In traditional fashion, the journey from Seattle to Australia has begun, as eight Seattle Reign FC players are heading Down Under to play in the the 2018-2019 W-League season, which kicks off October 25 and runs through mid-February.
Midfielder Elizabeth Addo — a promising addition to Seattle who was acquired in the Boston Breakers dispersal draft — has been loaned to the Western Sydney Wanderers. The Wanderers, which have been home to former Reign FC players like Keelin Winters, struggled last season to score goals and were eighth out of nine teams on the W-League ladder.
Meanwhile, it is apparently time to officially re-brand Melbourne City FC to MelReign City, as seven Reign FC players will be joining the club this season. Defenders Lauren Barnes, Steph Catley, and Theresa Nielsen, goalkeeper Lydia Williams, newly signed midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight, and forward Jasmyne Spencer have all been loaned to Melbourne City FC for the entire W-League season.
Forward Jodie Taylor will once again join Melbourne City in late December as a guest player and compete with the team through the end of the season.
This is the first season in Australia for both Addo and Nielsen. Barnes, Williams, Taylor and Catley all played with Melbourne City last year. Spencer, who elected not to play in the W-League last year, joined Canberra United in 2016 after competing with Sydney FC the previous two seasons — leading the team with 12 goals in 27 appearances. Kellond-Knight hasn’t played in the W-League since 2015, having spent the last three years with 1.FFC Turbine Potsdam in Germany and Hammarby in Sweden. She’ll now have time to build some chemistry with a core set of players on her new NWSL squad.
Melbourne City FC are the three-time W-League champions, although they will look to repeat for the fourth time without one of their cornerstone players, Jess Fishlock, who joined Olympique Lyonnais for the NWSL offseason and could make her debut for the French club this weekend.
While Fishlock may be with Lyon through the end of May, depending on their run in the UEFA Champions League, all players on loan in Australia will return for the NWSL preseason. There’s no word yet on when exactly the 2019 NWSL season kicks off, but there will certainly be accommodations in the schedule due to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Today’s news comes with addition good news for Reign fans who want to watch their players in the W-League. The Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced in August that at least 17 W-League matches will stream on ESPN+ this season. Let it Reign down under!