The NWSL released the framework for the 2015 schedule on Wednesday and it serves as a bit of a reality check for Seattle Reign fans. Although the league will take a break for the World Cup, it will only be two weeks. That means players will miss significant time with their clubs prior to the tournament -- as they join up for residencies -- as well as during the knockout stages, which will last a couple more weeks for some players.
The league release estimates that World Cup players could miss as may as seven to eight games for national team duty. With the schedule also being shortened to 20 games, that means players will miss well over a third of the season.
As rosters currently stand, the Reign will be as adversely affected by this decision as any team. Not only could the Reign have as many as five players called into the USWNT (Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux are virtual locks; Stephanie Cox has been regularly included; and Keelin Winters' play gives her at least an outside shot), but several other players could end up in Canada. Here's a quick rundown:
Nahomi Kawasumi (Japan): The bigger question will be whether or not she's back with the Reign after an outstanding season in which she scored nine goals and had five assists in less than 1,600 minutes. After coming here on loan, it's entirely possible she returns to Japanese club INAC. Either way, Japan is expected to be one of the top teams in Canada so she's likely to miss a significant chunk of the season.
Carmelina Moscato (Canada): Injuries limited her to one appearance for the Reign, but she's a regular with Canada. Assuming she's back in Seattle, she'll be out for an extended period.
Kim Little (Scotland): Still a bit of a longshot to earn one of UEFA's eight bids, but very much alive. Europe's qualifying process is a bit complicated with 46 teams entering the process. The group stage, where they are now, features seven groups of six that play home-and-home against one another. The seven winners automatically advance, while four of the second-place teams go into a home-and-home playoff. Scotland is currently positioned to make the playoff. The good news, if you want to look at it in a completely club-over-country way, is that even if Scotland advance to the World Cup they won't be favored to advance beyond the group stage. It's possible Little would only miss a few Reign games.
Jess Fishlock (Wales): They are in a similar situation as Scotland, only more of a long shot. Wales are currently second in their group, but not in position to advance to the playoff. They'd be an even bigger underdog at the World Cup and have even less infrastructure, which means they might not have much, if any, pre-tournament residency.
In an absolute worst-case scenario, the Reign could lose half their roster for part of the World Cup. Either way, they are going to need to add some reinforcements next year. For all the praise Laura Harvey received in remaking the roster ahead of this season, there's an even bigger task ahead this offseason.