It’s been more than a year since Seattle Reign FC has played a competitive match at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. But coach Laura Harvey and her side will return to their old home, and current training ground, Sunday for the 2014 NWSL Championship Game against FC Kansas City in a match broadcast on ESPN2.
Harvey said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday that Seattle worked hard this season to settle in at Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium and were undefeated with an 8-0-4 record at their new home.
Still, with the championship game being played at their old stadium – where the Reign posted a 4-6-1 record in 2013 – Harvey is excited for her team’s competitive return to Starfire Stadium.
“Anyone who’s been to Starfire will know it’s an exceptional football facility,” Harvey said. “It’s a phenomenal atmosphere when the place is packed and ticket sales have been unbelievable. … It’s going to be packed out and Starfire is a special place when it’s like that.”
Reign FC and FC Kansas City have played against each other at the stadium twice before – a pair of 1-0 wins for the visiting Blues, with midfielder Erika Tymrak scoring in the last game between the sides.
Of course, Seattle is a different side this year – transformed by a flurry of offseason moves and one that Harvey has watched in training and says has the competitive fire to feel, “as a group, they’re not built to lose games.”
Harvey brought in slew of talented new additions before the start of the 2014 season – with midfielder Kim Little, forwards Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi and Sydney Leroux as well as defender Kendall Fletcher joining a strong core that featured midfielder Jess Fishlock, forward Megan Rapinoe, goalkeeper Hope Solo and captain Keelin Winters .
But Fishlock said in the conference call Wednesday that Seattle’s burning desire starts with their coach, who was honored this week as the 2014 NWSL Coach of the Year.
“We’ve got points this season surely because every single one of us will work as hard as we can to make sure Laura’s successful,” Fishlock said. “When you have a coach that has that kind of effect on you, not just individually, but as a group, then you know that person is special and that is absolutely what Laura is.”
Little – whose discovery rights Harvey acquired in a trade with the Washington Spirit – has been a big part of the effort to grab points late in games, scoring four times in the 89th minute or later this season on her way to setting a new NWSL single-season record with 16 goals.
“She does the very simple things at the highest of quality,” Fishlock said. “You probably won’t see her do 10,000 step overs … but it’s her touch and the way that she opens her body. It’s simple, but it’s at the highest quality and you don’t find that often.”
Another key component of Seattle’s success this season is a largely unchanged backline that set a league record with a 0.83 goals against average and features Kendall as well as Lauren Barnes, Stephanie Cox and Elli Reed, the three of whom were with the Reign last season.
“I think it’s the right final,” Fishlock said. “You’ve got the two teams that finished first and second and were most consistent throughout the league. The games we’ve had against each other have all been really exciting and I think that will be exactly the same on Sunday. It will literally be a case of the best team on the day will win because I don’t think there’s much between us at all.”
Seattle Reign FC host FC Kansas City in the 2014 NWSL Championship Game on Sunday, Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. ET. at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Limited tickets are still available online at www.ReignFC.com or by phone at 1 (855) REIGN-FC.
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