Preparations for the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup and regular season started today with the opening of training camps across the league. OL Reign announced its 35-player training camp roster, including nine non-roster invitees, two players who are currently out of contract, and 24 players already signed for 2021.
Notably, Megan Rapinoe will be returning to the team for the 2021 season after sitting out 2020 due to concerns about Covid-19. She is expected to join the Reign after the end of the SheBelieves Cup tournament later this month.
“After a very difficult and uncertain 2020 for all of us, I am feeling rejuvenated, healthy and really excited to get back on the pitch with my teammates for what I hope is a very exciting 2021,” Rapinoe said in a team release.
Gone from the 2020 Reign roster are goalkeepers Michelle Betos and Casey Murphy, defenders Julia Ashley and Taylor Smith, and forwards Darian Jenkins and Jodie Taylor. Five new players have signed contracts with the Reign ahead of 2021 — goalkeeper Cosette Morché, defender Sam Hiatt, midfielder Angelina, and forwards Tziarra King and Ally Watt — and the team plans to make 2-3 additional signings ahead of the Challenge Cup, as well as the previously reported two players expected to come on loan from Olympique Lyonnais at the end of the European season in mid-May.
“It’s good that we have new players,” said OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti. “I feel that they are a good complement to who we already have to make us better. It’s not like sometimes where you have a squad and you are not satisfied with the recruitment. At this time, I’m really satisfied. I think we’ve got a great core group that will be the future of the club. I’m excited to make the coordination between players who were already in the team and the new players who have so much potential to help us improve. That’s very exciting for me.”
Midfielders Allie Long and Morgan Andrews are currently out of contract, although both have reported for preseason training.
All players who went on loan for the 2020-21 off-season have returned to the team, with the exception of Jess Fishlock, whose loan to Reading runs through early April, and Celia Jimenez Delgado, whose season-long loan to Olympique Lyonnais is now expected to end early to enable her to rejoin the Reign before the Challenge Cup begins on April 9.
“I can’t wait to finally get started,” new signing Tziarra King said. “I think the balance between new and veteran players will make an environment that’s competitive and optimal for learning and growth. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year.”
Among the non-roster invitees, Reign Academy alumnus Smith Hunter has been invited to training camp for the second consecutive year. Hunter, who is currently a freshman at Harvard, has yet to play collegiately due to the cancelation of the Ivy League soccer season due to Covid-19.
Ride of the Valkyries will be profiling the non-roster invitees at each position over the coming week.
Current OL Reign Preseason Training Camp Roster by Position
Goalkeepers (3): Cosette Morché, Ella Dederick (NRI), Katie Talbert (NRI)
Defenders (8): Lauren Barnes, Amber Brooks, Celia (LOAN), Steph Cox, Machaela George, Madison Hammond, Sam Hiatt, Smith Hunter (NRI)
Midfielders (13): Morgan Andrews, Angelina, Shirley Cruz (INT/NYR), Jess Fishlock (LOAN), Morgan Goff (NRI), Kelcie Hedge (SEI), Sophie Hurst (NRI), Allie Long, Kristen McNabb, Shea Moyer (NRI), Quinn, Dani Weatherholt, Rosie White (NYR)
Forwards (11): Bethany Balcer, Mia Corbin (NRI), Sofia Huerta, Tziarra King, Nicole Momiki, Miranda Nild (NRI), Leah Pruitt, Megan Rapinoe (NYR), Alex Schoenstadt (NRI), Jasmyne Spencer, Ally Watt (SEI)
INT – International Slot; SEI – Season Ending Injury List; LOAN – Player on Loan; NRI – Non-Roster Invitee; NYR – Player has not yet reported for preseason training