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Tobin Heath debuts for OL Reign in first NWSL game since 2019

(Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Tobin Heath made her debut for the OL Reign on Sunday, marking the first time since 2019 that the forward has played in an NWSL match.

The team was playing the Kansas City Current, which ended in a 1-0 loss for the Reign. Lo’eau LaBonta scored the game-winning goal for Kansas City in the 18th minute.

“I felt relief,” Heath said about making her debut on Sunday. “I wanted to check that box for me personally, and then building momentum and relationships on the field are important to be successful.”

Heath’s appearance ends weeks of speculation about when she could possibly make her debut. OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey was adamant about making sure Heath was fully ready before making her way onto the field.

“I said this last week and I’m going to say it again, we’re being very conscious with Tobin,” she said last week following the team’s game against Portland. “We’re being very cautious, which is hard for me. That’s not the way that I normally roll.

“I think we were close today, we were close to getting her involved. But we made a decision earlier today that we weren’t going to push it, but we wanted her to be around the team and be on the bench. Obviously with our COVID situation, we didn’t have 20 players to name, so we could name her to the bench.”

During the team’s postgame press conference on Sunday, Heath said it felt good to get out on the field, however, she was appreciative of the rest she got before joining the club.

“I think Laura’s obviously a great coach to play for, a big reason why I wanted to come to Seattle,” she said, adding that the team chemistry has been amazing to step into. “It’s a really positive group and the staff have just been overwhelmingly supportive, especially for my situation and being patient, which I really appreciate. It’s a special group.”