The seventh season in Reign FC history is set to begin today. After making the playoffs last season for the first time since 2015, Reign FC looks to build on a strong first season under head coach Vlatko Andonovski as the club begins NWSL play on the road in Houston against a revamped Dash.
“The goals for us are very clear and it’s been the same goal from day one when I first came here,” Andonovski said on Thursday. “We have goals for the staff, we have goals for the players. The goal is to get better every day. All we’re doing is working to get better every day. We don’t want to walk out of this stadium thinking that we didn’t achieve anything, that we didn’t get better today. As long as we get better, as long as we get to be the best that we can possibly be, I think the results will follow.”
Reign FC returns a back line in Steph Catley, Lauren Barnes, Megan Oyster and Theresa Nielsen that conceded a club record-fewest 19 goals in 2018, the second time in club history that the Reign allowed less than a goal per game. Also returning are keeper duo Lydia Williams and Michelle Betos, who together kept a league-best 12 clean sheets last season.
Offensively, Reign FC returns forwards Jodie Taylor and Megan Rapinoe, who led the team with nine goals and six assists, respectively.
Jess Fishlock remains on loan to Olympique Lyonnais through the duration of that club’s UEFA Women’s Champions League run. Lyon will face Chelsea on April 21 and April 28 in a two-legged semifinal.
The club has brought in several new faces, notably reuniting Andonovski with former FC Kansas City forward Shea Groom, for whom the club traded Nahomi Kawasumi to Sky Blue FC Jan. 15. The club also acquired forward Darian Jenkins from North Carolina Courage and midfielder Morgan Proffitt from Slavia Praha.
Two new internationals joined the club, including former Reign FC draft pick Celia Jimenez Delgado and Australian international midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight. Celia has 16 appearances for the Spanish senior national team, including three appearances as a 19-year-old for Spain in the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. Meanwhile, Kellond-Knight’s 106 caps for the Matildas rank as the sixth-most for the Matildas.
What Else is New
Reign FC has a new home in 2019. The club announced January 30 that it would move its operations to Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington.
The stadium, which underwent a $30 million renovation in 2010, is capable of being converted into a 110-by-70 yard soccer pitch that preserves the best sightlines for fans. The stadium also provides new concession choices for fans, including the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Reign FC announced Friday that it would partner with Rally Bus to help Seattle-based fans travel to matches in 2019. Round-trip tickets cost $25 and will get fans from three pickup points in Seattle to Cheney Stadium and back, all while allowing fans to eat and drink their own food on the ride down.
What Happened in Preseason
Reign FC had a productive preseason, winning friendlies against UCLA and the University of Washington. The club also posted an unbeaten ledger at the 2019 Thorns Spring Invitational in Portland, Oregon. Victories against the U23 U.S. Women’s National Team and Chicago Red Stars were capped off with a scoreless draw against the Portland Thorns on April 30.
Jenkins had a prolific preseason, scoring two goals while forcing an own goal and assisting on two more. The speedy winger demonstrated why Andonovski was eager to acquire her, providing a wide option for through balls that stretched opposing back lines throughout the preseason. With the impending departure of several players for the Women’s World Cup in early June, players like Jenkins and other signings like Groom will be counted on for production with the Reign scheduled to play four crucial matches during the tournament.
Where to Watch
All Reign FC matches will be streamed live on Yahoo! Sports and on the Yahoo! Sports app. The app is available for download on iOS and Android devices. Matches will be available shortly after completion on demand on Yahoo! Sports, with the league posting full replays 48 hours after each game.
Fans outside the United States will be able to watch matches both live and on demand at NWSLsoccer.com.
Reign FC has joined up with longtime pub partner The Atlantic Crossing to serve as the primary Seattle-based location for supporters 21 and over to watch home and away Reign FC matches. The first event will be held today, Sunday April 14, at 3:00 p.m. PT in conjunction with Reign FC’s opening match of the season against the Houston Dash. Fans are also invited to attend a Reign Rally on Friday, April 19 from 7:00 p.m. PT to 9:00 p.m. PT, in advance of Reign FC’s home opener at Cheney Stadium on Sunday, April 21 against the Orlando Pride.
Reign FC’s season will kick off this afternoon against the Houston Dash at 3:00 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast on Yahoo! Sports and the Yahoo! Sports app.
Reign FC’s home opener is Sunday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m. PT against the Orlando Pride. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster or by visiting reignfc.com/tickets.