All week, SB Nation is having a little fun trying to forget the absence of live sports by diving into the Marvel Universe. Endless battles. Nonstop action. Good versus evil.
Sounds a lot like Puget Sound soccer to us.
Raul Ruidiaz, Hawkeye - Striker
Raul Ruidiaz as Hawkeye makes sense in that neither the player nor the character makes a lot sense. Both are far more effective than their physical attributes should allow. You know that scene in the first Avengers movie when Hawkeye is just casually shooting down alien spaceships from the roof of a skyscraper while the other heroes are frantically flexing their super powers to the max? That’s Ruidiaz scoring a hat-trick on something ridiculous like 25 touches. All instinct, precision and heart.
Bethany Balcer, Squirrel Girl - Striker
Ah, Squirrel Girl ... the Avenger who hasn’t been brought to the movie-watching masses yet, but who absolutely deserves it. Like Squirrel Girl, we’ve only seen hints of what Bethany Balcer can be — they’ve both got huge futures ahead of them. With a unique and upbeat personality, nothing can bring Balcer — or her Squirrel Girl alter ego — down. You might not know, but in the comics Squirrel Girl actually defeated Thanos. Thanos! It took a whole army of Avengers to do that. Here’s to Balcer doing the same against Reign’s greatest enemies.
Megan Rapinoe, Wasp - Left mid
Just like Wasp — one of the original Avengers — Megan Rapinoe is a Reign original. She has strong morals and opinions — and she’s not afraid to share them. While Wasp can shrink and grow and fly when needed, Rapinoe is a creative player who has adapted her game in many ways over the years. Just don’t call her a Murder Hornet. Wasp will do just fine.
Nicolas Lodeiro, Captain America - Center mid
The leadership quality in both Lodeiro and Cap is obvious, but it’s the well-rounded skill set that seals the deal. Strength, tenacity, tactical prowess and, most importantly, endurance are what inspire the team when the chips are down.
Jess Fishlock, Valkyrie - Center mid
Is there anyone more badass than Valkyrie?! She’s got superhuman strength and durability, and pain doesn’t seem to bother her in the least. I mean, Fishlock recovered from a fibula fracture in four weeks. Four weeks! Aided by her winged horse Aragorn, Valkyrie can fly — and despite her small stature, Fishlock can launch herself into the air. Plus, she’s got that indisputable Valkyrie grit.
Jordan Morris, Hulk - Right mid
There’s something Spider-Man-y about Morris’ hometown charm, but when it comes to going full beast mode, the homegrown winger is clearly Hulk. Morris’ ability to take over the game with sheer speed and power is Brian Schmetzer’s equivalent to Tony Stark’s “We have a Hulk” strategy. That both are highly amicable and intelligent outside the arena of combat only strengthens the comparison.
Steph Catley, Scarlet Witch - Left back
Like Scarlet Witch, Steph Catley can appear more quiet and introverted, but she’d do just about anything for her teammates. With a skilled left foot, she has the ability to manipulate the game to her will whenever she wants. Scarlet Witch is quietly one of the most powerful Avengers (she almost single-handedly takes down Thanos!), and Catley might be one of the Reign’s most important players.
Lauren Barnes, Captain Marvel - Center back
Captain Marvel is severely underrated. So is Lauren Barnes. Like her Marvel counterpart, Barnes helps protect OL Reign’s version of the galaxy: the goal. She’s quite good at that job. In fact, she’s pretty good at everything. And just like Captain Marvel, Barnes stands up for what’s right at all times. She’s a true leader in every sense of the word.
Xavier Arreaga, Star-Lord - Center back
On the surface, Arreaga and Star-Lord are just quirky, charming dudes with unique fashion choices who are living their best lives, but not so far beneath that surface lies a boiling rage for any who try to harm their friends. Arreaga’s gotten his share of cards since joining the Sounders, but just ask Carlos Vela how it goes to play an angry Xavi. Not well.
Cristian Roldan, Ant-Man - Right back
Ant-Man knocks foes out by harnessing normal strength into a very small, very precise yet powerful, impact point. If you’ve ever seen Roldan get low to gain leverage and win a duel, then you’ve seen this theory in action. Ant-Man is also willing to take on less glamorous roles to help the team. In this lineup, Roldan moves to right back to make room for a star-studded attack, but still has a massive impact on the game.
Stefan Frei, Iron Man - Goalkeeper
Just like Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Stefan Frei has overseen an unprecedented era of success as the longest tenured Sounder on the roster. Moreover, both are the last lines of defense for their teams, and both are renaissance men. They also each have more swag than they know what to do with.
Sofia Huerta, Storm
Like Storm, who has been with the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Avengers, Sofia Huerta has been an impact-maker on a number of teams before finding her home in Tacoma. Just as Storm can control the weather, Huerta has the technical skills to control the game with her passing and vision. She’s not someone opponents should ever take lightly.
Kelvin Leerdam, Dr. Strange
Spend enough time interviewing Kelvin Leerdam, and it becomes clear the man thinks about the game from every possible angle. As such, the right back’s masterful tactical understanding is befit of a super genius such as Dr. Strange. Add in Leerdam’s ability to both attack and defend, and like Strange, it seems he’s mastered the art of being in two places at once.
Who doesn’t love the young genius from Wakanda? If I’m in need of a quick thinker to get me out of a tough situation, I’d look no further than Shuri. And the same could be said for Celia, who graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering and is currently taking grad school courses. Just as Shuri can hold her own while fighting, Celia is both brains and a pretty darn good soccer player. A lethal combo.
Gustav Svensson, Thor
This one is a layup. Who else could be a Norse god besides the strong Scandinavian with long hair and a subtle but killer knack for one-liners?
Rosie White, Gamora
Gamora needed a little time to become comfortable with her Guardians of the Galaxy crew, and we really didn’t get enough time with Rosie White last season to make the Reign truly feel like her home. But that’s not the only place where the two superheroes align: both are creative fighters, with White doing her “fighting” through nifty passes to teammates and goals. And I mean this in the best way possible when I say that both share a chaotic energy that every team needs.
Nouhou, Black Panther
This one is tough because I’m not sure if Nouhou has fully unlocked the potential of what Black Panther becomes, but if we can rewind to the time to when T’Challa was fighting for both the throne and his peers’ respect, the picture becomes clearer. Like Black Panther, Nouhou has gone on something of an exodus journey to re-find his form and his confidence. If his substitute appearance against the Columbus Crew is any indication, he’s very close to a breakout year.
Allie Long, Black Widow
Like Black Widow, Allie Long has a somewhat checkered past. After playing for years for the enemy, Long joined the good gals in 2018 and has been a big contributor to make up for her previous error. The Reign sure are fortunate. A student of the game, Long shares Natasha Romanoff’s tactical prowess. She’s someone that plenty of her teammates look up to. And yes, we’re completely ignoring what happens to Black Widow in Endgame. Stop thinking about it!
There you have it. That’s a pretty lethal team, and we like our chances against the Portland Thanos. What do you think ... what did we get right or wrong?