The top two teams in the NWSL face off on Wednesday, April 18, as Seattle Reign FC (2-0-0) continues its road trip adventures, taking on an undefeated North Carolina Courage (3-0-0) side. The midweek match kicks off at 4 PM PT, just three days after Seattle’s last game.
Both teams are missing key players, although Reign FC will certainly be feeling the impact more intensely. Megan Rapinoe is out with a strained hamstring, an injury suffered in the second half of Seattle’s cold, rain-soaked match against Sky Blue last weekend. Somehow, this is certainly the Sounders fault.
Naho Kawasumi and Rumi Utsugi are still with the Japan national team competing in the Asian Cup semifinals, as are Steph Catley and Lydia Williams for Australia.
Losing both Rapinoe and Naho against North Carolina is going to test Seattle’s attacking depth. Kiersten Dallstream, who provided a spark off the bench last weekend, might earn a start. This could also be the match where Morgan Andrews earns her first start, and Elizabeth Addo gets time on the field.
It won’t just be the attack that is tested today. North Carolina has one of the most dangerous groups of scoring threats in the league. Lynn Williams, Jess McDonald, and Crystal Dunn are all fast and unafraid to shoot from anywhere. After three matches, the Courage lead the league in both shots and goals. Absorbing the pressure and containing North Carolina’s speed is going to be a huge challenge for Seattle’s backline.
Reign FC have another break after this match, and should have their international players back for their next game. Today is all about staying healthy and testing depth. Leaving with even a point would be a win after back-to-back matches. Earning three would send a powerful message to the league that Seattle is not a team that will fold under pressure.
Keys to the Match
- Stay organized: The Courage are going to pepper shots in all match — that’s essentially a given. Seattle must stay organized and ensure North Carolina’s forwards don’t get in behind the backline.
- Control the midfield: McCall Zerboni is coming off a Player of the Week performance against the Washington Spirit — scoring two goals and disrupting Washington’s attack in the midfield. USWNT midfielder Sam Mewis may also be available after recovering from an injury. If Seattle wants a chance in both the attack and defense, they must dictate tempo through the midfield.
- Use the wings: North Carolina’s outside backs, Jaelene Hinkle and former Reign FC player Merritt Mathias, like to get involved in the attack. That leaves the wings exposed for counter attacks. If Seattle can spark a quick counter, or move the ball quickly into the wings, they could force North Carolina to a few mistakes and expose the backline.
11’ - Michelle Betos with a risky move here. Luckily, Megan Oyster is there to save a goal.
36’ - Great look for Jess Fishlock. This looked to be going in, if not for the deflection.
65’ - What a save from Michelle Betos! A horrible giveaway from Fishlock puts McDonald on goal. A kicksave from Betos prevents a clear goal.
70’ - After Reign FC nearly score on the other end, Jess McDonald puts NC Courage up 1-0. It felt like it was coming.
Final: NC Courage: 1 - Seattle Reign: 0
What a hard match just three days after another difficult challenge for the Reign. Can’t feel horrible about the performance. Missing 5 international players and on short rest. Next up: Orlando Pride, but the Reign have 10 days to recover.
North Carolina: OUT: Makenzy Doniak (left knee ACL tear – SEI), Yuri Kawamura (right knee ACL repair - D45), Julie King (left ankle repair); QUESTIONABLE: Allysha Chapman (left hamstring strain), Samantha Mewis (right knee strain); INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Debinha
Seattle: OUT: Jaycie Johnson (right knee sprain), Megan Rapinoe (left hamstring strain); INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Steph Catley (AUS), Nahomi Kawasumi (JPN), Rumi Utsugi (JPN), Lydia Williams (AUS)
How to Watch
Who: Seattle Reign v. North Carolina Courage
When: Wednesday, April 18, 4 PM PT
Where: Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, NC
Streaming: go90 app (iOS/Android), go90.com
International Streaming: NWSL app (iOS/Android), NWSLSoccer.com
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