For Orlando Pride goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, most of the emotions that came with facing her former club are just about gone.
The first time Kopmeyer faced the Seattle Reign, she did so at Memorial Stadium, which was her home for years. She managed the emotions that came with the match and helped the Pride secure a 0-0 draw. She recorded five saves, including the Week 10 NWSL Save of the Week.
That was Kopmeyer’s only start this season.
With goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris out for this week in anticipation of formally being called up to U.S. women’s national team camp, the Pride will turn to Kopmeyer again this week. And again, she’ll face her former club. The Pride (8-6-4, 28 points) play the Reign (8-4-5, 29 points) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Orlando City Stadium in a battle for second place in the league.
“Any time you spend a long portion of your life anywhere, there’s going to be ties and things to it,” she said.
“Being here, I’m really happy here. Maybe if I was like, totally miserable, that would be a lot harder. But things are great here and coming in and being part of an MLS-backed club and seeing the different sides of what types of teams there are in this league, I’m really pleased with the outside life part and the professionalism of this organization.”
Kopmeyer said she doesn’t want there to be any drop-off when she steps in for Harris.
“I’m sort of in the mindset where I don’t want anything to change from a team perspective,” Kopmeyer said.
“I want the team to go out there and think they can play the exact same way that we have in games that we’ve been successful and that they’re going to have the support and personnel behind them that they need to go out there and compete and press hard.”
Pride coach Tom Sermanni said his confidence in Kopmeyer is “huge.” Kopmeyer was acquired in the offseason — along with the Reign’s third-round pick in the NWSL Draft — in exchange for forward Jasmyne Spencer.
“I mean, she’s played one game, clean sheet,” Sermanni said. “Hopefully two games, two clean sheets. She is – and we’ve said it from the start – she’s an NWSL starting goalkeeper. It just happens to be, in this situation, that we’ve got Ashlyn Harris.
“When I look at the goalkeepers around the league, if I wasn’t here and needed a goalkeeper, Haley would be at the top of my list to sign.”
Such high praise doesn’t change the fact Kopmeyer has been a backup for most of the season. She hasn’t let that dampen her confidence.
“I did know and understand the situation when I was traded here,” she said.
“Yes, my goal is to get a No. 1 job and be a No. 1 somewhere. What goalie doesn’t want that or isn’t working for that? In the same token, I knew coming here there would be a role for me. I have an opportunity to go out and get really good training and focus on myself a little bit more, just in terms of my personal development, and learn a lot.
“The opportunities to showcase it are a little bit few and far between, which can be a little bit frustrating, at times. It’s like each week I go in wondering what’s going to happen. I know and I knew that coming in.”
Pride player availability
Harris and Pride forward Alex Morgan have been excused from training this week with Sermanni anticipating their eventual absence for the 2018 Tournament of Nations. They will not play this weekend against the Seattle Reign.
U.S. women’s national team coach Jill Ellis called 25 players into camp, which starts July 20, and will narrow her roster down to 23 ahead of the start of the tournament.
“If they want to come into training this week, they can,” Sermanni said of Morgan and Harris.
“With them going into the national team camp, it’s a good time for them … you know they’ve got a really tough, stressful tournament coming up and then coming back to us to play. It’s actually a good time for them to get a few days off and just relax and get reinvigorated.”
The Tournament of Nations includes the women’s national teams of the U.S, Brazil, Japan and Australia. A club official confirmed the club’s Brazilian and Australian players will be available for this weekend’s match, and then they’ll leave for their respective national teams.
The Tournament of Nations runs from July 26 until Aug. 2.
After Saturday’s match, the Pride will be idle until Aug. 5 when they host Sky Blue FC.
Here’s the full list of USWNT call-ups:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 16/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 29/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 19/0), Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 8/0), Jaelene Hinkle (NC Courage; 8/0), Merritt Mathias (NC Courage; 1/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 139/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 21/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 17/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 75/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 61/15), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 51/5), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 8/2), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 254/100), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 36/7), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 39/6), McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 2/0)
FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 64/23), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 133/19), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 142/86), Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash; 3/1), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 100/44), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 137/37), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals FC; 131/30)