“Kop is a first choice NWSL goalkeeper. She had no chance with the goal, she pulled off some really critical saves for us, and looked very safe and very sound at the back.”
Those were the words of Tom Sermanni after a 1-1 draw against Seattle and the former Orlando Pride head coach’s words summarize Haley Kopmeyer’s entire 2018 season. Kopmeyer was Ashlyn Harris’ backup and so rarely saw the field. In her few opportunities, she proved she is a capable NWSL starter.
The Pride traded their 2017 second-choice goalkeeper, Aubrey Bledsoe, in the off-season and needed a replacement for 2018. Orlando acquired Kopmeyer for this role and it could not have been a better signing for the team. Although she played in just three games, the Michigan grad came up huge when called upon.
Kopmeyer played in three games in 2018. The first two starts came when Harris was away on international duty, with the third coming in the regular season finale. She made 14 saves in those three games, saved 88% of shots faced, and allowed just two goals — both of which were unstoppable. Kopmeyer recorded one clean sheet and held a record of 0-1-2 in 2018.
Her passing accuracy was not great, as Kopmeyer connected on just 51% of passes in her own half and 32% on long balls. These numbers are well below those of Harris, who finished with 67% and 40%, respectively. However, Kopmeyer had a higher save rate than the USWNT regular (67%-88%).
Kopmeyer’s best game was her first of the season — a 0-0 draw against her former team, the Seattle Reign. She made five saves in that match and helped the Pride to one of five shutouts on the year. The 28-year-old ‘keeper made a couple of remarkable saves in the match too, including the NWSL Save of the Week.
2018 Final Grade
Kopmeyer will end up with one of the highest — if not the highest — grades from The Mane Land staff, at 7.5. She did the best possible job that she could have done and the only downside of her season was out of her control — playing time. She allowed just two goals, made 14 saves, was nominated for Save of the Week twice, winning it once, held a clean sheet, and only had one loss (in which her team didn’t score). However, all this came in just three matches.
She did her job almost perfectly, and did everything that was asked of her. When reviewing the preseason trades I said that “Kopmeyer might just be the most underrated player on the team.” She would be a starter on several NWSL teams and the only goals she allowed were an unstoppable rocket from Carli Lloyd and another unstoppable ball from Jodie Taylor, who was left unmarked.
I hope I am wrong but I do not see Kopmeyer returning to the Pride next season. She proved that she is a starting NWSL talent and teams will come after her this off-season. The only reason she might remain on the team is because it is a World Cup year which will force Harris to miss time.
For that reason alone, keeping her should be a priority. A key part of the 2019 season will be how teams perform when international duty forces key players away from the club. For some players, it could be nearly two months away from their club teams, so taking advantage of these weeks could be the difference between an NWSL side making and missing the playoffs.
I also hope that if she remains in Orlando next year that the new head coach makes it an open goalkeeper battle. Last season it was solely Harris’ position and there was no way that Kopmeyer was going to get meaningful games in when Harris was there. Harris had an off year in 2018 and an open battle will push her back to near the top of her game or Kopmeyer will outperform her. Either way, the team is better with Haley Kopmeyer on it.