Last Thursday, OL Reign announced Laura Harvey would become the Head Coach after Farid Bensiti resigned from the position on July 2nd. Harvey was the Head Coach for the Reign from the inaugural season in 2013 to 2017. She would then go on to coach the Utah Royals from 2018 to 2019. Before joining the Reign, Harvey will finish her tenure as an assistant coach on the USWNT as they compete in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The return could not come at a better time as the Reign currently sit in 9th place in the NWSL with a record of 3 wins 1 draw and 6 losses, three positions below the playoff line. While many of the players from the Reigns inaugural season have moved on, the league as a whole, the player skill level and talent has continued to grow.
It’s been since December 2019 that OL Groupe the parent company of French club Olympique Lyon purchased 89.5% share of the Reign giving them majority control of the club. They still gave a 7.5% stake to former majority owners Teresa Predmore and Bill Predmore. The takeover indicated that a new era for the Reign was about to be embarked upon.
Obviously professional sports is a business and once new ownership purchases a sports team, the new ownership may have different plans in mind how the team from the business side to the technical side should be run from the previous ownership group. Once OL Groupe took control its clear that they intend to move the Reign in a direction they feel is best without needing to give a thought about the teams past success.
However, OL Groupe made one of their best decisions honoring the Reign’s origins by bringing back Laura Harvey as Head Coach and its move that is best for both coach and club. Harvey was with the Reign from the inception of the NWSL back in 2013. The club struggled in its inaugural season but in 2014 and 2015 the Reign won the NWSL Shield and were runners up in the NWSL Final. It felt like those two seasons should have been precursor for bigger and better things for the Reign and the league.
The following two seasons, the Reign failed to qualify for the playoffs and afterwards Harvey left to accept the coaching gig with the newly formed Utah Royals. Sure, the Reign found success being competitive under the direction of Vlatko Andonovski but he couldn’t turn down the offer to become Head Coach of the USWNT after the 2019 season ended. Just as the Reign have been about to see the fruits of their labor, the team or the head coach has been reshuffled. Dashing the promise of what could have been.
Harvey’s return to the Reign is seen as a home run to both players and the fan base. To build a team to be competitive in the long term requires management and a head coach that can build the foundation of the club’s success from Day One and Harvey has been that for the Reign. Even on both good and bad days. The club currently has plenty of talent around Jess Fishlock, Megan Rapinoe, Sofia Huerta, Lauren Barnes, and the recently acquired Rose Lavelle to lead the team on the pitch. There success stems from their Head Coach leading them every match day and every practice.
It may be a Harvey’s second stint as Head coach but it’s certainly no reunion tour. This is picking up where she last left off and continuing the process of building the Reign into a juggernaut in the NWSL that truly can be.