The plan was for Megan Rapinoe to play 60 minutes. It was, after all, three days since she had played for the U.S. national team and it was more recently than that when Seattle Reign FC coach Laura Harvey first laid eyes on her. It was also a stifling hot day in Rochester, N.Y. But when Harvey motioned to Rapinoe to come off the pitch, the soon-to-be 28-year-old declined the offer. Harvey then turned to her staff and said, “She’s bought in.”
Tied 1-1 at the time but playing a woman down, the Reign finished level with the Flash that day in Rochester, snapping a nine-game losing streak and kicking off an unbeaten run that includes wins in their last two matches—the first two they have ever won.
“Megan is a class act,” Harvey said. “Her ability on the field, her knowledge of the game, her aura and the type of personality is. She’s just got a fantastic love for the game.”
Rapinoe is far from the only reason the Reign are finally on the front foot, though it is worth mentioning they are 2-0-1 when the California native has played. Hope Solo’s return from wrist injury has added up to five goals allowed over five matches. The team has conceded 17 goals in eight matches with other goalkeepers. And the team has stayed the course through a very trying first half of the season.
“We’re starting to see the hard work paying off,” Harvey said. “We felt that we played okay in some previous games and decisions and luck hasn’t gone our way. Sometimes in this sport you need a little bit of that. In these two games against Boston and Chicago (the two wins) we got that. We played okay, but we also got a little bit of luck on our side.”
Sunday the Reign were the better side from the Red Stars but it was how they capitalized on errors that stood out. They had Chicago’s defense stretched enough that forward Ella Masar was left to follow Kennya Cordner into the box on a pass from Jessica Fishlock and Masar wound up bring called for a penalty. Seven minutes later they took advantage of a gift giveaway by Sonja Fuss and struck in an instant, Christine Nairn to Fishlock and a goal.
Now they will have a new attacking presence to menace opposing back lines. Renae Cuellar was acquired Monday in exchange for Teresa Noyola (in a separate trade, Lindsay Taylor went to Washington for a draft pick.) A speedy center forward, Cuellar figures to be the beneficiary of some of Rapinoe’s famous crosses and could further open up the middle of the park for Fishlock.
“We lacked that goal threat,” Harvey said. “That was without doubt the biggest missing piece of our jigsaw—the person who is just going to just sit in the box and score a goal. Teams that played us realized that was the missing link. So we’ve been looking for awhile.
“I think Renae’s a goal scorer. I think she’s one of those players that can do very little for 90 percent of the game but score a goal for us. That is a player we need.”
Harvey said that Cuellar is unlikely to play Wednesday without first training with the Reign. Recently signed defender Stephanie Cox should be available for the match against the Breakers.
Jorden surprised by firing
The Washington Spirit were firm Tuesday in their refusal to discuss Ashlyn Harris’ comments following Friday’s 4-0 loss in Rochester. Outgoing coach Mike Jorden though, shared a few thoughts when reached later in the day by The Equalizer.
“Her comments were directed at the entire club, me included. What’s sad is I’m fairly sure three people lost their jobs because of it.,” Jorden said (assistants Kris Ward and German Peri were also fired). “I hope the Spirit fine her and sit her down.”
Jorden remains the technical director at Chantilly Soccer Club in Virginia and will begin directing more of his focus there. He said he would welcome another chance to coach in the NWSL.
Jorden, who said he was taken by surprise when he was let go Sunday, also refuted comments made by general manager Chris Hummer that players had given up during Friday’s match. “I didn’t feel that way at all,” he said. The comments appeared on soccerwire.com.
Jorden finished 1-7-3 as Spirit head coach with the cruel twist of fate that he was not on hand for the team’s only win. Emergency back surgery prohibited Jorden from flying and he missed the team’s trip to Seattle and Portland. He said he will always be a supporter of the Spirit and hopes to see the league grow.
“We’ve got the best women players in the world here and they deserve a place to play.”
Mark Parsons has taken over the team and will be on the sideline Wednesday when the Spirit host FC Kansas City. Parsons’ newest acquisition, forward Lindsay Taylor, is scheduled to take a Tuesday night red-eye to Washington and the team says they may throw her into the deep end by suiting her up Wednesday night.
Where are the goals coming from
Throughout the season The Lowdown will track where the goals are coming from in terms of the different levels of roster building. Week 12 was a busy one with 22 goals from six matches and a variety of players getting in on the fun. Here’s how the goals break down, with Week 12 totals in parenthesis:
Allocated players – 66 (13)*
United States – 38 (8)*; Canada – 17 (2); Mexico – 11 (3)
College Draft – 12 (4)
Free Agent – 32 (3)
Supplemental Draft – 14 (2)
Discovery et al. 11
Own Goals – 1
*-One of these goals was scored by Keelin Winters who was originally allocated to the Red Stars but acquired via trade by the Reign
Note: Free Agent refers to any player signed during the free agent window immediately following the college draft; Discovery includes any player acquired through means not included in any other category
— Lauren Cheney has scored four goals over her last three matches to grab the league lead from Abby Wambach. Cheney has eight goals to Wambach’s seven. Sydney Leroux is also on seven after a Sunday brace. Cheney will miss both of FC Kansas City’s matches this week in order to get married to NBA point guard Jrue Holiday.
— As reported Monday by The Equalizer Nikki Krzysik is getting set to play for the Polish national team this fall. Krzysik is sitting out the NWSL season to be near her fiancé, John Phillips of the San Diego Chargers. She intends to play in 2014. Her rights were moved to Kansas City as part of the Renae Cuellar trade.
— The Sophie Schmidt red card seemed a tad harsh. And it will leave Sky Blue scrambling Saturday against the Spirit. They will be without Lisa De Vanna (Australian national team) and possibly Kelley O’Hara (sprained ankle).
— A weekend trade saw the Breakers and Red Stars exchange Canadians. Carmelina Moscato is now a Breaker with Adriana Leon heading to Chicago. The Red Stars will be looking to inject the 20-year-old Leon’s pace and aggression into their attack. Moscato, 29, adds depth and experience to a Breakers’ defensive unit that has been a weak link.
— The Spirit are expecting Diana Matheson back in the fold Wednesday after missing time through injury. However, rookie Caroline Miller is finished for the season with an ankle injury.
— The Red Stars will play in limited edition, red jerseys for their 4th of July home match against the Flash. The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off via a silent auction to take place during the match.
— Kennya Cordner is questionable for the Reign on Wednesday due to hamstring tightness. The Trinidadian and Tobagonian has appeared twice for the team, missing the win over Boston with a mild concussion.
— A warm welcome to The Equalizer family to Caitlin Murray, who debuted with this worthwhile piece on Lindsay Tarpley – still hoping to play in NWSL.
— Ella Masar’s ankle is fine and if she can withstand the pain she will not miss any time. She was injured while fouling Cordner in Seattle, leading to a penalty kick.
— The flurry of news since the weekend has somewhat buried Carli Lloyd’s hat trick Friday night against the Spirit. Lloyd joins Sydney Leroux with NWSL hat tricks this season. And Lloyd earned it with excellent finishing and hard work. The third goal in particular was fun to watch. Lloyd won the ball in midfield, played it to Abby Wambach, made a run to get it back, had her first shot saved by Ashlyn Harris, but stuck with it to score on the rebound.
— Laura Harvey on the Reign’s playoff chances: “I know what it’s going to take mathematically. From the players’ perspective every game is important. The bottom line is we’ve made life very, very difficult for ourselves to do that. Kansas and Western New York obviously are in the absolute driver’s seat. And it can be between any of the other four on who could push one of those two out.”
— Harvey on the Hair Twins, Megan Rapinoe and Jessica Fishlock: “They look the same…It’s absolutely very scary how similar they are, how well they get on, and the fact that they look pretty identical at times. It’s quite amazing. I think they appreciate each others ability which is always nice to see.”
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The most dramatic playoff race in National Women’s Soccer League history might come to...