Screams for Hope Solo’s autograph still pierced the air after Reign FC’s match on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. But it wasn’t after she had made any saves against Sky Blue FC.
Solo, who was eligible to play amid charges of fourth-degree domestic violence assault at a family event last weekend, warmed up with her teammates but was listed as a substitute and did not play in the 0-0 tie.
“Ultimately Hope missed the game, and through whatever circumstance is pretty irrelevant to me,” said Seattle coach Laura Harvey. “The team played and did OK. We just thought it would be the right decision.”
Solo was not made available to the media after the game.
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Starting in place of Solo was backup Haley Kopmeyer, who made five saves to help Reign FC (11-0-3) maintain its unbeaten start and its place atop the NWSL standings before a franchise-record crowd of 5,770.
Kopmeyer, who was cut from the Reign almost exactly a year ago, turned 24 Saturday. Before she celebrated with her favorite buttercream frosting, however, she held Sky Blue FC (3-6-7) scoreless and continued to build her confidence in the net.
“This last year was a really, really difficult time for me,” she said. “I decided to … really invest in this offseason, really invest in training and invest in fitness and invest in myself, give it another go and see if I could make this next year better. It’s been a much better birthday so far.”
Reign FC had its chances to make it even better by recording a win instead of a tie. Nahomi Kawasumi, who finished with four shots (all on goal), fired one from the right side of the net that was saved by Sky Blue FC’s Brittany Cameron in the 58th minute. Then, Sydney Leroux’s header hit the crossbar in the same minute, and her shot on goal in the 71st minute was also saved by Cameron.
Kawasumi, who had three shots on goal in the first half, said through a translator that even though Reign FC missed several scoring chances, the team was satisfied overall with the 0-0 balancing act.
Jessica Fishlock sent a last-chance header flying in stoppage time, but it was denied by the crossbar, too.
Sky Blue FC had similar struggles: Katy Freels shot twice inside the final 10 minutes of the match – one on goal that was saved by Kopmeyer and one that sailed just wide of the net.
“Obviously games like that that come down to the wire, the last 15 or 20 minutes, from your end, to give your team a chance, you can’t give anything up,” Kopmeyer said. “I just wanted to keep us in the game and give us the best chance to win and finish with a clean sheet and keep the streak alive.”
Both teams exchanged several scoring opportunities in the first half, combining for 12 first-half shots. Kopmeyer, playing in her third match in a row for Reign FC, recorded two saves in the first half.