By Yuka Takeda
The North American Post
Naho Kawasumi had a stunning first game back last Saturday in the Seattle Reign FC match. The Japanese player scored two goals, leading the team to their 2-0 victory over the Boston Breakers. She was awarded the “Player of the Match” and also named the league’s “Player of the Week”.
The Reign FC is part of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). This game was Kawasumi’s return to the Reign FC , her first appearance since the 2014 season when she played in front of 4,356 fans at Memorial Stadium.
She scored goals in the 15th and 62nd minutes. Her performance had a huge impact on the team, whose offense has been struggling in the wake of two consecutive scoreless draw games.
“I think she just brings out the best in everybody,” Reign FC Head Coach Laura Harvey said. “Obviously her scoring the two goals was great, but you just know with Naho that her quality shines though. She is infectious.”
Kawasumi just arrived in Seattle last Wednesday, but was in good shape for the game.
“I was trying to pace myself for this game in order to play the full game,” she said. “I felt better than I thought I would today, so I am happy that my effort to stay conditioned went well.
“The two games prior to this were draws so it was really important for us to win tonight,” she continued.
The team still has many players from the 2014 season, and its style has remained mostly unchanged since Kawasumi last played with them.
“In soccer, individual performance is really important, but the way each performance is combined and how people work together is more important,” she said. “My teammates bring out my best, so playing with them is fun.”
The Reign FC is now fifth in the league and aiming for a playoff seat. Japanese international midfielder Rumi Utsugi, who was selected for the national team for a July trip to Sweden, will also join the Reign soon.