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Seattle Reign trade for Canadian midfielder Diana Matheson

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The midfield was a concern at the end of 2016. Now Seattle has plenty of options.

England v Canada Quarter Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

Laura Harvey strikes again.

Seattle Reign FC has acquired Canadian International midfielder Diana Matheson from the Washington Spirit in exchange for the rights to midfielder Arielle Ship, who was the 26th pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. The Spirit also get Seattle’s natural third-round pick in the 2018 Draft.

It’s a move that will likely outrage most Washington Spirit fans, as Matheson has been a team leader and creative attacking force for both the Spirit and the Canadian National Team.

During her 67 appearances with the Spirit, Matheson scored 23 goals and assisted on 12 others, both club career records. The Canada National Team veteran has 191 caps for her country, along with 17 goals and 20 assists. She’s been on four World Cup rosters — coming back from a torn ACL and broken foot to appear in the 2015 World Cup.

Matheson also was named to three Olympic rosters, scoring the bronze medal-winning goal for Canada at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

She’ll be 33 when the season kicks off, but her aggression and tenacity haven’t waned at all over the years. Matheson simply doesn’t get tired. Don’t be fooled by her size, either. Like her new midfield teammate Jess Fishlock, Matheson plays much larger than her 5’ frame suggests.

“Diana has proven over the four seasons in the NWSL that she is a top talent. She will bring experience, leadership and proven ability to our squad,” said Laura Harvey, Seattle Reign head coach and general manager. “We are really excited to bring Diana on board with our club and thankful she will scoring goals for us and not against us!”

In an Instagram post to fans, Matheson indicated she was ready for something new after playing with the Spirit for the last four years:

After four years and some hard thought, I’ll be leaving the Spirit. Jim and staff have been great and there has been nothing but honest conversations during the off-season. They have been pushing to do what’s right for the club, but ultimately respected my decision. I truly appreciate all the work Jim put in to work together with me on this.This business can be a tough one, and I leave with nothing but respect and gratitude for the club.

Now I’m looking ahead with excitement to 2017 with the Seattle Reign. I am grateful as well to the Reign and to Laura for bringing me out west, and I can’t wait to begin my time there. I look forward to joining the great players, coaches, fans and people that make up the Reign.

Matheson, a Washington fan favorite, is just one of many players to leave the Spirit ahead of the 2017 season. After falling just short of an NWSL Championship, Washington traded or lost Nairn, Crystal Dunn, Ali Krieger, Megan Oyster, and 2016 leading scorer Estefania Banini, while a number of other players picked up late-season injuries and will be doubtful to start the new season.

Seattle, meanwhile, gets in Matheson another leader who gives it everything she has on the field and offers an important creative engine to spark the attack. While she’s mostly been used in the center of the field, she can easily put in a shift on the wing — bringing even more versatility to the already interchangeable Seattle Reign squad.

She’ll also join her former teammate, Christine Nairn, who paired up well alongside Matheson for the last three seasons. With Matheson’s signing, Seattle now has 17 of its 20 roster spots filled, with three draft picks hoping to fill the remaining spots.

How Seattle lines up when the season kicks off remains a fun mystery to contemplate, but one thing is clear: After losing Keelin Winters and Kim Little, Laura Harvey now has an arsenal of talent available to her in the midfield.