A look at OL Reign, and an abundance of riches — Sharks vs Mermaids — Bonus: BECKY GOAL

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, June 20, 2022

Happy Soccer Monday! OL Reign is padding its roster in a significant way.

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This past week the team traded with Racing Louisville for the rights to Tobin Heath. The Reign signed Heath to a one-year contract, with an option for 2023.

Then on Saturday, the Reign acquired Jordyn Huitema from Paris Saint-Germain, signing her to international roster spot through 2023, The terms of the deal weren’t released, but the Reign paid a transfer fee to PSG that included allocation money.

That’s on top of midfielder Kim Little, who returns to the Reign on a short-term loan from Arsenal. Little spent six seasons with Arsenal, the club she joined at 17, before playing for the Reign from 2014-16. She went back to Arsenal in 2017, eventually playing with Heath last season.

Heath is expected to join the Reign on Monday. Huitema made an appearance at halftime of Saturday night’s game against Angel City.

Laura Harvey said on Friday that Little has been delayed because of visa issues. And Heath’s hamstring is still a potential issue.

But essentially the Reign now have an absolutely killer roster with Heath, Little, Huitema, Rose Lavelle, Megan Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock, Alana Cook, Tziarra King, Bethany Balcer and Phallon Tullis-Joyce. Granted, some of those players — Lavelle, Rapinoe and Cook — will be out later this month and a chunk of July because of World Cup qualifying.

I asked Laura Harvey whether having so much talent complicates her job. I mean, geez. She suggested that their ability to contribute will be important.

“The thing that we always set the tone within this environment is that performances matter. I think that helps. I think, you know, I’m excited for when these two come into the team because of the level that I know that they can bring to us. And I think when you want to be a successful team, part of that is sort of an acknowledgement that to be that you’ve always got to be striving to be better and better and better. And you do that both on the development everyday of the individual players that we have, which we care deeply about. But also looking at, could there be people out there that could help us now? And I think Kim and Tobin or both players that we believe can really help us now. Or can they help us develop the young players that we have and we believe in for the future?

The Reign currently sit in fifth place in the standings.

But for fun, I’d like to focus a bit on Phallon Tullis-Joyce. Currently she leads all NWSL goalkeepers with 35 saves, including five clean sheets.

But more than that, she’s a marine science and biology major, and her love for the ocean is clear from her wonderful social media series “The Puget Zone: Zombie Apoctopus” The project is to mark World Ocean Day.

Here’s the latest! Really, if you are on Twitter or Instagram, you gotta look at this. Bonus: It’s educational!

Jacob Cristobal asked Phallon about the series, which concluded Sunday.

“I’m just happy that people are watching and learning a little bit. That’s the goal of it. And I think a special piece for me, too, in previous videos I was able to incorporate my family too. So my little brother is autistic and he was able to voice the fish, that’s really close to my heart.”

Oh, and then it also came up that teammate Nikki Stanton believes that mermaids are real. Phallon replied: “I love Nikki, but I’m not on the mermaid train. I’m a shark girl.”


Jeff Kassouf looks at the NWSL’s rookies for ESPN

Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer took a look at Wave rookie Amirah Ali.

The LA Daily News wrote about Angel City.

CBC on Huitema’s move.

The wonderful Paul Danzer writes about the NWSL’s expansion teams for the Portland Tribune.

The Guardian’s story on Oliva Moultrie.

Emma Hruby for Just Women’s Sports ponders what Heath brings to the Reign.

We covered this a bit last week, but here’s The Athletic’s story on Christen Press out with torn ACL.

The Denver Post asks when women’s pro sports will come to Colorado.

The Houston Chronicle looks at Dash interim coach Juan Carlos Amoros.

The Guardian’s excellent Moving the Goalposts profiles Casey Stoney.

Interesting story in SI about the first national team in 1985.

Megan Rapinoe on Title IX, transgender sports bans for Time.

How the 99ers set the stage, from northjersey.com.

Prince William is a fan.

Becky Scores!

OK, so I got to see my first “live” Becky Sauerbrunn goal yesterday. And she very nearly got a second one. Here’s what she had to say afterward. She’s raising money for Playing For Pride and Athlete Ally to help develop inclusive policies for all. You can donate, too!

Question: What can you say about getting a win like this before a break?

Sauerbrunn: I think we’ve kind of strung together some some really good performances, got a lot of shots on goal but maybe not going in, had a tight one against San Diego. So to come from Houston and have a really good performance and then come here and have another professional, really great performance, feels really good into break. Still got a lot to work on, but it’s really good to see so many different goal scorers and in so many different relationships being made on the field. I think we’re at a point right now where things are really gelling. It’s really exciting to be playing right now.

Question: You’ve pledged $500 and you seem serious about holding up that pledge?

Sauerbrunn: Absolutely and I also pledged $100 for every goal that’s scored. So today has been a very expensive day. But it’s been an excellent day. That money is going to Athlete Ally, it’s going to great causes. I’m very happy, I would gladly give over most of my paycheck.

Question: For momentum’s sake, how important is this win.

Sauerbrunn: I think in this league in particular, if you’ve got momentum on your side, it’s huge. It’s really it’s hard to get sometimes, and it’s pretty quick to break, but when you have it you’ve really got to keep it. It’s great for the players that are going off to international duty, with the senior and youth national teams, to leave on this this note. I think it’s really nice, good confidence booster, and then for the ones that are here, that are gonna be training, it’s nice to have that energy and to know this is what we have. This is our standard now. And so every training session has to make sure that whatever we’re doing those efforts are towards reaching that standard every single day.

Question: You almost had a brace actually Can you recall ever having chances like that, you know multiple chances that again?

Sauerbrunn: Oh no, I’m rarely hear the goal. Today was a very weird day but I loved every second of it.

Question: How long have you been planning that celebration that you had or was that spontaneous?

Sauerbrunn: Oh, that was completely spontaneous. I’m sure I was like briefly possessed by something. I was just super excited. I just saw people looking at me like oh my god, they were as bewildered as I was.

Question: And you got a rose.

Sauerbrunn: I did get a rose. I finally got one for scoring one goal. It’s actually really fun. I can see why people like scoring goals. lt’s like cool. Really exciting.

Question: Was that the first goal you’ve scored with your feet in the NWSL?

Sauerbrunn: No, no, I scored one with FCKC with my foot. There’s so few I remember pretty much each one.

Here’s the video! With my annoying laugh!

(Editor’s note: Annie’s laugh is lyrical and I am always happier when I get it from her.)

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Written by Annie Peterson