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Seattle Reign vs Sky Blue - Live stream and game thread

The Reign's fourth season kicks off in perfect weather at Memorial Stadium this afternoon.

The Reign kick off the 2016 season and their second consecutive defense of an NWSL Shield this afternoon at home against Sky Blue FC.

Seattle has by far the most unchanged roster heading into the new season, as befitting a team that's won two shields and advanced to two straight finals. There are only three significant impacts to the roster thus far: the retirement of left back Stephanie Cox, a long-term injury to Megan Rapinoe, and the addition of Dutch attacker Manon Melis. Otherwise, the team that has dominated the rest of the league over two regular seasons returns intact.

Preseason predictions are unanimously behind the Reign to finish the season at or near the top of the standings. And they are equally unanimous in their expectation that Sky Blue will finish at or near the bottom, after losing significant parts of a team that finished only ahead of Boston last season.

So a match at Memorial Stadium, where Seattle has still never lost, against a team likely to have a rough season will be an important opportunity to pick up three points if the Reign are going to go for the Shield three-peat.

If the team from New Jersey does defy predictions this year, it'll be due to the offensive contributions of new additions Raquel Rodriguez and Tasha Kai. Rodriguez won the Hermann Trophy in 2015 after leading her team to a national championship, and was drafted second overall in this January's draft. Kai returns to pro soccer after a few years away (reportedly playing rugby in her native Hawaii), but is a onetime regular national team forward who has a lot to prove returning to the game.

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