While the excruciatingly long NWSL offseason continues, a number of Seattle Reign players are keeping busy playing abroad or with their respective national teams. In what we hope will be a weekly feature, we’re kicking off “Reigning Abroad,” our recap of all the Seattle Reign players suiting up this fall and winter.
The Australian W-League is in its second week of play, and is already producing some exciting action. This year, the league is using Opta to track statistics — giving us access to more robust stats like passing accuracy, possession, and tackles.
Select matches are also airing on ESPN3, although they are a little hard to find. They can accessed by heading to WatchESPN and then looking under the “A League” category on ESPN3. Matches usually take place late Friday and Saturday evenings PT.
Kendall Fletcher — along with 2016 Seattle Reign draft pick Paige Nielsen — started for the Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend in a cross-town rivalry match against Sydney FC. In front of a record crowd of 4,178, Fletcher and Nielsen lined up alongside each other in Western Sydney’s midfield. Both players had strong performances — including a few dangerous shots on goal — but Sydney FC’s early pressure was too much for the Wanderers, and their rivals won 2-0. Western Sydney currently sits at the bottom of the table with an 0-2-0 record.
Lauren Barnes and Jess Fishlock both played a big role in Melbourne City FC’s 2-1 victory over Canberra United. Barnes earned an assist in Melbourne’s first goal off a beautifully taken free kick — her second assist in two games. Barnes has been playing as a midfielder for Melbourne City, and similar to the Reign has taken most of the squad’s set pieces.
Fishlock, who is once again serving as assistant coach, sent a pinpoint long ball late in the second half, which found the feet of a rushing Melina Ayres for City’s second goal.
Meanwhile, Bev Yanez will also join Melbourne City FC, making her W-League debut — presumably in their next match. Fishlock, Yanez, and Barnes hope to lead City to another W-League title. Their 2-0-0 start puts them on a strong path.
Christine Nairn — now back with the Reign for 2017 — played 90 minutes with Melbourne Victory, serving as the team’s captain. Nairn was busy on the defensive end, as the Victory struggled to a 4-0 loss against the Newcastle Jets. Melbourne Victory now has an 0-1-1 record.
Upcoming W-League Matches:
- Western Sydney Wanderers (Kendall Fletcher) v. Adelaide United: Saturday, November 19, 8:00 p.m. PT
- Melbourne Victory (Christine Nairn) v. Sydney FC: Saturday, Nov. 19, 9:00 p.m. PT
- Melbourne City FC (Jess Fishlock, Lauren Barnes, Bev Yanez): off this week
Japan’s Empress Cup
Naho Kawasumi was loaned out to her former club, INAC Kobe Leonessa. Naho was available on the bench, but did not play, in a 3-0 win over FC Kibi International University Charme. With the victory, INAC Kobe advanced to the quarterfinals of the Empress Cup. Next up, they’ll face Urawa Reds Ladies on December 17 at 10:00 p.m. PT.
Megan Rapinoe was called up to the U.S. Women’s National Team training squad for two friendlies against Romania — the final games of the year for the USWNT. Rapinoe did not suit up in either match last week. According to reporter Richard Farley, this likely has more to do with Rapinoe’s fitness levels than anything else.
Same. Early in the week Rapinoe didn't sound super-enthusiastic about her current fitness levels. I'm not surprised to see her out. https://t.co/0nzjRdHyOB— Richard Farley (@richardfarley) November 14, 2016
If you are eager for more women’s soccer, the U20 Women’s World Cup kicked off this week in Papua New Guinea. The U.S. and France fought in some very warm conditions to a 0-0 draw in their first match of group play. The U.S. squad, which includes University of Washington midfielder Kelcie Hedge, will face New Zealand on November 17 at 1 a.m. PT. The match airs on FS1.
With Laura Harvey’s trades and ongoing W-League play, this offseason should keep things exciting for Reign fans. We’ll be back next week with more Reign-focused updates.