The 2018 NWSL season wrapped up on Saturday, and we are now officially into silly season, more formally known as the NWSL off-season. It began this morning with Seattle Reign FC’s announcement of Jess Fishlock’s loan to French club Olympique Lyonnais Féminin.
And it would appear Seattle is not done in making early off-season headlines.
The club just announced the signing of Australian international midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight. Kellond-Knight is currently at Denmark’s Hammarby, and upon completion of her season there, will head to Australia to play for Melbourne City in the W-League with some future Reign FC teammates, and then report to Seattle for the 2019 NWSL campaign.
Kellond-Knight might be a familiar name for Reign fans. Back in March, she was linked to Seattle for the 2018 season, but the move was reportedly blocked by the North Carolina Courage via a discovery claim. The block prevented Kellond-Knight from joining Seattle in 2018, but discovery claims expire at the end of every season, clearing the path for the move to Seattle.
A mainstay of Australia’s national team, Kellond-Knight is a defensive midfielder who participated in the Matildas’ 2011 and 2015 World Cup campaigns and started in all three matches at this year’s Tournament of Nations. Kellond-Knight’s World Cup campaigns have twice earned her a spot on FIFA’s World Cup All Star team alongside stars such as Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Rumi Utsugi. She has also picked up W-League Young Player of the Year (2009) and FFA Female Footballer of the Year (2011) honors along the way.
“We’re excited to have Elise on the team. We’ve been working a long time to find a way to bring her to the club. She’s a very talented player who will add another dimension to our midfield. We can’t wait to get started and see Elise on the pitch,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski in a team release.
“I hope to build a bond and home at Seattle that can compare to my experience here in Stockholm. And then, of course, I will play in the Australian W-League for Melbourne City before joining the Reign. There’s so much to look forward to and I can’t wait to start the new adventure,” said Kellond-Knight in the release.
She becomes the third Australian on Seattle’s roster, joining defender Steph Catley and goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
What the Kellond-Knight signing means for the Reign roster with regards to the starting midfield trio — typically Jess Fishlock, Allie Long, and Rumi Utsugi in 2018 — remains to be seen. With the World Cup next year, there is the prediction that Japan will have another residency to prepare, which would likely mean limited appearances by the club’s Japanese internationals before the tournament, and Fishlock will spend the early part of the season in France unless Lyon has an unexpectedly early exit from Champions League. One thing is certain — there will be additional moves and roster news from Seattle as they look to improve on their third-place finish and semifinal loss this season.
With that said, welcome to Seattle, Elise Kellond-Knight!