The Seattle Reign will be beginning their fifth season in the NWSL when they open the season at Memorial Stadium on April 15 against Sky Blue FC and for the first time since they began play, they will have someone other than Hope Solo in goal. Barring an injury, Haley Kopmeyer seems destined to begin the season as the team’s number one goalkeeper.
We here at VAVEL USA had the opportunity to speak with Haley regarding the upcoming season and what she has done to prepare to be the number one ‘keeper. In previous offseasons, Haley played overseas but she decided to stay stateside to prepare for the 2017 NWSL season.
“This offseason I took a little bit different approach to my development. The few preseasons before I had played overseas and this one I opted to stay here and train/get fit/get healthy. Goalkeeper coach Ben Dragavon and I came up with a plan to do just that and physically I feel better than I ever have going into season 5.”
Entering preseason, the Reign had four goalkeepers in camp including Haley (Madalyn Schiffel, Brianna Smallridge – non-roster invitee, and Hanna deHaan – non-roster invitee) and she was asked what it was like to have so many goalkeepers in camp and how having so many make her better.
“Hanna was with us for the first week and now the three of us remain. It’s great having keepers around you to push you and make you better. All the while you build an environment of encouragement, teaching and healthy competition.”
Both Lauren Barnes and Kopmeyer share responsibilities in the back
Going into the season, Kopmeyer will have the reigning NWSL Defender of the Year in front of her in Lauren Barnes. I asked her how important she is to the back line and who is really in charge. Haley took the diplomatic approach and mentioned that every situation on the field is different and that they both have different responsibilities.
“Each situation on the field calls for different levels of leadership and we have different responsibilities. She and the other center back set the line and communicate to the midfield. I primarily communicate to them. Lu is essential to this team both on and off the pitch. She leads by example and calms on the field through consistency and good positioning. She is critical to our success this year just as she has been the first four seasons.”
Kopmeyer talks about building around new pieces and not replacing key members that left
With 2014 NWSL MVP Kim Little no longer with the team after being transferred back to Arsenal Ladies, I asked how not having Little on the field changes the Reign in 2017.
“It’s not easy to lose players like Kim, Keelin, Fletch, and Manon- as other players and Laura have said though, you don’t necessarily “replace” them. You build around new pieces and make your system work for you. There is no doubt we will miss them on and off the field. However, creating a new identity for this group is exciting.”
Kopmeyer loves Seattle and can solve a Rubik's cube
With this being her fifth season in Seattle, I couldn’t bypass the chance to ask her what she thinks of Seattle and their fans. She gave me the response I expected and one that so many other players have echoed during their time in Seattle.
“I love Seattle and our fans. I appreciate the fans that come and support us week in and week out and I hope that our support continues to grow. We as players want to be role models for young players and we hope they get opportunities to come watch and meet us.”
Lastly, I had to ask her something that you, the reader, may not know about her. She gave me a simple one line answer and I am not surprised by it.
“I can solve a Rubik's cube.”
Solving a Rubik’s cube is no easy task and it is something I have struggled with personally my entire life. You have to be able to see things a few steps ahead, just like a goalkeeper. You have to be able to read what the offense is going to do a split second before they do it so I am not surprised she can solve a Rubik’s cube.
The Reign will look to accomplish something they have never done before, win the NWSL Championship in 2017. The begin their fifth season at home at the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium on April 5 against Sky Blue FC.