On Sunday evening, Seattle Reign FC takes on the top-ranked Washington Spirit in a must-win match. Win tonight, and Seattle keeps itself in the running for the fourth and final playoff spot. Lose or draw, and the season ends after the team’s last match in Houston at the end of the month.
It will be the final home match for Reign FC captain Keelin Winters, who will retire after the 2016 season to become a firefighter in Kirkland. With the Reign unable to secure a home playoff spot, tonight will be the last opportunity for fans to say "thank you" to Winters in person. (I’m not ready!)
Just four days ago, the Spirit and Reign faced off in Maryland for the first time this season, with the home team coming out on top 2-1 thanks to a wonder strike by Crystal Dunn from outside the box. It was Dunn’s first NWSL goal this year—of course, it came against Seattle.
While Seattle put out its ideal Starting XI on Wednesday, Washington's lineup relied heavily on its reserve players. That they were able to hold onto a 2-1 league speaks volumes for the team's depth, and Seattle's struggles this season. Washington is tough to break down defensively—giving up a league low 16 goals in 18 games—and has a range of attacking options, including the threat of former Reign player Christine Nairn on set pieces.
Despite this, the Reign have the advantage this match. They’re going to be motivated to play well for their retiring captain, often play better at home, and should be intensely focused on making a legitimate push for the playoffs.
With Chicago earning a draw this afternoon against FC Kansas City, Seattle can no longer catch them. Our only hope is passing Western New York, a team that currently sits 4 points ahead of Seattle and has an edge on head-to-head match-ups.
If Seattle wins, and WNY loses to Portland, the Reign remain in postseason contention with one match remaining. Seattle's final match is on the road against the Houston Dash. It takes place September 25 and will air on FS1.
How to Watch
Time/Date: Sunday, September 11, 7:00 p.m. PT
Where: Memorial Stadium, Seattle
This is your Seattle Reign gamethread. Watch with us.