Seattle Reign FC has announced the re-signing of Merritt Mathias for the 2017 NWSL season. Mathias, who joined Seattle from FC Kansas City in 2015, appeared in 37 matches for the club in the last two years — scoring three goals and getting two assists.
“I am thrilled to be returning to Seattle for my fifth season in the NWSL,” said Mathias. “I love everything about this organization and consider Seattle my second home. I’m really looking forward to what this season has in store for myself and the team. As always, let it reign!”
The 26-year-old spent the 2015 season at forward, and her constant pressure played a big role in Seattle’s attack and the team’s ability to win possession. She didn’t always score goals, but Mathias brought something Seattle didn’t quite have up front: someone who often put in the unnoticed work to make the team better — creating space for her teammates and setting the tone for the match early with her pressure.
“My responsibility is to be that driving force up at the front, and try to get goals or assists at the end of games,” Mathias said in a Seattle Reign feature about her. “I think that as the season winds down that role becomes a huge part of our team, and I’m grateful to have that role.”
Mathias made the switch from forward to defender late in the 2016 season, and had somewhat mixed results. She was one of the best players in Seattle’s 3-1 win over the Portland Thorns in August — her first start in the position. She also earned her first call-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team in the Fall. At the same time, as she was still adjusting to the position while also pushing hard to help the team make the playoffs, Mathias gave up two penalties in subsequent matches toward the end of the season.
Assuming she’ll be one of Laura Harvey’s top options at right back, Mathias will now have a full offseason and preseason to prepare for the position. Her speed, aggression, versatility, and ability to get involved in the attack are all enticing reasons to keep her in consideration for that role. That she can also slot into a forward role is another huge bonus for the team.
“Merritt is someone that has been a huge part of the team now for the last two seasons,” said Harvey. “She’s played in multiple positions which is a huge testament to her ability. When you have such a small squad, when you have someone that can play multiple positions, it’s huge.”
With Mathias’ signing, Seattle now has 15 of its 20 roster spots filled. Kiersten Dallstream has been extended a new contract, but hasn’t officially re-signed, and Hope Solo’s status remains in question. The Reign also have four draft picks that will be working hard to earn a spot on the squad.