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Where EAST meets the Northwest


RETURNING TO THE REIGN. Nahomi "Naho" Kawasumi (#9, left) of Japan defends an opposing player from Cameroon at a match at BC Place stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, during the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Naho has returned to the Seattle Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League after spending the 2015 and part of the 2016 seasons playing for INAC Kobe Leonessa, who loaned Kawasumi to Seattle in 2014. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

From The Asian Reporter, V26, #13 (July 4, 2016), page 13.

Nahomi "Naho" Kawasumi returns to the NWSL

Japanese international forward Nahomi "Naho" Kawasumi has returned to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Kawasumi is again playing for the Seattle Reign FC after spending the 2015 and part of the 2016 seasons playing for INAC Kobe Leonessa, who loaned her to Seattle 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 Seattle in 2014, she played a major role in the club’s transformation. In 2013, Seattle managed only 18 points (5-14-3) while finishing second from the bottom of the table.

In 2014, the squad tripled its point total from the prior season (54) and took home the NWSL Shield with a 16-2-6 record. In addition, the club scored a league-record 50 goals, allowed a league-best 20, and delivered an 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, the 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 to 2012, tying for the league lead in scoring with 12 goals in 2011. The forward helped lead INAC to three consecutive Nadeshiko league titles between 2011 and 2013.

Naho’s international career is highlighted by a Fédération Internationale de Football Association Women’s World Cup (WWC) gold medal in 2011 and an Olympic silver medal in 2012. She netted a brace in Team Japan’s 3-1 win against Sweden during the 2011 tournament and helped her squad take home the trophy in 2011 in Japan’s 3-1 penalty shootout win over the U.S. Women’s National Team.

Naho also scored the opening goal against Canada in a 2-0 win during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

On July 2, in her first match back with the Reign, Naho scored two goals — in the 15th and 62nd minutes — assisted by Manon Melis and Keelin Winters, respectively.

Naho is the second mid-season signing by Reign FC this year, after fellow national team member Rumi Utsugi joined the club in June. Utsugi will train with the squad this week and be available for the match against the Western New York Flash on Saturday, July 9 at 4:00pm.

Seattle visits Portland’s Providence Park to play the Portland Thorns on Saturday, July 30 at 7:30pm. Thorns FC play the Reign again in an away match at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, August 27 at 2:00pm.

To buy tickets in Portland, call (503) 553-5555 or visit <www.portlandthornsfc.com>. To obtain tickets to matches in Seattle, call 1-855-734-4632 or visit <www.reignfc.com>.

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