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OL Reign say goodbye to seven players amid offseason roster shakeup

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OL trio return to France, Cox retires, Cruz and White waived, and Nild’s option declined.

Nikita Taparia/Sounder At Heart

It’s the next stage of the NWSL offseason. Today marks the deadline in which clubs must announce new contract offers, options exercised for the 2022 season, and hard goodbyes for some players. Ahead of finalizing their protected list at the end of the week for the NWSL Expansion Draft, OL Reign shared news about players on loan, retirements, and everything in between.

Here is what OL Reign fans need to know.


BACK FOR THE 2022 SEASON

Fifteen OL Reign players were already under contract for 2022 and will return — goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce; defenders Amber Brooks, Alana Cook, Sam Hiatt, Sofia Huerta, Jimena López and Kristen Mcnabb; midfielders Angelina, Kelcie Hedge and Dani Weatherholt; and forwards Bethany Balcer, Nicole Momiki, Leah Pruitt and Ally Watt. Three additional players had their 2022 contract options exercised — Madison Hammond, newly acquired Nikki Stanton, and Cosette Morché. Morché remains on loan with French club GPSO 92 Issy through June, while Momiki’s loan to Linköpings FC in Sweden is scheduled to conclude at the end of this month.

In addition, Quinn, Rose Lavelle, and Megan Rapinoe remain with the team as 2021 Federation players, with their 2022 statuses to be confirmed at a later date.

Four players were out-of-contract and have received new offers — Lauren Barnes, Tziarra King, Ella Dederick, and Jess Fishlock. At the moment, only Jimena López occupies an international spot, with four other spots available for future signings or loans.

While OL Reign has every intention to keep these players, some will be left unprotected in the NWSL Expansion Draft and could be selected by Angel City or San Diego. At the moment, the only deal OL Reign has made is for Angel City to not select any forwards. OL Reign must turn in their list of the nine players they are protecting by Friday.


THE HARD GOODBYES

In total, the team is bidding farewell to seven players at this stage of the offseason. The three loanees from Olympique Lyonnais — Sarah Bouhaddi, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Eugénie Le Sommer — will all be returning to Lyon now that their season-long loans to the Reign are complete. Steph Cox has retired, Shirley Cruz and Rosie White were waived, and Miranda Nild’s contract option was not picked up.

This is defender Steph Cox’s second retirement from professional soccer. Cox, a Reign Original, returned to the pitch in 2019 after retiring ahead of the 2016 season and taking an assistant coach role.

“I have a lot of different emotions after having decided to retire,” Cox shared in a team release. “It was a lot of fun to come back and play for a couple seasons after having previously retired. My girls are getting older, so I’m looking forward to getting to focus on more on my family. That being said, I’m going to miss being out on the pitch.”

Midfielder Shirley Cruz joined OL Reign before the 2020 season and made 16 total appearances for the club in her two seasons here. This season, Cruz opened her goal-scoring account, finding the back of the net twice, including the match-winner against rival Portland Thorns FC back in May down at Providence Park.

Cruz posted her goodbye in Spanish and English on her Instagram on Monday.

Midfielder Rosie White’s time with the club has also come to an end. Joining then-called Reign FC in 2019 after the World Cup, White made 14 total appearances across her three-year spell in Tacoma, finding the back of the net three times. An ongoing battle with chronic illness limited White’s appearances in 2021 to just two across the NWSL Challenge Cup and the NWSL regular season. Her goodbye message indicates she’s not done yet, but might be looking for more playing time.

“I am so grateful to have spent the last three years with the Reign. The players on this team have become family. I will miss being part of this organization, but I am also very ready and excited for a new challenge. Thank you to everyone who made my time here so special,” she said.

Finally, the club opted not to pick up the contract option for Miranda Nild, who was on loan to Swedish club Kristianstads DFF for the entire 2021 season. Nild was first signed ahead of the 2020 Fall Series and had two appearances off the bench for the Reign in that tournament.

Cruz, White, and Nild will be available on the NWSL Re-Entry Wire for any team to pick up. That window closes tomorrow ahead of the NWSL Expansion Draft protection list deadline.


Current OL Reign roster by position and status

Goalkeepers (3): Ella Dederick, Cosette Morché (LOAN), Phallon Tullis-Joyce

Defenders (9): Lauren Barnes, Amber Brooks, Celia, Alana Cook, Madison Hammond, Sam Hiatt, Sofia Huerta, Jimena López (INT), Kristen McNabb

Midfielders (7): Angelina, Jess Fishlock, Kelcie Hedge, Rose Lavelle (FED), Quinn (FED), Nikki Stanton, Dani Weatherholt

Forwards (6): Bethany Balcer, Tziarra King, Nicole Momiki, Leah Pruitt, Megan Rapinoe (FED), Ally Watt