It’s that time of the year where with the NWSL regular season wrapped up, we start to hear about NWSL players doing off-season loan spells abroad. A good deal of NWSL players will be going to Australia’s W-League. Since the 2014 NWSL season, we’ve seen news release after news release of players heading to the land down under from November to February.
The Seattle Reign FC are no different this off-season, and here’s what we know so far as to who is going where for an off-season loan spell.
GOALKEEPER HALEY KOPMEYER TO CANBERRA UNITED
On September 14, Canberra United’s Twitter account announced the signing of Haley Kopmeyer for the 2017-18 season. Kopmeyer’s last stint in Australia was for the 2015-16 W-League season where she joined Brisbane Roar and went to the semi-finals. There she had what was described by Melbourne City’s play-by-play crew as “the game of her life” where she stood tall against an offensive onslaught led by Jess Fishlock and Kim Little (you may have heard of those players). Kopmeyer contained City for the full 90 minutes and added extra time before being on the losing end of penalties 5-4.
She’ll likely be the first-choice goalkeeper for Canberra and it will be vital for her to get back into the groove of being the starting keeper after she was demoted in week 21 of the 2017 NWSL season in favor of Lydia Williams who the Reign acquired via trade. A successful loan spell could re-establish her regaining the first choice status for the 2018 Seattle Reign FC season.
MIDFIELDER JESS FISHLOCK, DEFENDERS LAUREN BARNES, REBEKAH STOTT, GOALKEEPER LYDIA WILLIAMS, AND FORWARD LARISSA CRUMMER RETURN TO MELBOURNE CITY
The Dragon returns to Melbourne City, her Australian destination during the NWSL off-season since 2015. She returns to the side as a player-coach, with official title as senior assistant to head coach Patrick Kisnorbo.
Four more names from Seattle will be joining Fishlock this season in the W-League. Lauren Barnes, Rebekah Stott, Lydia Williams, and Larissa Crummer will be returning to Melbourne City. We know what Barnes, Stott, and Williams can do on the field, but for Reign FC fans, it will be fascinating to see if Crummer can return to full form after missing the majority of the 2017 NWSL season from injury.
We did see at the tail end of the 2017 season what she brings to the table and notched a neat goal against the Washington Spirit. Regular minutes and a return to full form at Melbourne would only be a welcome addition to the 2018 Reign FC squad and give head coach Laura Harvey another goal-scoring option alongside forwards Bev Yanez and Katie Johnson.
DEFENDER KRISTEN MCNABB TO MELBOURNE VICTORY
Finding and developing talent in the NWSL is still an inexact science, especially when it comes to the college draft. Finds and busts can come anywhere between the four rounds of the draft. However, Reign FC seemed to have done it again in this past January’s draft when they got Kristen McNabb in the 4th round. It’s natural to assume a defender drafted in the 4th round won’t get much playing time in their rookie season, yet McNabb posted 18 appearances and we saw what the upside is with the defender/midfielder. There were stretches in her rookie season where McNabb was rock-solid to where it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility to think McNabb could get some Rookie of the Year consideration. McNabb is joining so many other NWSL players in playing down in Australia, something that can only yield positives for McNabb as she gears up for her second season in the NWSL.
DEFENDER CARSON PICKETT TO BRISBANE ROAR
Pickett is the eighth Reign FC player to head to Australia for the NWSL off-season and continue to develop her game. She’s joining Brisbane Roar, along with fellow NWSL colleagues Maddy Evans, Hayley Raso, and Celeste Boureille (Portland Thorns FC). Roar head coach Mel Andreatta is already glowing at what Pickett can bring to the club at the left back position, saying:
“From what I have seen Carson is a level-headed, smart defender who copes very well in difficult situations that are presented during a match. I am confident she is going to be an excellent addition to our talented group."
Since 2014, midfielder Christine Nairn has participated in the NWSL tradition of going to Australia for the off-season, playing for Melbourne Victory. However, on October 8, Nairn posted in her Finding Eurphoria blog that she wasn’t returning to Melbourne for the off-season, choosing to rest physically and mentally this off-season.
“I believe that my body needs a rest. I have many goals that I have set this offseason and I believe that in order to achieve those aspirations, I need to be in full control of my training. This is not a slam at those involved in Victory, however; I believe that I have hit a plateau in my career. I have been successful, but just slightly out of the elite category in both the NWSL & W-League. This is not a pity party. This is me simply, taking a look in the mirror and stating facts.”
This is where things stand as far as which Reign FC players are playing abroad in the off-season. Last year, some matches aired on ESPN3 (WatchESPN), and while no official announcement has been made, we expect that to be the case again. If there are more announcements in the near future, we will update this post accordingly.