The defending NWSL Shield winners rode into camp with an army of trialists in tow — 17 by my count — looking to compete for two roster spots. There is a possibility that others could be cut to make way for trialists, but that's unlikely given the quality currently on the roster. It's a brutal competition, but it's a rare opportunity to actually get paid to play soccer. And for many of the players it could be their last (or only) opportunity to make a career out of the sport.
Thanks to the team naming their trialists (unlike some other teams I know) we can detail who's in camp. The group of hopefuls is mostly made up of recent college graduates — including both those drafted by the Reign and a big group who went undrafted and are looking to make a second impression. But there are some familiar faces from among the pro or semi-pro ranks as well.
The Reign have invited back two previous players for trials. Defender Holly Hein was signed by Seattle in the middle of last season to add defensive depth, but never made an appearance for the team and was released in the offseason. And Puyallup's own Lyndsey Patterson — who's played for multiple WPS teams, had multiple stints with the Seattle Sounders Women, and had half a season with the Reign in 2013 — is back to give it another shot.
Another local is Allie Wisner, who graduated from Utah in 2013, then played last season for the Sounders Women and was also with Anderlecht in Belgium (though I'm not sure she made an appearance for the team).
And finally an experienced player who never played for the Reign but will be familiar to fans of Seattle women's soccer: Mele French. French is a forward who's had stints with Sky Blue (in the WPS era) and German club Freiburg, but most recently has been playing for W-League powerhouse LA Blues, a team that routinely knocked the Sounders Women out of the playoffs en route to league championships. Last season French won the W-League MVP award, picking up 8 goals and 8 assists in a season in which the Blues didn't lose or draw a single match on the way to their 4th league title.
Unfortunately, in a reminder of the instability of lower level soccer in this country, the Blues ceased operations after last season despite just coming off a dominating championship. That frees French to find a new home, and given her lower-division pedigree I'd pick her as a favorite to make one of the Reign's few open roster spots.
Recent College Players
By far the largest group of trialists is players who played college soccer in 2014. That includes the Reign's two draft picks: Havana Solaun and Kendall Romine. Solaun is an attacking midfielder from Florida and looks to have the right skill-set to bolster Seattle's depth at wing-forward. Romine is a Stanford defender who anchored one of the best defenses in the country last season.
Those two are joined by a host of undrafted players. Most recognizable to locals might be Jaclyn Softli, who started all 23 games as a forward for the UW women last season, leading the team in goals and making the All-Pac-12 first team.
The two goalkeepers in camp are WSU's Gurveen Clair — who's the Cougars' historical leader for nearly every goalkeeping statistic and has been involved in Canadian youth national team camps — and USC's Caroline Stanley — who had a GAA of 0.86 starting every match for the Trojans (bonus hype video). Given that the team is planning to lose Hope Solo for the World Cup break, they'll want to have another keeper around to back up Haley Kopmeyer and it seems likely either Clair or Stanley gets a roster spot.
The defending group includes Wake Forest's center defender Kim Marshall (who also played some forward) and USF fullback Daniela Andrade, who's also a regular on the Guatemalan national team. The attacking group includes Drake's Ashlie Stokes and towering USC midfielder Alex Quincey.
Then there's a group of players who weren't playing high level soccer anywhere last season (as far as I can tell, anyway), but who haven't given up on their dream of a soccer career.
That includes Federal Way's Bree Rowe. She certainly has the bloodline of a pro soccer player, given that her brother is Kelyn Rowe of the New England Revolution. After graduating from Oregon in 2010 she took up coaching for local club Crossfire. She was a reserve player for the Reign in 2013 but didn't make an appearance for the pro team outside of friendlies. The Reign did not have a reserve team in 2014 and it is unclear whether they will in 2015.
Jo Houplin graduated from Western Washington in 2013 and has stayed on as a coach with the team and a player for the Sounders Women as well as the Philippine women's national football team. She was the top scorer with 8 goals in the 2013 AFF Women's Championship, a tournament that included the Japanese and Australian national teams.
Dyanne Anderson was an attacker for UCSB and graduated in 2013. She's spent the last couple of seasons with the WPSL's Houston Aces. And last but not least, Hannah Kimsey was the NAIA national soccer player of the year in 2013 for Concordia University in Oregon after picking up 14 assists in their championship season. Last year she played with the Sounders Women and locally in Vancouver.
That's a big group targeting just a couple of roster spots, but even for those who don't make the roster, it's a chance to learn under Laura Harvey and test themselves against pros.