Dropping in for a quick visit in what will be her new hometown come February, Seattle Reign FC coach Laura Harvey sat down with Prost Amerika’s Kara McDermott to discuss the first 11 players to the Reign and her plans moving forward with the new venture in women’s professional soccer.
Prost Amerika: What have you been focusing on in your visit here?
Laura Harvey: Just trying to get everything going. Trying to fulfill the roster, pin down players, introduce myself, get used to the city, see everything as much as possible.
Prost Amerika: You’re very midfield heavy right now with the 11 you received from the allocation and college draft, are you looking more to fill the forwards and defense with your remaining nine spots or reassign midfielders?
Harvey: Reassign might happen. Within in the free agency, we’re definitely looking at the areas of the field where we haven’t got so many players fit in those positions. I think in the draft it stated that a few were midfielders but we actually looked at them in a different way. So we’ve tried to make sure that we’ve filled spots as much as possible and we think with the 11 we’ve pretty much hit all the areas we wanted to and now it’s just filling those little gaps around.
Prost Amerika: When Prost last spoke to you, the allocation hadn’t taken place and you mentioned not wanting to get your hopes up, were there any people that you really wanted that you actually got in the allocation?
Harvey: You’ve got to be pretty excited that you got a player that’s got over 100 caps for their country and she’s only 25, although of late Amy Rodriguez has sort of been overtaken by the younger players. That’s great for someone like me because it gives me something to work with her on. Her goal scoring record speaks for itself. Then [Megan ]Rapinoe is a fantastic signing, we were surprised by getting her, but great to have her on board. Then you’ve got the best goalkeeper in the world, so you can’t argue with that.
Prost Amerika: As your filling the roster, coaching staff must be on your mind, any movement there?
Harvey: We’ve got a bit of movement happening there but no names we can say at the moment.
Prost Amerika: In our previous interview you had touched on your goal of blending the European style with the American physicality, now that you have 11 players you can start imagining a team with, what are your plans with blending those two styles?
Harvey: I think the players that we have fit the bill exactly. I think a big thing for me as a coach is that they technically can play because that’s what I know, that’s what I’m used to and what I know works. I think if you can make sure they can master that with physical strength and pace and power that’s really adapted to the US style of play then you are on to a winning combination. And then it’s just about making sure you have the right people in the right places that can ultimately win soccer matches which is what it’s all about.
Prost Amerika: With this new imagining of the league, they have opened up the West coast for the first time, how are you going to face that challenge?
Harvey: I think it’s massive that the league has expanded over to here and I think in previous years if there ever has been a team out towards the west they’ve been on their own which doesn’t work as well. I think it’s really exciting and in such a fast area with a big soccer tradition happening up here I think it’s really important that there were teams from this area. Just being around the city for a couple of days you can tell soccer is a big part of what this area is about. I think it would have been a real shame if that hadn’t have happened.
Prost Amerika: We do have a great market for fans, how do you plan on getting that name out there and becoming a brand in and of yourself?
Harvey: I think the big thing is you have to have a good product and the product starts ultimately on the field. The fact that the Sounders men have such a massive following and everyone is so crazy about it, we’ve got to try to link into that and make people believe in the league ultimately.
And there’s always going to be skeptics about that because of what’s happened in previous times but the fact that we’re a new team, fresh ideas, young staff who are really enthusiastic and dedicated to making it work means we want to put a show on the field that when people come to our games it’s going to be a whole match day experience that they’re hopefully not going to forget.
Prost Amerika: What was the number one selling point in bringing you to Seattle from Arsenal?
Harvey: The challenge. The exciting expectations around this new league is the biggest thing for me. It was always going to be a massive decision to leave Arsenal, something that I didn’t take lightly and that’s why I am so dedicated and determined to make it work. Arsenal was fantastic, will always be in my heart, and I can’t thank them enough for the experiences that I had there. But I think it was time for me to move on.
Prost Amerika: Soccer is the most played game by women in America, it’s got to feel good to always have that pool there.
Harvey: I’ve said before, I think America is not renowned for soccer being a traditional sport but I think women’s soccer globally it’s an emerging sport where I think in the US it’s the benchmark. England is traditionally the soccer world, or the football world as we call it, but I think for women’s soccer everyone looks to the States as being the benchmark of where the people want to be so to have the opportunity to be a part of this league is great.
Prost Amerika: From a tactical standpoint, what are the things that get you excited about players?
Harvey: The players that excite me are defenders who understand how to defend, but when they get the ball they’re not scared to have it so they’ll take risks. They’ll look for passes that will really penetrate the opposition.
Midfielders who can get from box to box pretty easily for 90 minutes – a massive part of the game – who also understand movement to create space for other people which is vital. Being really comfortable on the ball but also be physically strong enough to win the ball back off of people – don’t need to be 10-foot tall but just have that attitude to be able to tackle and be able to defend against someone one v. one.
From the forwards, someone who can hold the ball up, keep it for your team if needed but in the wide areas especially, people with bags and bags of pace – and we’ve got that within the allocated players. Some of the players we are looking to bring in might bring that little bit of style and that little bit of grit to add to that little bit of quality we’ve already got in the group.
Prost Amerika: Now, you know they do not film Grey’s Anatomy here. Those guys aren’t walking around.
Harvey: I just love watching it and when it flashes to the Seattle skyline it’s great. I’m a bit obsessed with that show.