August 23, 2013 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - Seattle Reign FC
SEATTLE, WA - Seattle Reign FC completed its first NWSL season on Saturday, August 17 with a 2-1 loss to Portland Thorns FC. Reign FC ended the year with a 5-14-3 record, netting 18 points while finishing in seventh place in the NWSL.
The inaugural NWSL campaign proved to be a season of streaks for Seattle Reign FC. After earning a draw on the road against the Chicago Red Stars in the first game of their season, Reign FC went on to lose their next nine matches. The end of the losing streak coincided with the installment of U.S. Women\'s National Team midfielder Megan Rapinoe to the lineup after her return from playing with Olympique Lyonnais in France. In her first match with Reign FC on June 23, the team played to a 1-1 draw on the road against the Western New York Flash.
Seattle Reign FC then earned their first win in franchise history with a 2-1 victory on the road against the Boston Breakers on June 26. Rookie forward Christine Nairn scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute and the team began to turn their season around. In total, Reign FC earned 14 points during their six-game unbeaten streak and had a chance to make the playoffs despite a disastrous start to their campaign.
However, Reign FC could not sustain the momentum and lost five of their final six matches, including a four-game losing streak to conclude the season.
"Despite the disappointing results on the field I view the season as a tremendous start for our club and for the league," said Bill Predmore, Owner of Seattle Reign FC. "From the beginning we\'ve been focused on building a club and a league that can endure, so we\'ve known that sacrifice would be required and we would encounter adversity along the way. Although we faced many challenging times this season, the entire club - players, coaches and staff - stayed together and remained focused on its goal: to build a world-class women\'s football club. I expect this commitment will be rewarded in the future, as the decisions and investments we made this season created a foundation upon which our long-term success will be built."
- The NWSL franchise was awarded to Reign FC on November 21, 2012 - 275 days ago. - The club name and identity was announced on December 19, 2012.
- Head Coach and GM Laura Harvey was hired by the club on December 21, 2012. Harvey was formerly the head coach of the Arsenal Ladies.
- Seattle\'s first match was played on March 17 - less than four months after the club was founded. The pre-season friendly was on the road in Okinawa against legendary Japanese side INAC Kobe. INAC\'s roster included several Japanese national team members, including former FIFA World Player of the Year Homare Sawa (who played all 90 minutes of the match).
- Seattle began the season without any of its US allocated players available; goalkeeper Hope Solo was out with an injury to her wrist, forward Amy Rodriguez announced her pregnancy shortly after the allocations were determined (and missed the entire season), and Megan Rapinoe was in France playing for Lyon.
- The first Reign FC NWSL goal was scored by rookie Christine Nairn in Chicago against the Red Stars in Seattle\'s first match of the season.
- Megan Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock were both awarded NWSL Player of the Week honors.
- Seattle Reign FC hosted the NWSL\'s first nationally televised broadcast on the FOX Soccer Channel. Seattle collected a 2-1 victory against the Washington Spirit in the match.
- Rookie midfielder Christine Nairn and defender Lauren Barnes were the only Reign players to start all 22 NWSL matches. Barnes led the club with a total of 1950 minutes for the season.
- Christine Nairn led the team with 5 assists.
- Seattle had two sellouts for the season - in the final match against Portland on August 17 and in the nationally televised match against the Washington Spirit on July 14.
The Reign FC coaching staff recently announced end-of-season honors for the club.
Seattle Reign FC midfielder Jess Fishlock earned team honors for Most Valuable Player during the inaugural 2013 NWSL campaign. Fishlock played and started in 21 matches for Reign FC this season while scoring 4 goals. Given her tireless on-field efforts and exciting style of play, Fishlock quickly became a fan favorite and the face of the franchise.
"I am honored to have been selected as team MVP," said Reign FC MVP Jess Fishlock. "Playing in Seattle has been a tremendous experience. I look forward to returning to the club in March and working hard to bring Seattle a championship in 2014."
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe earned the Golden Boot for Reign FC, tallying 5 goals on the season in just 12 appearances. Rapinoe joined the team on June 23 after finishing her contract with Olympique Lyonnais in France. Seattle snapped a nine-game losing streak with her first match against the Western New York Flash, which kicked of a six-match unbeaten streak including the club\'s first league win on the road in Boston.
The Reign FC Defender of the Year award was given to Lauren Barnes. Barnes led the team in minutes played and was on the pitch for all but 30 minutes of Reign FC's season. Barnes also started every match for Reign FC, a feat matched only by rookie forward Christine Nairn.
"Those three played magnificently well and were instrumental in the successes we had this season," said Reign FC head coach and GM Laura Harvey. "Each brought a level of sophistication to the pitch that made everyone around them better."
On Thursday Reign FC announced that head coach and GM Laura Harvey signed a contract extension that will see her lead the club - in both the GM and head coaching roles - through the 2017 NWSL season.
"Our goal is to build one of the world\'s premier women\'s soccer clubs," said Bill Predmore, Owner of Seattle Reign FC. "Laura and I share a vision on how we can achieve that objective. We understand that such ambition requires a long-term perspective, stable leadership, consistency in our approach and a relentless drive to improve the club on and off the field. Laura is the right person to lead our efforts and I look forward to working with her in the coming years to build a club capable of delivering championships."
"I am grateful to the club for their support and belief in my vision for this organization," said Head Coach and GM Laura Harvey. "I am committed to building something special in Seattle and, despite our results on the field this season, I think the organization is off to a great start. We\'ve put the foundation in place and have a great group of players that we can build around. I fully expect that the results of our hard work this year will show up on the pitch next season."
In addition to Harvey, assistant coach Sam Laity and goalkeeping coach Ben Dragavon will return for the 2014 season.
Earlier this week Seattle Reign FC announced it had completed loan agreements for several players that would allow them to play abroad during the NWSL off-season. Midfielder Jess Fishlock is on loan to Glasgow City LFC of the Scottish Women\'s Premier League through mid-November of this year. In addition, defender Elli Reed and forward Renae Cuéllar signed loan agreements that will allow them to play in Sweden through the end of the calendar year. It is anticipated that additional loan agreements will be completed in the coming weeks, but in all cases players out on loan will be contractually obligated to return before the start of the NWSL training camp in early March.
In addition to the various player loans, Reign FC announced that midfielder Megan Rapinoe will return to French side Olympique Lyonnais for their 2013-2014 season in Division 1 Féminine. Rapinoe played for Lyon in their 2012-2013 season, during which she played in the Champions League final and won both the league title and the French League Cup. Reign FC and Rapinoe have agreed that she will return to Seattle at the conclusion of Lyon's season in mid-June of 2014.
"I had a fantastic time playing for Reign FC this season and am looking forward to returning to the club next June," said Rapinoe. "I am impressed by the league and the organization that Laura is putting together-it is clear she is building a club that will be very competitive in the NWSL next season and beyond. However, I am at a stage in my career where returning to Lyon and playing in the Champions League is an opportunity that I cannot pass up."
"While we would love to have Megan for the entire 2014 NWSL season, we are supportive of her move back to Lyon, as we know it is something that is personally very important to her," said head coach and GM Laura Harvey. "Megan is a special player and has made a massive impact on our club. We know we\'ll miss her quality at the beginning of next season, but given our long-term view we believe such a sacrifice was warranted, as we expect Megan will be with us for the entire 2015 and 2016 NWSL seasons. We wish Megan and Lyon the best in their upcoming season."
Seattle Reign FC will return for the second NWSL season. Training camp will begin on March 10, 2014 with the opening NWSL matches played in early April. Most key members of the team - including Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Christine Nairn and Jess Fishlock - will return next season.
"While our season has ended our work has not stopped," said Harvey. "We have already engaged in discussions with several current players regarding their return next season. In addition, U.S. WNT forward Amy Rodriguez will join the club and we expect to be aggressive in our pursuit of players we believe can move the club forward."
Reign FC Owner Bill Predmore added, "I think we can be proud of what we\'ve achieved thus far, but we must remain obsessively focused on improving the club on and off the field. Seattle deserves a championship team and we will not rest until we\'ve delivered."
In celebration of its first NWSL season, Reign FC commissioned Levy Films, who has previously worked with MLS and NFL clubs, to create a short film that shares the story of Reign FC\'s season. A sneak preview of the film, which is centered on Seattle\'s last match of the season against Portland Thorns FC, is now available for viewing at www.ReignFC.com. The short film will be released later this year upon its completion.
Season tickets for the 2014 Seattle Reign FC season are now available for purchase. In an effort to make Reign matches more accessible to its fans, ticket packages now include only the 11 NWSL home matches (rather than a 13 game package - 11 NWSL games plus 2 friendlies - that was offered for the 2013 season). This change (as well as a reduction of $1.00 per ticket in the bleacher section) drops the least expensive ticket package from $195.00 to $154.00.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.ReignFC.com.