I mentioned in the game thread that the only consolation in the Reign's woeful start to the season was that they hadn't played a home game against a middling team. Their only home match so far had been against the very strong FC Kansas City. Well, now we don't have even that to hold on to.
Seattle welcomed in the very middling Washington Spirit to Starfire tonight and were blown out 4-2. On the plus side, they managed to double their season total in goals after scoring 2 in their previous 5 games. But the defense was a shambles, especially after center back and captain Kate Deines had to leave in the first half after rolling her ankle.
Until the Deines injury things were actually looking up. Seattle opened the scoring in the 7th minute when Lindsay Taylor chested down a long cross into the box and half volleyed it into the corner of the net. The Spirit keeper didn't even move. The team was dominating the run of play and then Deines went down in the 18th when she rolled her ankle defending a corner. Emily Zurrer subbed in and the team held on for another 15 minutes, but the run of play started turning against them.
Washington tied it in the 37th on a near post shot on a run from the corner of the box. Then things started really falling apart. They took the lead 4 minutes later on a free kick. Keeper Michele Betos made two tremendous saves on the play but couldn't make the third as Ali Krieger headed it into the open net. The fact that the Spirit had two free chances at rebounds after the initial shot was a sign of how soft the defense was playing.
In the second half the team started energetically again with Teresa Noyola moving into the middle to play playmaker and Christine Nairn moving to the wing. The move paid off quickly when Nairn crossed a ball in for Noyola to head in for the equalizing goal in the 47th. But the Spirit took over again and Seattle didn't get many other chances, despite Nairn consistently making good runs on the left wing.
And at the other end, the defense wasn't holding up. Washington took the lead when Tiffany McCarty received the ball at the top of the box in the 56th. She was closely marked by Zurrer, but she had no problem taking one touch to get around the Canadian and rolling the ball to the far post for the go ahead goal. The Spirit had all of the possession at that point and other than a few speculative long shots from Jess Fishlock, Seattle wasn't mounting much of an attack. Then in the 84th they put the nail in on another free kick when Tori Huster was left free to run through the box and flick a header into the net over Betos.
Washington is not a great team. They'd scored 5 goals all season to this point, and Seattle let them score 4 at home. Certainly injuries were a factor. The team was without Keelin Winters and Elli Reed to start the match and the early Deines injury was a real blow. And with another game coming up quickly on Sunday, it looks unlikely they'd have any of the three back.
The news in the stands wasn't great either, as the announced crowd of 1,011 was barely out of triple digits and one of the smallest crowds in the league this season.
The start of the Reign season has been difficult, to say the least. And it feels like the team is just stuck waiting. Waiting for the roster to gel. Waiting for Solo. Waiting for Rapinoe. Waiting for a dedicated fan base. Waiting for something magical to happen because they're a pro soccer team in Seattle. But there's no magic coming. Betos has been playing very well deputizing in net. Rapinoe can't shore up the back line or play target forward. The league roster rules effectively don't allow adding anyone else this season. The team isn't going to just wake up one morning with a huge, raucous supporters group.
This is it. They need to find a way to win with this roster in this environment or they're destined for the basement this season — an ignominious year for a team that was supposed to be half of the crown jewel Cascadia rivalry showcased by the league.