Playing in her first game for the Reign since 2014, the Japanese forward on Saturday scored both of Seattle’s goals in a 2-0 victory over the Boston Breakers at Memorial Stadium.
It’s like Nahomi Kawasumi never left.
Playing in her first game for the Reign since 2014, the Japanese forward on Saturday scored both of Seattle’s goals in a 2-0 victory over the Boston Breakers at Memorial Stadium. Without goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who are away at national team camp, the Reign (4-3-4) needed a boost.
Kawasumi delivered, tapping the ball past a diving Jami Kranich in the 15th minute to give the Reign the lead for good. She added a nifty, left-footed goal in the 62nd minute to cushion the lead.
“I think she just brings the best out of everybody,” coach Laura Harvey said. “Obviously her scoring the two goals was great, but … you just know with Naho that her quality shines though. She’s infectious.”
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Seattle announced Kawasumi’s re-signing June 16 after the NWSL extended its international transfer window. The 2011 FIFA World Cup gold medalist fills the final international slot on the Reign roster after Japan failed to qualify for Rio.
And for a Seattle team that has looked shakier than its two-time defending regular season champion status suggests, the move came at the right time.
“We were playing with smiles on our faces and we haven’t done that in awhile,” midfielder Jess Fishlock said.
“Today we played with good tempo and good quality and dominated the match from Minute 1 to Minute 90.”
The 4,356 fans in attendance were glad Kawasumi was back, too.
“Welcome back, Naho” chants filled the stadium after Kawasumi’s second goal.
The Reign was in control from the outset, outshooting the Breakers 6-2 in the first half, then continued the controlling performance in the second.
For Fishlock, the victory marks a turning point. The win extends the Reign’s unbeaten streak to five games and was the first time the Reign has scored multiple goals in the same game since April 24 in a 3-1 win over the Breakers.
“It’s been a prolonged slow start this season,” she said.
“There have been things said about us, you know, that we’re not the team we were, but … I have no doubt in my mind that we will get to where we want to get to.”