Seattle Reign FC announced today that Lauren Barnes will return to the club for the 2018 season. Barnes, who is currently playing with Melbourne City FC in the W-League, will stay with the NWSL club that she’s called home since 2013.
After Women’s Professional Soccer folded in 2012, Barnes decided to take the year off from playing professional soccer. She took an assistant coaching position at the University of California, Riverside, before deciding to submit her name for the supplemental draft for the inaugural 2013 NWSL season.
The 28-year-old defender started in all 20 of Seattle’s matches in 2016, helping the club set two NWSL defensive records: most consecutive clean sheets (5) and most minutes without conceding a goal (531). Her performance that year earned Barnes NWSL Defender of the Year honors.
For the 2017 season, Barnes took on a new role as co-captain — a recognition of the leadership role she had grown into during her time with the club. Last year, she featured in 22 matches, playing 1,811 minutes. She was fourth in the league in touches per 90 minutes and connected 79.5 percent of her passes, demonstrating her immense contribution to the Reign’s possession-focused attack. Barnes also won 57.4 percent of duels, had 72 clearances, and won 67.4 percent of her tackles.
Barnes is incredibly comfortable on the ball and maintains possession as if she’s playing in the midfield — calm, collected, and not afraid to attempt a Cruyff turn or spin to avoid pressure. In the W-League, Barnes currently leads the league in passes with 763. That is more than 100 above the player currently in second, teammate Yukari Kinga (630 passes). New Reign FC coach Vlatko Andonovski approaches the game in much the same way as Harvey — making Barnes’ return an easy decision for the coach.
“Lu is one of the steadiest players in the league and since the beginning she has always been one of the league’s best defenders,” said Andonovski. “I’m excited for the opportunity to work with her and hopefully help her add another layer to her game.”
In August of 2017, Barnes also celebrated her 100th appearance with Reign FC — becoming the first player in NWSL history to reach 100 regular season appearances with the same club.
“When I first saw Lu in season one, you couldn’t help but notice first off that as a footballer she is just fantastic,” said Jess Fishlock in a Reign FC release celebrating Barnes’ milestone. “The left foot, the composure, her ability to read the game. I knew if she stuck with it, given the Reign and the type of club the Reign are, she would thrive and become everything she has become.”
While 2017 might have felt like an “off” season for the centerback, she was also tasked with leading a young, evolving backline that rotated frequently due to injuries and inconsistent performances. With the addition of Yael Averbuch and numerous quality options like Rachel Corsie, Maddie Bauer, and Kristen McNabb to take pressure off her in 2018, there’s plenty of reason to think Barnes can regain the form that earned her Defender of the Year accolades.