Yesterday, we unveiled your picks for Seattle Reign Offensive, Defensive, and Breakout Player of the Year for the 2016 season. Today, we’re taking a look at the players that were the most valuable to the squad, and the moments that defined the season.
While Kim Little ruled this category in her first two seasons with Reign FC, a new player earned your top vote this year. It was the closest voting we’ve had since 2013 — a sign of the balanced Reign FC team, and the fact that no player had a truly dominating season. With 29 percent of your votes, the 2016 Seattle Reign FC MVP is Jess Fishlock.
Despite missing four games after fracturing her leg, Fishlock returned with a vengeance in the middle of the season. The midfielder showed a consistent level of intensity, even when it seemed like her teammates didn’t bring quite as much punch. She also led the team in assists, with four, and tallied a goal.
Beyond these statistics, Fishlock was all over the field in her traditional “Welsh Dragon” fashion — breaking up opponent attacks with a tackle, and quickly springing Seattle’s offense once gaining possession. There’s nobody in the league quite like Fishlock, and we are so happy she plays for our side.
Kim Little came in second, getting 24% of reader votes. Her six goals and two assists were a lot lower than previous seasons, but Little still produced a ton of magic. During Fishlock’s injury, she was asked to play much deeper in the midfield. In this role, Little proved to not only be one of the best attacking midfielders, but one of the most versatile players in the game. In no match was that more evident than Seattle’s 1-0 win over FC Kansas City.
Rounding out the Top 3 in MVP voting is Reign FC captain Keelin Winters. The heart of the Reign, Winters continued to do the unnoticed and often thankless things so well. She shielded the backline from pressure — intercepting passes, sliding out wide when an outside back makes a run up the field, and breaking up plays with pressure on the ball. Despite playing deeper in the midfield, Winters also managed to notch a goal and two assists in 2016. Goodness, we’ll miss her next year.
Reign FC Team MVP
This season will certainly be a test for Seattle, as 3 of the 5 players receiving the most MVP votes won’t return to the Reign in 2017.
Most Important Team Moment
A lot of positive and even a few frustrating moments defined the 2016 season for Seattle Reign FC. Overall, readers mostly chose to focus on positive — especially when it came to the top moment of the year. That one belongs to Keelin Winters, who scored in the final home match of her NWSL career.
Not only did Winters put a memorable mark on her final home match, her goal and the win over the Washington Spirit kept Seattle’s playoff hopes alive. There was no better way to send off Seattle’s captain — one of the best defensive midfielders in the league, a routinely underrated player, and probably Kirkland’s best firefighter.
While the miniature field Western New York forced Seattle to play on was your second most important moment, fans preferred to remember the season with a celebration of the tenacity, teamwork, and moments of magic that have come to define this team.
Team Moment of the Year
|Keelin Winters scores in the final home match of her NWSL career||44%|
|Seattle Reign plays on tiny turf against WNY Flash||13%|
|Reign come back from 2-0 deficit to win last regular season match||11%|
|Megan Rapinoe returns to the Seattle Reign, scores in win against Portland||6%|
|Kim Little inks deal with Arsenal Ladies||5%|
|Kim Little named BBC Women's Footballer of the Year||5%|
|Naho Kawasumi scores a brace in Reign FC return||5%|
|Washington Spirit owner plays national anthem before players take the field||3%|
|Hope Solo takes off remainder of Reign FC season||2%|
|Kim Little puts in a performance for the ages against FC Kansas City||2%|
With the NWSL college draft just around the corner on January 12, the return of Christine Nairn to Seattle, and perhaps even more tricks up Laura Harvey’s sleeves before the season kicks off, here’s to an even more memorable 2017.