Update: The Reign FC's coach, Vlatko Andonovski, was officially confirmed on October 27 as the U.S. Women's National Team's new head coach. He'll replace the prolific Jill Ellis, who won 106 games, lost only seven, and claimed two back-to-back World Cups.
In an open letter explaining the changes, owners Bill and Teresa Predmore outlined why the move was necessary. Among the myriad reasons listed: the unsuitable condition of the playing surface at Memorial Stadium, Reign’s home field; the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) requires stadiums to be sufficient for national television broadcasts; the Memorial Stadium’s future was shaky—would a potential remodel in 2019 displace the team?
The Predmores tried to make Seattle work, from considering fronting the cost of upgrading the stadium to seeking other local fields at which to play. (They looked at seven stadiums, none of which were fully compliant with U.S. Soccer Pro League Standards. Yes, they checked CenturyLink—it didn't work out either.) The letter closes with words of optimism and gratitude: “...thank you to all our fans for their commitment and passionate support of our club," it reads. "We truly believe the best is yet to come, and we are hopeful that you will continue to support Reign FC as we make this incredible journey forward."
And so the, ahem, former Seattle Reign will drop the "Seattle" from the team name and swap Memorial Stadium for Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium for this 2019 season, which starts mid-April.
As the news sinks in like the rain into the sod of a soccer pitch, let’s roll the highlight reel.
Reign made it rain in terms of league wins.
Seattle Reign FC was founded in 2012—one of eight inaugural members of the NWSL. And in six seasons, Laura Harvey, the team's first head coach, led the team to two consecutive NWSL Shield wins in 2014 and 2015. (Seattle Met chatted with lead scorer Beverly Yanez back in 2015.) As far as current standings, the team's ranked third in NWSL.
Oh, and Reign players helped earn international titles, too.
Reign footballers are roster regulars on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT). More than that, they were team superstars. The team won the FIFA World Cup in 2015, the first time since 1991 and '92. (The next one’s this June in France.) And on that winning USA team: Reign's Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo, both of whom made clutch goals and saves, respectively. Solo, a former UW Husky, was named the top goalkeeper in the world.
Speaking of Megan Rapinoe...
The forward was short-listed for FIFA Best Player in 2018. She didn't ultimately win (that honor went to a Brazilian footballer who's so badass she just goes by Marta). Still, Rapinoe is a world-renowned athlete. Full stop. She helped USA to a SheBelieves Cup title last year. During the 2012 London Olympics, she scored three goals and tallied a team-high four assists to lead the United States to a gold medal. She is the first player, male or female, to score a goal olimpico (a goal scored directly off a corner kick) at the Olympic Games. She played a key role in an unbeaten run of 12 USA games without defeat (September 2017 to April 2018). Rapinoe's scored 12 goals in 18 NWSL games for Seattle Reign in the 2017 campaign. And she currently co-captains the USWNT with Carli Lloyd and former Seattle teammate Alex Morgan.
Speaking of Rapinoe, again, but in terms of off-the-field badassery...
The player famously spoke up against major pay disparities between women's and men's national leagues. And she's a strong advocate for several LGBTQ organizations.
Rapinoe isn’t the only Reign baller.
Jodie Taylor was up for an ESPN Espy Award last year for best international women's soccer player. Hope Solo—yes, we kind of loved her for the drama she brought to the game—is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and still hold the U.S. record for most career clean sheets—aka shutouts, aka no goals, no way.
Reign, Reign don't go away, come again another day?