Update, 1:00 PM: Reign FC have announced the signing of former University of Colorado goalkeeper Scout Watson as a National Team Replacement player. Watson was a non-roster invitee in pre-season, making one appearance for 27 minutes in Reign FC’s 5-0 victory over the University of Washington, and has continued to train with the team since.
The injuries continue to pile up for Reign FC as it was announced today by the club that goalkeeper Michelle Betos sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sky Blue FC. The injury ends Betos’ 2019 NWSL season.
“We’re devastated to lose Michelle for the season,” Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a team release. “She’s part of the soul of this defense and has been a tremendous presence for us. It is a testament to her character that she wanted to keep playing in that match, even after the injury. We know that we can still count on her presence in the locker room, but we’re going to miss her on the field.”
Betos suffered the injury in stoppage time of last Saturday’s match when she took a staggered dive to corral the ball. When she got up to kick out the ball, she took one step before realizing something was wrong. After a lengthy stoppage as Reign FC trainers tended to her, Betos eventually left the field with assistance and was taken to the trainer’s table, where she remained well after the match ended. Midfielder Morgan Andrews put on the goalkeeper’s gloves and a substitute’s bib to play as emergency goalkeeper for the last few minutes and immortalized herself in Reign FC lore.
Following the match, Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski was only able to confirm that that Betos was likely going to miss some time, and now we know the nature of her injury.
The average recovery time from a ruptured Achilles is around 6 months, and in the world of sports, potentially longer as the injury is often career-altering. In the NBA, Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins made his debut with the team back in January this year after missing the previous season with the same injury. After he made his return to the court, Cousins talked about “basically learning how to walk again,” and the anguish along the road to recovery, which he said was nowhere near complete.
In the world of soccer, David Beckham tore his Achilles in 2010 while on loan at AC Milan against Chievo. Beckham missed out on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but was able to resume playing after six months and beyond, retiring in 2013. If you’re curious as to specifically goalkeepers who have suffered the same injury and how they fared afterwards, Dutch goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer ruptured his in 2010 and still plays today. Manchester City’s Claudio Bravo ruptured his last August, and when asked for an update back in February, head coach Pep Guardiola did not offer a return date.
Athletes, no matter the sport, may talk to each other and offer advice about how to get through injuries, but everyone is different. How they react physically and equally important mentally from a devastating injury, doesn’t come with a universal instruction manual. According to this study, 70% of soccer players who have suffered the injury were able to resume playing. Time will tell what the road to recovery will be for Betos. We can only send her words of encouragement and hope she makes a proper recovery and can resume playing.
Michelle Betos’ 2019 season ends with four starts, one clean sheet, and a save rate of 82.4%.
Prior to last Saturday’s match, Reign FC announced the signing of goalkeeper Casey Murphy, who last played for Montpellier in France’s Division 1 Féminine. Murphy recorded 22 league starts, allowing 27 goals, and got 2 starts in the recently completed UEFA Women’s Champions League. Her two seasons with Montpellier also saw her earn the accolade of French Division 1 goalkeeper of the year in 2018.
With Lydia Williams departing for the World Cup with Australia earlier this week, Murphy will likely be the starter going forward until after the World Cup concludes.
The team’s plans for the backup goalkeeper position have not yet been announced, but they will need to sign another player before Monday’s match against North Carolina. (Update: the team has announced the signing of goalkeeper Scout Watson as a National Team Replacement player.)
This is the second season-ending injury for a Reign FC player — forward Jasmyne Spencer tore her ACL in the season-opener at Houston Dash. Going into this season, with the World Cup departures we anticipated, the team’s depth was always going to be tested. With long-term injuries to two starters, Vlatko Andonovski and his coaching staff have their work cut out for them, to say the least.
For whatever reason, the injury gods have it against Puget Sound region athletes. Last month, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm announced that forward Breanna Stewart will miss the upcoming season after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon while playing in the EuroLeague Championship game. Perhaps Betos and Stewart can become rehab buddies and return to their respective games stronger than ever.
In all seriousness, we here at Ride of the Valkyries join all Reign FC fans in wishing nothing but the best and a proper recovery for Michelle Betos.