Thorns FC Opponent Dossier: Seattle Reign FC
Ahead of their first home game in the NWSL, find out everything you need to know about the Portland Thorns’ next opponent – Seattle Reign FC.
A brief history…
There is a history of women’s soccer in Seattle and the Seattle Sounders Women, who previously had Thorns star Alex Morgan on their roster. The Sounder Women play in the USL W-League, which is a tier below the NWSL.
Owned by businessman Bill Predmore, the Seattle Reign FC were formed late last year and immediately set about creating their franchise with a distinctive logo and the appointment of former Arsenal Ladies head coach Laura Harvey for their inaugural season.
Where do they play their home games?
Home is the Starfire Sports Complex, which has a capacity of 4,500 and is situated in Tukwila, Washington. The overall facility, which includes indoor and outdoor artificial pitches, is ranked amongst the very best in the United States and is used regularly by the Seattle Sounders team in MLS.
Seattle will not host a game until Saturday, May 4, but they are scheduled to play 11 home games – including two against the Thorns. Portland will be hoping to use the turf to their advantage as well as the large crowd that they are expecting to turn up to cheer them on.
What players have they recruited?
As part of the NWSL Player Allocation, Seattle picked up United States stars Hope Solo, Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe, as well as Mexican pair Jenny Ruiz and Teresa Noyola, and Canadian duo Emily Zurrer and Kaylyn Kyle. Those players gave them a great core to build around.
However, injury and a foreign loan spell keep Solo and Rapinoe out for the first part of the season respectively. In Rodriguez's case, she is pregnant and will miss the entire 2013 season. But the additions of Jessica Fishlock, Kate Deines, Tiffany Cameron, Lindsay Taylor, and Liz Bogus means they have other talented players to call on. Seattle also added former Portland Pilot Elli Reed to their impressive roster.
How have they fared so far?
A preseason tour to Japan helped the team to get in shape and to fully prepare for the new season, which saw them start on the road against Chicago Red Stars. That game ended in a 1-1 tie and it will be considered a huge point gained considering they never really threatened in offense – aside from the goal that Christine Nairn scored.
Defensively, they performed well against Chicago with Emily Zurrer standing out at center back and goalkeeper Michelle Betos made some important saves. Seattle were on the backfoot for much of the game, which meant the likes of Nairn, Kiersten Dallstream, and Jessica Fishlock never really got going on the attacking side of the ball.
Head coach: Laura Harvey
A promising player before injury cut short her career, Harvey moved into coaching at an early age with Birmingham City Ladies and a number of England underage teams. But it was when she took over at Arsenal that her talent really stood out as the Gunners won 11 trophies under her watch, including three league titles. She has named as Seattle Reign’s first head coach last December.
Star Player: Jessica Fishlock
This Wales international has experience of playing in England, the Netherlands and Australia, so she should integrate in Seattle well. A hard-working midfielder with the range of passing and soccer intelligence to link defense with attack so effortlessly, Fishlock is someone who consistently delivers for her team and raises the level of performance of those around her.
One To Watch: Tiffany Cameron
Still only 21 years old, this exciting forward is being tipped by many to emerge as a real star for the Canada national team – following in the footsteps of Thorns striker Christine Sinclair. She impressed during his time at Ohio State University, but now needs to prove that she can step up to the senior game in the NWSL. If she does, then Cameron should proved to be a handful for defenders.
What can the Thorns expect?
Seattle is a team missing many big-name players (Solo, Rodriguez, Rapinoe) and still trying to find their identity – that was clear to see from their season opener. Yet, they still pose a threat at set-pieces and through certain individuals, like Fishlock, Bogus and Kyle, who can turn a game in their favor with a moment of magic or a shot from distance.
In terms of style of play, that will largely depend on the lineup chosen by Harvey. But, if they set up in a similar way to last week, then the Thorns can expect to dominate possession and be presented with opportunities to get forward as Seattle will place a lot of confidence in their own defense.
Who are their main threats?
In midfield, the two difference markers are Fishlock and Kyle – players who have played over 60 games each at international level and know what it takes to win. They have terrific engines and will aim to supply service into Bogus, who was often left isolated against Chicago in their last outing.
Mexican midfielder Noyola is someone to keep an eye out for as she is improving all of the time, while her compatriot Ruiz can get forward from outside back. The key for Seattle is getting the ball into dangerous positions; if they do that then the likes of Bogus, Cameron or Taylor should be able to finish.
Did You Know?
Seattle Reign chose their name in part to pay tribute to the first professional women’s sports team in the Emerald City, who competed in the American Basketball League for two years under the same moniker.
Gareth Maher is a contributing writer to PortlandThornsFC.com. He is a frequent soccer writer for the Irish Daily Mail in Dublin as well as ESPNFC.com.