We’re just a couple of days away from Reign FC beginning their 2019 NWSL season on the road at Houston Dash. In case you missed it, our first part of the season preview is here, but with this post, we wanted the rest of the Ride of the Valkyries staff to chime in on what they’re looking for in the upcoming season. Specifically, which players they’ll be watching, which World Cup-bound player will shine brightest at the tournament, and more.
Behold, our staff picks and predictions of the 2019 Reign FC squad.
Who are your two Reign FC players to watch this season?
Susie Rantz: Shea Groom and Morgan Andrews
On Groom: Last year, Vlatko Andonovski didn’t think the team had quite as much aggression as they needed to win the ball back quickly. Groom is not afraid to put her body on the line to win the ball, and thrived under Andonovski at FCKC. I think she feels she has a lot to prove after under-performing with Sky Blue last year. On Andrews: Andrews showed us what she’s capable of in stretches last season. With this being a World Cup year, she’s going to be relied on more heavily. And if there was one thing she was perhaps lacking last year, it was that extra bit of confidence and swagger. She’s definitely had that over the course of the preseason and could play a significant role in the midfield this year.
Steve Voght: Morgan Andrews and Celia Jiménez Delgado
On Andrews: She’s going to have a big opportunity due to international player absences in the midfield, and looks ready to take a step up. On Jiménez Delgado: Her versatility is going to be a huge boon for the team and it’s going to be exciting to see where she’ll pop up at various times.
Nikita Taparia: Morgan Andrews and Michelle Betos
On Andrews: With the world cup this year and Jess returning a bit later, Morgan Andrews is going to be the heart of the midfield. On Betos: Betos will be absolutely vital to the Reign defense while Lydia Williams is away. Also, she’s a lot of fun to photograph!
Jacob Cristobal: Morgan Andrews and Darian Jenkins
On Andrews: The stretch of games last season where she got the start, you saw flashes of what she can do switching the field and setting up an attack. Year two under Vlatko, and the way she talked about her discipline on and off the ball being a lot better under his tutelage I think opens up more of her play. On Jenkins: Touted as the prize acquisition in the off-season and we’ve already seen some glimpses of why the team is high on her. Her height & speed I think will be just as impactful on the defensive side when fighting to win back the ball from opposing defenders, something we know Vlatko wants all field players to do.
Who leads the team in goals? Assists?
Susie: Jodie Taylor for goals, Beverly Yanez for assists
Steve, Nikita and Jacob all predicted Darian Jenkins would lead the team in goals, and Yanez in assists.
Which player’s name do you want on the back of your next Reign FC jersey?
Susie: Steph Catley
Steve: Megan Oyster
Nikita: Rumi Utsugi
Jacob: Morgan Andrews
Which Reign FC player shines the most at the World Cup?
Susie: Steph Catley
Steve: Lydia Williams
Nikita: Megan Rapinoe
Jacob: Megan Rapinoe
We then got our bold-ish predictions on and answered this question in “fill in the blank” style: The 2019 Reign FC will ________
Susie: Be embraced by Tacoma and see attendance go up this year.
Steve: Be a lot of fun.
Nikita: Win the entire damn thing and I’m going to lose my voice because of it.
Jacob: Return to the NWSL Championship.
And should the thing we all want to happen become a reality and Reign FC do win the NWSL Championship, we know there’s going to be a party to celebrate. One thing that happens at parties is songs are sung, and at various points of last season, we were fortunate enough to hear bits of head coach Vlatko Andonovski serenading the halls after training or post-match press conferences. So we got to thinking, if we could make a request... what song would we want Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski to sing at the NWSL Championship victory party?
Susie: “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce
Steve: “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick (but specifically, the cover version by Letters To Cleo from the movie “10 Things I Hate About You”... and ideally performed on the roof of Cheney Stadium)
Nikita: “Africa” by Toto (to any Portland Thorns fans that read this, Nikita sends her regards -wink-)
Jacob: “Fantastic Voyage” by Lakeside
Should this be the season that Reign FC win the NWSL Championship, what song would you like to hear coach Andonovski sing at the victory party? Let us know in the comments, as well as any other predictions or thoughts you might have on the rest of our picks.