At long last, the 2020 NWSL preseason is finally upon us. Players reported to camp today for their first day of official training in preparation for the upcoming season. OL Reign announced an initial roster of 31 players, including one unsigned draft pick and seven non-roster invitees. Eighteen players return from the 2019 roster. Perhaps most notably, the team also announced the addition of a new assistant coach, Carrie Kveton, to round out their staff.
“This offseason has obviously been one of significant change in nearly every area of the club, including our roster. Given that we ended the 2019 season with more than 30 players under contract, we knew changes would need to occur. We also identified several areas where we wanted and needed to improve, and pursued a plan to make that happen,” said OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore in a team release. “We feel good about the group we have assembled and expect to add at least one additional player before the first match of the regular season.”
Predmore went on to highlight the team’s focus over of getting younger – most of their signings from the past two years are 26 years old or younger, and include many players expected to provide key contributions this season and beyond, such as Casey Murphy, Darian Jenkins, Bethany Balcer, Taylor Smith, Rosie White, Celia Jimenez Delgado, Julia Ashley, Rebecca Quinn, Dani Weatherholt, and Kelcie Hedge.
Several players will be absent from the start of camp due to international commitments or the W-League playoffs. Celia, Rosie White and Rebecca Quinn will report at the end of the FIFA international window on Wednesday. Megan Rapinoe is expected to arrive on March 17, following a short break after the end of the SheBelieves Cup. Lauren Barnes, Steph Catley, Darian Jenkins and Sofia Huerta are competing in the W-League playoffs and will report following the conclusion of the season in two weeks. Draft pick Sam Hiatt is not with the team as she finishes her classes at Stanford.
The team currently has 23 players signed, following the Friday announcement that draft pick Kelcie Hedge has been signed through 2022, and all four international slots are filled. NWSL rosters can consist of 22 senior roster players plus a four-player supplemental roster, so the team has some flexibility to sign additional players.
New head coach Farid Benstiti is looking forward to getting his first look at the players and building a team identity. “I am very happy with the squad,” he said in a team release. “We have a strong group of players that it is well balanced with youth, enthusiasm, and experience. We highlighted some keys areas of the field that we wanted to improve on, and our off-season recruitment shows that. While we may not be finished building our squad, I am very happy with the potential for the team and the club.”
On the staff side, assistant coach Sam Laity, goalkeeper coach Ljupco Kmetovski, and Director of High Performance Nick Leman all return from last season. Reign Academy coach Matt Dorman has joined the first-team staff as the club’s video analyst, which is a new position for the 2020 season. Additionally, the club has hired Carrie Kveton as an assistant coach. Kveton, a native of Texas, holds a UEFA Pro license and has been with Danish club Fortuna Hjørring since 2012, first as an assistant coach, then as co-head coach from 2014-17, and has led the side since 2017. During her time with the club they won three league titles and had two second-place finishes, as well as winning two Danish cups.
2020 OL Reign Preseason Roster by Position
Goalkeepers (3): Michelle Betos, Shelby Money (NRI), Casey Murphy
Defenders (12): Julia Ashley, Lauren Barnes (NYR), Amber Brooks, Steph Catley (INT/NYR), Steph Cox, Machaela George (NRI), Madison Hammond (NRI), Jazmin Jackmon (NRI), Celia Jiménez Delgado (INT/NYR), Kristen McNabb, Rebecca Quinn (INT/NYR), Taylor Smith
Forwards (7): Bethany Balcer, Sofia Huerta (NYR), Darian Jenkins (NYR), Mariah Lee (NRI), Megan Rapinoe (FED), Jasmyne Spencer, Jodie Taylor
INT – International Slot
NRI – Non-Roster Invitee
CDP – 2020 NWSL College Draft Pick
NYR – Not Yet Reported to Camp
FED – U.S. Soccer Federation Player