When I started watching the NWSL, I didn’t pick a team to follow right away. I wanted to take my time, look at the styles and what each team offered. I thought about Portland, about Kansas City, about Chicago. I watched the games in the wake of finding out about this league from the 2015 Women’s World Cup and I found something that made me smile.
More correctly, I found three people that made me smile.
Laura Harvey, Kim Little and Haley Kopmeyer.
When I started watching the NWSL it was Seattle that grabbed my attention and kept holding on to it. It was Harvey on the sidelines coaching with a mix of drill instructor and excited kid in a candy store. It was Kim Little dancing with the ball in a way that blew my mind even after the Women’s World Cup had shown the world so many mind blowing moments. And it was Haley Kopmeyer who had a goalkeeping style I enjoyed and a respect for her place on the team backing Hope Solo up.
They were a fun team. Full of personality and spark. They could play against any team in the league and have a chance to win it. And some games not just win but win by a few orders of magnatude.
As I grew from fan into the world of media, Seattle kept themselves on my radar even as I covered other teams. They were doing well. Kim Little seemed to make the impossible routine. Harvey was animated on the sideline and amusing in post game press conferences. Kopmeyer was always ready to step in if called upon. And her Twitter is still a delight.
But then the 2015 championship failed to net Seattle a title in their second straight loss to FC Kansas City.
Kim Little left before the 2017 season.
And while that blow hurt there was still so much that was good about Seattle. Even if they weren’t the team I once knew.
And then in the 2017 offseason, a double whammy.
Haley Kopmeyer was traded.
And the once unthinkable happened. Laura Harvey left.
And for a few months last winter I was left to wonder if the team I had picked in 2015 was still a team I wanted to cover on a site that only covered Seattle. For a few weeks I wasn’t sure I could still do it. Little was a blow. Kopmeyer was a goalkeeper I still think could and should start. And Harvey was gone too. They had struggled in 2017. They looked tired and frustrated and at times like they wanted to be anywhere but on the same pitch together. Things were at a standstill.
I tried to write about them for the better part of December, January and February. I just, couldn’t. What I enjoyed about them, at least at the time I felt like, was gone. Vanished.
And then I watched their first game.
I remembered the joy I thought had been left behind. I felt the energy I thought I didn’t have anymore.
I watched Seattle be fun again.
I watched Rapinoe score a beautiful shot. I watched Betos defend the net. I watched Vlatko coach in a way that was so unlike Harvey but so like him. Fishlock looked like she had support. Naho was doing Naho things. It was like a weight had been lifted off of me as 90 minutes passed by. This is a team I could think about. This was a team I could write about.
It is sometimes the simplest things that make it possible for a writer to be able to tap out keys and make letters into words, into sentences into a finished piece.
For me it was Megan Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock and Vlatko Andonovski making Seattle fun again.