While some Seattle Reign FC players used the FIFA international break to get some well-earned rest and recovery time, others reported to their national teams. With the UEFA Women’s Euro competition starting next month, this FIFA break offered a final tune-up for a number of European squads.
In fact, four Reign FC players traveled across the globe for a series of matches against European squads, while Wales opted to give Jess Fishlock rest for its two June friendlies. Here’s how the four Reign players and their teams fared during the break.
Rapinoe saw no time against Norway, despite the fact that Mallory Pugh, who was set to start at left midfield, injured her ankle in warm-ups. Instead of slotting in a natural left midfielder who already has four goals in NWSL play this season, Jill Ellis replaced Pugh with Meghan Klingenberg.
Don’t get me wrong: Klingenberg is a strong left back who is known for making attacking runs. She should certainly be an option in the midfield, when needed. But as we saw throughout the match, the squad struggled to adjust to unfamiliar roles — resorting to long direct balls over the top that completely bypassed the midfield. A U.S. team known for possession and build-up play looked more like the squad that existed when Abby Wambach was in her prime — send it long and hope for the best.
It’s one thing to bring in young players and test them out in new positions, especially against tough competition like Sweden and Norway. But choosing Klingenberg over Rapinoe, who has clearly proven in her club play that she’s still ready to perform at the international level, is not the kind of experimenting this U.S. team needs.
Does this two-game series signal the final days of Rapinoe’s national team call-ups? It’s too early to say. If she doesn’t get time in July’s Tournament of Nations, however, fans may have reason to worry. Until then, she can continue to dominate the NWSL. We’re fine with that.
Rumi Utsugi was called up to play in two matches for Japan, both taking place in Europe. The team’s first match was June 9 against the Netherlands. Utsugi was an unused sub in Japan’s 1-0 win, and a press release from the national team notes that Utsugi was released on Sunday due to an injury. No additional details have been provided at this time, and Reign FC confirmed to Sounder at Heart that they are working to review the extent of her injury and will release details as they know more.
Japan’s second match took place June 13 against Belgium. The teams battled to a 1-1 draw.
Rachel Corsie was called up to the Scotland national team for friendlies against Romania and Sweden. With Kim Little out due to an ACL tear, Scotland has a lot of adjustments to make ahead of its first-ever appearance in the Women’s Euro.
Corsie didn’t suit up for Scotland’s 2-0 win over Romania on June 9. On Tuesday, June 13, she started in a tough match-up against Sweden. The defensive line for Scotland was stellar in the first half, holding Sweden scoreless. Corsie went down near the 30th minute, holding her left knee. She continued to play and looked fine, but was subbed off for the second half — likely just as a precaution.
While Scotland continued to hold off the sixth-best team in the world, Sweden finally managed to put one in the net in the 84th minute, as Caroline Seger sent a powerful header past keeper Gemma Fay. The game ended in a 1-0 loss, though Scotland should be proud of the defensive performance.
Kristen McNabb represented the U-23 USWNT for the second time this year, this time at the U-23 Four-Nations Nordic Tournament. McNabb played all 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw with England on June 9 after being an unused sub in a 3-0 win over Norway just three days prior.
McNabb again played a full 90 minutes for the U.S. on June 12, helping the backline secure a 2-1 win over hosts Sweden. While the U.S. went undefeated in the tournament, England took home the trophy on a goal-differential tie breaker.
Back to Seattle
Aside from Utsugi, whose status remains unknown at this time, all players who represented their national teams are expected to be back with the squad in the coming days and available for Seattle’s June 17 road match against FC Kansas City. Due to heat-related scheduling changes, this match will now kick off at 5:00 PM PT and can be streamed via go90.