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Analysis

For Reign, first kick a chance to start fresh

Seattle Reign FC players pose for a pregame photo in Japan, a trip that may have been exactly what they needed to prepare for a long road trip to start the NWSL season.

Seattle Reign FC have endured a rough offseason, but Sunday is a chance to put all that behind them.

Not too many things went right for Seattle Reign FC in the build up to Sunday’s first game in franchise history. The National Women’s Soccer League franchise began the year with a promising allocation that landed them the world’s top goalkeeper, Hope Solo, one of the best American playmakers, Megan Rapinoe, and some international quality up top in Amy Rodriguez.

But the Reign will start the season without any of those U.S. internationals.

Solo is recovering from wrist surgery and Rapinoe is in France playing for reigning European champion Lyon. Both are expected to return about halfway through the season. Rodriguez is pregnant and will miss the entire season.

And less than one week before Sunday’s first game in Chicago, general manager Amy Carnell stepped down for personal reasons.

The start has not been ideal in Seattle, to say the least, but the beauty of opening weekend is the chance to erase the issues of preseason. It’s a clean slate; every team is even in the table.

And not everything has been black and blue for the Reign. Managing to lure Mexican international Teresa Noyola away from Dutch club ADO Den Haag in time for NWSL preseason was a small victory for a team that needed one. Noyola will serve as the club’s primary playmaker.

Seattle did trade for Keelin Winters, who has been in and out of U.S. training camps for years. But long-term, the deal seems less than favorable to Seattle. The Reign gave up their 2014 first-round college draft pick and a future US women’s national team player.

First round draft pick Christine Nairn may be forced into more of a role than initially planned for given player absences.

Star watch: Solo and Rapinoe are the team’s two big stars, but they will be absent for the first half of the season. For Seattle, this will literally be a watch for their stars, because the quicker Solo and Rapinoe return, the better. Rapinoe will be back in June and while Solo should be healthy by then, it’s unclear if she will be immediately fit.

Potential breakout players: Noyola won the 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy as the best college player, the same year she led Stanford to a national title and scored the game-winner in the final vs. Florida State. She has a fair amount of experience with Mexico, but this will be her first shot at playing regular minutes for a North American club after spending last year with Dutch team ADO Den Haag. Liz Bogus was also quietly one of the most improved players in WPS by 2011 and could continue that success in the NWSL.

Coaching factor: Laura Harvey led the Arsenal Ladies to three straight league titles in England before jumping the pond to Seattle. That’s a proven record which commands respect, but Harvey will start with a clean slate and a team of players that, for the most part, she hardly saw play until a month ago. Missing the core of players the team was initially built around means she could face early adversity.

Off the field: The oddly timed departure of Carnell as GM is well-noted, and owner Bill Predmore noted at Thursday’s media day that awareness of the club is not where it should be. “I think we’re probably more in line with where the rest of the league is at in terms of season-ticket sales,” Predmore said in a candid Seattle Times interview. “I would say probably disappointed that we’re not further ahead on that.”

Roster:

No. Player Pos. Ht. Birthdate Hometown College
3 Lauren Barnes DEF 5-5 05/31/1989 Upland, Calif. UCLA
18 Michelle Betos GK 5-8 02/20/1988 Flushing, NY University of Georgia
5 Liz Bogus FWD 5-6 02/24/1984 Salt Lake City, UT Arizona State University
9 Tiffany Cameron FWD 5-5 10/16/1991 Toronto, Canada Ohio State University
25 Kiersten Dallstream DEF 5-6 03/05/1988 Fountain Hills, AZ Washington State University
4 Kate Deines DEF 5-11 07/17/1989 Issaquah, WA University of Washington
10 Jessica Fishlock MID 5-2 01/14/1987 Cardiff, Wales –
22 Victoria Frederick DEF 5-7 06/23/1989 Huntsville, Alabama University of Alabama
20 Haley Kopmeyer GK 5-11 06/28/1990 Troy, MI University of Michigan
6 Kaylyn Kyle MID 5-8 10/06/1988 Saskatoon, Canada University of Saskatchewan
14 Kristina Larsen FWD 5-6 06/16/1988 Mission Viejo, Calif. UCLA
21 Kristen Meier MID 5-5 02/08/1991 Alpharetta, GA Wake Forest University
19 Christine Nairn MID 5-6 09/25/1990 Annapolis, MD Penn State University
8 Teresa Noyola MID 5-2 04/15/1990 Palo Alto, Calif. Stanford University
16 Lyndsey Patterson FWD 5-2 12/07/1982 Kent, WA University of Tennessee
7 Elli Reed DEF 5-5 08/10/1989 Park City, UT University of Portland
13 Jenny Ruiz-Williams DEF 5-7 08/09/1983 Corona, Calif. University of Nevada
17 Lindsay Taylor FWD 5-7 10/25/1989 Redwood City, Calif. Stanford University
11 Keelin Winters MID 5-8 12/09/1988 Englewood, Calif. University of Portland
2 Emily Zurrer DEF 5-9 07/12/1987 Vancouver, Canada University of Illinois

Head Coach: Laura Harvey
Assistant Coach: Sam Laity
Goalkeeper Coach: TBD
Head Athletic Trainer: Kevin Kunde
Equipment Manager: Peter Webster
Team Administrator: Maryann Boddy

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