Seattle Reign FC has signed Japanese international forward Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi. Per league and team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Naho is expected to arrive in Seattle within the next ten days. She returns to Seattle after spending the 2015 and part of the 2016 seasons playing for INAC Kobe Leonessa, who loaned Kawasumi to Reign FC in 2014.
“I’m back to Seattle again, and I’m so happy to join Seattle Reign FC.” said Naho. “I will do my best for the team.”
During her initial run with Reign FC in 2014, she played a major role in the club’s transformation. In 2013, Seattle managed only 18 points while finishing second from the bottom of the table. The next season, the squad delivered a historic, shield-winning season — tripling its point total from the prior season (54). In addition, the club scored a league-record 50 goals, allowed a league-best 20, and delivered a NWSL record 16-match unbeaten streak.
“We are extremely happy to bring Naho back to Seattle,” said general manager and coach Laura Harvey. “She was a huge influence on our group when she was a Reign player before and having someone of her quality and experience back with this team is really exciting.”
Naho scored nine goals in the 2014 campaign, good for fifth most in the league. She also tallied five assists and was selected to the NWSL Best XI for her efforts. Upon the completion of her loan at the end of the 2014 NWSL season, she returned to INAC Kobe Leonessa.
With the exception of her loan to Reign FC, Naho has played professionally for INAC Kobe Leonessa of the Nadeshiko League in Japan since 2008. In 2013, she was named the Nadeshiko League MVP, was the league’s second-leading scorer behind Reign FC’s Beverly Yanez, and was on the league’s Best XI roster from 2010 to 2013.
She scored a combined 46 goals for INAC from 2009–2012, tying for the league-lead in scoring with 12 goals in 2011. The forward helped lead INAC to three consecutive Nadeshiko league titles from 2011–2013.
Naho’s international career is highlighted by a FIFA World Cup gold medal in 2011 and an Olympic silver medal in 2012. She netted a brace in their 3–1 win against Sweden during the 2011 World Cup, and went on to take home the World Cup trophy in 2011 in Japan’s 3–1 penalty shoot-out win over the U.S. Women’s National Team.
The forward also scored the opening goal against Canada in a 2–0 win during the 2012 Summer Olympics. She has amassed 82 caps representing the Japan Women’s National Football Team and was in the squad for the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments.
Seattle continues to strengthen its roster in preparation for the second half of the NWSL season. Naho is the second mid-season signing by Reign FC this year, after fellow Japanese national team member Rumi Utsugi joined the club earlier this month. All six international players on Reign FC’s roster (Utsugi, Kawasumi, Fishlock, Corsie, Melis and Little) will be with Reign FC throughout July, as none will participate in the Rio Olympics Tournament.
On Saturday, July 2 at 7:00 p.m. PT, Seattle Reign FC will return home to face the Boston Breakers at Memorial Stadium. This will be the second meeting of the year between the two squads, with the first ending in a 3–0 Reign FC victory. Tickets to the match begin at $18 and can be purchased by calling (855)-REIGN-FC or by visiting reignfc.com/breakers.