Seattle Reign FC announced today that the team will host Arsenal Ladies FC for an International Friendly at Memorial Stadium on Thursday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m. PT. This is the third international friendly the Reign have hosted in the past four years.
Seattle hosted the Haitian Women's National Team in 2013, winning that match 6-0. Last year, the Reign earned a 1-1 draw against the Chinese Women's National Team, who were preparing for the Women's World Cup in June. The match, one of the first times on turf for many of China's players, was one of the most exciting Reign games in the past few years.
The match will be Arsenal Ladies FC's first in the United States in over 10 years. It will also be the first opportunity for Laura Harvey to face the club she coached from 2008 to 2012. While at Arsenal, Harvey led the team to a 91-8-10 record, three consecutive league titles, two Continental Cups, and one FA Women's Cup.
In addition, the match will be a reunion for Kim Little, who joined Arsenal at the age of 16 and went on to play six seasons with the club, earning the PFA Women's Player of the Year award in her final season.
Arsenal Ladies FC should be a good test for the Reign, and a good measurement of the quality of play in the NWSL. Arsenal finished third behind Chelsea and Manchester City in the 2015 Women's Super League, with a record of 8-3-3.
The roster features four England internationals that competed in the 2015 Women's World Cup: Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Fara Williams, and Jordan Nobbs. Spanish internationals Vicky Losada and Natalia Pablos Sanchon, Dutch international Danielle Van de Donk, and Irish international Emma Byrne also play for the Gunners. On March 18, Arsenal announced the signing of 21-year-old Nigerian striker Asisat Oshoala, a breakout player at last year's World Cup.
"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," said Laura Harvey in a Reign FC press release. "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."
Arsenal starts the 2016 Super League season on March 23, which means they will be just as far into their club play as the Reign come May 26. Luckily, they have a break between May 21 and June 26. The English club team is led by head coach Pedro Martinez Losa, who spent two seasons as assistant coach with the Western New York Flash (2013-14) before joining Arsenal in 2014.
The timing of the match is a little more difficult for the Reign. Seattle hosts the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, May 22, and then travels down to Portland for a match against the Thorns on May 29. Just as the China friendly last year gave Rachel Corsie the chance to make the case for a starting spot, this year's friendly will likely give some of the Reign subs and youngsters an opportunity to shine.
Tickets are now available for the friendly, and the match is included in the 2016 Reign Season Ticket package. If previous friendlies are any indication, you won't want to miss this.