Three matches across eight days come to an end Sunday at Lumen Field as OL Reign hosted the new expansion side, San Diego Wave FC.
With the backdrop of midfielder Jess Fishlock reaching the milestone of 150 NWSL regular-season appearances and the pleasantly shocking news that midfielder Kim Little is returning to the club on a loan spell, OL Reign were able to start off a very busy sports day in Seattle with a 1-0 victory over San Diego Wave FC. Rose Lavelle scored the lone goal in the 75th minute.
WHAT WORKED: HUERTA’S CROSSES ARE MONEY
It’s that classic song: Sofia Huerta crosses a ball into the box and good things happen. This time it was Lavelle who went all out with the diving header to connect on the cross and put it past a diving Kailen Sheridan for the goal in the 75th minute. Just sit back and watch a work of art.
❌➡️⭕Just like it was drawn up at practice! @RoseLavelle leads her squad in the 75th minute!#BoldTogether | @OLReign pic.twitter.com/tEouWjEesl— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) May 29, 2022
WHAT WORKED: THE BAND IS COMING BACK
Come July, OL Reign will likely be without the services of Lavelle as she is set to be part of the United States national team as they play in the CONCACAF W Championship, which serves as the 2023 World Cup Qualifiers AND 2024 Summer Olympics qualifiers.
So the club will bring back Kim Little for a few-month loan spell.
If you’re not a fan of this team, you might be screaming, “How can the Reign keep getting away with this?!” And honestly, from the outside, it is pretty rude to bring back one of the world’s best midfielders just like that. Let alone back to a club she is familiar with.
The announcement by general manager Nick Perera just before the second half began paid off in terms of generating excitement for when Little does indeed step onto the field at Lumen Field on June 18 when OL Reign host Angel City FC.
How’s that for a star-studded affair?
WHAT WORKED: CELEBRATING A LEGEND
The Reign celebrated Fishlock’s 150th match ahead of the game, and Harvey had some praise to share about what the Welsh midfielder has meant to this league and this club.
I think, to play as a non-American in this league for 10 seasons is an unbelievable achievement, and to play the same team for that amount of time is an unbelievable achievement. And I think, obviously I took two years away from this club — still in the league — and you know the coaches and other people around the league would open up to me at that point and be like, you know, if there was one player I could have taken from your teams back in the day at the Reign, it would always have been Jess.
Her level of consistency, her level of performance, what she demands of herself, what she demands of the people around her, have elevated her career. And you know, I actually joked with her yesterday that who’d have thought it when I rang her in January of 2013 to see if she was interested in coming over that the journey would be what it’s been — and I’m not sure any of us believed that at the time — and especially after that first game in Chicago when we talked at halftime and she was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this,’ and here she is still standing strong, still putting in high-level performances, still being one of the smartest players on the field all the time.
She’s an absolute credit to this club, she’s an absolute credit to herself, and I feel really privileged that I get to celebrate a big milestone with her today. It, you know, obviously says that she’s done a lot of things right in her career, and I’m really glad that she took the risk in January 2013 to come over. I think it changed her life. It changed her career pathway, I think, in a really positive way. But that’s all down to her hard work and dedication to want to be the best.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: NOTHING
On an eventful day like this in which a milestone was celebrated, one of the world’s best midfielders will be coming back, a fourth straight clean sheet was posted, and OL Reign pick up their second win on the season, this was a very good day.
“I’m kind of fangirling right now.” “I’m fangirling also.”
Full of smiles and beaming, that is how Fishlock and Lavelle summarized the announcement that Little will be returning for a second stint with OL Reign and how much fun both are looking forward to playing with her come mid-June.
“Adding Kim Little is just like, it’s gonna be so fun,” Lavelle said with a big laugh. “It’s gonna be so fun. I remember when I was in college and I would watch the NWSL games, watching her and she was like my favorite player in the league. So I’m fangirling too. I cannot wait for her to get here and be a part of this group. She’s going to add so much. She’s literally one of the best players in the world.”
It’s a second straight win for OL Reign and just like that, they are in the top half of the table. OL Reign are on the road for their next match as they’ll travel to the Windy City and meet the Chicago Red Stars at Seatgeek Stadium on Saturday, June 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 PM PT and will be broadcast on Twitch for both US and international viewers.