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Seattle Reign still working to diagnose defensive issues

Head coach Laura Harvey spoke ahead of training about addressing the team's defensive issues.

Last Updated
4 min read

While Seattle Reign hasn't been getting the results they want this season, nobody is giving up. That was evident during the club's training on Wednesday afternoon, with players showing a lot of energy during passing and shooting drills.

The positive and focused vibe in training doesn't mean the team is sweeping any of its issues under the rug. The Reign are coming off a 5-2 loss and have given up a league-leading 25 goals in 12 games. As head coach Laura Harvey said before Wednesday's training session, the team is having a collective conversation to understand why the things they discuss and focus on during training are not translating on the field.

"The part that we've spoken a lot about as a collective is we recognize how we can see the goals, talk about it, do film on it, train it, but then when it gets into a game, it's like those things don't transfer back in. So that's been a big topic of conversation," Harvey said.

"I don't know if that's systemic, or if the game is moving at a pace for us at the moment where those decisions are hard. I don't know the answer to that, but I think the key for us is we have to find a way to solve that. That's the key. You know, you can try to do that by changing the way that you defend, which we've tried to do. You can do that by changing the personalities that are in there to do it, which we've tried a little bit to do. And I think we have to continue to do that – and we have to get everybody on the same page."

Harvey knows that a lot of rotation isn't helpful in the long run. If the team can find the right combination on the field and get on the same page, then she hopes they can find some more consistency. While some summer moves could certainly help round out the team, that duty falls on General Manager Lesle Gallimore. Unsurprisingly, sources have indicated that the ongoing delay in completing the sale of the team has made it difficult to finalize deals. Sources also indicate that this should be resolved in the next week or two.

While new players could help, the sale is not causing the on-field issues right now. The team knows it needs to put in a complete and collective defensive performance.

"I don't believe that conceding goals is just a backline issue. I don't think scoring goals is just a forward issue. It's a collective."

Harvey and her coaching staff are encouraging the players to have their own conversations as well.

"I'm a true believer that our job is to give them the best environment to succeed and to learn and develop. And part of that is their own buy-in to that and their own accountability and responsibility within that. We can give them all the tactical information and all the structure that we want, but if they don't execute it, then we have to talk about that. And I feel like that's been something that, as a collective, they're taking responsibility for, which is great. They're looking inward and want to solve it individually and collectively, which is all as a coach you can ask for. They're not turning around and going, 'We are not set up right. We don't know the information.' I think the key that's really hurting them is that they do know it. It's that they're not translating it. And I think that's the key piece for us right now."

The team will be motivated to show that translation in action this weekend when they host rivals Portland Thorns at Lumen Field. Their previous match against the Thorns started well before unraveling after a dubious handball call on Sofia Huerta in the second half, and the team ultimately fell 4-0. The Cascadia rivalry match kicks off Sunday, June 16, at 1 PM PT and will air on CBS.

Other Training Updates

  • Quinn and Claudia Dickey were doing passing and shooting drills and participated in mini scrimmages during training. Dickey made a couple of fantastic diving saves.
  • Despite subbing out early on Sunday against the Current, Alana Cook and Phoebe McClernon were also training with the team.
  • The Reign should be announcing decisions about Luany and Jimena Lopez in the next few weeks. Both are wrapping up their seasons on loan in Spain – Luany with Madrid CFF and Lopez with Valencia.
  • Three U-18 trialists are training with the club right now: Forward Leena Powell (Tudela FC, recent U-17 NT experience), Midfielder Ainsley McCammon (Solar SC, recent U-17 NT experience), and Defender Jordyn Bugg (San Diego Surf, recent U-20 NT experience alongside Emeri Adames, FSU commit). While the Reign may not sign any player immediately, it's a great opportunity to see where they are at. All three are with the Reign until the ECNL National Playoffs in Seattle from June 22-28.
  • Juju Harris, who joined the Reign in preseason and even traveled with the club to Costa Rica, is also still training with the team. The U-18 player, a rising senior and Brazilian youth national team player who committed to Florida State, recently played with Seattle Reign II in the WPSL, scoring two goals against the Portland Thorns WPSL team. Perhaps a sign of good things to come for the Reign against their rivals?
  • When asked about Sam Meza's progress, Harvey said that the NWSL Draft pick "started preseason really, really well. She was exceeding expectations." Unfortunately, Meza had "a few things that hit her, illness being one of them, that sort of wiped her out for a little bit." The journey back from that has been challenging, but Meza is doing all the right things. Harvey noted that the team sees Meza as an attacking midfielder/forward, a spot on the field that isn't giving them the biggest issue right now, which has made it harder for her to get a spot on the bench or earn minutes. "We are obviously losing games, but we're actually scoring and creating more than we definitely were a year ago. So as much as we are frustrated with a lot of things, that's probably an area that we're not. So that's also relative ... who she's competing with. I think that's also part of the conversation that has to be had."