The sun was out, the U.S. national stars were in action, and Reign FC won convincingly.
Chalk it up as a perfect Sunday afternoon as Seattle kicked off its second season in the National Women’s Soccer League by cruising past the Boston Breakers, 3-0, behind two goals from newcomer Kim Little.
The Reign had been tabbed as the most improved team in the offseason, and the hosts — at full strength with U.S. internationals Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux and Stephanie Cox in the lineup — looked the part in front of 3,021 fans at Memorial Stadium.
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“It could’ve been (5-0 or 6-0) and I don’t think that would’ve been unfair,” said coach Laura Harvey, whose team held a 23-4 advantage in shots, 15-1 in the second half.
Seattle opened the scoring in the 49th minute on a penalty kick after a cross by Rapinoe was handled in the box by Boston’s Courtney Jones. Little, one of the Reign’s prize offseason acquisitions, stepped up and slammed a powerful shot to the right of goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.
Little, formerly of the Arsenal Ladies in England, broke through again in the 53rd minute, getting behind the Breakers’ defense on a quickly taken free kick and calmly finishing the breakaway chance.
More impressive, perhaps, was that Little didn’t arrive stateside until noon Saturday after a midweek game in Bosnia with the Scottish national team.
“I felt OK, considering,” she said.
Harvey, when asked what she can tell fans about Little, proudly quipped: “I can say, ‘I told you so.’ ”
Harvey added: “You’ve seen nothing. She was probably 40 percent or 50 percent … but that is Kim Little in a nutshell. She’s a winner, she’s a goal scorer and she has got a lot more to show, I believe.”
Rapinoe, who had three of her game-high eight shots denied by the goal post or crossbar, capped the scoring in the 88th minute.
The rout was especially satisfying considering the team’s start in 2013. Seattle began last year on a woeful 11-game winless streak and went all season without holding an opponent scoreless.
Hope Solo, a former University Washington stand out from Richland, needed to make just two saves to record the franchise’s first shutout.
Midfielder Jess Fishlock added two assists.
The scary thing is the Reign still has room to grow since many of its international stars are still getting acquainted, having only been together a couple of weeks since the start of preseason. Quality more than made up for any cohesion issues Sunday.
“I think the thing that we showed was we’ve got talent in this group that can win games,” said Harvey, “and we did that.”
• Boston was without star midfielder Kristie Mewis, who was involved in the trade that brought Leroux to Seattle, because of a sprained left ankle.
• Reign defender Carmelina Moscato, a Canadian international, was out with a right foot injury.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @joshuamayers