Late in 2017, Megan Oyster was met with surprising news; The Boston Breakers, for whom the centerback had played 90 minutes in all 23 of her starts the previous season, was ceasing operations. Now in her second season with Reign FC, and having navigated the uncertainty of Boston’s folding, Oyster is thriving in a city that feels more like home every day.
“How things ended in Boston was a wild experience,” Oyster said. “No one expected that. We were in the offseason around Thanksgiving and just didn’t see it coming. We had heard rumors, but no one expects that. No one wanted that. Our team was really close-knit. We stood by each other’s side and said ‘wherever you go, you’re going to do amazing at whatever club it is.’”
When Reign FC selected Oyster with the third overall pick in the Dispersal Draft, she knew she was joining a club that valued defense. Reign FC had been in the top three for fewest goals allowed in three of the previous four seasons under head coach Laura Harvey. The club’s new manager, Vlatko Andonovski, had achieved the same level of stinginess with FC Kansas City in four of his five years as head coach.
“It meant a lot to have the Reign select me,” Oyster said. “Historically, this organization has been known to be super successful, really talented and experienced. I was definitely intimidated coming in. When I won a starting spot I knew it was going to be tough and had to work hard and prove myself in training every day. It was challenging, but really exciting as well to see the roster and play next to those phenomenal players that I had played against for the last four years. It was a great transition.”
Oyster was already a well-respected defender in the NWSL when she joined Reign FC. As a rookie in 2015, the Naperville, Illinois native had been named the Defender of the Year and Newcomer of the Year by the Washington Spirit after becoming the first player in club history to play every minute of the club’s 21 matches.
Still, Oyster is a firm believer that there’s always room for improvement. The 26-year-old feels that her first season under Andonovski greatly expanded her ability to read the game.
“I think tactical awareness has been the biggest improvement.” Oyster said. “Vlatko has really put an emphasis on knowing where to be and when. Giving us the things we need and the plan of action for each game. Having those things in my back pocket each game allows me to see the field better. I’m not reacting to what happens, I’m reading formations and other players on the field. Vlatko has really spent a lot of time doing film with the defenders making sure that we know our role. It’s a really good feeling to go in with that kind of mindset. It allows you to focus and play. I’m very thankful for everything I’ve learned from him and the rest of the team.”
Oyster is not merely focused on improving her own game, however. The defender has found a second passion in working as a mentor and assistant coach with the Reign Academy, pushing others to constantly improve the way she has had to.
“I think the way the Reign do things attracted me to working with the academy,” Oyster said. “They are so organized. It’s so professional. The Reign Academy is one of the best organizations in the country. To be able to work with those girls and that level of talent, it’s exciting.
“Some days I was able to pass along what Vlatko would teach the first team each day to 12-year-old girls and they would get it. I think it’s a great experience and it’s a really well organized group and club. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?”
While Oyster’s discovery of her passion for coaching and her play on the field are helping her feel right at home on the pitch, the Midwesterner says she is becoming accustomed to life in the Pacific Northwest.
“You don’t see it coming,” Oyster said. “Boston folded and I came here. Every city is so different but I feel so thankful and fortunate to be able to experience Seattle and Tacoma and this beautiful state. I love it here. I’ve chosen to stay here in the offseason last year, I’ll definitely do that again. It’s feeling more and more like home. I love living here.”