NWSL: Fletcher will retire after nine pro seasons

Kendall Fletcher, one of the best defenders in U.S. women's pro soccer since its relaunch in 2009, will be leaving the NWSL's Seattle Reign. She will finish out the Australian W-League season with the Western Sydney Wanderers, then start a three-year program to earn an Advanced Diploma in Ministry at the Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia.

In the last three seasons, she started 65 games for the Reign and was an NWSL Best XI pick in 2014 and second-team pick in 2015 when the Reign captured back-to-back NWSL Shields as regular-season champions.

“Fletch is one of the most competitive, smartest defenders I have ever worked with,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “Her attitude towards being the best player she can be was unmatched. Her influence on our team was exceptional. She was a major part of our success over the 2014 and 2015 season, and she will be truly missed.”

Fletcher, 32, played in the W-League -- Jersey Sky Blues in 2007 and Pali Blues in 2008 -- after graduating from North Carolina at Chapel Hill and joined the Los Angeles Sol for the launch of WPS in 2009. Her pro career got off a ignominious start as she was traded to the Saint Louis Athletica after one game in 2009 and Vittsjo in the Swedish Damallsvenskan in 2012 and 2013. Her first offseason trips to Australia came at Melbourne Victory (2010-2012).

“If I’m honest, I was disappointed with a lot of my experiences in the WPS,” said Fletcher. “It was one of the reasons I looked to go play overseas in Sweden for a couple years.”

Fletcher earned one cap for the USA in 2009.
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