Even Megan Rapinoe, who took a knee during previous anthems, stood before Seattle played the Washington Spirit.
The Seattle Reign first locked arms and stood together for the national anthem, then proceeded to lock down the first-place Washington Spirit for a critical 2-0 win Sunday night in front of 4,711 at Memorial Stadium.
The victory, combined with Portland’s 3-2 win over Western New York Sunday, sustains Seattle’s hopes of claiming a postseason berth into the NWSL playoffs. Seattle (7-6-6, 27 points) can clinch the fourth and final spot with a win at Houston and a loss by Western NY (8-6-5, 29 points) during the regular season’s final weekend Saturday and Sunday.
Beverly Yanez scored in the 27th minute on a sliding, close-range finish of a high-velocity diagonal cross by Megan Rapinoe from 30 yards out. Retiring team captain Keelin Winters blasted home her first goal of the season in the 79th minute on a centering pass from Nahomi Kawasumi to ice the win, Seattle’s first in three games.
Reign @ Houston Dash, 6:30 p.m.
The Reign, including Rapinoe, stood and locked arms at the elbows during the playing of the national anthem before Sunday night’s match.
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Rapinoe had taken a knee during the anthem Sept. 4 before a match in Chicago.
Coach Laura Harvey said she was aware the team wanted to do something appropriate for the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
“We had discussions about it,” Harvey said. “We heard what the Seahawks were going to do. We feel as a group we want to put together what our message is. The girls have a little bit of time off, so it might not be in the next couple of days. We want them to get to decide what we really want to do as a group.”
Rapinoe conceded she felt some degree of mental as well as physical fatigue after Sunday’s match.
“I don’t think I’ve thought as much as I have the past few days about all this stuff,” Rapinoe said. “Obviously, the Seahawks coming out and doing what they did earlier today, the Storm I think did the same thing and interlocked arms during the national anthem.
“I’ve struggled a lot with it being 9/11. I wanted to, and just in general, be as effective as I can in this space and still exercise my right to protest and try to talk about what I really want to talk about, which has been very difficult. A lot of people don’t want to talk about that. It’s all about the vehicle of the protest, or about what I’m doing, or about the military, about being American.”
Harvey says players apprised her and her staff of their plans for Sunday. “We were conferred on it,” she said. “We spoke to the players and they told us what they were thinking about doing.”
Her impression of the lacked-arms display? “I think it shows they were respectful of everybody’s opinions, and their opinions on that, and what the flag means to people. It’s about what people gave up to allow us to live the lives that we do.”
• Before Sunday’s national anthem, Winters was presented a firefighter’s uniform from members of the Kirkland Fire Department. Winters, 27, will join Kirkland’s department after her season is complete. Winters has been a Reign captain for four seasons.
• Wearing the gold medals they won in Rio as members of the U.S. women’s national basketball team, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm stepped on the pitch during halftime and waved to the crowd.