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Reign FC sign fullback Taylor Smith with an eye toward the future

The defender is not expected to play this season, but the team has high hopes for her in 2020

W-League Rd 6 - Newcastle v Melbourne Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images

Reign FC made a roster move for the future today with the signing of fullback Taylor Smith, who most recently played for the Washington Spirit in the NWSL. Smith is recovering from an ACL tear she suffered while playing for Newcastle Jets in Australia’s W-League in December 2018 and is not expected to suit up for the Reign this season.

“I am very excited to have Taylor on the squad,” said Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski in a team release. “I think she’s very dynamic, a very intense player. She’ll fit perfectly in our type of team that we’re trying to build. Obviously, we’re not going to have her for this season, but I’m sure that she’ll do whatever it takes to get back on the pitch as quickly as possible. On our side we’ll do whatever it takes for her to get ready for next season.”

Smith, a former UCLA Bruin and college teammate and roommate of Darian Jenkins, went undrafted out of college in 2016 but was invited to pre-season with the Western New York Flash and earned a spot on their roster. In that NWSL Championship winning season, Smith made 20 appearances for 816 minutes and scored two goals. The following year Smith saw her playing time increase significantly, with 20 starts and 6 substitute appearances for the North Carolina Courage, as well as earning a 2017 NWSL Championship runner-up medal.

That productivity attracted the attention of U.S. National Team coach Jill Ellis, who added her to the 2017 Tournament of Nations roster, as well as to the squad for subsequent friendlies and the 2018 SheBelieves Cup. Smith has 10 national team caps to date and briefly was in contention to be the team’s starting right back and became a Federation Allocated player in 2018.

However, she hasn’t been called in to a national team camp since a rough outing in the 2018 the SheBelieves Cup, including a match where she was subbed off in the first half, and she lost her allocated status for 2019.

Smith was traded to the Washington Spirit prior to the 2018 season as part of the trade that sent Crystal Dunn to the Courage. She made 23 starts for a Spirit team that struggled offensively and finished near the bottom of the table. In the NWSL off-season she was loaned to Newcastle Jets, where she was having a productive season before injuring her ACL in her sixth match.

After losing her allocated status the Spirit elected not to retain her rights, which made her eligible to be signed by any team in the league. She was acquired through the player discovery process after going unclaimed in the Distribution Draft earlier this month.

Although she won’t play for Reign FC this season, she is expected to join her new team soon and continue her rehab with club staff. Said Smith, “I can’t wait to get out there and support my new teammates and the club. I’m looking forward to continuing my rehab with the Reign and getting back on the field as soon as possible.”

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