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Reign Re-Sign Winters, Deal Cuellar for Defenders

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The Reign continue to prepare for the 2014 season (and beyond) by picking up players and the rights to players

Mike Russell (mikerussellfoto.com)

The Seattle Reign continue to overhaul the roster after their disappointing first season. Just a day after acquiring midfielder Mariah Nogueira from Boston for draft picks, the team sent Renae Cuellar — who was with the team for the last half of the season after joining from Kansas City — and the discovery rights to English player Jodie Taylor to fellow cellar-dwellers Washington for defender Nikki Marshall and the NWSL rights to Alina Garciamendez.

Marshall spent the entire season with the Portland Thorns, was one of only 3 players to play every game for the team, and was a vital part of their playoff run, including picking up the tying assist in the championship match. But inscrutably, she was waived immediately after the season, and the Spirit picked her up as the only pick in the postseason Waiver Draft. So she has a chance to be a major part of a rebuilding Reign defensive line.

Garciamendez is a Mexican national team defender who graduated from Stanford last season after being a Hermann trophy semifinalist and was allocated to the Spirit, but she opted to play for Frankfurt in the Bundesliga (and who could blame her?). Reportedly she has a contract there through 2015, so this may be a move for the future.

The deal also involved swapping draft picks, which moved Seattle up from the 23rd to the 17th overall pick.

In addition, the team announced that they'd signed Keelin Winters for two years. As she's apparently no longer a USWNT allocated player (having not played with the national team all year), the team has to sign their own contract with her to keep her.

After the Nogueira pickup, we'd speculated that it may be a hint that Winters was on the way out, given that they both play defensive mid (and aren't the only quality d-mids on the roster). But clearly the team is committed to keeping both for next season. That means Seattle still owes Chicago a US allocated player as part of the deal that originally got Winters here.

After these deals head coach Laura Harvey hinted that more moves were coming: "Given the moves we’ve made – some announced, others not – and moves we are planning to make in the future, it was clear that Renae would have greater opportunities at another club." That's probably a sign the team is planning on improving at forward or at least has faith that Amy Rodriguez will be a major factor for the team this season. Cuellar was one of the few true forwards on the roster and the lack of a dangerous forward was one of the team's biggest weaknesses last season.