Reign FC Preview: Goodbye Seattle and Hello Tacoma

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Reign FC
PORTLAND, OR — MAY 05: Seattle Reign goalkeeper Michelle Betos, directing the defense during the Seattle Reign 3-2 win over the Portland Thorns at Providence Park in Portland, OR, on Saturday May 5, 2018 (Photo by Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

Editorial (April 11, 2019) — The Seattle Reign FC are no more.

No, the team did not fold or move out of state, like that of the former Western New York Flash becoming the North Carolina Courage. Instead, the Reign FC have moved down south of their former city Seattle. Now, the Reign FC are based in Tacoma, Washington. Tacoma is about a 45-minute drive from Seattle.

Reign FC Preview: Goodbye Seattle and Hello Tacoma

The Reign have a new stadium, as they will feature in Cheney Stadium. Despite all the new moves the Reign are adjusting too, the team’s roster relatively remains the same. However, the Reign did bolster some positions on the 23-player roster.

This past off-season, the Reign completed a trade with the North Carolina Courage to acquire Darian Jenkins. Last season, Jenkins found herself on a roster with Jessica McDonald, Lynn Williams, Crystal Dunn and Kristen Hamilton. She found minutes in the International Champions Cup, but totaled 179 minutes in 14 appearances in the regular-season.

Now, with the Reign, Jenkins has a chance to cement herself into Vlatko Andonovski’s starting lineup. With the Jenkins trade, it seems like one question was solved for depth up top. However, here are three other questions for the Reign FC ahead of the 2019 season.

How will the top look during the World Cup?

Megan Rapinoe and Jodie Taylor are obvious starting lineup additions for the Reign FC. It’s no shocker, since they’re some of the best strikers for club and country.

Rapinoe had a great season for both club and country last season. With the Reign FC, Rapinoe found the back of the net seven times in 17 appearances. Rapinoe also tallied six assists, while Taylor managed to provide one assist. However, Taylor led the two in goals, scoring nine.

Both players are likely to punch their ticket to France with their respective national teams, the United States and England.

Taking their places up top will likely be Darian Jenkins, Shea Groom and Jasmyne Spencer. However, there’s another option to have Jaycie Johnson come off the bench as a super substitute.

Groom was acquired this past offseason in a trade with Sky Blue FC. In return, the Reign FC sent Nahomi Kawasumi, the legendary Japanese striker, to the New Jersey club. Groom as been one of the more underrated players in the league, managing to be consistently good no matter where she goes. After the fall of FC Kansas City, she was traded from the Utah Royals — who acquired her rights — to Sky Blue.

Meanwhile, Spencer has been a consistently good veteran. After spending time with the Orlando Pride for two seasons, where she made 41 appearances and scored seven goals, Spencer made her way to Seattle in 2018. She scored two goals in 23 appearances last year.

As for Jenkins, the young player has a chance to become a breakout star.

Is this the year Michelle Betos earns the starting job?

Lydia Williams is a good goalkeeper. Nobody is denying the talent that she has in net. She’s the starting goalkeeper for a talented Australian team and she does a great job for club and country.

However, it’s not unknown to any NWSL readers at Last Word on Soccer that I push for the underdog goalkeepers. I have kept a firm stance on the Katelyn Rowland situation at North Carolina, and how she shouldn’t be pushed aside because Stephanie Labbé is entering the program.

Almost similar to the Courage situation is the Reign situation. Andonovski has two extremely talented goalkeepers in Williams and Michelle Betos. While Betos might not be a popular name like Williams is, especially due to her national team work, she has just as much success with her club.

Betos featured in eight matches last season, recording two clean sheets against Sky Blue FC and the Utah Royals. In her eight matches, Betos compiled three wins, one draw and four losses. Two of those losses were against an extremely tough North Carolina Courage team.

With Australia being a favorite in the World Cup, it’s likely that they could punch a ticket to the knockout round, granting Betos more time in goal. If she has plenty of success while Williams is away, she could retain the starting spot from the Australian.

Who will be the three in the midfield?

There’s a lot of talent in the Reign FC midfield.

Still, the Reign are expecting one more player sometime this season. Jessica Fishlock is currently on loan with Olympique Lyonnais in France. She will only remain with Lyon until their run in the UEFA Women’s Champions League is up. Currently, Lyon is in the semifinals, up for a clash with Chelsea Ladies. Lyon is vying for their sixth title.

Meanwhile, back in Tacoma, Allie Long is gearing up for her second year in a Reign FC uniform. She joined the club last season off a trade with the Portland Thorns FC. Since he arrival, Long has featured in 20 matches, scoring three goals and tallying one assist. Long is currently on the fence with the U.S. Women’s National Team. There is no clear-cut indication that she’ll be going to France.

Meanwhile, Rumi Utsugi is still in the national team picture with Japan. She’ll likely be heading to France this summer. Elise Kellond-Knight is another Australian on the Reign FC roster that will look to go to France this summer.

However, the Reign are lucky to have a talented midfield. Beverly Yanez has dropped back into a midfielder role, due to the depth on top. She’s been a key fixture for Seattle since her arrival in 2014. Meanwhile, Morgan Andrews is entering her third year in the league and after a strong 2018 season, there’s room to improve and hone her craft.

Morgan Proffitt joins the team after spending time with the Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit. There’s a lot of depth in the midfield, but if Andonovski continues with his three-player midfield, the grouping would likely be Andrews, Long and Utsugi. However, this will likely switch up a bit when Fishlock comes back.

Last Word: Reign stay put in third place

Make it another playoff-bound season for Andonovski’s squad.

The Reign are lucky to have plenty of depth on their roster. Strong players will be gone during the World Cup, but the Reign did everything right this offseason to make sure players would come back and trade for upgrades on top. Having Groom on offense is going to boost the team dramatically.

The Reign open up their NWSL season against the Houston Dash on Sunday.

 

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