Seattle Reign FC owner and president Bill Predmore has only tweeted seven times since August of 2014, but his tweets certainly give insight into the impact Laura Harvey, the club’s former head coach and general manager who now leads Utah Royals FC, had in the Emerald City.
Of Predmore’s seven tweets, three mention Harvey, including the first one and the most recent one on Nov. 7, 2017, the day Harvey officially announced she was leaving the Reign after five seasons with the club.
As Harvey returns to Memorial Stadium for Utah’s Wednesday matchup against Seattle, the feeling is the same among fans, particularly members of the Royal Guard, the team’s official supporters group.
Bitty Jones, the group’s co-vice president, said there was sadness Harvey was leaving, but recognition that the opportunities she was exploring with U.S. soccer and elsewhere were good.
“We loved her, absolutely,” Jones said, noting that the group had bumper stickers and T-shirts made with Harvey’s face on them. “She was always a lot of fun.”
When other endeavors didn’t pan out and Harvey ended up in Utah, Jones said there was excitement that the coach would be staying in the NWSL. For Wednesday’s match, the Royal Guard had a special tifo made in Harvey’s honor, and created an Adele-themed chant in recognition of the coach’s favorite singer.
“We’re excited to see her stay within the league and continue to make a difference in women’s soccer,” Jones said. “Just excited to see her back.”
Harvey certainly has good feelings about the city she called home for five years.
“I think obviously Seattle’s always going to have a special place in my heart, really,” she said before the two teams first played on June 27 at Rio Tinto Stadium, adding that Predmore and his family treated her like one of their own throughout her tenure there. “I think when you build something from nothing it tends to have that effect on you, but obviously once you get into the game it’s a game.”
After getting smashed by Portland Thorns FC 4-0 last Friday in its worst loss of the season, URFC stayed in the Pacific Northwest, arriving in Seattle on Sunday. Now sixth in the NWSL table, URFC fell four points out of the playoffs thanks to both its loss to Portland and the fact that all five teams ahead of it won last week.
Seattle is now in second, and URFC’s next two games after Wednesday are against third-place Orlando (Saturday at home) and first-place North Carolina (next Friday on the road).
Last Friday night, Harvey went so far as to place responsibility for the loss on herself, but also said the defeat in a sense gives her squad a chance to get back to basics.
“We’ve got to be better at everything,” she said. “I think we need to do a better job of understanding what our jobs are on the field. We’ve got to understand what each other’s jobs are within the game, and we need to be better on the ball … just all around, we have to be better at everything.”
Defender Becca Moros echoed that sentiment.
“We have to get back to doing what we do well like defending as a unit in tight spaces, staying connected, and not leaving people in one versus ones,” she said. “We are a very connected, cohesive team, so I think we need to get back to that — that is pretty much our foundation. I think we need to be more clinical in the final third, getting some possession, and keeping the ball.”Comment on this story
Harvey, did express confidence that her team can bounce back against a Seattle team it played to a 0-0 draw two weeks ago.
“I know this group and the people will do better on Wednesday,” she said, “and hopefully will find the determination to put on a better show.”
URFC doesn’t have any new players on the injury report, but starting lineup mainstay Diana Matheson will miss the matchup against her former team (a large number of URFC players used to play for the Reign) due to a one-game suspension after she tripped Portland’s Midge Purce last week.