Surprise in Seattle following Reign FC NWSL allocations

Liviu Bird January 11, 2013 13
Hope Solo

Hope Solo will return to play for her home state's first women's professional soccer team this summer: Seattle Reign FC of the NWSL. (Copyright Patricia Giobetti |

Talking about the National Women’s Soccer League allocation, the key word out of Seattle on Friday was “surprise.”

“I think there were some surprises in the process,” Seattle Reign FC general manager said in a phone interview. “There were other players that were less surprising. Overall, here in Seattle, we feel very comfortable with where we’re at with our allocated players.”

From England, head coach Laura Harvey’s assessment was much the same.

“Obviously, there were some surprises, some players going to places I’m not sure people would guess that they would do,” she said, “but overall, we’re pleased about the group of players we get to work with and pretty excited just to get started now.”

Beyond American goalkeeper Hope Solo, a Washington native who played collegiately at University of Washington, Reign FC received Megan Rapinoe and Amy Rodriguez from the U.S., Kaylyn Kyle and Emily Zurrer from Canada and Jenny Ruiz and Teresa Noyola from Mexico.

“We can work out what areas we need to build around,” Harvey said. “You’ve obviously got one of the best goalkeepers in the world as a real stalwart at the back of your team. Players have got a lot of caps for the U.S. down the middle of your team, so you’re looking around that to try and bolster the midfield around some of the Canadian girls that we’ve got. And then, you’re just trying to make sure that you’ve got every position covered is the big thing now.”

Replacing Rapinoe while she completes her stint with European giant Lyon will be key.

“We know that we’re going to be missing her for the first couple of weeks of the season, so we’ve got to manage that and try and adapt to that as best we can,” Harvey said.

By the time the European season ends (the UEFA Champions League final is May 23), it could be June before Rapinoe makes an appearance for Reign FC.

Even more than its own allocation, the surprise in Seattle came as reaction to news 175 miles south of the Emerald City in Portland. Thorns FC came out as the big winner in the allocation, snatching up Canada’s Christine Sinclair and American Alex Morgan.

“I think everyone’s initial reaction was probably the thought of Morgan and Sinclair on the same team,” Carnell said. “It’s probably a universal reaction that Portland came out on top, in the big picture.”

Where Seattle can make up some ground is with its free-agent signings, which Carnell said have been progressing steadily.

“We’re talking to free agents every day,” she said. “What’s holding up the process is we need to get a contract from the league and the OK to start signing free agents. Once U.S. Soccer does that, then we’ll be able to really kind of make some moves.”

As for the players whom will suit up for Reign FC, Rapinoe had the third-highest assist total for the U.S. national team in 2012 with 12, and Solo has the most caps and shutouts of any goalkeeper among the eight allocated (134 and 66, respectively).

Kyle and Zurrer are two of Canada’s most promising prospects, both featuring for their national team since the youth level.  Noyola won the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy and won an NCAA title with Stanford, but Ruiz is a relative unknown. Noyola was drafted No. 7 in the 2012 WPS Draft by the Western New York Flash, but the league folded before she played a game. Noyola recently played with ADO Den Haag of the Netherlands, while Ruiz stayed closer to home and played in the Women’s Premier Soccer League for the Bay Area Breeze last summer.

Veronica Perez, who played for the Seattle Sounders Women and University of Washington as well as Mexico, seemed to be a lock for Reign FC, but she ended up being allocated to the Western New York Flash instead.

Overall, Carnell said the organization is happy with Friday’s results, and things will start flowing a bit easier for Reign FC now.

“It’s tough to bring in anyone of any position really not knowing who you have,” she said. “We’re feeling good about today. Obviously, going into the college draft, our tactic is really filling in the spaces, positionally, that we’re going to need.”

Harvey will be in the country for the college draft on Friday, Jan. 18, and she said she would be permanently in Seattle starting Feb. 20. With regard to Seattle’s closest competitor, Harvey was excited at the prospect of the burgeoning feud with Portland.

“I’m sure they’re very happy with their allocation, as we are,” she said. “Let the rivalry begin.”

  • Elizabeth

    Right now I think Seattle has the best midfield (once Rapinoe returns) and GK so far. To top it off, they have a very good coach and will likely have a technical, attractive style of play. I would be very happy if I were them. Get a goal-scoring partner with A-Rod and they will be one to beat.

    • Steglitz49

      Do you know if the NWSL teams are allowed to sign players from outside of north-America at this stage? Or, will all the founding players be from Mexico, Canada and USA? If they may, whom shall we recommend they look at?

      • randomhookup

        I’m pretty sure they will be able to sign an additional 2 international players once they allow free agency (probably after the draft). They can be from anywhere (US law doesn’t like discrimination among non-citizens). Expect Australia to be a big one (several were here in 2012 and their season ends shortly). Also look at those who recently played at US colleges.

        Not sure how the NWSL will count those CAN/MEX allocated players who are also US citizens (at least 7 Mexicans & 2 Canadians are US citizens — more may have Green Cards which have to be treated like citizens for these purposes). That may give each of the teams at least one additional international slot.

        • Steglitz49

          Australia and NZ make sense. No language barrier. Maybe the State Dept could step in and sponsor 8 ladies from developing countries — a new facet of international relationships.

          • it will be interesting to see how much money the teams are willing to negotiate on such players (assuming they are living in OZ/NZ, etc) since it sounds like a round-trip flight could be 1mo salary or more– hopefully part of the contract.

            The State Dept. idea is an interesting one as the league/teams need to continue to think outside the box imo to create interest and develop sustainability…one point i think on selling that sort of idea is finding ladies who are willing to become leaders of their countries in aspects beyond soccer (business, politics, non-profits etc).

            Perhaps getting corporations that are global in scope (here’s looking at you Nike, Starbucks) and also have large footprint in certain cities and markets in a similar vein could do. The companies win via marketing, sponsorship and goodwill and the players/league win by offsetting yearly expenses.

            Any way you look at it, in today’s crowded world we need to continue to think of creative ways to get the game off the ground as the old ones did not last.

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe one of the smaller car companies popular with the ladies, such as Mazda, Subaru or Huyundai. When all is said and done, Japan are pretty good at ladies’ football, and Korea no slouches either.

            Victoria’s Secrets?

          • randomhookup

            I don’t see the State Department really getting involved, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a federation willing to support a couple of players in the league. Haiti put a big chunk of their team in Indiana with WPSLE last year and I could see a fed providing some support to a top player who would want to give it a go. I’d expect the support to be direct to the player, so the teams don’t have to work the system to keep players who aren’t up to snuff.

          • depends on what type of involvement qualifies in your mind…but yes, it would have to be initiated by a party other than the Dept. first probably. this link comes from the State Dept:


        • The green card might be the deciding factor. There are labor laws that need to be followed and if a player is American by birth or has done the paperwork it doesn’t matter which NT they played for I wouldn’t think.

          With such a small cap on spending it will be hard to attract tier 1 international players, but Australia seems more of an option in both availability and cost. From what I gather players like playing in the US, but stability and money are issues that are hard to ignore. Year two or year three will probably be better for international players should this league get a good reputation.

          • randomhookup

            There were a couple of Aussies last year with Boston in the WPSLE (signed under WPS, so their hand was forced a bit when they threatened to sue) and Adriana was with WNY. The advantage for the Ozzies is they have to play in the W-League to be considered for the NT and that means there aren’t that many more places they can play easily because of the Oct-Jan season. You’ll always get some players who will come over as a “breakeven” season, seeing it as an adventure and just happy to get in some good play. There are still only a handful of places to make any money in the world of women’s soccer. The advantage for the NWSL is the league will be considered pretty strongly in the world market, even as a start up.

            That said, we may see more of the “foreign student types” added for bench strength. But 2013 won’t be a big year for foreign players.

  • Hope, Pinoe, and Arod are some of the best media people anyone could want. Beyond just what they can do on their field Seattle has a lot to work with for marketing. It was a win win for Seattle even if Pinoe won’t be there in the beginning.

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