Reign FC Remain Hot in Hope’s Absence

After helping the the United States Women’s National Team bring home the World Cup this summer, Hope Solo is now looking forward to the fall and helping fuel her National Women’s Soccer League squad, the Seattle Reign, to a title of their own—but for now she’ll have to be content with watching from the sidelines.

Hope suffered a minor knee injury during World Cup competition, and has yet to return to NWSL competition for the Reign. But even without her, Reign FC still sits atop the league table after three straight victories.

“My focus right now is to get healthy so that I can return to the field for Reign FC,” Hope said. “I am looking forward to rejoining my teammates and helping them push for an NWSL championship in this second half of the season.”

Reign FC started its recent three-game win streak by topping the Portland Thorns, 1-0, on July 22. The Seattle club then completed the home-and-home sweep by blanking the Thorns, 3-0, on July 26. The hat trick victory came this past Saturday, August 1 when the Reign went on the road and edged the Boston Breakers, 2-1.

Hope’s USWNT teammate Megan Rapinoe has returned to action for the Reign, but the offense has been paced by the lethal duo of Kim Little and Beverly Yanez. Little tallied the only goal for either side in the one-nil win on July 22 in Portland. In the second match, she assisted on goals by midfielder Jessica Fishlock in the 38th minute and Yanez in the 46th minute. The former Miami Hurricane, Yanez, pushed her second goal past Thorns and German National Team goalkeeper Nadine Angerer in the 50th minute for good measure. She spoke to the media about her impressive two-goal performance.

“Obviously, again, my team put me in such great positions to be able to finish,” Yanez said. “Two goals today, and I thought the team played really, really well today, we’re really happy with our performance. We’re really excited and again, I’m thankful to be a part of that.”

Less than a week later, Little and Yanez combined once again, each finding the net against one of Hope’s USWNT backups, Alyssa Naeher, to outlast the Breakers in a close victory.

While the attack is certainly in good hands with Rapinoe on the pitch and Little and Yanez clicking, the goalkeepers behind Hope have stepped up as well.

Seattle’s second-string keeper, Haley Kopmeyer had filled in admirably until she sustained a foot injury in the second of two wins over Portland. Her injury forced the Reign to utilize the NWSL’s goalkeeper replacement rule, which allows teams to temporarily add goalkeepers in the event of injuries. With Hope and Haley out, they sent recent USC graduate Caroline Stanley into action against Boston, and the 22-year-old allowed just one goal and notched one save to outduel Naeher.

But with both Hope and Kopmeyer still uncertain, the Reign had to dip into the Pac-12 Conference pool once again, adding former Oregon Duck Abigail Steele to the roster. Of course, Reign FC head coach and general manager Laura Harvey is eager to bring Hope back, she is confident in what the replacements can do in her stead.

“We are in a position where Haley and Hope are unavailable to play so we’ve utilized the goalkeeper replacement rule in the league and signed Abigail,” Harvey said. “We had our eye on Abigail at the draft earlier this year. Thankfully we are in a position where we can get her signed.”

After claiming nine points in the last three matches, the Reign sit on top of the National Women’s Soccer League standings with 30 points, in the lead for the NWSL Shield, the award given to the squad atop the league leaderboard at the end of the season. Seattle won the 2014 NWSL Shield and they’re certainly hoping to defend that honor, but the Reign FC also want to grasp the NWSL Championship, which eluded them last season.

Only five games remain on Seattle’s regular-season slate, continuing this week and next with a two game home-and-home series with the Houston Dash, who are led by another one of Hope’s USWNT teammates, Carli Lloyd. The first of those two games will be contested Wednesday, August 12 on Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium in Seattle. The second contest will take place Friday, August 21 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.

RELATED LINKS