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Reign vs Dash: Game Thread (on ESPN3)

The Reign go back on the road after a statement win over the Portland Thorns. In this one their biggest challenge might be the Houston weather. Fortunately, the league's water break protocol takes effect today.

No Youtube stream for this 6pm match as it's one of the 'nationally broadcast' games on ESPN3. Which really isn't an upgrade, since it's still online only and the ESPN3 audience is smaller than the Youtube audience (which is to say 'everyone with an Internet connection'). Yet those four letters carry a lot of cachet and apparently it's worth actually decreasing the number of people who can watch a game just to say it was on ESPN.

Depending on the results of the KC game earlier in the afternoon, Seattle has a chance to clinch the top of the league with this game against expansion Houston. If they get a better result than KC (a win to their tie or a tie to their loss), the regular season title is secured. If they win and KC wins, they're just one more point away.

Seattle's only previous game against the Dash was way back in April, in the middle of the Reign's tremendous opening to the season — when they didn't fail to win until their 8th game in late May. That was a pretty comfortable 2-0 win, and even without home field advantage Seattle should be heavily favored to get a result against the team second to the bottom of the standings and close to being eliminated from playoff contention. Especially given how dominant the Reign looked in their home thrashing of the Thorns last weekend.

Houston's biggest advantage may be the weather. The temperature is forecasted to approach 90 degrees, which will be even worse on the field. Fortunately, just today the NWSL released guidelines on water breaks which I'm sure will be applied today. So expect a couple minute break around 30 minutes and another around 75 minutes (which time will be added on again in injury time).

If the Reign can pull through the elements and continue the form we saw this weekend, especially with Megan Rapinoe in even better fitness, they should be good for multiple goals, and a good defensive performance would mean three points, an emphatic step toward the #1 seed and home field through the playoffs, and more confidence as the playoffs move closer.

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