Seattle Reign FC announced today the club has acquired Australian international goalkeeper Lydia Williams from the Houston Dash in exchange for a second-round draft pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft.
The trade was jump started earlier this morning, when Seattle announced a trade with the Boston Breakers that sent Lindsay Elston and a conditional draft pick to Boston in exchange for a second round pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. That pick was then sent to Houston. It was also announced that Elston has elected not to finish the 2017 season.
Williams’ mom is American, which could mean that Seattle does not need an international spot to have her on the team.
Williams, 29, is a quality veteran goalkeeper who helped Australia become international contenders, leading them to a Tournament of Nations win. She is a strong shot-stopper with fantastic positioning who earned Goalkeeper of the Year honors in Australia’s W-League this last season, where she played alongside Reign FC’s Jess Fishlock, Lauren Barnes, Rebekah Stott, and Larissa Crummer for Melbourne City FC.
After putting in one of the best NWSL goalkeeping performances in 2016 for the Houston Dash, Williams was replaced by rookie U.S. goalkeeper Jane Campbell halfway through this season. Campbell has certainly stepped up for Houston, but it is hard to justify benching a goalkeeper that has been among the best in the world in recent years. Seattle could end up being a great place for Williams to land.
With just four matches remaining in the regular season, the squad is five points out of fourth place. But one has to ask: is a new goalkeeper really going to help do that? Or is this a move for the future?
Kopmeyer has had her share of goalkeeping mistakes, mostly around a few distribution issues. But she’s also helped save or win numerous games for Reign FC this season. Her 81 saves put her second in the league. That’s good for just over four saves per match and includes the eight saves she made in the home opener against Sky Blue FC — a performance that earned Kopmeyer Player of the Week honors.
If there is one additional area where Kopmeyer could be stronger, it is around defensive organization. Some goalkeepers play a more active role in communicating with and managing their backline, while others let their defensive leaders play that role. This should not be 100 percent on Kopmeyer — not even 25 percent on her — but given the number of defensive miscues this season, someone has to step up and shoulder that responsibility.
Perhaps this is a move to help accomplish that, as this is an area where Williams really excels. She’s been given some makeshift backlines for Australia and worked miracles to help organize her defensive unit.
Still, the problems have sat more on the backline than Kopmeyer. There has been constant rotation due to injuries, a red card, inconsistent play, and international duty. The number of mistimed clearances and poor passing decisions from the back has been, frankly, inexplicable. Not a single one of the five goals that Sky Blue FC scored in the second half were on Kopmeyer.
It has to be disappointing for Kopmeyer, but Williams still has a lot to prove as she integrates with Reign FC. It could be a fantastic pickup for Seattle, who need a lot more stability defensively.