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Getting to know the 2018 Seattle Reign FC

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New coach. New players. New home kit. New era.

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Under the sweet, eclectic sounds that only KEXP could provide, the Seattle Reign FC held a season kickoff party for their season ticket holders on Wednesday afternoon.

Reign FC owner Bill Predmore kicked off the proceedings by highlighting the addition of University of Washington Medicine as the team’s official health partner. The partnership also comes with naming rights to their home, Memorial Stadium. Fans will always call it Fortress Memorial and want the intimidation factor to return, but it is officially UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium. Microsoft continues to be a presenting sponsor of the club, with their logo still featured prominently on the kit, and as some fans may have noticed over the weekend on social media, Microsoft hooked the players up with Surface tablets.

Another welcome addition to the Reign FC family is Force 10 Sports Management, who are best known as owners of Reign FC’s Seattle Center neighbors, the WNBA franchise Seattle Storm. Force 10’s involvement with the club is managing ticket sales and services.

The main attraction of the season kickoff event was a series of Q&A panels hosted by our very own Susie Rantz. For a lot of Reign FC fans, this was their formal introduction to some of the new Reign FC faces as well as seeing some familiar faces before they do their business on the field this weekend.

We know where the Seattle Reign FC have been under the leadership of Laura Harvey, and the work she put into establishing an identity, a culture, and a style of play that raised the bar and made the NWSL one of the fiercest leagues in the world will always be appreciated and an example for any professional sports team starting from the ground up. She is now in charge of Utah Royals FC, formerly known as FC Kansas City.

Enter Vlatko Andonovski as new the Seattle Reign FC boss. His resume speaks for itself. He is still the only coach in the NWSL who has won multiple NWSL Championships. You’d be hard pressed to find a better coach to be the new boss in charge. Yes, some familiar and beloved faces are no longer here because of the changes at the top, but the new faces brought in come with some buzz that maybe this squad can return to the playoffs and just maybe, finally secure that elusive first NWSL Championship.

The Reign FC begin their sixth NWSL season on Saturday at 7 PM, hosting the Washington Spirit. Both NWSL franchises, which have been here since day one, head into 2018 with plenty of new faces to usher in a new era for each team, and expectations are as high as the interest in seeing what these teams will do on the field.

It’s a long road before the full-time whistle is blown at the NWSL Championship Game and one of nine teams lifts that trophy on September 22. Of course, we want that team lifting the trophy to be Seattle, but before that road is traveled, let’s get to know some of the players that make up the 2018 Seattle Reign FC squad.


Yael Averbuch / Defender / #2

New team, new players, new coach, new city. What’s been the biggest challenge/adjustment for you?

To be honest, I’ve gotten used to moving to new places. The transition has actually been really smooth. Even though it’s new teammates and a lot of people who I know but didn’t know personally, I’ve also been friends with a lot of people here so in terms of that, super easy. It’s just the silly stuff, the everyday things like finding my local grocery store, figuring my way around hopefully not using GPS everyday.

Who is the one teammate with an on the field skill you wish you had?

Rumi’s movement and timing on things is so intelligent. I’m not a midfielder anymore, but if I was going back in the midfield, I’d like to capture some of that.

Life on the road presents time to listen/watch/read – name one thing from any of those categories you’d recommend?

I really like podcasts. I’ve listened to The Tim Ferriss Show a lot and I just think it’s interesting to hear something that’s a little educational.

Which pop culture spectacle would you rather be in attendance for: Super Bowl or WrestleMania or the Oscars?

The Oscars

If you could use one word to describe kicking off the season at home, what would it be?

Perfect.


Morgan Andrews / Midfielder / #12

New team, new players, new coach, new city. What’s been the biggest challenge/adjustment for you?

Training is the challenge everyday, to be honest because Vlatko and the staff are just pushing us everyday to be the best we can be. Outside of soccer, there really haven’t been any challenges because the team has been so great, so welcoming. The girls are all welcoming people so the adjustment has been easy.

Who is the one teammate with an on the field skill you wish you had?

I was asking Fish the other day, she has the greatest slice ball. I call it a slice ball because she comes across the ball and hits it with the outside of her foot and it lands perfectly with the right spin, right pace. It’s like a cheat code.

Life on the road presents time to listen/watch/read – name one thing from any of those categories you’d recommend?

The TV series Suits.

Which pop culture spectacle would you rather be in attendance for: Super Bowl or WrestleMania or the Oscars?

Entertainment-wise, the Super Bowl. Fashion-wise, the Oscars.

If you could use one word to describe kicking off the season at home, what would it be?

Fresh.


Jasmyne Spencer / Forward / #22

New team, new players, new coach, new city. What’s been the biggest challenge/adjustment for you?

Adapting to the time zone.

Who is the one teammate with an on the field skill you wish you had?

Rumi - the ball is literally glued to her foot, it’s amazing. There’d be four people around her and she still dances around them.

Life on the road presents time to listen/watch/read – name one thing from any of those categories you’d recommend?

The TV series Narcos.

Which pop culture spectacle would you rather be in attendance for: Super Bowl or WrestleMania or the Oscars?

I think WrestleMania would be pretty awesome.

If you could use one word to describe kicking off the season at home, what would it be?

Let’s go!


Megan Oyster / Defender / #4

New team, new players, new coach, new city. What’s been the biggest challenge/adjustment for you?

It’s a really, really good team. It’s really competitive. Each player on this team is something special, so I think the biggest adjustment is to match their speed, their mentality, their level and trying to earn a spot on the team.

Who is the one teammate with an on the field skill you wish you had?

Jodie Taylor’s strength and speed. She’s super explosive and if I clear a ball, she’s gonna get to it. I wish I could retrieve balls like that. She just has a magnet to the ball.

Life on the road presents time to listen/watch/read – name one thing from any of those categories you’d recommend?

The TV series Big Little Lies.

Which pop culture spectacle would you rather be in attendance for: Super Bowl or WrestleMania or the Oscars?

The Super Bowl.

If you could use one word to describe kicking off the season at home, what would it be?

Let’s go!


Christen Westphal / Defender / #21

New team, new players, new coach, new city. What’s been the biggest challenge/adjustment for you?

It’s surprisingly been an easy transition. Like everyone was saying before, everyone has been a good person so it’s easy to feel comfortable. Even people I’ve met randomly in Seattle... the vibe here is so chill and I just feel very comfortable so the adjustment has been easy, though my family’s three hours behind so sometimes I’d need to call my mom and it’s 1 AM over there, so the time zone.

Who is the one teammate with an on the field skill you wish you had?

Morgan Andrews’ ability to play the long ball on a dime.

Life on the road presents time to listen/watch/read – name one thing from any of those categories you’d recommend?

The TV series Blindspot and also the book Wild.

Which pop culture spectacle would you rather be in attendance for: Super Bowl or WrestleMania or the Oscars?

The Super Bowl.

If you could use one word to describe kicking off the season at home, what would it be?

Incredible.


Jess Fishlock / Midfielder / #10

New team, new players, new coach, new city. What’s been the biggest challenge/adjustment for you?

The biggest challenge is we haven’t had a lot of time together. With all the national team players out and unable to get them together [it] has been a hardship. On the flip side is the rest of the girls got to work with Vlatko for a long time and I think those girls that were here for pre-season will help us to gel back in.

Who is the one teammate with an on the field skill you wish you had?

Pinoe! Do you see the way she whips it with her left foot?! She hits the ball with her left foot, when she crosses it, like her leg is an elastic band. The accuracy and the pace on the cross is exquisite.

Life on the road presents time to listen/watch/read – name one thing from any of those categories you’d recommend?

The book & documentary Mindhunter.

Which pop culture spectacle would you rather be in attendance for: Super Bowl or WrestleMania or the Oscars?

The Oscars.

If you could use one word to describe kicking off the season at home, what would it be?

The best.


And maybe it was fitting that Fishlock closed out the interviews. One of the Reign FC Originals went on to elaborate on the team’s changes; as you read this, you can hear the passion, the confidence, the fire that only of course The Dragon would have.

“We have to wipe the slate clean in regards to what’s happened in the past and where we want to go in the future. I said it earlier and I’ll say it now, this is new, but it isn’t. We are the Seattle Reign. Who we are, what we want to do, how we want to be, doesn’t change just because we’ve brought in a new coach and new players. We’ve brought in a new coach who represents who we are and we’ve brought on new players who represent who we are. I’m super excited to put the past behind us a little bit and move forward with the group of players that we’ve got.

If we didn’t believe in what we were doing, we would just leave. The quality of the girls have here and possess who have been here for the amount of time, if they didn’t believe that this was gonna work, they would leave to be successful somewhere else because we don’t have much time left in our careers. Lulu, Bev, Pinoe, me, our careers are probably going to come to an end pretty soon and so we just wouldn’t be here unless we truly believed that this was genuinely the best thing for this club.

So I say trust the club that you’ve supported for six years, the decisions that have been made are to ensure this club gets back to being what it should be. We have a high expectation for ourselves, we have a high standard we have set to ourselves and for the last two years we have failed. We have been unsuccessful, so the change had to happen to make us be who we are.

So don’t view it as we’re not the Reign anymore, view it as we’re going to be the Reign again. That’s what we want. To be successful, to get the championships.

This isn’t a new Reign, it’s the Reign. It’s the old Reign, coming back to be successful.”

Needless to say, the 2018 Seattle Reign FC are more than ready to usher in a new era and return to glory, and to lift the trophy that has eluded them. The players know there are equal parts buzz about them and skepticism that this is going to work. They are very game to prove the latter wrong.

No one said change was going to be easy, but the Reign have made changes and every player, every member of the coaching staff, every person in the office is on board. The team this community got to know and fall in love with is still here and they are ready to make some noise.