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Seattle Reign captain Keelin Winters announces her retirement

The midfielder, who has been with the Reign since 2013, will close out her soccer career at the end of the season.

Seattle Reign vs. Boston Breakers: Photos Photo credit - MikeRussellFoto

Seattle Reign FC midfielder and captain, Keelin Winters, has announced her retirement from soccer. Winters, who has been with the team since its first season in 2013, will finish the remainder of the 2016 season with Reign FC before saying goodbye to professional soccer.

Winters stated on Instagram that she'll become a firefighter in Kirkland next year. If she puts out fires the same way she protects goals, we are going to be just fine.

“She’s given us absolutely everything on the field for the last four seasons,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Laura Harvey. “I call her the glue of this team. She’s always tried to do the right thing and make sure everyone is included.”

To call her the glue of the team is, perhaps, an understatement. Winters, 27, has arguably been the most important part of the Reign midfield. Her combination of vision, leadership, and defensive acumen has allowed Kim Little and Jess Fishlock to flourish alongside her.

These three made the Seattle Reign midfield the best in the league for two seasons. While Winters mostly played as a defensive midfielder in the Reign’s 4-3-3, she also managed to score five goals and tally three assists in her four NWSL seasons.

In 2014, Winters also traveled to Australia to play with the Western Sydney Wanderers in the W-League, where she became the team’s leading scorer and was named W-League Player of the Year.

Her ability to win the ball back on defense and connect with her teammates has been critical under Coach Laura Harvey’s possession-focused style of play. Winters seems to always be in the right place on the field, consistently finds a way to apply a timely tackle at just the right second, and has amazing passing vision.

Winters began her career playing for the Boston Breakers in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). When the league folded, Winters played a season for the Seattle Sounders Women before heading abroad to play for FFC Turbine Potsdam in the German Frauen-Bundesliga.

She also enjoyed a successful college career at the University of Portland, where she played from 2007 to 2010. In her final year with the Pilots, Winters was selected as the West Coast Conference (WCC) player of the year.

Having to say goodbye to Winters after this year is going to be absolutely heartbreaking. She is the heart and soul of the Reign, and has put together four absolutely incredible seasons—leading Seattle from second-to-last in the standings in 2013 to back-to-back NWSL Shield winning seasons in 2014 and 2015.

That she never got a U.S. National Team call-up while playing for the Reign remains a travesty (she did get a few call-ups while playing for Sounders Women in 2012).

Oh captain, our captain.

Hopefully, Winters will keep her Pro Skills Soccer camps and training going, so kids and adults alike can continue to learn and grow their skills from such a seasoned pro and fantastic human.

Fans have the opportunity to thank Winters in tomorrow’s final regular season home match. Kicking off at Memorial Stadium at 7:00 p.m., it’s a must-win match if Winters and the Reign have any chance of making it to the playoffs for the third year in a row.

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