In front of 4,021 fans, the Seattle Reign proved they could play with the best of them, as they drew 1-1 with a tough China Women's National Team. The match was physical, back-and-forth, and full of good chances for both teams. It was everything you could ask for in a game.
The Chinese national team — in town to get some games in before they participate in the Women's World Cup in Canada — had a number of fans in attendance. They were vocal throughout the match, which added to the fun atmosphere of the international friendly.
Reign FC coach Laura Harvey used the match to rotate the lineup and give some of the substitutes the opportunity to earn more minutes. Haley Kopmeyer started in goal, and she was supported by a backline that included regulars like Elli Reed, Kendall Fletcher, and Stephanie Cox, as well as Rachel Corsie, a new addition this year from Scotland.
Here is your #ReignFC starting XI vs China PR: Kopmeyer Reed, Corsie, Fletcher, Cox Brooks, Little, Winters (C) Mathias, Yanez, Foxhoven— Seattle Reign FC (@SeattleReignFC) May 23, 2015
Corsie played a full 90 minutes and looked strong throughout the match. She served as a capable partner for Fletcher, and looked confident on the ball. While she is a centerback who likes to attack, she opted to stay back for most of the match to quell any counterattacks from the Steel Roses.
Amber Brooks started at and held down the midfield in place of Jess Fishlock, presumably to get some good playing time before the Reign take on the Chicago Red Stars next week. Fishlock will have to sit that match out, as she earned a red card in her last NWSL match against Sky Blue after getting called for a hand ball in the box in the final minutes.
The first 15 minutes of the match featured a lot of action on both sides of the field, but few dangerous chances. The first scary moment came the 18th minute, when China took it down the left side and sent a dangerous cross into the box. Luckily, Keelin Winters was there to block the flick, and Kopmeyer was able to snatch the ball up before China could get another touch on it.
While the Reign seemed to be creating the most chances and dominating possession for the next 20 minutes, China was able to find the back of the net first. In the 36', Chinese midfielder Ren Guixin took a shot from about 30 yards out. It appeared to take a deflection, or perhaps just skipped passed everyone, and by the the time Kopmeyer saw the ball it was too late. China had another great chance right before half. A cross from the right found a player's head and looked to be a sure goal, but the crossbar made an amazing save.
To start the second half, Mariah Nogueira replaced Brooks and Lauren Barnes came in for Kendall Fletcher. The Reign put pressure on China immediately. In the 48', Kim Little sent a hard free kick into the box from about 20 yards out, and Beverly Yanez got her head on it and flicked the ball into the back of the net. It was a beautifully executed set play.
Jess Fishlock and Kiersten Dallstream came on in the 56th minute. Fishlock was immediately fouled about four times, and the last tackle on her earned China their first and only yellow card. Dallstream was tenacious in trying to win the ball back, and had a hard shot from the 18 that went just wide. Michelle Cruz also played about 25 minutes at right back and had a few dangerous runs into the box, and Mele French replaced Mathias in the last few minutes of the game.
The Reign out-possessed China and dominated for most of the second half, but struggled with their final touch or final pass, and they were unable to get many dangerous shots off. But if this match were any indication, NWSL teams should be worried about facing the Reign. They not only proved they could play with some of the best players in the world; they connected passes that weren't going their way earlier this season, and showed how dangerous they can be when they are able to move the ball around quickly.
In post-match comments, Harvey said, "It's one of the best performances we have played with the ball. Ever. We need to be better in the 18 but I thought we played great.."
The momentum is a great sign, as the Reign take on the Chicago Red Stars — a team currently sitting at the top of the league — at home on Saturday, May 30.