8-team field set as NWSL opens play with Utah tournament

              FILE - In this April 15, 2017, file photo, Portland Thorns forward Christine Sinclair celebrates scoring a goal during the second half of their NWSL soccer match against the Orlando Pride in Portland, Ore. The National Women's Soccer League opens its Challenge Cup tournament on Saturday, June 27, 2020, and the pressure is on as the first professional team sport in the United States to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)


2019 RECORD: 10-6-8, finished fourth.

COACH: Farid Benstiti, first season.

KEY PLAYERS: Midfielder Jessica Fishlock, midfielder Allie Long, midfielder Shirley Cruz, forward Jodie Taylor.

WHO IS MISSING: Midfielder Megan Rapinoe opted out of the tournament. Defender Julia Ashley is injured.

WHAT TO EXPECT: There were big changes for the Reign in the offseason. They were purchased by OL Groupe, the parent company of French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais, in December. In January, the team named Farid Benstiti coach to replace Vlatko Andonovski, who became the head coach of the U.S. national team. Benstiti has a wealth of talent to work with despite Megan Rapinoe’s decision to sit out the Challenge Cup. Players to watch include Welsh national Jessica Fishlock and last season’s NWSL Rookie of the Year, Bethany Balcer. Costa Rican Shirley Cruz comes to the United States after extensive experience abroad.