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Bethany Balcer is the lone bright spot in a dim Seattle Reign attack

The 27-year-old former Rookie of the Year is both the best attacker on her team and a shadow of her past self. But it’s not her fault.

5 min read
Seattle Reign

Bethany Balcer is a grand NWSL success story. 

The probability of her ending up in the league was microscopic. Balcer was an undrafted non-roster invite in 2019 who’d played college soccer at an NAIA school, a division that had never sent a player to the big leagues. The Seattle Reign found a diamond in the rough, and six months – and six goals – later, Balcer had won the Rookie of the Year award in the Reign’s colors.

She followed up that campaign with an even better one in 2021, bagging nine goals and 0.60 non-penalty xG per 90 minutes and pushing the Reign to a second-place finish. Not only had she become the Reign’s new talisman, she’d earned herself a cap with the U.S. women’s national team along the way.

Nothing could stop Bethany Balcer.

Except the Reign, of course. 

The Reign’s once free-flowing attack has gone the way of the dodo since the calendar turned over to 2023. Balcer, a box poacher who feasts on crosses and corner kicks, has been left out in the cold. 

The current 2024 campaign represents a nadir for both player and club: Balcer has put up her worst season based on a variety of metrics on a team with the worst attack in the NWSL. Is Balcer declining? Was her success destined to be for a limited time only? Or perhaps, has Seattle manager Laura Harvey’s new tactical approach made the former wunderkind a square peg inside a round hole? 

One cannot deny that Balcer’s performances have dropped precipitously. 

Graphic courtesy of ALPHONSO: The Davies Database

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