Before she could play a game, the league folded.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, Foxhoven will play for a different team in a different league as Seattle Reign FC kicks off its second season in the National Women’s Soccer League against the Boston Breakers at Memorial Stadium. The game will be streamed via NWSLsoccer.com.
In addition to winning games, Foxhoven, her teammates and even her opponents share the common goal of finally creating a viable professional women’s soccer league in the United States.
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“I think that we view ourselves as pioneers, although I think there have been a lot of pioneers before us,” she said. “This new league … is structured a little bit differently and more reasonably and sustainably. I think in that way we do see ourselves as pioneers, in that we’re not making the money that previous players were. … But I think that the attention that the league drew last season said enough in itself and was very exciting.”
There are early signs that the NWSL might avoid the pitfalls that doomed the Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer. Not only do all eight original members return for the second season, but there has even been expansion with the creation of the Houston Dash.
“To expand in the first season is huge,” Reign coach Laura Harvey said. “I think … everyone’s invested in it from a financial point of view, as well as an on-the-field point of view. … The fact that (the United States) hasn’t had a sustainable league is a shame. I think it’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure that happens.”
On the pitch, Harvey believes the Reign has assembled a team capable of great improvement over its 5-14-3 inaugural season. Seattle will kick off its second season with returning international stars Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Jess Fishlock, while adding newcomers such as Sydney Leroux, Carmelina Moscato, Mariah Nogueria and Foxhoven, who played last season with the Portland Thorns.
The Thorns not only won the inaugural NWPS championship, but they were the attendance model too, drawing 13,320 fans per home game in a league that averaged 4,238.
“They knew who they were trying to attract,” Foxhoven said. “They didn’t just go for the typical: like youth girls soccer teams, which obviously is fun, but it doesn’t bring crowds. They definitely knew the audience that they were trying to hit, and Portland is a small enough city that they could reach out to those people. So I think that was what it was. But in saying that, Seattle draws really good crowds as well, and I think that they could do it as well.”
The Reign’s biggest off-field change this season is the move to 12,000-season Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center after spending last season at 4,000-seat Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
“It’s great,” Harvey said. “We played our first (friendly there last week). It was a fantastic atmosphere. It’s just got a little bit of soccer nostalgia to it really, and great backdrop, and everything around it is fantastic. We’ve managed to do all the sort of things we wanted to in terms of the locker room and getting the stadium up to scratch for how we wanted it to look for this first season, and hopefully we can build on that moving forward.”