The signs have continued to add up for Hope Solo to miss the Seattle Reign season opener. Even with the regular season kick-off still two months away, it appears as though the team has moved on from the iconic keeper.
First, the club announced the acquisition and signing of Madalyn Schiffel from Europe. The club made moves with another NWSL club to be able to bring her in, signalling that she would, at a minimum, challenge for the starting spot.
Then, last week Hope Solo announced a deal to host and produce a sports injury rehabilitation show in the coming months. While she herself is still recovering from shoulder surgery in the fall, the TV show would keep her out of the Reign’s training camp and perhaps part of the early season.
Finally, yesterday the club signed keeper Haley Kopmeyer to a new contract through the 2018 season. Having backed up Hope for a number of years, she ended up getting a fair amount of game time each season with the USWNT camps, friendlies, World Cup and Olympic matches. In 2016 she started 11 matches, and led the line once Solo left for the Rio Olympics.
“I cannot overstate how excited I am to back for a fifth season with the Reign. This team and staff took a huge risk on me a few years back and have invested in my development as both a player and person. I am beyond excited to make my mark on this program and help push us back to the top of table,” Kopmeyer said.
Kopmeyer is one of only a few players still with the club from the inaugural season in 2013. Coach Laura Harvey notes the need for competition, but the starting role is clearly Haley’s at the start of camp.
“She deserves the opportunity to be a number one and I think this is her year to push to make it hers. We are trying to make it a real challenge for her and we want competition for that. We’re just really pleased she wants to stay around and push to be that number one,” Harvey said.
Each NWSL club is allowed to have up to 20 players on the roster. At the moment the Reign have 18 officially listed for the 2017 season. With two of those keepers, there is no way that Solo returns in the current setup. Perhaps she and/or the team know that her shoulder won’t be fully healed for the start of the season, and they are making sure the club is secure with two quality keeper for opening day.
While the Reign fans may not see Hope in the nets for a while, if ever again, be assured that she will make an appearance around the club at some point in 2017. Whether that is as a player in the second half of the year, coach, part of the academy staff , or a retirement announcement, remains to be seen.