Recap: Reign Show Spirit to Stay Perfect

Seattle went behind for the first time this season, but it didn't last long and they ended up how they've always ended up this year: victorious.

Facing a stretch of four games in 11 days, the last two of which are on the road, most soccer fans (who are being honest) could reasonably hope for maybe seven points out of that stretch. The Seattle Reign apparently don't care about 'reasonable'. Based on the way they're playing, the right expectation for the number of points is 'all of them'. And that's what they earned. With a 2-1 win over Washington they ended that stretch 4-0, making them a perfect 5-0 on the season.

That said, this was the toughest of the games they've played this year. It was their first game on the road against a team in playoff position and the first 20 minutes were the first long stretch of the season when Seattle didn't seem to be in control of the season. Instead, the Spirit attacked through Crystal Dunn and Christine Nairn and got some dangerous possession in the Seattle half. Still, for all that they didn't get a shot on goal in the first half.

After that initial stretch, the Reign once again asserted themselves and suffocated the passing lanes, preventing any buildup from the opponent. The grew into a number of good chances, with Nahomi Kawasumi predictably running riot from her right wing position. The best chance of the half was probably a Sydney Leroux flick off an entry ball from Kim Little. It forced a diving save from Spirit Ashlyn Harris, with the rebound coming out to Bev Goebel, who put her follow-up shot over the bar.

The teams opened the second half much like the first, with the Spirit finding more of the game early. In the 51st, Ali Krieger had a clear shot off the post. Then two minutes later Hope Solo had two make two point blank saves on Jodi Taylor, but the second rebound came out to Krieger, who finished it for the second goal scored against Seattle this season and the first that wasn't a penalty (which was also scored by Krieger, as it happens).

That was also the first time the Reign had fallen behind in a game this season, so there some question about how they would respond. And the answer is that they would kill the deficit with fire. Eighty seconds after they went behind for the first time, the Reign worked a play off a corner that got Leroux a close-range header, which Harris could only deflect into the path of Jess Fishlock, who tapped it in to equalize.

Shortly after that, the game stream died. So we only know what happened via the Washington Spirit twitter feed. And that's how we learned that in the 76th minute, Sydney Leroux scored her first goal as a Seattle Reign player to give the team the lead, which they would hold onto to secure their 5th consecutive win.

Seattle now sits well atop the standings. Their 15 points is more than twice as many as the team in second (Portland with 7) and they have a 9 point lead over the Washington they just beat, who sit in third. This sets up a monster match with in Portland next weekend, when the two Cascadia teams — who look like the two best teams in the league (as it always should have been) — face off for the first time.

Unfortunately, it's also the first game that will be affected by national team callups. On Thursday, the US plays a friendly versus Canada and starters Leroux, Solo, and Stephanie Cox have all been called up. Because the game is near enough, it's likely those players (especially Solo) would still be available for the Thorns game, maybe in limited minutes. But there's a World Cup qualifier for Wales as well on the 8th, and Welsh captain Fishlock will certainly be involved, with a much longer trip to get back for the weekend. And after the Portland game, Nahomi Kawasumi will be with Japan for the Asian Cup — likely until the end of the month. So a team on which Harvey has been very hesitant to make subs (she only subbed two players today, and one was in injury time), we're going to have to start seeing some depth if the current run is going to continue.

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