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NWSL Preview: Reigning Over Seattle

nwsl reign

Nestled in the Pacific Northwest amidst the Cascadian Region of the United States, there is a culture that you would normally expect to find in Europe. That culture is a soccer culture and Seattle, Washington is at the center of it all. When the NWSL announced in November of 2012 the teams that would be participating in the upcoming season, Seattle was one of those teams and the Seattle Reign were born. Home games for the Reign will be played at Starfire Stadium, which is located in Tukwila, Washington.

Named part in homage of the first women’s professional team the Seattle Reign who played in the American Basketball League and the fact that Seattle is located in King County, Washington, the Reign are looking to become a dominant force in women’s soccer. The Seattle Reign is owned by Bill Predmore who is the founder and president of the Seattle based digital marketing agency, POP and former general manager of the Seattle Sounders Women, Amy Carnell is back as the Reign general manager.

On December 21, 2012, Laura Harvey was named as the first head coach of Seattle. Harvey, who was the head coach of the Arsenal Ladies in the FAWSL in England is looking to bring her international coaching experience to the Reign. While with the Arsenal Ladies, Harvey led the Lady Gunners to three FA WSL titles, two FA Women’s Cups, the FA WSL Continental Cup, the FA Women’s Premier League Cup and the FA Women’s Community Shield, as well as Women’s Champions League appearances.

Harvey has been given quite a foundation to build from with the National Team player allocation of US, Canadian and Mexican National Team players. Goalkeeper Hope Solo, who by many is considered the best female keeper in the world, will be joined by fellow teammate Megan Rapinoe. US Forward Amy Rodriguez was also allocated to Seattle, but will miss the inaugural season as she and her husband will be welcoming their first child in August. Joining the US players are Kaylyn Kyle and Emily Zurrer of the Canadian National Team and Jenny Ruiz and Teresa Noyola of the Mexico Women’s National Team. The year could start out very bumpy for the Reign as Megan Rapinoe and Teresa Noyola will not be joining the team until at least June due to commitments in Europe, but Seattle was able to draft some young and promising talent at the NWSL College Draft.

In the draft, the Reign chose Christine Nairn, a midfielder from Penn State, Mallory Schaffer, also a midfielder from William & Mary, Kristen Meier, another midfielder from Wake Forest and goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer of Michigan. During the Free Agent signing period, Seattle strengthened their team even further with Lindsey Taylor, Kate Deines, Tiffany Cameron and Jessica Fishlock. Lindsay Taylor and Tiffany Cameron look to be the attacking presence for the Reign while they continue to build up their midfield with Jessica Fishlock joining Nairn, Schaffer and Meier until Rapinoe is available.

The Reign certainly seem to have their work cut out for them with no well known attacking presence upfront. Taylor and Cameron will be great additions, but what could a player like Tasha Kai have done for them? Kai’s name was rumored to be linked with Seattle, but no one knows for sure if she will be playing in the NWSL this year. Defensively you have Zurrer from Canada and Kate Deines, so look for one of the six midfielders to make the transition to defense, unless the Reign can draft Tina Ellerston or another defender in the Supplemental Draft. While the Reign are solid in goal with Hope Solo protecting the house, they seem to really be missing defenders. The Reign could also see themselves struggling a little in the attack until Megan Rapione and Teresa Noyola join at the halfway point of the season. Rapinoe has a nose for the goal as does Noyola, so Taylor and Cameron will be their main forces upfront while looking for some help from their certainly exciting but young midfield.

Look for the Reign to make the playoffs on the back of Hope Solo being in goal. If Seattle is able to pick up two more defenders and at least one more forward in the Supplemental Draft before the season begins, then they realistically could be title contenders with their rivals Portland to the South. Laura Harvey will have a fairly young team to build upon as she looks to start a new reign in Women’s Professional Soccer in the United States.

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