The Reign's mini World Cup break is over and the team is back in action tonight at 4, when they take on last place Boston Breakers. Unfortunately, the Seattle squad that takes the field is going to look very unlike the usual lineup we've seen this season. Hope Solo, Stephanie Cox, Sydney Leroux, Jess Fishlock, and Kim Little are all away from the team on international duty. That's a lot of players, and it's a lot of their best players.
Against a stronger team, this would be pretty close to a punt. But against a Breakers team that is already last in the league, just traded away Lisa De Vanna — their best scoring threat, and will be without Heather O'Reilly and Kristie Mewis — who are also with the US team, Seattle has to feel like they still have a pretty good shot.
I speculated about a possible lineup for this match yesterday. The upshot is that the defense is largely untouched outside of Cox. The rest of the backline is in place and Winters and Nogueira are a stout pair of defensive midfielders. So especially with De Vanna gone a shutout should be a reasonable goal. And a shutout would guarantee that the Reign's record undefeated streak would stay alive.
But to get a win, Seattle has to muster some offense with most of their finishers and playmakers gone. They'll be relying heavily on Naho Kawasumi as the only international still on the team to create chances from the wings and on Bev Goebel and Danielle Foxhoven to finish them.