Reign FC’s early season schedule — three-straight games on the road — provided no favors.
But, finally, Seattle (0-2-1) gets to stay home, where it hosts FC Kansas City in its home opener at 8 p.m. Saturday and Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. Tickets will be available at the gate.
As we know, U.S. national team players Hope Solo (wrist surgery), Megan Rapinoe (on loan with France’s Lyon) and Amy Rodriguez (starting a family) won’t be available. Solo tweeted that she’s hoping to make it and the Rodriguez will be there and available to sign autographs before and after the game.
“We felt good about our performance last week, but didn’t see the result we were expecting,” said Laura Harvey, coach and general manager, in a team release. “The entire squad is excited to be home and to finally play our first match at Starfire. We know the support we’ll get from fans will be brilliant and can play a huge role in helping us get the result we seek.”
The game will be streamed live at ReignFC.com and available on-demand within 48 hours of the match by visiting the NWSL’s YouTube channel. The play-by-play announcer will be Tom Glasgow, KOMO’s sports director, and University of Washington women’s soccer coach Lesle Gallimore will serve as the color commentator.
More quotes from Harvey and owner Bill Predmore from Wednesday’s practice after the jump…
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LAURA HARVEY, head coach and general manager
(What do you know now that you didn’t know three games ago?) “Not sure I know a lot different. I knew the league was going to be tough. I knew three games on the road would be difficult, which they’ve proved to be. I thought against Chicago we didn’t play very well, but we got a point, which was obviously great. And I thought against Portland and Kansas we played a little bit better. Obviously results are what matter and it didn’t go for us on the night. It’s such an evolving process. Just today as an example — we do really well in certain things and we forget the good work we’ve done on other things. We’ve just got to try and get them all together. We’re hoping Saturday we can make that happen.”
(Do you get a different sense from the team finally leading into a home game?) “I think the girls are just happy not to get on an airplane, to be honest. I think that more than anything has been a biggie this week — that we can just get ourselves right. Obviously we’ve trained here every day since we got back from Japan, and to be able to get a good crowd here and feel what it’s like to have a home game is going to be huge for us.”
(Is there some mystery in terms of what you might see from a home crowd for the very first time with this club?) “Maybe a little bit, but it’s excitement more than anything I think. Our supporters group was down here today, which is great. We’ve got a lot of backing from the city, and the positive thing from our point of view is we’ve been able to learn from what the other teams have done when we’re on the road. Some of the things you think, ‘Great. Yeah, we’ll use that,’ and some things are, ‘That might not work for us.’ We’re just hoping that we can, a) put on a good show for the fans, but b) give them a good gameday experience that they’ll want to come back to and want to make sure they keep coming to watch the Reign, which is the most important thing for us.”
(Do you feel the NWSL is off to a good start in the big picture when it comes to creating a sustainable league?) “I think we’re getting there. There are a lot of things that I think that collectively as a league we want to be better at. I think obviously sustainability is crucial for this league to be successful, and how you get sustainability, I’m not sure we’ve decided how exactly you get that to happen. Bums on seats, as we say back home, is definitely important. People being interested is obviously massively important. We feel like we’re gradually gaining more interest, but ultimately if those fans don’t come through the gate, it doesn’t really matter, because you need them to want to be part of it, which then brings a lot more with it — sponsorships and stuff. Sponsors want to know if people are going to be interested in the team. If they are, then they’re more likely to put money into the club, which, again, helps you to be sustainable. So I think each club and each city has their own positives for that, and each city and each club has their own things that are going to be difficult to make that happen. We’re just gradually finding out what’s going to be our best way to manage this organization and be sustainable long-term.”
(What have you made of the league’s quality?) “It’s a very different league to back home. Kids back home are taught first and foremost how to be hard to beat, so goals are very limited and if you concede goals it’s seen as a very negative thing. Whereas over here, it’s maybe the opposite. It’s all about scoring and creating. It’s a different mindset. It’s definitely a competitive league. I think everyone thought Portland would run away with it and I think people are realizing that’s probably not going to be the case. I think the difference between the teams that have won games compared to the teams that have drawn or lost games is very minute. I don’t think you’re going to see 6-0, 7-0, 8-0 victories to either teams, unless someone has a very, very off day, and that’s probably credit the league to how they structured the initial process. Again, I think there was always teething problems with that, and obviously we felt the brunt of that with our allocation, but obviously we’ve tried to do the best we possibly can at this moment. But moving forward, players will want to be part of this league and that’s ultimately what will makes this league successful, is players being part of it, which then create a product, which then gives people something they want to see.”
BILL PREDMORE, owener
(Is everything in order for the opener?) “Yeah. I think things have actually been going pretty well. The team was out here today and we were in a scrimmage so we could test the broadcast, which has been an issue for some of the clubs. I don’t want to guarantee anything yet, but I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to pull it off without too many problems.”
(What can you tell us about tickets sales and availability?) “We probably won’t ever talk about tickets specifically unless we get a sellout. We’re not at a sellout yet, but I think we’ll do OK. Honestly. I think weather is certainly going to help. The Kansas City match was pretty tough out there; the weather was just bad and people stayed away. I assume the opposite will happen and people will want to come out. It should be a beautiful night — nice and warm. I have my fingers crossed anyways.”
(Full capacity with extra bleachers is 4,500. Will you run it at that?) “I think it’ll be less than that. I think if you cram people in here on the grass, and I think the Sounders men when they play Open Cup matches will probably get that number there with bleachers behind the goals, but I think more realistic for us is like 3,800 or something. That would be the max for this (capacity). I’d love to have that problem where we have to bring in bleachers and selling standing-room only, and we’ll certainly do it if the demand is there, but not expecting it on Saturday. If it is, so much the better.”
(What have you made of the league so far?) “Generally, I’ve been surprised at how competitive it’s been. We probably suffered the worst loss and it was 2-0. It’s a lot of 1-0, 2-1 — the games have all be very competitive, and I think that’s encouraging. For all the criticism of the allocation process, on some level it demonstrates that the league did a reasonably good job of trying to create parity within the teams. There are certainly some that are looking stronger than others right now, but all in all, I’ve honestly been pretty happy with how things have gone.”
(And what have you made of your season so far?) “Yeah, I’ll say not ideal for us to start with three on the road, particularly as a new club. But we spent the first two weeks in Japan and dealt with what it’s like to play on the road, so I don’t want to blame results on them being road games. We were certainly happy to get a point out of the first match in Chicago. Christine (Nairn) had a fantastic goal. I thought we played good, maybe not great, in Portland. We actually, despite the result, thought the Kansas City match was actually the best that we played. There were spots, particularly in the second half, where I really felt we were dominating play on up until the goal in the second half. It took the wind out of our sails a bit. But I feel we’re figuring it out. The pieces are falling into place. We’re starting to get some players back. Tiffany Cameron was able to come in during the Kansas City match and played maybe 20 minutes, which was great to have her back. Kristina Larsen was able to start that match, and just having some forwards (available) is going to contribute to a goal or two. I think things are headed in the right direction.”