2016 NWSL Season in Review- Seattle Reign FC- The Lost Year?


Seattle Reign FC were the NWSL Shield winners in 2014 and 2015, but lost the NWSL championships twice to nemesis FC Kansas City. This was the year that the Seattle Reign were to take the crown…

After all, Lauren Holiday retired from Kansas City, Amy Rodriguez was off for pregnancy, and there were other players that retired from that team. Kansas City would not threaten the league championship this year.

So, no one was standing Seattle’s way for NWSL domination, except maybe themselves… and the Portland Thorns FC.

The NWSL scheduling gods decided this year that all teams play each other twice, home and away. But each team also had a “rival” where they played 4 times. So, Washington Spirit played Sky Blue FC 2 games each at home and away, plus FC Kansas City vs Chicago, Orlando vs Houston, Boston vs WNY Flash, and Portland vs Seattle.

So, Seattle fans and others were upset that WNY Flash had Boston as their “rival”. And two tough teams like Portland and Seattle would have 4 grueling matches against each other.

But you have to play the games… and win.

  • Seattle opened the season with a 2-1  loss to Sky Blue FC.
  • They rebounded with victories over Boston and Kansas City.
  • Then a loss to Orlando.
  • 2 ties with Portland sandwiched with a loss to Chicago in the middle.
  • .A victory over Houston.
  • And followed by ties to Sky Blue and Kansas City.

So, with the season half over they had 3 wins , 3 losses, and 4 ties. Looks pretty average. Here is a summary of the second half of the season:

  • A much-needed win over Boston.
  • A loss to WNY Flash on the infamous “miniature” baseball field. (See video below.)
  • A tie to WNY a week later.
  • They took out their frustrations on Orlando and won easily.
  • A split win/loss with Portland 2 games in a row.
  • A tie with Chicago.
  • A split series (win/loss) with Washington 2 games in a row.
  • And a victory over the Houston, a day after WNY clinched the final playoff berth.

So, what happened? Did the other teams figure out their weaknesses? Did they lose that competitive drive?

The team had lost Megan Rapinoe to a knee injury in December and would miss much of the year. But Rapinoe has a habit of missing extended time with Seattle. The most games she has played in a season (in the NWSL) has been 12, back in 2013.

Stephanie Cox had retired, creating a hole at left fullback.  Carson Pickett and Rumi Utsugi filled that role throughout the season. But essentially, this was the same team that had won the Shield twice.

What about their midfielders?

But why the team did not dominate is puzzling as they had arguably the best midfield tandems ever in Kim Little, Keelin Winters, and Jess Fishlock. If anyone has watched Kim Little during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, then they will know that Little is among the most exciting, technically skilled, and dangerous scoring threats over those 2 years.

More from MLS Multiplex

However, this year, she did not seem like herself. Recently, she said hat she will not return in 2017 to Seattle, instead, she will play for Arsenal. Was she homesick this year? Or was she tired playing on the Melbourne City club team in Australia last winter?

A look at their statistics does not show that there was anything wrong with the midfield. Little had scored 6 goals and had 2 assists. Fishlock and Winters only scored once each, but contributed 2 and 4 assists . But Little had a very high passing efficiency of 89%. Fishlock was decent at 84%, and Winters was near league average.

Defensively, all 3 were better than average with Fishlock very good at stopping players from getting by her. All 3 held the ball quite well, holding the ball in possession better than the league average.As far as long balls, through balls, and crosses, they were somewhat mixed, but Little was still good in those categories. But Winters was never known for her crossing ability, and Fishlock struggled with through balls.

But overall, they were still a very good midfield.

So, what about the rest of their team?

Their forwards of Naho Kawasumi, Manon Melis, and Beverly Yanez are all good goal scoring threats. Melis scored 7 goals leading the team while Kawasumi and Yanez each contributed 3 goals each.

So, what else is there? Defense! What are their defensive statistics? In 2016, they had a goal against average per game of  1.05. And, in 2015, they gave up 1.05 goals per game. So, their defense is the same as last year. Therefore, nothing to see here.

There is nothing wrong with this team! Look for an upcoming article that statistically analyzes all the teams to see if “luck” was involved.

Video time!

The first video almost sums up their season perfectly. Here is the controversial game played on Frontier Field in Rochester. This is on a baseball field that was “legal”, but very small. The NWSL League Office admitted weeks afterward that things were not quite done correctly with the situation.

Seattle Reign was upset with the situation, but their anger did not boil over onto the field as far as motivating them to victory that day. I will be honest. I do not recall the dimensions off-hand, but the field looks like it is for “U8” or “U6” (Under 8 or Under 6) Youth Soccer.

Victorious game with their hated rival Portland.

And with 2 weeks to go in the season, they had not given up hope. Here they are  fighting for their playoff lives…

Other season reviews:

Stay with us during the winter months as MLS Multiplex reviews all of the clubs from the NWSL.