The Seattle Reign opens its season at 4 p.m. Sunday, meeting Sky Blue FC of New Jersey at Memorial Stadium. Here’s a News Tribune preview from earlier in the week. And below is a preview from the club:
Seattle Reign FC will kick off its fourth season this Sunday April 17, at Memorial Stadium against Sky Blue FC at 4 p.m. PT.
Seattle finished its pre-season with a 4-0-0 record, defeating Portland Thorns FC (2-0), Houston Dash (2-0), and Oregon State University (2-1) during a tournament in Portland, Ore. from March 27 to April 2. Seattle returned to the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium for their final pre-season game, defeating the University of Washington 4-1 in the annual Community Shield Match on Saturday, April 9.
Sky Blue FC enters the season with a new look after making several changes during the offseason, including the departure of former head coach Jim Gabarra, who left to take on the same role with the Washington Spirit after three years at the helm with SBFC.
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“It’s always difficult with the first game of the season and with with a new coach you’re not sure what to expect, but we’re trying to do as much homework as possible,” said Reign FC Head Coach Laura Harvey. “They’re always a hard team to play against and break down, but we’re looking forward to the game.”
Reign FC posted a 2-1-0 record against SBFC during the 2015 season. The last time the clubs met – on August 29, 2015 – the match ended in a 1-1 draw, with Reign FC preserving their unbeaten-at-home record off a 90th minute goal from midfielder Jess Fishlock.
“The thing I’ve told everybody is that I guarantee one day we’ll lose a game at Memorial,” said Harvey. “We have to try and make sure that that doesn’t happen, but it’s crazy to think that you could go three seasons without losing here. My job is to make it as difficult as possible for people to play against us here, and that’ll start this weekend.”
The new season begins with Seattle returning 15 players from last season’s roster, including leading scorer Kim Little (10 goals, 7 assists), best XI winners Lauren Barnes, Beverly Yanez, and Fishlock, and the goalkeeping tandem of Haley Kopmeyer and Hope Solo.
The core of last year’s Shield-winning squad will be joined by Dutch forward Manon Melis, the all-time leading scorer for the Netherlands women’s national football team. Over her career with the Dutch WNT Melis served up 55 goals in 132 caps and led her team to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Recently retiring from her national team duties, Melis will help anchor an offense that led the NWSL in goals in 2015.
In addition, defender Carson Pickett, who was selected by Reign FC in the first round of the 2016 NWSL College Draft as the fourth-overall pick, will start her rookie campaign this weekend, while midfielder Lindsay Elston, the UW grad from Sammamish, Wash. who spent time with the Houston Dash last season, may see her first minutes with Reign FC on Sunday.
“I think the fans can expect an exciting game. We want to show what we’ve been working on in pre-season and that we’re putting our souls into getting the shield,” said Harvey. “That’s our target – we want to make it into the playoffs and regain the shield if we can. But most important is to put forth a performance we’re really proud of.”
Tickets for Sunday’s home-opening match begin at just $18 and are available at reignfc.com/tickets or can be purchased by calling (855)-REIGN-FC.
About Seattle Reign FC:
Seattle Reign FC is one of ten teams in the National Women’s Soccer League. The NWSL is the premier women’s professional soccer league in North America, featuring many of the top players from the United States, Canada and around the world. Seattle Reign FC train and host home matches at Memorial Stadium, located in the shadow of the Space Needle on the Seattle Center campus. For more information on the club visit reignfc.com.