Crossing cultures on and off the field, American forward Beverly Goebel has been blessed with some golden memories from her time in Japan, but when she returned to the U.S. with Seattle Reign last year she found herself in perfect sync in the Emerald City.
Following two years in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) with Washington Freedom and Western New York Flash, the former University of Miami player was, like so many of her fellow pros, gearing up for the 2012 season when word reached her that the league was to be suspended. WPS would officially fold later that year of course, but a bold move to Japan’s top level with INAC Kobe Leonessa was to prove an inspired decision for Beverly.
The Californian has racked up the titles in the Far East, also winning the Nadeshiko League’s Golden Boot award in 2013 and being named in the division’s Best XI that year. In a team featuring 2011 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Homare Sawa, Beverly has added new depths of understanding to her game and a move back to the States in 2014 gave her the opportunity to showcase that progression.
Ahead of the second National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season, Seattle Reign brought her in on loan along with her supremely talented attacking teammate, Nahomi Kawasumi. The duo added a different dimension to Laura Harvey’s roster and Beverly was the only Seattle player to play all 26 games as they reached the Championship decider.
For a team that had led the way in the league so emphatically for the duration of the regular season, defeat to FC Kansas City at the last was particularly galling. Perspective is very difficult to obtain when the final whistle goes in such a situation but the Reign had served up an outstanding few months, displaying chemistry from front to back.
Many factors blend together to create team spirit and the time invested outside of training and competitive games can count for so much. Numerous moments from last season will remain with Beverly, who re-signed for Seattle on a full deal this week, and so too will a rather exclusive off-field performance.
An experienced Canadian defender, and undoubtedly one of the best-loved characters in women’s soccer, has been brought up often on here in interviews with those she has played with, and she was the star of this show. As Beverly discussed the most memorable of her career teammates for singing, she had a Seattle Reign story with a difference to share.
“Definitely Carm Moscato! During one of our away trips we all went out to dinner as a team.
“There was a local artist performing at the pub we were at. She was awesome and loved that the team was cheering her on.
“She sang for a good two hours, took a break, and during that break Carm Moscato and Amanda Frisbie asked if they could have a turn on the mic. Friz played the guitar while Carm sang to Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’.
“What a memorable night to say the least!”
Born and raised in Moreno Valley, Beverly, who scored five and assisted four goals last season, built up a strong connection with another Californian at Seattle, defender Lauren Barnes. The consistently assured Reign performer gave her own music/soccer interview on here last year and mentioned how she went out for a 90s night with Beverly.
In keeping with that, Beverly harks back to the days when she would listen to one of the most influential groups of that era, although how closely she followed the female trio’s daring and distinctive fashion sense is another matter!
“TLC was my first CD and I believe I was in middle school. I would take my boombox outside and my sister and I would jump on a trampoline shouting out every word to every song – good memories!
“That’s what I love about music; you hear a song and it brings back a fond memory or reminds you of someone or something.”
After spending her freshman year at Sacramento State, Beverly went on to become a three-year starter at the University of Miami. Captaining the Hurricanes in her senior year, she had the distinction of being the first player in school history to be drafted by a professional league, as Washington Freedom selected her in the third round of the 2010 WPS Draft.
Joining a pro team was a childhood dream achieved for her and the culmination of all the work put into her collegiate career. Of course, reaching that point requires successfully overcoming various challenges, and as Beverly explains, it isn’t just on the field of play where you are subject to intense scrutiny!
“I never had to sing (in front of teammates for initiation), but I did have to dance on a bus in college. I was super nervous but once the music came on I got excited to dance.
“I absolutely love dancing. I’m not good by any means, but I enjoy having some fun on the dance floor.”
Although Beverly would seemingly disagree, Lauren Barnes spoke highly of her teammate’s dancing ability on here. In that same interview, she revealed a little of the pre and post-game scene in the Seattle locker room as she told how Mariah Nogueira and Dani Foxhoven were getting some time in charge of the Reign playlist.
As Beverly gives a glimpse into her music taste, she also explains why she has so far yet to take on a role that is most definitely not for the faint-hearted – that of team DJ.
“I love and appreciate all kinds of music. Some of my favourite artists are: Bob Marley, Ed Sheeran, and J. Cole.
“I enjoy listening to it for everything; to clean the house, to warm up for practices and games, to travel etc. I love locker room DJs, they always have to be on their A game!
“I personally have never built up enough courage to take the job but I have much respect for those willing to do it!”
Following a 7th-place finish in the inaugural NWSL season in 2013, Seattle Head Coach (and General Manager) Laura Harvey continued to build as season two approached. Securing Beverly and Japan forward Nahomi Kawasumi on loan proved an inspired bit of business, and with the goals of former Arsenal midfielder Kim Little to go with consistent performances throughout the team, the Reign raced out of the blocks.
Their form never dropped off during the regular season and they finished in 1st, with the best attack, most secure backline, and 13 points clear of FC Kansas City in 2nd place. Edging past Washington Spirit in the play-off semi-final, Megan Rapinoe’s late consolation for Seattle in the final was not enough to overturn the two goals of Kansas City’s Amy Rodriguez and the trophy went to the Blues.
The season had been Beverly’s first stint in the Northwest and she had goals against Sky Blue, Boston Breakers, Western New York, Chicago Red Stars and Houston Dash to enjoy. The time spent with her fellow Reign players was something she savoured and that is reflected in the response she gives when asked which of her career teammates she would choose to record a cover version of a song with. Maybe those aforementioned vocal skills of Carmelina Moscato will reach a huge audience after all!
“I’d choose Elli (Reed), Lu (Lauren Barnes), Dani (Foxhoven) and Keelin (Winters) as my background dancers and singers, for sure! (Amanda) Frisbie on the guitar, Carm (Moscato) with the mic, and I’d want to be the recording artist – we would do a Bob Marley song!”
Notable talent was everywhere to be found on the Seattle roster last season, and in addition to Lauren Barnes, midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock, as well as forward Sydney Leroux, have all taken part in music/soccer interviews on here. Beverly is of course the latest, and her awareness, guile, and ability to create and score made her an essential member of the team.
In the regular season, she played all 24 games (starting 21) and that was a feat shared by only eight others across the NWSL: Alyssa Naeher, Cat Whitehill (both Boston Breakers), Jen Buczkowski (FC Kansas City), Nikki Marshall, Jess McDonald (both Portland Thorns), Brittany Taylor, McCall Zerboni (both Western New York Flash), and Stephanie Ochs (Houston Dash). From those, only Jen Buczkowski and Beverly made it to the Championship game, ending the season having featured in all 26 of their respective team’s games.
After living and playing in a wholly different environment in Japan since 2012, it wasn’t just the results on the field that made Beverly’s return home such a special one.
“I enjoyed playing with Seattle very much. Off the field, Seattle is a beautiful city with lots to explore.
“On the field, what an amazing group of players and staff. I always felt comfortable and always wanted to work hard; it was like I was playing on the same team with all my best friends.”
In her second pro season, Beverly had a WPS Championship to celebrate as she linked up with expansion team Western New York Flash. It was a star-studded 2011 squad, containing premier names like Sweden midfielder Caroline Seger, five-time consecutive World Player of the Year, Marta, Canada striker Christine Sinclair, and a rookie forward by the name of Alex Morgan.
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, another previous interviewee on here, made the Championship-winning shootout save from Philadelphia Independence’s Laura del Río. Beverly had actually been sent off in the 108th minute after accumulating two yellow cards but nothing was to take the shine off an unforgettable day for her and the rest of her Flash colleagues.
She concluded her playing time in 2011 with Finnish side PK-35, as part of a team that would win the Naisten Liiga and Naisten Cup. The plan was to then prepare for the following WPS campaign with her new team Sky Blue, but that fourth season of the league never came, forcing alternative arrangements for all concerned.
Beverly may not have had her season in New Jersey with Sky Blue, but as they had already booked a trip to Japan for pre-season, she decided to go. After playing against INAC Kobe Leonessa, she signed for them along with current Portland Thorns defender Rebecca Moros, a player she had been with at Washington and Western New York.
Understandably, there were initial difficulties in communication as Beverly tried to grasp Japanese and interact with her teammates and coaches. Even learning a whole bunch of new soccer terminology from scratch is tricky, let alone adapting to a distinctly different language and culture so far from home.
The successes were on their way though, as Beverly won a multitude of trophies with INAC, including two league titles, and embraced the way of life in the city of Kobe and the nation in general. A scorer as INAC beat Chelsea 4-2 to win the International Women’s Club Championship in December 2013, she describes the experience almost three years on from her switch to Japan.
“I love Japan; love the culture, the soccer style and especially the food. It’s been a challenge studying a new style of soccer, one that I feel is very technically and tactically challenging, but nonetheless, I have made lifelong friends and have grown a huge passion for the culture and soccer there.”
Aside from playing in two separate professional leagues in the U.S. and establishing herself as one of the very best over in Japan, Beverly majored in Sport Administration in college, with Communication Studies as her minor. In this World Cup year and with season three of the NWSL looming, is there anything specifically she feels should be addressed in order to help women’s soccer going forward?
“I understand marketing is difficult, but I just think the continued efforts to promote the women’s game and its players are always beneficial. I don’t think there’s a specific right way to market, but if you’re marketing with good intentions, things will naturally continue to go in the right direction.”
Among the silverware won in Beverly’s career so far is the Empress’s Cup, in which the top teams in Japan compete with the elite of high school and college soccer. Before her own collegiate achievements, she was surrounded by soccer in Moreno Valley, leaving the world behind and getting lost in playing the game with friends for hours on end. In that sense, perhaps it’s fitting that one of her club teams was named Freedom United.
The immense joy that the sport has given to her is without question but to suggest it was all plain sailing would certainly be wide of the mark. As Beverly’s senior year of high school was coming around she suffered a broken ankle, putting some doubt over her college prospects.
Her response was to practice every day at home with her left foot while her right was in a cast, developing her weaker foot considerably. As it transpired, a full scholarship was forthcoming, but after a few weeks at Sacramento State she made the decision to request a release as she didn’t foresee herself progressing to the standard she wanted.
It was a bold decision but it was ultimately to prove vindicated. After returning to club soccer with a local team back home, she met University of Miami Head Coach at the time, Tricia Taliaferro, at a college showcase, eventually committing to join the program despite only a 5 per cent scholarship being available. Beverly’s parents were none too thrilled at the time but by the end of her first semester her hard work had earned her a full scholarship.
Brave decisions have shaped her route up to now, and without choosing to go for it with the move to Japan in 2012, she could well be in a very different career scenario at this moment in time.
Officially Beverly Goebel-Yanez thanks to her marriage to one-time Columbus Crew midfielder Othaniel Yanez, she assesses what soccer has enabled her to learn about herself up to now. Although only 26, she also outlines the advice she would go back and offer herself if she had the chance.
“It’s taught me I can be anything I want to be as long as I put in the work – hard work! It’s taught me how to work and interact with several other players to find one common goal.
“I will forever love the game for what it has brought to my life. If I could go back and give myself advice it would be to always have fun.
“Just do what you love and work hard. Things will take care of themselves.”
Off the back of an impressive 2014, everything would suggest that there is a great deal more to come from Beverly during this calendar year with Seattle. For now, it is time for a mix of past and present as we conclude the interview with the regular closing question.
Growing up, Beverly loved to play pick-up soccer, so what if she was about to head for a game of 5-a-side right now? The rules are that she needs to select four of her career teammates to be on her team in this fantasy line-up. It is over to her to introduce the starters and it is a renaissance for the Reign of 2014.
“One keeper: Hope Solo – world-class keeper. One defender: Lauren Barnes – she’s so technical, distributes so effectively from the centre-back position, and is always so composed on the ball. I absolutely loved playing with her in Seattle.
“One midfielder: Kim Little – she’s just a boss in all aspects of her game. No explanation needed!
“One forward: Naho Kawasumi – I’ve played with Naho now for three seasons; two in Japan and one in the U.S. She’s so effective and her understanding of the game is world-class.
“I’ve learned a lot from playing beside her. She will always be one of my favourites!”
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