Laura Harvey of Seattle Reign FC — the only female coach in the National Women’s Soccer League — was honored Wednesday as coach of the year.
“It’s a good recognition to have,” Harvey said. “But any head coach will tell you, you can’t do it on your own: It’s the players through to the back-room staff, the front office and ownership that make the club what it is today. I think we’ve made huge strides forward. Sometimes as a head coach you get the wrath of that and sometimes you get the credit, so it’s nice to get the credit for the club.”
Harvey, 34, is in her second season with the Reign. In 2013, Seattle finished seventh in the eight-team league. However, this year they finished on top at 16-2-6 and will play FC Kansas City for the NWSL championship at noon Sunday at Starfire Sports Stadium.
“I saw the two sides to it: things going really well, obviously, and things being difficult,” second-year midfielder Jessica Fishlock said. “But the only thing about Harvey is, she just didn’t change. There was nothing from Day One last year when I first met her and right now that have changed as to the way she coaches and the way that she handles situations. Not only is her knowledge about football just second to none, but also her man management is probably the best I have ever seen.”
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Harvey, 34, is a native of England, where she played on youth national teams. She coached at Birmingham City and Arsenal before joining the Reign in the NWSL’s inaugural season.
She was asked about winning the award over eight men. Mark Parsons of the Washington Spirit was runner-up, while Vlatko Andonovski of Kansas City came in third after taking the award last season.
“I’m a true believer in terms of whoever is head coach of whichever team, it has to be the right person for the right job,” Harvey said. “… We’ve got some great coaches in this league who have done remarkable jobs for their teams, and I don’t think it’s a negative in any way that they’re not female. But … with this generation of players, I’m sure you’ll start to see a lot of female coaches coming out of this group in years to come whenever they decide to hang their boots up, because I think that’s the way that the game’s going. But I will always believe and always stand by I think it just needs to be the right person for the right job.”
The National Women’s Soccer League announced that it will play a 20-game season in 2015, running from April to September and including a two-week break during the group stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.
The nine existing teams will return, but the league will not expand.
The new schedule will have four fewer games per team and will include fewer midweek games.
The Seattle Sounders returned to training Wednesday, preparing for their Major League Soccer match against the Colorado Rapids at 1 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s nice not to have midweek games, because we’ve had enough of those,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Next week we get another midweek game and then we get a little bit of a break, and then we start again on a run where we have two midweek games. It’s good to be able to catch our breath a little bit.”
The Sounders went through a divided workout, trying to balance the appropriate regeneration and recovery time for players who were active in the 4-2 league win at Portland on Sunday and the 5-1 Reserve League win over USL Pro Arizona United on Monday.
The reserve game saw the return of defenders Dylan Remick and Damion Lowe, who had been out with injuries. Schmid said Remick isn’t yet 100 percent fit, while Lowe remains about a month away.