is better in Europe, especially with the exchange rate. “There’s interest from both sides, from me and Lyon. It’s worked out well mutually.”
The pay difference is huge. According to league director Cheryl Bailey, the high-paid player in the NWSL is making $30,000 for their five-plus months service. Players of Rapinoe’s stature can make six-times that, albeit over a long season.
It’s an opportunity more players should explore. If it weren’t for the allegiance most stars feel toward the league — the sense of responsibility toward creating something at home — players beyond Rapinoe and Paris Saint-Germain’s Tobin Heath (allocated to Portland) would be playing in Europe.
All this doesn’t necessarily mean Rapinoe will be completely done with Seattle after this NWSL season (as, in fairness, I hint above). Not only is her deal with Lyon not done, but even if it was, she could still conceivably return to Seattle next summer, even though you’d think Lyon would like to avoid that type of arrangement.
And who knows if Rapinoe would even want to return. It’s no secret that she wanted to be allocated to Portland, where she lives and went to school. She was effusive about the possibility of playing in her hometown before allocation game. Dispersed to Seattle, the charm of the NWSL may have worn off. If she’s not playing at home, might as well play in Lyon? Or perhaps the money and team are just too good to turn down.
Regardless, Seattle’s bad luck continues. Rodriguez is out for the year. Solo’s still recovering. Rapinoe’s coming back, but by the sound of it, it may not be for long. The club’s first months have turned into a storm Reign FC must ride out.
Rapinoe and Lyon play for a third-straight UEFA Champoins League title on Thursday, with the French champions taking on German titlists VfL Wolfsburg at Stamford Bridge.