Talent Reigns in Seattle: Seattle Reign FC season preview

Bob Levey

The Reign's biggest stars are out until at least June, and they're facing a tough task to stay afloat until they return.

The Seattle Reign pulled in plenty of stars through the NWSL allocation, but their two biggest names aren't expected to arrive until the summer. They'll have a tough task staying within reach of playoff positions while waiting for Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo to make their return to professional soccer in the United States.

Seattle used a 4-3-3 formation throughout their preseason in Japan. In their first match against defending L. League champion INAC Kobe Leonessa, the Reign fell 2-0. However, they improved over their next two matches, recording a 3-1 victory against Fukuoka and a 4-0 win against Nojima Stella Kanagawa.

Hope Solo will presumably start when she returns to action, but the other two keepers on the Reign's roster have two months to prove they deserve regular playing time somewhere.

The Goalkeepers

Hope Solo will presumably start when she returns to action, but the other two keepers on the Reign's roster have two months to prove they deserve regular playing time somewhere. Haley Kopmeyer was named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year during her college years and finished her career with 383 career saves and a 0.96 GAA in addition to 27 shutouts. Her efforts in goal allowed Michigan to record their best ever season with 16 wins and an appearance at the NCAA Sweet 16. During her senior season she only allowed 17 goals and recorded 13 shutouts during the Big Ten conference season.

Michelle Betos had a shining moment during the match against Nojima when she stopped a penalty allowing the Reign to remain in the lead and record a clean sheet. Betos is a UGA graduate with 26 shutouts and 316 saves to her name in her college career. She started in 22 games during her senior year and recorded eight shutouts . Since leaving college, Betos has played for the Breakers and New York Fury in the United States. She's also played overseas with Apollon Limassol.

Hope Solo has enjoyed a lengthy career with the USWNT. She has been a fixture on the national team for 13 years and a starting keeper for the squad since 2005. During the 2009 WPS season, Solo won Goalkeeper of the Year. The two-time gold medalist has played for former WPS clubs St. Louis Athletica, Atlanta Beat, and magicJack. She ranked second in the 2009 WPS league for saves and shutouts during her time with St. Louis. Her GAA was better with St. Louis in comparison with the Atlanta Beat. At the moment the NWSL league is expected to end in August, and Solo is expected to return around in June or July.

The Defenders

The starting center back spots are likely to be occupied by Emily Zurrer and Elli Reed, while Kiersten Dallstream could start at left back and Kate Deines is likely to start at right back.

As a forward for Washington State, Kiersten Dallstream logged 30 goals and 16 assists. She's an effective forward, but she played as a defender in the WPS for the Boston Breakers. In 2009, she was the 9th overall pick in the WPS draft, selected by the Los Angeles Sol. Unfortunately, the Sol folded and Dallstream moved on to play for Sky Blue, then the Breakers.

As a fortified defender for the Canadian National Team and a 2006 recipient of the Defender of the Year award, Emily Zurrer is a great addition to the Reign's defense. She has participated in two Olympics and won the bronze medal for the 2012 London Olympics. Zurrer completed her collegiate career at the University of Illinois as a defender with 11 goals and five assists in 86 appearances. As for the national team she has logged 63 appearances and three goals. Recently she has played for the Swedish club Dalsjofors GoLF.

As a Portland Pilot, Elli Reed played defense and midfield positions. In 61 appearances Reed scored 12 goals and 13 assists. She was picked 8th overall in the 2011 WPS Draft by the Western New York Flash and was later traded to the Breakers, where she played for them in both the WPS and WPSL Elite. Since July 2012, Reed has been playing for Bundesliga's women's club FCR 2001 Duisburg.

At the University of Washington, Kate Deines led her team to three NCAA tournament appearances and was named team captain in her junior year. As a midfielder she logged 21 goals in 86 games. After an impressive career with Washington, she played for Sounders Women from 2007-2009 and then rejoined for their 2012 season. In WPS, she played for Atlanta Beat. Recently, she completed a stint with Iceland's female league club the Stjarnan Women.

Victoria Frederick played for the University of Alabama as a forward. She played 55 games and tallied 12 goals and nine ssists. Following her collegiate career she secured a spot on the Sounders Women. She was played as a midfielder and forward, but could transition to defense this season.

Lauren Barnes played collegiately at UCLA, and it is surprising that she has accumulated as many goals as she did during her time as a defender. With eight goals and 25 assists, Barnes was ranked second on the team in scoring for her senior year. She continued to score as a defender when she was recruited by the Philadelphia Independence. Barnes is likely to get plenty of time this season as a central defender.

The Midfielders

The Reign's three-woman midfield shoudl feature Christine Nairn, Kaylyn Kyle and Megan Rapinoe through the middle. However, in Rapinoe's absence, Keelin Winters should take over her starting role.

Christine Nairn was a great playmaker for Penn State during her college days, racking up 17 goals and 29 assists. Her contributions helped lead Penn State to the College Cup finals during her time there. Nairn can play any midfield position, but she's likely to play as the most defensive player in Seattle's midfield three.

Kaylyn Kyle is vicious player who plays the game at a high pace. As a member of the Canadian national team, Kyle has racked up 74 appearances and five goals. Her best year thus far with the national squad had been in 2011, when she received 21 starts and scored three goals. Kyle might be teamed up with Rapinoe (or temporarily, Winters) as one of two attacking midfielders sitting slightly ahead of Nairn. Kyle is perfect for this role because of her speed and creativity.

Megan Rapinoe is one of the best set-piece takers and crossers in the world, and her deliveries have been a key part of the United States' gold medal win and their run to the World Cup final. She's going to be a key player for the Reign as well, but unfortunately she is not expected to arrive until June, which might leave Seattle lagging in the league table. In recent months Rapinoe has been playing for Lyon in France. She has so far received nine appearances and scored three goals. In prior years she has played for the Seattle Sounders Women, Philadelphia Independence, magicJack and the Chicago Red Stars.

Keelin Winters won the Women's Professional Soccer Rookie of the Year award in 2011 after scoring four goals and two assists during her stint with the Breakers. Winters was a midfielder for the University of Portland and in her four years as a Pilot, she scored four goals and recorded six assists. In her professional career, following the closure of WPS, Winters played for the Seattle Sounders women before moving to Germany to play with Turbine Potsdam. In the season she spent in Germany, she scored twice in nine appearances.

Teresa Noyola is another strong addition to the midfield for Seattle. Noyola played for Stanford in college, where she made 95 starts in 102 appearances. She has represented both the American and Mexican national teams. With the U.S. she was a member of the under-16, 17, 18 and 20 age groups. She played for the U.S. during their 2010 FIFA Under-20 World Cup campaign in Germany. In December 2010 she transitioned to the Mexican national team and played in two matches in the 2011 World Cup. As a Cardinal she took home the NSCAA Scholar Athlete of the Year and Hermann Trophy awards. She concluded her collegiate career at Stanford with 31 goals and 40 assists. Prior to joining Seattle for their preseason, Noyola played for the Dutch club ADO Den Haag.

Kristen Meier is a versatile midfield player who will likely rotate with Nairn. Meier played for Wake Forest in three different positions (forward, midfield and defense) and scored nine goals with 18 assists in 88 appearances in college.

Jessica Fishlock is the captain of the Wales national team and has spent most of her career playing in the U.K. Recently, before joining up with the Reign, she had a stint playing for the Melbourne Victory. She's an attacking midfielder who should play a role as a key attacking sub.

The Forwards

Tiffany Cameron recently concluded an impressive collegiate career with Ohio State, finishing 40 goals and 16 assists in 88 appearances. In her senior year, she scored 21 goals. For a young player she packs a great resume and should get a chance to prove she belongs in the professional ranks this season. She is also a member of the Canadian women's national team and has been capped five times. She should be a star when she joins the team, but will be unavailable at the beginning of the season as she completes her studies.

Lindsay Taylor is another college recruit joining the Reign's front line. Taylor played forward at Stanford, playing in 102 games, tallying 53 goals and 27 assists. She was also a Hermann Trophy finalist and Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Liz Bogus is the only veteran striker on the squad. She has played for eight different clubs and won the W-League championship in 2008 with Pali Blues. Following her time in the W-League W-League, Bogus went on to play for Los Angeles Sol and the Boston Breakers. She received more play time with the Breakers during her two season stint with them. As a Breaker she recorded three goals and one assist.

Kristina Larsen had a strong career with UCLA, but unfortunately she did not receive much playing time during her years in WPS. At UCLA, Larsen finished her career with 24 goals.

United States international Amy Rodriguez is on the roster, but is having her first child and is out indefinitely.

The Reign have a couple of stars that they hope will be the faces of the team long-term, but with Solo and Rapinoe away from the team until at least June, they might struggle to keep pace in NWSL.

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