Four individuals from Reign FC are nominated for 2019 NWSL awards, with fan voting open today through Oct. 22. The list of nominees for each award was made in a preliminary round of voting by league owners, general managers, coaches, players and media.
Reign FC original Lauren Barnes is among five nominees for Defender of the Year, an award which she previously won in 2016. Barnes appeared in all but one game for the Reign this year and led the team in minutes played by a wide margin, helping to provide a steady presence as the roster around her was decimated by injuries and international absences.
Casey Murphy is one of three nominees for Goalkeeper of the Year. Murphy was signed shortly after the season started and unexpectedly pressed into action following a season-ending injury to Michelle Betos. Murphy finished third overall in the league in saves, as well as third overall in save percentage at 77.4%, one-tenth of a point behind the league leaders.
Bethany Balcer is nominated for Rookie of the Year. The undrafted rookie from Spring Arbor led the Reign with six goals and two assists, and was the only Reign player to appear in every match this year. She was fifth in the league in shot attempts with 69.
Finally, Vlatko Andonovski is once again nominated for Coach of the Year. He won the inaugural award with FC Kansas City in 2013. Countless pundits and other coaches have lauded his effort this season to push the Reign through adversity as injuries piled up, accomplishing a goal of making the playoffs for the second straight year.
Fans can to join the final round of voting from October 17 to October 22 at the league website to determine the individual award winners, Best XI, and Second XI. The fan vote counts for 20% of the final tally, along with players (40%), owners/GMs/coaches (20%) and media (20%). Winners will be announced in the days leading up to the NWSL Championship game on October 27.
Here is the full list of nominees:
Rookie of the Year: Bethany Balcer (Reign FC), Jordan DiBiasi (Washington Spirit), Sam Staab (Washington Spirit)
Coach of the Year: Vlatko Andonovski (Reign FC), Richie Burke (Washington Spirit), Paul Riley (North Carolina Courage)