We get it, World Cup champion U.S. Women's National Team stars Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo draw the casual fans in to Seattle Reign FC games. With her all-out energy, take no prisoners attitude, and deft touch, Rapinoe might be the most badass female athlete on the planet this side of Ronda Rousey (seriously, it's worth going to a game just to watch her play), and Solo is only the best women's goalkeeper of all-time. But when the Reign need a goal, they turn to forward Beverly Yanez. Compared to her more famous peers, she's a quiet assassin on the pitch. The California native has scored 9 goals this season (tied for second in the National Women's Soccer League), leading the Reign to league best 10-3-3 record. The squad has already clinched a playoff spot, and are one win away from locking down the NWSL regular season title.
Tonight, Yanez and the Reign head to Texas to take on World Cup hero Carli Lloyd and the Houston Dash in a game televised on Fox Sports 1 (5pm kickoff), before returning to Seattle to close out the regular season with two home games at Memorial Stadium next week. On Wednesday, August 26 the team hosts the Boston Breakers, and things wrap up with a battle against Sky Blue FC on Saturday, August 29.
For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we talked to Yanez about the Reign's success, the World Cup attendance boost, and the Sub Pop Store at SeaTac.
What’s been the key to the Reign’s success so far this season?
I think that there’s just an expectation of who we want to be as a team. And as an organization, [Reign FC] creates such a positive environment for the players to perform in. They have put together such a great team that gels well off the field, so that helps on the field.
Have you noticed a difference in fan support after the World Cup? Has there been a noticeable surge in support?
Yeah, it’s been great. Obviously, we’re really proud of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team bringing home the gold. It’s phenomenal. We’re very, very proud of players that play for the Reign that were able to represent the U.S. team. And I think there has been a surge. It’s been great to see the amount of fans that have been attending NWSL games across the States. Our committed Reign fans have been awesome, and the fans that we’ve had out more recently have been great. We’re just super excited for those people to come out and cheer us on. The fans make a big difference when they’re out there being loud—it causes your adrenaline to rush—so I think that we’ve been really blessed with the amount of fans that have been out here this season.
And as someone who’s played in soccer leagues around the world, how would you assess the state of professional women’s soccer now in the U.S.? There’s been a history of leagues like the WPS folding, but how would you characterize the current state of affairs?
I think it’s great. Like you said, I’ve played in Finland, where the crowds weren’t very big; crowds were in the hundreds. I’ve also played in Japan, where crowds were in the thousands; my first year it ranged around 5,000. Then I’ve played in the WPS and now the NWSL, and I think that the current state is wonderful. And again, I know it’s post-World Cup, but we hope it continues to rise.
How have you adapted to living in Seattle?
Seattle is an amazing place. I actually was joking with my husband the other day about how I’ve never had very many friends from the Pacific Northwest, nor had I ever been up here, so I didn’t really have an image of it at all, and it definitely wasn’t on my list of places to go to. [Laughs] And so now that had the opportunity to spend some time up here, it is an absolutely amazing place. Just the city itself, the local food, the people, and then you go into the organization as a whole… I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to be here and to play for a club like the Seattle Reign.
What keeps you occupied off the field in Seattle? Have you delved into the arts scene at all?
Yeah, I’ve really enjoyed the music culture that they have here in Seattle. I’ve had a chance to explore local artists, and that has been really, really. That’s something that has very much grabbed my interest. And then I’ve done kind of the bigger theater stuff, like Wicked. I’ve grown in this culture in the sense of being closer to downtown and being able to experience more of the Seattle lifestyle, which has been amazing.
Are there any standouts as far as your exploration of the local music scene? Anything that you particularly have grasped onto, artists or otherwise?
I actually really love Sub Pop and its store in the SeaTac airport. My friends have kind of encouraged me—mostly [Reign forward] Dani Foxhoven—so whenever we go into the airport, we’ll go into the music store. We’ll put the headphones on and search artists.
What goals do you have as a squad as the season winds down?
We just want to be a team to beat. We want to play a great style of soccer. We’ve been working hard all season, and now it’s coming down to the grind. I think this last stretch is just can we play the best soccer to prepare ourselves for a playoff spot? And then take each game at a time once we get there.
Seattle Reign FC vs. Boston Breakers
Aug 26 at 7, Memorial Stadium, $19–$200
Seattle Reign FC vs. Sky Blue FC
Aug 29 at 7, Memorial Stadium, $19–$200