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Thursday roundup: Reign to play Arsenal; Mia turns 44

-Reign to host Arsenal Ladies on May 26
-Under 20 Women’s World Cup groups drawn
-Mia Hamm celebrates a birthday
-More than $40,000 raised for players caught in fire

Seattle Reign FC announced Thursday they will host Arsenal Ladies FC on Thursday, May 26 at Memorial Stadium. It marks the third time in four years the Reign have hosted an international friendly but the first time against a club side. The Reign drew 1-1 against China last year. In 2013 they defeated Haiti, 6-0.

“We are excited that our fans will have the opportunity to see Reign FC take on one of Europe’s biggest and most talented clubs,” said Laura Harvey, Reign FC head coach and general manager. The match figures to hold extra significance for Harvey who caoched at Arsenal for five years, highlighted by a domestic triple season in 2011. Current Arsenal manager Pedro Martinez Losa was an assistant with the Western New York Flash in 2013 and 2014.

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“Our objective to become one of the world’s best women’s soccer clubs is furthered by competing against world-class teams such as Arsenal,” Harvey said. “It is a tangible demonstration of our ambition on and off the field, and it showcases our desire to create special experiences for our supporters in Seattle.

Groups for the 2016 U-20 Women's World Cup, set to take place from November 13 to December 3 in Papua New Guinea. (Photo: FIFA)

Groups for the 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup, set to take place from November 13 to December 3 in Papua New Guinea. (Photo: FIFA)

Groups for the 2016 Under 20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea were drawn today at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

The U.S. was drawn into Group C with France, Ghana, and New Zealand, while Canada was drawn into Group B with Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Players born on or after January 1, 1996 are eligible for the U-20 World Cup. At the last edition of the tournament in 2014, both the U.S. and hosts Canada were knocked out in the quarterfinals.

The tournament is being held from November 13 to December 3, which may pose a few challenges to coaches relying on rosters filled with NCAA players (namely the U.S. and Canada), as this directly conflicts with the NCAA soccer season.
Mia Hamm turned 44 on Thursday and despite a relatively low profile in the game since her retirement, she remains among the most recognizable names in women’s soccer.

Hamm was the face of the 1999 World Cup team whose triumph in front of packed stadiums around the country took a stranglehold on the nation. She was also part of the team that won the first World Cup in 1991 plus Olympic gold medal winning teams in 1996 and 2004.

Hamm made her debut on the national team at 15 and wound up scoring a then-record 158 goals (since passed by Abby Wambach at Christine Sinclair) across 275 caps. At North Carolina she suffered only one loss in 95 matches and helped the Tar Heels win the national championship all four years. She sat out 1991 to focus on the World Cup (North Carolina won the national championship anyway.)

At the professional level, Hamm was a founding player in WUSA and spent three seasons with the Washington Freedom. She scored a spectacular goal in a losing effort in Founders Cup II and helped the Freedom turn the tables by winning Founders Cup III.

Currently Hamm is married to former Major League Baseball all-star Nomar Garciaparra. The couple has three children. Hamm is also one of many minority investors in Los Angeles Football Club, an MLS expansion club scheduled to kick off in 2018.
The GoFundMe campaign to raise money for three NWSL players who lost a majority of their possessions in a house fire last week has exceeded $40,000. The house owned by Britt Eckerstrom’s family burned last Thursday. Tori Huster and Tiffany Weimer were there as guests of the Eckerstroms. Everyone including animals escaped unharmed. All three players reported to preseason in time.


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